dishes

Whether you hand wash dishes or use a dishwasher, the soap, detergent or rinse you use to get them clean will go straight down the drain and into our waterways and environment. Cleaning your dishes with products free of hazardous chlorine bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde and phosphates is a must—for your health and for the planet. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released 10 top-scoring products for cleaning dishes from its database of cleaners. Find out what makes these dish cleaning products the best of the best.

1. Green Shield Organic Squeez Automatic Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Lemongrass

When you pour this detergent into the dishwasher, you won’t have to worry about chlorine bleach and phosphates polluting the environment. The biodegradable formula in Green Shield Organic Squeez Automatic Dishwater Liquid Detergent includes just acetic acid, sea salt, water, sodium carbonate, saponified cocos nucifera (coconut oil), citric acid, xanthan gum, cyamopsis tetragonolba (guar) gum, sapindus muckurossi, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice powder, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel powder, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) and acacia senegal gum. Overall, this dishwasher detergent earned an A rating from the EWG.

2. The Honest Co. Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel, Free & Clear

This dishwasher gel is honestly free of all of those yucky chemicals often found in dish cleaners, like ammonia, SLS/SLES, synthetic perfume, glycol, dyes, phosphates 1,4-dioxane, chlorine, bleach, formaldehyde and petrochemicals. The Honest Co. Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel includes just six ingredients, all of which earned an A or B rating individually from the EWG. Ingredients include sodium citrate (a corn-based complexing agent), water, citric acid (a citrus-based softening agent), xanthan gum (a corn-based thickener), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (a plant-based cleanser) and enzymes (biodegradable amino acids catalyst). Overall, this dishwasher gel earned an A rating from the EWG.

3. Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Hypo-Allergenic

Handwash your dishes with this mild chemical-free dishwashing liquid. It cleans with just sodium bicarbonate, sodium sulfate, sodium chloride, water, lauramine oxide, sodium laureth sulfate and C10-16 Pareth-1. Because it doesn’t contain additives or perfumes, it’s also safe for sensitive skin. Overall, this dishwashing liquid earned an A from the EWG. You should note that sodium laureth sulfate, a cleaning agent, and C10-16 Pareth-1, an incidental ingredient from the manufacturing process, did earn C-ratings individually.

4. Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs, Free & Clear

These dishwasher detergent pacs make cleaning dishes easy—and safe. After dropping a single-use pac into your dishwasher, the detergent will remove grease and grime from dishes without phosphates, chlorine bleach or synthetic fragrances. Encased in biodegradable PVA, the formula in each pac contains a mixture of ingredients that scored A to C ratings from the EWG. The C-rated ingredients include sodium magnesium silicate, aspartic acid, polyvinyl alcohol, aspartic acid, DL- and PPG-10-laureth-7. Overall, the detergent pacs earned an A from the EWG.

5. Better Life DISH IT OUT Natural Dish Liquid, Unscented

With a catchy name and eye-popping packaging, this dish liquid tries to bring the fun back into doing the dishes. It’s also fun knowing that you’re scrubbing those plates and bowls with soap that doesn’t contain sulfates, parabens or synthetic dyes and fragrances. The plant-derived formula also includes vitamin E and aloe to nourish your hands during all that scrubbing. Overall, this product earned an A from the EWG.

6. Ecover Rinse Aid

For streak-free dishes without unnecessary chemicals, pour Ecover Rinse Aid into your dishwasher’s rinse aid reservoir. The formula includes just A and B-rated ingredients from the EWG, including water, citric acid, sd alcohol, ethanol, butyl glucoside and butyl d-glucoside. This rinse aid earned an A overall from the EWG. To top it off, the rinse aid comes packaged in Ecover’s PlantPlastic, a type of plastic made from sugarcane, not crude oil.

7. Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Powder, Free & Clear

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Powder removes stuck on food with a formula that’s biodegradable and free of chlorine and phosphates, which are toxic to aquatic life. The powder includes ingredients that received between A and C ratings from the EWG. The C-rated ingredients include lithium magnesium sodium silicate, aspartic acid, DL- and PPG-10-laureth-7. Overall, this dishwasher powder earned an A from the EWG.

8. Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Automatic Dishwasher Detergent, Citrus

This citrus-scented dishwasher detergent from Whole Foods earned a B-rating from the EWG. It likely earned a B instead of an A-rating because the product only provided “some” ingredient disclosure and it contains one ingredient—linear alcohol ethoxylates—that earned a D-rating individually from the EWG. Linear alcohol ethoxylates are toxic to aquatic life.

9. Earth Friendly Products Wave Automatic Dishwashing Gel, Lavender

Clean your glassware, silverware and dishes with this effective dishwashing gel that’s free of chlorine, phosphates, formaldehyde, ammonia and petrochemicals. The gel is completely biodegradable and contains a neutral PH. The EWG gave this dishwashing gel a B-rating overall, likely because it only has “some” ingredient disclosure and contains one non-specific ingredient, enzymes. The lavender fragrance from two different lavender oils might also cause skin irritation or allergies, according to the EWG.

10. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Automatic Dish Packs

Filled with an oxygen bleach formula (not chlorine bleach), these dish packs from Mrs. Meyer’s each clean a load of dishes, flatware and glasses without harsh chemicals. Scented with basil oil for a cool, crisp smell, unfortunately the formula also contains other non-specific “fragrance” ingredients, including synthetic fragrance. This product also includes other non-specific ingredients and only provided “some” ingredient disclosure to the EWG. These reasons are likely why the product earned a B, not an A-rating overall from the EWG.

This is just a sampling of products in the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning database. Visit the database for more information.

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image: Apogee Photography