The Dirt on Dish Detergent

Most people don’t think much about dish washing detergents. What matters is if the dishes get clean and then what else could it matter? But there are many things you should be considering about using this stuff and when you realize how greatly it affects you, I think you will start thinking about it when you shop

As a person who was allergic to detergents at a very young age, I have since been forced to find solutions. My mother, who was a nurse and noticed the reaction first, did not cease having me wash dishes or clean house, she simply bought me gloves. But this problem extended well beyond the kitchen and reared it’s ugly head everywhere, from the shower to the laundry room. I was always itching, always red, always stuffed up and sick. There just weren’t any solutions to my problem back in the day

But what does this have to do with me, you say? Well, you don’t have to be allergic to something to have it affect you and, in fact, I have since come to discover that my reactions were not always allergic, but actually SENSITIVE, and this to chemicals and toxins in the products I was forced to use. In my search for solutions to all of these seemingly unsolvable problems, I came across a plethora of facts and solutions that I would like to share with you.

There are SO MANY chemicals and toxins in your dish detergent! If you don’t believe me, try reading the label. How much of those things can you even pronounce? Most of that belongs in a test tube in a Hazmat lab, not in your dish detergent. Yet, still, how does it affect you? Well, you EAT off of those dishes. You rub your face and body with the hands that have been IMMERSED in water full of those chemicals. You have washed those chemicals down the drain, into the city water system and, in turn, you drink the water from the tap. I don’t want to turn you into a freaky geek afraid of every thing you touch, but you should consider going green this way.

Just switching to fragrance-free hand dish detergent will make the world of difference to the indoor air quality in your kitchen as well as the condition of your skin and airways. The synthetic fragrances present in dish soaps are made of a large number of petroleum products, hundreds in fact, and these can cause a number of health problems. Such problems include aggravating asthma and extend on out to more devastating neurotoxic reactions. So if you wear gloves when you wash dishes and therefore not too worried about the dyes (usually a green color) in the detergent, you will still breathe in the scent.

Generally, although dyes tend to always be up for review for causing cancer and being neurotoxic, the FDA rarely restricts their usage and they should be looked out for. Even though I can’t seem to find anything specific about dyes on the labels of hand dish detergents I do know that even food grade dyes are being removed from the diets of children because they can cause behavioral problems. Imagine these dyes being served up to your children on a daily basis on the very “clean” plates you have scrubbed?

Consider making your own homemade dish soap or buying a “natural” product off the shelf and using it, without dyes, without petrols, without additives! Even if you don’t have health problems that concern you or you have no children in your home, you should consider trying this because these homemade soaps don’t contribute to indoor air quality and are better for the waste water stream.

So, if you are not crafty or are just too busy, then you should go and buy a great natural product, and see how it works in your environment. Who knows, maybe that nagging sinus thing you have will go away! Still, if you are a bit handy and like to make your own stuff, then consider trying out my recipes below to bring simplicity and safety to your daily cleaning chores.

Try these and see if you like them:

Basic Natural Liquid Dish Soap

This is made with some commercial products that make it a quick recipe.


1 bar of unscented natural soap or a box of all natural soap flakes
1/2 Gallon of water
Vegetable Glycerin

Grate the bar of soap or use 2 cups of the flakes. Mix with the water and 2 tbsp of the liquid vegetable glycerin. Stir over low heat while the soap disintegrates. Keep stirring as the soap dissolves, checking the consistency. If it gets too thick for use as dish soap, add more water until it thins out. Make sure the soap is completely dissolved and mixed with the water to a thick but not too thick consistency. Put this liquid in any container from which you can use it. Remember that the quality of this basic soap will depend on the kind and type of soap you use. Choose a natural, unscented product for best results.

Herbal Scented Dish Soap

This is for those of you who just can’t stand a soap that isn’t scented. This is citrus, fresh smelling and is guaranteed not to cause allergic reactions. There isn’t even any lye or other chemical. Au Naturale!


2 cups of grated or liquid Castile Soap
1 tablespoon of coconut or avocado oil
1 teaspoon vodka
1/2 tablespoon glycerin
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Essential Oil
1/2 teaspoon Grapefruit Essential Oil – 10ml
1/2 teaspoon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
2 1/2-3 cups of spring or distilled water


Mix the grated soap, palm oil, glycerin and 2 1/2 cups of the water in a double boiler. Simmer over low heat until the soap melts and is liquid. Once the soap is liquified, add the Vodka. Remove from heat right away and let it cool slightly before adding all the oils. DO NOT let it cool all the way. It should be very warm when you add the oils. Then, let it cool completely. It should thicken and as it thickens, you should check the consistency. If it’s too thick to pour, add in small amounts of the water until it’s thin enough. Be careful because if it gets too thin, it’s way complicated to thicken it back up.

Select a container or bottle from which is will be easy to use. Use a funnel to pour the liquid into the bottle; do this to weed out any soap that did not completely melt. It will be too lumpy to pour through the funnel. Keep this in any normal place you would keep your dish washing liquids. Use as needed.

Herbal Detox Soap

This is a recipe for those of you who have been affected by soaps and want to return to the basics. It is made with Soapwort, which you can either buy in a herbal store or co op or grow yourself. It is free of all chemicals, dyes or other commercial additives and does not have a strong scent. Of course, do not use this if you are allergic to Soapwort, Pinks, Carnations, Magnolias, Campions, Chickweed, Babys Breath or any plants of the genus Caryophyllaceae. If you are in doubt about which plants this might include, look up allergens you are concerned about and make sure they are not of this family.


1 oz of Dried Soapwort Flowers, Leaves and/or Roots
1 Gallon of Distilled Water
2 tbsp Liquid Vegetable Glycerin


Bring the leaves and roots to a boil in the water over medium heat. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer until the water reduces by 1/3. Strain out the leaves and roots through a sieve and add in the glycerin. Heat gently while mixing in the glycerin. As soon as this is thoroughly mixed in, set aside and allow to cool completely. This should thicken as it cools but if it gets too thick, add more water. If it remains to thin, add in more glycerin and gently reheat until thick enough.

Another method is to simply chop up the leaves and roots and add it to hot water in the sink. Add the hot water slowly, mixing in the roots and leaves until the water is foamy. Once it is hot and foamy and filled enough, use the water as the soap and soaking the dishes in this is safe. Also, in the old days, people used the leaves themselves as homemade sponges and they have wonderful scouring properties. Perhaps you might try this in a pinch or if you just want to go all natural and rid the home of bacteria ridden sponges as well. It’s your call.

A note about all of these soaps. If you would like to add greater astringent properties to these soaps if you need to cut a lot of grease or want dishes really squeaky clean, add lemon or lime juice to any mixture. If you wish to add antibacterial properties to your homemade soap, you can do so by using any one of these herbs, in oil or tincture form: Oregon Graperoot, Goldenrod, Echinacea, Aloe, Comfrey, Garlic, Plantain or Tea Tree Oil.

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10 Responses so far

  1. 1

    It is easy to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent. My recipe only has 4 ingredients and none of the toxic chemicals found in name-brand products.

  2. 2

    […] There is one incident where a person who has an allergy reaction which using a dishwashing detergent at an unusually young age. He has found a way on how to use these products despite his allergy to it. He uses hand gloves whenever he washes dishes thinking that this will keep him from any adverse reaction. However, the gloves he used are not enough to protect him as he began experiencing severe itchiness, swollen body parts, and he became sick often. This incident only shows how potent and harmful the toxins in the dishwashing detergents are that even if you use protection, this will not stop from producing allergy reactions on your skin. For further reading. […]

  3. 3

    […] More recipes for homemade dish detergent here. […]

  4. 4

    Hi: I like this post. It has great information to start on this topic. Pl. update me on such posts. Saroj Dhongadi

  5. 5

    Hi: This is informative Post. Great job guys, keep it up. Saroj Dhongadi

  6. 6

    You are spot on. These detergents do more harm than good.

  7. 7

    […] thing straight on the front end. These people linked to my blog because I had an article on the dangers of dish detergent and they found this valuable to their customers. They did not ask me to review this product on the […]

  8. 8

    jessiedog said,

    Great article, very informative!

  9. 9

    Ira said,

    A low cost, green eco friendly, healthy natural way to do dishes is to make a homemade liquid from soapberries which grow on the Chinaberry tree and have been used for thousands of years. They work very effectively.

  10. 10

    […] Read the rest of this superb post right here […]

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