Choosing organic produce is important, but so is making sure that the dishes you use to cook and eat aren’t washed in toxic chemicals. Here are some common bad guys to avoid and why you should give them the boot from your kitchen.



8 Toxic Chemicals in Conventional Dish Soap


1. Phosphates

These are often used as a water-softening mineral and act as a fertilizer in water and are hazardous to consume for both ourselves and marine life. If concentrations of this type of chemical are too high in water, they can deplete oxygen levels and promote the growth of certain algae which are toxic to consume. Try switching to a brand that is phosphate free to avoid inadvertently raising the level of this chemical in our water supply.

2. Triclosan

This type of synthetic chemical is often added to dish detergents due to its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. This is the chemical that often qualifies a cleaner as “antibacterial”. However, this chemical is hazardous to our hormones and disrupts our body’s natural thyroid and endocrin systems. This chemical is also often attributed to the growth of “superbugs” since it bioaccumulates in the human body.

3. SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)/SLES (sodium laureth sulfate)

This type of chemical is what gives your dish detergent its foamy property and allows it to cut through grease. While the bubbles are nice to see, they aren’t nice to absorb. This chemical absorbs through your skin and can lead to 1,4-dioxane contamination. It’s also been known to cause rashes and allergic reactions.

4. Fragrance

Any given fragrance mixture can contain up to 3,000 chemicals. Which, over time can coat themselves onto plates, forks, cups etc. and eventually be ingested. We recommend going with a dish detergent that gets its fragrance from natural essential oils.

5. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine) 

These chemicals have been found to disrupt hormones in the human body and are known for creating nitrates and nitrosamines. There is also a risk of developing 1,4-dioxane contamination if you’re regularly exposed to these types of chemicals.

6. Chlorine

Also known as sodium dichloroisocyanurate, this chemical has ben listed on both the EPA’s Community Right-To-Know list and the 1990 Clean Air Act. It is extremely toxic to fish and releases chlorine into the air when it’s being used to clean your dishes. 

7. Formaldehyde

This chemical is a known carcinogen and might appear on your detergent label as methanol, methyl aldehyde and methylene oxide. It’s added to detergents along with preservatives so that overtime it is slowly released as a preventative to bacterial contamination. However, concentrations of this chemical are toxic within the human body.

8. Ammonia

This chemical is extremely toxic and should be avoided. Many people aren’t aware that ammonia, even if in “trace” amounts, is present in their dish detergents. If combined with bleach to create a cleaning solution, the two will release fumes that can cause damage to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.

About the Author


Green Living Ideas Green Living Ideas, part of the Important Media Network, provides ideas, tips, and information to help you ‘green’ every aspect of your life: home energy, green building and remodeling, cars, food, waste recycling—and everything in between.