The dishwasher is such a wonderful invention, isn’t it? I’ve never lived in a house without one, but I’ve washed plenty of dishes by hand, and it’s just so much more time-consuming.
When you’re trying to live a toxin-free life, however, you may be concerned about what’s in your dishwasher detergent though (as you should be!). There are many harmful chemicals that could be lurking in those little dishwasher capsules, and we’ll go into that at the end of this post.
After quite a bit of research though, I wanted to share my favorite non-toxic dishwasher detergent brands with you first!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
What Is The Best Non-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent?
Let’s get right to it. The products below have all scored an A on the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, and I’ve double-checked all of their ingredients to make sure they’re truly safe. Please note, however, that these products are not safe to consume, so you should still keep them locked away from your babies and young children. They are, however, safer for the environment, and they won’t be as harmful to breathe in or touch compared to other detergents.
Better Life made the list again! (They’re one of our favorite dish soaps for hand washing too.) The company was founded by two dads who wanted something safer to use around their babies, so the dishwasher detergent gel is made from safe plants and minerals that won’t harm your children.
They have the environment in mind too. Their manufacturing facility is solar-powered, and the detergent is phosphate-free. (Phosphates can pollute water systems.) That being said, soaps without phosphates may leave some white spots on your glassware, which can look worse with hard water.
You can purchase Better Life products on Amazon, and it’s also easy to purchase if you have a membership to Thrive Market. You can even get a coupon if you auto-ship it in your box every month!
You’ve probably heard of Seventh Generation and their mission to “transform the world into a healthy, sustainable & equitable place for the next seven generations.” Have you used this product though?
These dish detergent packs are typically our go-to because they’re available at our local grocery store and Target. If you can’t find them in your area, you can also easily purchase them on Amazon.
Plus, they’re super convenient. All you have to do is pull out one little detergent pack and plop it in your dishwasher’s compartment.
They’re completely unscented too with plant-based ingredients, and they come in a resealable pouch made of recycled materials.
Ecos, though fairly new to me, has been around since the 1970s. Their dishwasher gel is made from plant sugars, and I really love their commitment to the environment. The company is carbon-neutral, water-neutral, and zero-waste. They’ve achieved this by running their facilities on 100% renewable energy, reducing their water consumption, recycling 95% of all of their manufacturing and office waste, and strategically placing their facilities around the country in order to reduce carbon emissions from travel and shipping.
They seem to care about their people too. Starting minimum wage is $17/hour!
Like many non-toxic brands, Mamasuds was founded by a parent who wanted the best for her family. Not only is this dishwasher powder non-toxic and safe for your home, but it’s also fully biodegradable.
Made by hand in small batches, each bag will give you 60-90 dishwasher loads of dishes. The company does recommend using vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser alongside the detergent though. This will keep your dishes from getting those splotchy hard water stains.
You can purchase Mamasuds Dishwasher Powder on the brand’s website (linked above), but they’re also available in about 200 stores across the U.S. You may be able to find a store near you (I did!). Here is their list of stores.
I love Thrive Market. They carry great brands, and they also make some great products themselves. Their dishwasher detergent certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The ingredients are plant and mineral based and biodegradable.
Plus, you can get up to 75 loads of dishes done with one package.
If you don’t have a Thrive membership, you can learn more about it here.
Is Dishwasher Detergent Toxic?
Yes, dishwasher detergent is toxic. There are a load of harmful ingredients in detergents and soaps, which we’ll discuss more about below. Please remember that even non-toxic dishwasher detergent (like the ones we mentioned above) should be kept away from children.
Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients to Avoid
There are a “load” of ingredients (see what I did there?) that you should avoid when shopping for a non-toxic dishwasher detergent. Here are some of the main ones that could be harmful to your health:
Fragrance, which we talked about in-depth with non-toxic perfume, can be quite harmful because it’s a non-specific ingredient. The FDA considers fragrances to be a trade secret, so companies are not required to disclose what’s in them. They can leave you with skin irritation, harmful respiratory effects, and some of their ingredients may even accumulate in your body and cause cancer.
Dyes are similar to fragrances because we don’t necessarily know what’s in them. Some dyes, (like Yellow 5) can be contaminated with heavy metals, which can cause issues throughout your body, including cancer, DNA damage, and developmental harm.
The process of ethoxylation can create ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane as byproducts. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, and they’re believed to damage the DNA as well. They may lead to developmental and reproductive issues, respiratory effects, and brain and nervous system damage, among other things.
Surfactants can also be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane.
Is it Better to Wash Dishes by Hand or Dishwasher?
This may be a hot debate in your house, and we’re here to settle it. It’s better to wash dishes in the dishwasher. Not only does the dishwasher do a better job of cleaning (because it can reach temperatures much higher than your kitchen faucet can), but it’s also more efficient and uses less water, making it a better choice for the environment too.
Have you found a non-toxic dish detergent that you love? Let us know about it in the comments! If you have dishes that aren’t dishwasher-safe, you may also want to check out our top picks for organic dish soap too.
And while we’re on the subject of cleaning, you may want to check out our review of Norwex cleaning products too.