May 1, 2018
Healthy Home Swaps : Dishwasher Detergent
I am so excited to share my newest book, Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home with you. Through the book I guide you through my findings about what is in our homes and our daily-use products. If you’ve followed along on Clean Mama you know that I am all about natural products that are truly safe for your family.
Along the way I have recommended products that I believed to be 100% safe that actually weren’t. I corrected those inconsistencies and started making my own DIY cleaners as a result. You can see my DIY cleaning recipes here on the blog. I wrote a whole book on DIY cleaners back in 2014 here and a book on my cleaning routine complete with simple and safe DIY recipes – Simply Clean, 2017. I’m really excited to share some Healthy Home Swaps with you. This is a series intended to test out known safe products and simply share my findings and opinions with you, hopefully making a swap a little bit easier. I’ll continue to test out products with the hope that you’ll consider swapping out your everyday product for a safe alternative.
Let’s look at dishwasher detergent, shall we? You’d think that dishwasher detergent is just safe across the board because we eat off and drink out of dishes that come in direct contact with this cleaner, right? But it’s not. Dishwasher detergent can contain bleach, artificial fragrance, dyes, and a whole host of chemicals with known adverse health affects. These effects can be respiratory issues, endocrine disruptors, and known carcinogens. You can see quite a few ratings on EWG here if you’re interested.
Why should you worry about what is in your cleaning products? There is little to no regulation on ingredients and what is considered safe so you need to do your research and decide what you are okay with. I’ll be sharing information with you in little doses here and there as I always have been but I hope you understand that you should be concerned. If you use dishwasher detergent, it’s worth a look into what is in it because it’s coming in contact with your food and it’s going into the ecosystem as well.
DIY or BUY?
Dishwasher detergent is one of the most complicated products to effectively DIY and it’s also difficult to find one that works well in your home. Why? There are so many factors – your dishwasher, how hard or soft your water is, if you are on a well, have city water, etc. My hope with this post is to give you a couple detergents that are SAFE and work well. All of these products work in our dishwasher with our water. If you’re curious, we soften and filter our water. I know that that helps keep glasses clear and keeps a film or residue off dishes.
Here are a couple differences I noticed in my testing and use in my home
My first suggestion when looking at dishwasher detergents is to always choose one that is unscented. You don’t want your dishes to have a scent or taste and if you look at ratings, the fragranced ones always rank lower. I’m sharing my favorite types of each kind of dishwasher detergent – pods, powder, and gel.
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs
Easily accessible, you can find these at grocery stores, Target, Walmart, etc. This works well, is rated well and is typically the least expensive option.
Grab Green Dishwasher Pods
This is what I use most of the time. I’ve found that it does the best job with my dishwasher and water scenario.
Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder
This is a great option if you prefer powder – it comes with a scoop to ensure you get just the right amount dispensed.
Better Life Dishwasher Gel
Prefer a liquid or gel dishwasher formulation? This is the best one on the market in my opinion.
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs – free & clear / 45 uses / $9.99 / 28.5 oz ($.2/oz)
Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder – 64 uses / $11.89 / 32 oz ($.37/oz)
Grab Green Dishwasher Pods – fragrance free – 60 uses / $15.42 / 36 oz ($.43/oz)
Better Life Dishwasher Gel – 60 uses / $12.85 / 30 oz ($.43/oz)
Have you tried any of these dishwasher detergents? What are your thoughts?
Megan barton Says
Seventh generation still uses methylisothiazolinone in it. I know I react to all things using it. A lot of products have this in it. The honest company got rid of it. I have many health problems. They are better now that I’m using items that don’t include this ingredient.
b r SaysPost author
I have not seen that on the package or listed ingredients.
Thank you for this! It is so hard to know what is a safe product and what isn’t. I also make most of my own cleaners (using your recipes, I might add!) but like to buy ready made laundry detergent, dish soap, and dishwasher liquid. I’ve heard a lot about the Better Life product line and have thought about trying them out.
Ok so I’ve been thinking about this recently, if it makes a difference in the soap I use for the dishwasher. Why does the soap matter, if it’s cleaning it and being rinsed off? It’s not like you’re eating the soap. Lol. Soap should be all gone when you’re ready to use it again right? So why would it affect you? You’re not breathing it in. I’d rather feel like my dishes are really super clean of all germs and old food. Also for dishes that are stained, like with red sauce, nothing else but bleach worked to get them clean and stain free again. If I rinse it off and clean afterwards, why is that bad? Thank you in advance for your advice! 🙂
b r SaysPost author
There can still be residue from the detergent left on the dishes – I’ve used some detergents and could taste the chemicals. Maybe I’m ultra-sensitive? But I know from my research that there can still be chemicals remaining 🙁
Stephanie Gutschall Says
All that chemical is going into our water supply.
You actually are breathing it in when your dishwasher runs. 🤷🏻♀️
Missy K Says
How does your homemade dishwasher detergent rank with the store bought ones?
I love seventh gen products! I use their ultra power plus liquid dishwasher detergent because we are septic and were told to not use powders or the tabs. It works really well!
Stephanie Pennington Says
Does anyone have feelings about Ms. Meyers pods?
I use Mrs. Meyers pods and love them. The dishes feel cleaner and glass sparkles
I’ve used Mrs.Meyers dishwasher pods in Basil scent and they weren’t miraculous. After I bought them I found that the counter spray is rated poorly on the THINK DIRTY app which has made me not want to buy any future items. I’m going to try some some of Clean Mamas recommendations going forward!
We use 7th Generation powder and have for years. Glad to see it passes muster!
We recently bought a new dishwasher, and the installer told us never to use gel in a dishwasher, that it would shorten the life of the machine. He said we should exclusively use powder or pods. Just curious if anyone else has heard this, and if so, why are so many gels on the market??
b r SaysPost author
I haven’t heard that either!
Yes, I have heard that it is best not to use gels in the dishwasher. Our son services appliances and he says that gels are not good for the dishwashers and can cause problems. “Don’t use gels, Mom.” So I don’t.
Maybe it was just your brand. I can’t use the pods in my kitchen aid because the shell part never dissolved it just wrapped around the heating element. The dishes had a haze on them as well.
We use Seventh Generation pods and love them. We have hard water so I am fussy about using vinegar to clean our dishwasher out frequently, but I don’t notice any difference in the hard water buildup with these versus what we used before. I have been doing my research on the products and have switched almost every thing out to healthier brands. I’ll be reading your posts for more info. I don’t believe we can have enough knowledge to stay healthier. Thanks!
I use 7th Generation in fairly hard water and it works well but I also use the rinse aid with it
I’ve been useing biokleen powder dishwashing soap for several years. It cleans the dishes well and I haven’t seen any damage to my dishes. I was warned by others that the “natural” cleaners useing citric acid can etch your plates. This powder can leave a film on my glass or leftover storage containers. Especially if I don’t use a rinse aid. I don’t understand why we need these, but after seeing the film I bought a “natural” rinse aid for my machine and it helped.
Deb Fair Says
Do you use a rinse aid in your dishwasher? If so, what kind do you recommend?
b r SaysPost author
I don’t need it in my dishwasher but I recommend just putting plain vinegar in the compartment.
What commercial rinse aid do you recommend?
I hand wash my dishes for the moment and certainly notice the difference with natural dishwashing liquids. My hands in particular feel the difference. Sometimes I can even get away with not wearing (non latex) gloves.
I’ve been using Better Life but I find that my dishes still aren’t clean after the dishwasher. Maybe I need to add a rinse aid or get my dishwasher looked.
b r SaysPost author
Try something else and see – not every detergent works with every type of water/dishwasher. You can use white vinegar as a rinse aid 🙂
Julee Wilson Says
I’ve been using 7th Generation for awhile. I also use vinegar as a rinse aid, but I still find that grease builds up in my dishwasher. Also, a pink mold builds up over time as well. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. I have a Kitchen Aid…