Is it Really Necessary to Use Natural Dishwasher Detergent?

Do You Really Need a Natural Dishwasher Detergent?

Is it REALLY necessary to use a natural dishwasher detergent? This is a question we get a lot during our natural babyproofing workshops, and the short answer is: yes.


This is a question we get a lot during our natural babyproofing workshops, and the short answer is: yes.

Natural dishwasher detergent had proven to be my nemesis for years. After trying so many different brands with marginal results, I seriously had to ask myself if it was worth the effort.  I spent some time and refreshed my research on the topic and here's why it really is important…

  • Chlorine bleach is still a key ingredient in most mainstream brands. This poisonous chemical can cause some major respiratory troubles, especially when chlorine fumes are released into the air during the drying cycle.  There's just no reason to expose your growing children to toxic indoor air when there are so many safer alternatives available.
  • Synthetic fragrances are very common and often contain phthalates.  Remember how more than 3,000 chemicals can legally hide behind the term “fragrance” on a product label?  If you take a look at the “eco” version of a brand like Palmolive, you'll see fragrance listed, so you have to be careful with “natural” claims.
  • Sulfuric acid is also added to regular detergents too.  It's very corrosive, can cause burns and is suspected of causing asthma.  Did you happen to notice sulfuric acid was also listed in Palmolive's eco detergent?

As you can see, dishwashers are a surprisingly big  source of indoor air pollution because we end up inhaling chemical vapors during the wash cycle and even more so after you open the door when the dishes are done.

Switching to a Natural Detergent

I decided to test my skills at a DIY recipe for an automatic detergent.  And even though it felt great to know I'd made something non-toxic and inexpensive, it just didn't get the job done.  So I began working my way through some of the major eco-brands to see if they could do a little better.  I was disappointed with many of the eco-brands.

I found that EcoverSeventh Generation, and Better Life Dishwasher Gel worked pretty well, but I still haven't really settled on a favorite and still switch around quite a bit.

DIY Dishwasher Detergent Recipes

Many of my eco-blogging friends are all over this game of finding a DIY detergent that actually works, so here are their top recipes:

I'd love to know which of you Non-toxic Ninjas out there have made a homemade recipe that really works.  Would you share your winning recipes?

  1. I have tried a few recipes but have not liked the results. I’m thinking that our hard water may be the culprit. I’ve had the same results with homemade laundry detergent as well. I’ve settled on BioKleen for dishes. Please tell me this one is OK?!?!?!

  2. We love, and I mean LOVE, Seventh Generation Free and Clear powder detergent. It works the best. We never use the dry cycle…just open the dishwasher as soon as it is finished and air dry the dishes! There is no weird chemical smell, just clean dishes.

  3. I use the EcoSense line from Melaleuca, when they switched from gel to tabs I was disappointed and went the DIY route, not that they didn’t do the job, but the size was inconvenient for our house (5 less loads). The DIY recipe I used worked well, but as soon as the Gel formula came back I ditched and went back to the gel. I would use that recipe again in a pinch for sure. It smelled like lemons, just like my EcoSense…my favorite ‘clean’ smell! 😀 I use plain white vinegar in the rinse compartment.

    1. Hi Bentina! We never could get a full ingredients list for Melaleuca, so we weren’t able to include it in our list. If you have access to it, would you send it our way at info @ Thanks! ~Alicia

  4. We love the thyme with fig leaf autdish detergent from Grab Green. Smells amazing, no chlorine, phosphates, dyes etc…

  5. I have recently started using a chemical free dishwasher detergent from Young Living and absokutely love it! We have gone completely toxin free with Young Living.

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