If you’ve just had a baby or you’re working on your baby registry for a new little one that’s on the way, you may be inundated by the vast selection of products available, one of them being baby dish soap.
You’re not alone. Convenience and drug stores fill their shelves with a variety of products that are supposed to be “healthier,” “safer,” or “better” for your baby. But what’s wrong with the dish soap that you already use? Is it really worth the extra money to purchase special baby dish soap just to wash your baby bottles and other baby items?
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Should You Buy Specially-Formulated Baby Dish Soap to Wash Baby Bottles?
The short answer is no. You don’t have to use Babyganics dish soap or get an Honest Baby subscription to buy their baby dish soap every month. In fact, many of these baby dish soaps that are marketed as “natural” or “organic” are not as safe as other dish soaps. Many of them include ingredients that are known to irritate the skin, and some even contain ingredients that researchers believe to be carcinogenic.
If you want to keep as many toxins and harsh chemicals out of your baby’s life, you should make sure you’re using non-toxic dish soap. (And you should also take a good look through their toys.)
Ingredients that You Should Avoid When Buying Dish Soap for Your Baby
I have a list of my favorite dish soaps below, but if you’re standing at the store trying to make a decision before buying some to wash your baby bottles, flip the soap over and take a look at the ingredients. Here are some ingredients that you should try to avoid:
Parabens are one of the most common preservatives that are used in health and beauty products. They keep bacteria and mold from growing on your products, which is especially helpful when you’re using a product with a lot of water in it, like liquid dish soap. Researchers believe that parabens are an endocrine disruptor though. They seem to mimic estrogen and may increase the risk of breast cancer.
On the label: ingredients ending in -paraben (methylparaben, butylparaben, etc.), fragrance
Phthalates are another preservative that is often added to dish soap and other household products. They’re meant to help you by keeping the product shelf-stable and keep it from growing mold and bacteria. However, research shows that phthalates may harm the reproductive system, liver, kidneys, and lungs. They may also contribute to an early onset of puberty, and, if you’re pregnant, they can pass through the placenta and on to your unborn child.
On the label: phthalate (diethyl phthalate, butyl benzyl phthalate, etc.), fragrance
Aside from the fact that many people, especially babies, may be sensitive and/or allergic to many fragrances, fragrance is considered a “trade secret,” so the FDA doesn’t require companies to disclose the ingredients that they use in them. If a brand of dish soap uses fragrance and doesn’t list out the ingredients that they use in it, you should avoid it. Many fragrances contain phthalates, parabens, and other harmful chemicals. In fact, the EWG says that if you see the word “fragrance” on a product label, you should read it as “hidden chemicals.” You should check the label even if the dish soap is unscented because companies sometimes use a fragrance to mask the original scent of the soap.
On the label: fragrance, parfum
That purple lavender soap looks and smells so pretty, and it totally makes sense that it would be purple, right? Unfortunately, many brands use synthetic dyes to give them a pretty color that kind of matches the scent. Research links various dyes with behavioral issues, ADHD, kidney issues, and allergies (yes, even dyes that are FDA-approved for use in food).
Companies often add ethylene oxide to certain chemicals because it sets off a reaction and makes those chemicals less harsh. The ingredients themselves are not necessarily harmful, but the reaction can produce 1,4-dioxane as a byproduct. Scientists believe 1,4-dioxane to be carcinogenic.
On the label: PPG, PEG, polysorbate, and any ingredient that ends in -eth (laureth, steareth, etc.
You can find triclosan in many dish soaps because it’s an antibacterial agent. Antibacterial soap, however, is not very healthy (for you or for the environment). It may alter hormone regulation, and it is also believed to contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
On the label: triclosan
Do I Have to Use Dish Soap to Wash Baby Bottles?
Yes. You need to use soap and water to wash your baby bottles in order to remove all residue. As mentioned above, you don’t have to use special baby dish soap, but you need to use some sort of soap on them.
You can also elect to go an extra step and sanitize bottles by boiling them, but you must wash them first.
My Top Picks for Baby Dish Soap
Dr. Bronner’s, Hemp Baby Unscented
I talk about this soap a lot because it’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s unscented (and it doens’t have any added fragrance to make it that way), and it’s made with natural and organic ingredients. The back of the bottle has all of the steps that you need to take in order to dilute this soap and use it all around the house. (You can even use it as shampoo!) For dish soap, you can pre-dilute it with water at a 1-to-10 ratio and go ahead and scrub!
Better Life Natural Dish Soap
This dish soap is incredible! It doesn’t have any harsh ingredients, and it lasts forever. There is absolutely no scent to it at all, and it works just as well as Dawn or your other favorite dish soap.
Attitude Little Ones Baby Bottle & Dishwashing Liquid, Fragrance Free
This soap is great for cleaning baby bottles, but it’s also great for cleaning all of your other dishes. It’s unscented, but it still scrubs your baby bottles squeaky clean. I have really dry skin, and I’m happy to say that this soap doesn’t make my hands crack after using it.
Eco-Me Dish Soap
This dish soap is plant-based, but it cuts through dirt and grease just as well as non-plant-based soaps. Use it to wash your baby bottles and pacifiers or use it for your plates and silverware. You’re going to love this soap!
What soap do you use for your baby bottles? Do you use your regular soap, or have you purchased specific baby dish soap? Let me know in the comments!
You might also be interested in reading my review of Norwex products.