Dishwasher Detergent Concerns

Let’s look at your dishwasher detergent. Did you know that the film left behind from your dishwasher detergent can be harmful to your health? Let’s talk about dishwasher detergent concerns today.

Dishwasher detergent concerns -Phosphates

Dishwasher detergents have changed over the years but they still contain phosphates. Phosphates are common additives in detergents to soften the hard water. It enhances the cleaning power of the detergents. Some states have restricted the level of phosphates that can be sold.

According to NYC Environmental Protection,

“Phosphate residues on dish surface may cause nausea, diarrhea and skin irritations. Phosphates are still active after wastewater treatment. When they enter waterways, they act as fertilizers and encourage overgrowth of algae, which leads to drastic reduction of oxygen in water. This results in the depletion of other living organisms like fishes in water bodies.”

There is also concern for the environment. According to the NY Times,

“While phosphates help prevent dishes from spotting in the wash cycle, they have long ended up in lakes and reservoirs, stimulating algae growth that deprives other plants and fish of oxygen.”

dishwasher detergent concernsDishwasher detergent concerns -Cleaning agents

You may notice that some ingredient labels will only display “cleaning agent”. This is a vague term, it can mean a number of different substances. The manufacturer may list the ingredients on their website. It is not always easy to identify what ingredients are in a product.

Dishwasher detergent concerns -Surfactants

Surfactants are often derived from petroleum products, which means they come from crude oil. Manufacturers use them to help avoid a residue film. They can also assist removing grease and dirt.

According to the Environmental Working group, cleaning agents can be contaminated with Ethylene and or 1,4 Dioxane. Ethylene Dioxide has been associated with genetic defects, reproductive concerns, central nervous system impairment, lung irritation  and cancer. 1,4 Dioxane has been associated with eye irritation, liver damage and cancer. It is assumed that these contaminants are not harmful as they are present in such small amounts.

Considering we are exposed to many products during the day, there is a risk that these ingredients here and there may add up.

Some surfactants can also be harmful to aquatic life.

Other concerning ingredients in dishwasher detergents

Sulfuric Acid has been shown to be a lung irritant. It can also cause burns and there is an association with cancer.

Sodium Hypochlorite has been shown to cause skin irritation, lung irritation, allergies and damage to aquatic life.

Sodium Polyacrylate  can cause skin irritation, allergies, and general organ damage.

Methylisothiazolinone is used as a preservative. It has been shown to cause skin and lung irrigation. The EPA has listed this ingredient as highly toxic to aquatic life.

Dishwasher detergent concerns -Dyes

Many of the dishwasher detergents contain dyes. Dyes do not add any benefit to the product other than making it look “pretty”. These dyes can be associated with allergies, it is best to avoid products that have artificial coloring.

Dishwasher detergent concerns -Fragrances

Dishwasher detergents are usually scented. Think about the aroma that you smell when you peel open the package. These scents are made up of many components that are meant to give a “pleasing” smell. Some of these fragrances contain phthalates which can be irritating to our lung and are also thought to be hormone disruptors.

I recommend reading the labels and knowing the ingredients. Some “green” products contain ingredients that can be harmful to aquatic life such as methylisothiazolinone.

substitution for household cleaner

Consider using plain vinegar as a rinse aid.

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Do you have any dishwasher detergent concerns?

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