Hidden Toxins in Dish Soap

How Toxic is Your Dish Soap?

We’d like to think that the soap we use to clean our dishes is safe for our homes, our bodies, and the environment. Unfortunately, if you are buying any of the average dish soaps off the shelf of your grocery store, you are probably bringing a slew of chemicals into your homes.  What is important to know about dish soap? The most important things to know are the key ingredients to avoid and what to look for in your soap. 

What to Avoid in Dish Soap Ingredients

There are a handful of ingredients that are deemed toxic, detrimental to our water, and dangerous for skin, mouth, and for ingestion. These ingredients are found in many mainstream dishwashing soaps and dishwasher detergents. Unfortunately, even if we believe we have rinsed and dried our dishes adequately when food or drink comes into contact with our “clean” dishes, it can combine with a film left behind by soap and thus contaminate our food. Many of these dish soaps leave behind traces of chemicals even when we do our best to rinse and dry them. 

The toxic chemicals include:

  • Phosphates
  • Chlorine
  • Triclosan
  • Formaldehyde
  • Ammonia
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Sodium borate

The biggest offender of all, not listed above, is methylisothiazolinone. This is an acute aquatic toxin, a skin irritant, an antimicrobial and a preservative. It is highly corrosive and can damage the skin, eyes, and mouth. This is found in many of our soaps and dishwashing detergents. 

There is also a list of “non-specific” ingredients that are often listed on the backs of packaging, hiding additional toxic chemicals or combinations. These should indicate that the manufacturer is leaving out some key information that may deter you from purchasing the product. 

Check your packaging for these vague ingredients:

  • Buffering agent
  • Colors
  • Fragrance
  • Foaming agent or booster
  • Ph adjuster
  • Preservatives
  • Surfactants
  • Water softener or softening agent

These lists help the EWG, or Environmental Working Group, determine where soaps and other chemically based household products fall in their Healthy Cleaning Database, wherein they award dish soaps and other cleaning supplies a grade. The grades are on a scale of A through F based on how few or how many chemicals are included that are toxic or considered questionable. 

What to Look For in a Dish Soap

There are ways to minimize the chemicals that come into contact with your dishes and silverware, therefore having less chance of contaminating what you put into your body. Hoose dish soaps and dishwasher detergents that have fewer ingredients and are nature-based. 

Look for soaps that are:

  • 1,4 Dioxane free
  • Perfume-free
  • Dye-free
  • Phosphate-free
  • Glycol-free
  • Caustic-free
  • Petrochemical-free

Your safest bet is to utilize soaps and other household cleaners that contain plant-based ingredients and ingredients that you can easily read and understand. Look for natural cleansing options whenever possible, or make your own. There are numerous simple DIY soap tutorials online in blogs and forums and on YouTube. 

It is understandable that not all items in your home can be natural at all times, but the more educated you are about the truth behind common products, the better choices you can make moving forward. In a time when convenience often overrules health and safety, sometimes it pays to take a few extra minutes to look at the back of your containers before buying.