Why Use Natural Dish Soap
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about dish soap—and why you need to start to use natural dish soap right now.
Let’s dive right in.
Why use natural dish soap?
Most people who wish to get chemicals out of their lifestyle start buying natural personal care products.
That’s a great step.
Most people forget about a product you use every day that’s even more toxic:
Did you know that most brands of dish soap contain chemicals that are known to cause skin irritations, allergies, and even cancer?
This includes many brands that market themselves as “natural,” “eco-friendly,” or “organic”?
This is because when manufacturers think about making huge profits, their eyes bug-out with dollar signs.
And therefore they use the cheapest ingredients they can get their hands on.
Which are not always the ingredients that are best for your health.
How do chemicals in conventional dish soap enter your body?
This happens in two ways.
First, the skin on your hands absorbs these toxins.
From there, they enter your bloodstream and spread through your entire body.
That’s one way.
The second way is through your mouth.
Nobody in their right mind eats dish soap, right?
Here’s the thing: Most people ingest it unknowingly.
The truth is that most dish soaps contain foaming agents called surfactants. (SLS is one kind of dangerous surfactant commonly found in dish soap, but there are others).
Manufacturers include surfactants because (A) they create an immensely satisfying foam, and (B) they’re dirt cheap.
But that incredible foaminess has a downside. Most dish soaps are made with one or more ingredients that come from petroleum.
These petrochemicals form a microscopically-thin chemical film on your dishes that is hard to rinse off completely.
Dishes come into contact with food all the time; that’s what they’re for.
And when you place food on these dishes, the food absorbs and rubs off the chemical film.
You eat the food… and the chemicals that used to be in the dish soap are now in your body.
Long story short: if any of the ingredients in your dish soap are toxic, then you’re putting yourself in danger.
We already mentioned that some really common ingredients in dish soap cause cancer. But they can also have more immediate effects.
Some can irritate your stomach, too.
That’s not what you want, right? Especially if you have kids or pets.
Fortunately, if you use a genuinely natural and non-toxic dish soap, none of this is an issue.
So that’s the biggest reason why you should use natural dish soap: because it doesn’t contain toxic substances.
Even if some dish soap were to stick around on your dishes, it wouldn’t harm you.
But here’s the second advantage:
A genuinely natural and non-toxic dish soap is strong enough to tackle grease, and then rinses off your dishes completely—without leaving behind a slippery petrochemical film.
Now that we understand how the chemicals in dish soap enter your body, let’s take a closer look at the chemicals themselves.
What exactly makes conventional dish soap so dangerous?
Harmful ingredients in conventional dish soap
Conventional dish soaps—including many brands that are marketed as “natural” or “eco-friendly”--often in fact contain ingredients like:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate, also known as SLS (which has been found to be carcinogenic, may cause genetic defects, and can harm your reproductive system)
- Fragrance (which can mask up to 3,000 undisclosed ingredients that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose to us. Stay away from any brand that tries to deceive customers by using this catch-all term in its ingredient list).
- Formaldehyde (which is suspected of causing cancer),
- Acrylate (which is harmful if swallowed),
- Colors (these are tricky to decipher since by law manufacturers are not required to display the exact ingredients on their labels. So if you find a product that lists “colors” or a specific color as an ingredient, you can be pretty sure they’re hiding something from you. Don’t buy such products.)
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does give a hint of at least some of dangers lurking in common ingredients in dish soap.
But humans aren’t the only living creatures that conventional dish soap harms.
For the environment’s sake, you need to use natural dish soap
After your dish water flows down the drain, it’s easy to forget about it.
Out of sight, out of mind.
But in reality, that water flows into a septic tank (in rural areas) or a municipal water treatment plant (in more populated areas).
Many chemicals commonly found in dish soaps—including SLS—are difficult to remove from wastewater, resulting in toxins being returned into the environment.
There, they can cause quite a bit of damage.
Here are three ingredients that are used in many dish soap formulas, and their effects on nature:
1. Methylchloroisothiazolinone – is very toxic to aquatic life.
2. Sodium polyacrylate – pollutes your local watershed, and is extremely toxic to aquatic life.
3. SLS / SLES (sodium lauryl sulfate / sodium laureth sulfate) – has been found to be very toxic to the environment in general.
Wanna protect the environment?
Then stop dumping harsh chemicals down the drain.
Are all natural dish soaps safe for the environment?
Some manufacturers sneak toxins into their formulas even though their messaging and brand-style lead you to believe their product is “green.”
So how can you protect yourself from getting deceived?
It’s super easy, actually.
Just read the ingredient list on the label.
But what if there are ingredients on the list that you don’t recognize?
Or what if the ingredient list includes explanations (such as “a plant-derived cleaning agent”) that seem like they’re trying to get you to accept the ingredient without doing your own research?
There’s a site that makes it really easy to find out what’s safe and what’s not. They’ve done all the work for you.
Head over to the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning, and bookmark it. They rate the safety of ingredients in common household products.
There are two ways you can use the EWG’s guide to research the products that you use (or that you’re thinking of buying).
You can either search for the specific product you’re curious about, or look up a specific ingredient.
The more research you do, the more you’ll realize why it makes sense to use a genuinely natural dish soap.