Whole Home Detox: The Best Eco-Friendly Dish Soaps

This whole dish soap adventure started a few months ago when I discovered an amazing miracle cleaner made of vinegar, water, and a few drops of dish soap.  It turns out dish soap is one of the basic ingredient for all of my new homemade cleaning products. It is just so simple. It makes sense that the same stuff that makes my dishes clean and shiny would do the same for the rest of my home!

DSC 0430

However, it made me wonder if the dish soap I was using was really a safe, non-toxic substance.  This launched a big dish soap research project.  I spent many hours figuring out what dish soap is and what makes it safe or harmful.  Here is what I learned:

{NOTE:  Since there are so many of you finding this article via Google, I want to clarify that the information below is soley based on my own Internet research.  I had to weed through a number of scientific articles to compile the information below.  Chemistry is not my strong suit! I wrote this post because I was struggling to find a straight answer for myself.  Therefore, you may find errors.  I am not a chemist, just a housewife looking to better understand the products I use every day.  If you find an error, I welcome and appreciate all feedback, even dissenting opinions in the comment section below.  Thank you for being a part of the community. }

What is Dish Soap?

There is a difference between plan old regular soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and dish soap.  Dish soap is considered a “surfactant.”  Surfactants are the basis of all commercial dish soaps from Dawn to Honest Company.  What differentiates a surfactant from plain soap is that it’s molecules have been altered.  A surfactant’s molecule has been modified to contain a hydrophobic (water-hating) head and a hydrophilic (water-loving) tail.  This is what gives dish soap it’s pretty suds and grease-cutting abilities.

{NOTE: There is actually an error in my explanation of soap chemistry, as pointed out by one of my readers.  From what I understand, the molecules of soap and detergents are actually the same.  The difference is that detergents are created synthetically in a lab, while soap is created naturally.}

Surfactants are made out of fat molecules like those of coconuts or petroleum.  Therefore, surfactants can originate from natural ingredients, but are not naturally occurring.  They can be harmful or safe, depending on what they are made of and how they are made.

1,4 Dioxane:

This is the most serious problem with most dish soaps.  It is a by-product of a petrochemical called “ethylene oxide” which is given off during the conversion of the molecules.  Ethylene oxide is the chemical used to turn fat molecules into a surfactant.  The toxic chemical 1,4 Dioxane is often left behind during processing.  Unfortunately, it is a carcinogenic.  It is commonly known to contaminate SLS and SLES. (Keep an eye out for the terms “SLS” and “SLES.”  These are harmful, chemical foaming agents often derived from petroleum and processed with 1,4 dioxane left behind.  Many “green” companies like Tom’s of Maine and Seventh Generation use SLS, claiming that it is safe.  I could not find enough information on their version of SLS, so I steer clear.)

The bad news:  every dish soap must undergo this synthetic process in order to give you dish soap. Therefore, the chances are very high that 1,4 dioxane was left behind in your soap.

The good news:  there are a handful of companies that are testing their surfactants to guarantee that no 1,4 Dioxane has been left behind.  I have listed those companies at the bottom of this post.  Unless a company discloses that their dish soap is 1,4 Dioxane free, do not buy it.  This narrows your buying options considerably, but it is worth it.


All dish soaps on the market, including the eco-friendly ones contain preservatives.  In fact, if “water” is listed as the first ingredient, your can be sure your dish soap contains a preservative of some kind.  However, eco-friendly dish soaps will contain less toxic preservatives (the only toxicity concern being skin irritation).  Parabens are the worst; stay far away from those!  They are known to be disruptive to the reproductive system.  You will find parabens in the more mainstream commercial dish soaps.

Here are the safer, paraben-free preservatives being used by eco-friendly companies:

  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Benzilisothiazolinone
  • Phenoxyethanol

These scored C’s and D’s in the EWG database.  However, while they’re obviously synthetic, there are no red flags for cancer or developmental/reproductive toxicity.  The low scores came from concerns about possible skin irritation and the environment.

Petroleum vs Plant-derived

Make sure the surfactants in your product are plant-derived.  You can do this by finding out the actual chemical names of the surfactants in your dish soap,  like “Cocamidopropyl Betaine.” If you don’t see specific compounds listed on the label of your dish soap, check the company’s website.  Most transparent eco-companies will have the actual ingredients listed there.  You may also look them up in EWG’s cleaning guide to find out the toxicity levels.  There should be no red flags reproductive/endocrine disorders or cancer.

What You Should Look For

To sum up this crazy science lesson, here is what you should look for in shopping for dish soap:

  • Plant-based surfactants (or just plain soap, like Dr. Bronner’s)
  • 1,4 Dioxane-free
  • Phlathate (synthetic fragrance)-free
  • Dye-free
  • Petrochemical-free
  • Glycol-free
  • Phosphate-free
  • Caustic-free

Dish Soap Options

I was really surprised to learn that out of all the dish soaps on the market (yes, even the “eco-friendly” ones), there were only a few that met the above criteria.  A lot of “green” brands had to be thrown out for containing bad preservatives, SLS and “fragrances.”  Here are the safest options for dish soap:

Best eco friendly dish soaps

Dr. Bronner’s/DIY: The only real, 100% pure alternative to commercial dish soap is castile soap.  That is because it is a plain soap, and not a surfactant (synthetically altered to be able to cut grease).   I experimented with Dr. Bronner’s and did not like it for dishes at all.  It left behind a greasy residue and water spots.   I also could not remove the sticky oil build-up on my glass bread pan even after multiple scrubs and rinses.  I think I was very depressed for like a day!  I  can give up suds, but not my shiny clean dishes!  The killer: unless you water it down and mix with vinegar, it is also the most expensive option for dish soap at about $.50 per oz.

Better Life Dish It Out: I seriously considered switching to Better Life Dish it Out, but the price at $.31 per oz is double what I’m paying for my current dish soap.  It’s one of the only dish soaps that scores an “A” in the EWG database!  It contains only plant-based surfactants and is 1,4 dioxane free.  The biggest advantage to switching to Better Life is the extremely low ratio of preservative it contains. (I also love their branding. Cute bottle.)

Honest Company: This scores a “B” in the EWG database.  (It is obviously a mistake because there are no ingredients listed in the database at all.)  I looked up the each ingredient on the website.  The real score should be a “C.”  Another very good option; however, it comes in at a pricey $.37/oz!

The Winner Earth Friendly Products Dishmate:

This is, in my opinion, the best eco-friendly dish soap out there!  It is almost an identical dish soap to Honest Company, but more reasonably priced.  Earth Friendly products is by far the best value at $16./oz.

I looked up the score in the EWG database and it scored badly because there was not enough ingredient information in the database (that happens).   Looking up the each ingredient separately was the solution.  I found the ingredients disclosed on the Ecos website.  The element that lowered the score was a concern about skin irritation.  I have not noticed any skin irritation while using Dishmate.  There were no concerns about carcinogenic compounds, endocrine disrupters, or reproductive disorders, which is what matters most to me!

Though it’s no “A+,” I had enough information about the ingredients conclude that I feel very good about it.  I also love the way it cleans my dishes.  A few drops in some vinegar and water also makes an amazing, eco-friendly all-purpose and glass cleaner.  Not to mention, it comes in lovely scents like Pear and Almond.  Between the safety and the price, it remains my top pick for dish soaps.

I first purchased Earth Friendly Dishmate at a local health food/grocery store in town called Nugget Market, but my favorite place to get dish soap is from Vitacost.com!  You can save up to 50%!  I buy all of our toiletries and supplements there.

DSC 0432 DSC 0431 I’d Like to Know More About

Trader Joe’sCostco: I know a lot of my friends shop at Trader Joe’s and Costco.  Like me, you probably picked up their dish soap when you saw they were plant-based and biodegradable.  I did a search for the ingredient lists and could not find them anywhere!  Both scored an “F” in the EWG database because of this.  If anyone can find an ingredient list for Trader Joe’s Cleanliness dish soap or Kirkland Signature Eco-Friendly, let me know!  I’d like to find out if any of these meet my dish soap criteria.

Biokleen: I had high hopes for this brand, but the specs were all over the place. First, it scored an “F” in the EWG database.  Second, I couldn’t find any specific ingredient information on the website.

Additional Resources/References on SLS and Dish Soap: Gimme The Good Stuff Mercola.com Swift Crafty Monkey WNC Green Blog Collective Bright Hub Organic Consumers

Although my dish soap project was a total chemistry headache, it was worth it.  Not only did I learn a ton about dish soap, but I got my shiny dishes, which feels great!

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  • Beks

    Hey! I was wondering where Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products fell on the list. I looked at the ingredients but I wasn’t sure.

    • frugalfaye

      Hi there! Well, unfortunately, I could not add Mrs. Meyers to my list because I kept finding conflicting information as to whether or not their products contain 1,4 Dioxane! I was unable to confirm that fact on their website. If you have any info on that, let me know! I would love to add another safe dish soap to the list!

      • Anna

        1, 4 Dioxane is not listed as an ingredient used in any of the Mrs. Meyers products, according to this link on their website: http://www.mrsmeyers.com/Ingredients-Glossary

        • frugalfaye

          Hi Anna, yes you are right! That is because 1,4 Dioxane is not an ingredient, but actually a by-product left behind in the surfactant-making process! They actually change the molecules of the soap, and often 1,4 Dioxane is left behind. So most dish soaps do have it! Unless a company specifically says that their soaps are free of it, you can assume it is in there! (I wish I was a chemist and understood this stuff better…where is Walt from Breaking Bad when you need him?)

    • Rosey

      I recently was looking into mrs Meyers soap and cam across this website. Apparently it’s not so great?!?! http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/ShoppersSafetyGuide.pdf

      • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

        I actually have Mrs. Meyers on my counter top right now! I forgot to order my Ecos and I was in Target and grabbed a bottle. The main concern with Mrs. Meyers is 1,4 dioxane! It contains SLS and is not certified organic. Therefore you can be sure it contains 1,4 dioxane! All other ingredients, however, are actually not too bad.

  • Amanda

    Have you done any research on Branch Basics cleaner? It looks fantastic but I can’t find any information about it except what they have on their website.

    • frugalfaye

      Hey Amanda, that is exactly why I could not include Branch Basics in my list of eco-friendly dish soaps. Sadly, there are lots of companies out there who claim to be pure, but won’t actually release a list of compounds in their soap. The only soaps I included in my list were those who published a list of ingredients with names of all specific compounds. It sounds like a great product, but like you, I just need more information!

  • Patti

    Rachael, here you say to “add a few drops to vinegar” to make a great all purpose/ glass cleaner. But your glass cleaner “recipe” is mostly water…?? Or have you changed it to exclude the water now? Please explain.

    • frugalfaye

      Yes you are right! The all purpose cleaner does use both vinegar and mostly water! Thank you for catching that TYPO! I will fix it so people will not be confused!

  • Mely

    What do you know about the brand Babyganics? I use their dishsoap, the dish dazzler, and I love it but it is expensive.

    • frugalfaye

      Hey Mely! Funny you should ask. I use Babyganics Squeeze Foam for my daughters’ bath time (for bubbles and washing hair and body). I actually knew nothing about it until I received a sample from my midwife and my daughter just LOVED the “bubbles” in her bath. Of course the bubbles don’t last very long…no chemicals…but she doesn’t know. :) It’s a great soap, free of phlathates, parabens. I found it for around $4 for a little bottle on Vitacost.com. I thought it seemed really expensive, but it lasts a VERY long time. I did not know that they had dish soap until recently. They do claim to be 1,4 dioxane free also.

  • Fivetwelvegina

    Hi there: I contacted Coscto directly and they emailed me their list of ingredients and MSDS sheet for their dish soap. How can I pass this along to you?

    • Fivetwelvegina

      Frugalfaye: Did you actually want that information about the Kirkland Signature Dish Soap ingredients?

    • frugalfaye

      Wow, thanks! Can you email it to me? My address is [email protected]!

      • Erin F

        Did you get this? Basically, it is relabled ANTIBACTERIAL Sunlight! What a croc! If you still need the SDS for it, I can send it to you.

      • Alana

        So was the Costco brand found to be good or bad?

  • gale

    Hi, I was excited to see all your research on dish soaps, I looked on amazon for this product and found it the dishmate soap. but one of the reviews said it had neurotoxins in it is this correct? Is this really a good dish soap, I’m really looking for a good soap. thank you

    • frugalfaye

      Hi Gale, acccording to my research, the product is safe. I use the Evironmental Working Guide and neurotoxins were not noted. Do you know what ingredient was said to be a neurotoxin?

      • gale

        I’m so excited you responded! I went to amazon and looked at the review, this is what it said “this soap is anything but natural. If you go to their website it contains know neurotoxins.”

        What exactly are neurotoxin’s? I started making my own dishsoap, but it is a little strange, leaves a greasy film in my sink, and no suds. I would love to order some dishmate, the other reviews were good, other than one did not like the smell. I was so happy to find your blog. thank you for you research.

        • frugalfaye

          It is the best dish soap I have found, besides Honest Company! I have looked up each ingredient and to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing harmful in the dish soap! Your safest bet is definitely homemade dish soap. The homemade will leave a greasy film though, because the molecules have not undergone the synthetic process that makes them into a surfactant (grease-cutting). Good luck to you!

          • Alana

            I replied to the comment on Amazon and the person who posted the comment replied almost immediately. Here is his response: “Yes, glad you asked. They do not list the actual ingredients on the bottle as it is not required for detergents in the USA.

            Here is what it actually contains (from vitacost or any other retail website):
            Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (coconut-based surfactant), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (coconut-based surfactant), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (coconut-based surfactant), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Natural Fragrance, Methylisothiazolinone (preservative), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil (N.O.P. Certified Organic).

            from the ewg (dot) org website:

            About METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE: Methylisothiazolinone is a widely-used preservative; has been associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on the brain cells of mammals also suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.”

          • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

            Yes, you are correct about that preservative! Unfortunately, when it comes to preservatives in detergents, there’s not much you can do to get around it. You have to choose the lesser of evils. Methylisothiazolinone is a “safer” preservative.

  • Jessica Bokelman Rosendaul

    Do you have a top hand washing soap?

    • frugalfaye

      Jessica, yes I do! Thanks for asking. After I saw this comment, I wrote up a post about it which will be out this month after we finish our Ten Tables of Thanksgiving series! Earth Friendly products is my favorite non-toxic hand soap!

  • Jennafer

    I absolutely loved your artical. I found it to be very interesting and informative. Thank you.

    • frugalfaye

      Thank you Jennafer! Researching this post was a chemistry lesson, that’s for sure!

  • Vick Sand

    regarding 1,4 dioxane: if I’m using my own hand-made soap to make a dishsoap, and I use only vegetable/fruit oils (organic olive, coconut, and palm oils) with sodium hydroxide, because they are not petrochemicals and I’m not adding a surficant, then the saponification process will not produce 1,3 dioxane. Right?

    • Vick Sand

      oops, I meant 1,4 dioxane!

    • frugalfaye

      Yep! Its only the synthetic process that creates the 1,4 Dioxane by-product.

  • Tom Noddy

    Faye, I appreciate the work that you did to understand the science of surfactants and you readily admit that it is not your subject. But you did begin with a faulty premise. That need not deny many of your other conclusions because you went down a different road anyway.

    You said “What differentiates a surfactant from plain soap is that it’s molecules have been altered. A surfactant’s molecule has been modified to contain
    a hydrophobic (water-hating) head and a hydrophilic (water-loving) tail.
    This is what gives dish soap it’s pretty suds and grease-cutting

    But that is not quite right. Soap IS a surfactant and soap, too, has a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic end. That’s why it has helped us, since ancient times, to clean our bodies, our clothes and our eating utensils and dishes. The end or the molecule that doesn’t like water attaches to the oils present and the water-loving end ensures that it is pulled down the drain with the water when finished. That “amphiphilic” condition (goes both ways) is a natural occurrence as well as something that can be created in the lab. The other qualities that you are concerned about are not because of this useful situation.

    Tom Noddy

    • frugalfaye

      I need to learn more about the chemistry! Thanks for the info!

  • Alisa

    Home Basics Citrus Dishwashing detergent isn’t sudsy and for the pennies in savings, curious about your thoughts.

  • ceecee

    wondering if you’ve found the info on the Kirkland brand dish soap? I’ve been using it and like it. However, I do fermenting and culturing, so am extra concerned that I get a safe product.

  • kit

    I have used Kirkland Eco friendly dish soap for years. I also use it as hand soap. I can tell you the ingredients used to be something like vegetable based soap and natural citrus scent. That’s it. I just opened up a brand new bottle & I could tell the scent was different. I pulled out the bottle to look up the ingredients & sure enough sodium lauryl sulfate is the first ingredient. Actually, it’s the second ingredient as well. It also has fragrance, lauramine oxide, alcohol denate and some other long names. This is what prompted me to do an internet search today! So thank you for the information & hopefully what I have provided will mean you won’t have to wonder about what’s in the Costco soap!

  • Taylor Hale

    Overall, if price were of no concern, which would you choose? I’m trying the Better Life Dish It Out. Thoughts?

    • frugalfaye

      I would probably choose Ecos based on convenience! If I forget to order it online (which I usually do), then I can pick it up at the grocery store where I shop! I haven’t seen Better Life there yet! :(

    • Henry

      I would definitely choose Botanic Gold. I’m not a distributor (can’t bear recommending stuff I’d make a profit on, etc.) Botanic Gold is just that great though. It has a wonderful aroma that comes from its ingredients (listed above). I love it. The reason I’m on this page right now is that I just washed something out by hand in Ecover (why did I do that?!) and it took about 6 sinkfuls of water to get that soap OUT. Nasty stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever use it for dishes again. (By the way, I’m not really “Henry,” more of a Henrietta. :)

  • leah

    SUPER helpful and confirmed my opinion of Earth Friendly soap THKS!!

  • Linda

    Shaklee’s Hand Dish Wash Liquid Concentrate is completely non-toxic, hypoallergenic, no chlorine, pH balanced, from natural, sustainably sourced ingredients – derived from corn and coconuts, biodegradable surfactants, no phosphates, no dyes, recyclable packaging, and safe for all septic systems.
    It is concentrated, so a little goes a long way – no unnecessary added water like the other dish washing products. It has surpassed the products mentioned in this article when tested for effective cleaning. It is tough on grease, helps loosen baked-on foods, mild on your hands — special formula won’t remove natural oils in your skin, giving you soft hands, long-lasting suds, and leaves your dishes sparkling clean. It is a great camping choice because it is biodegradable and safe for use outdoors in warm or cold water. And, of course, it doesn’t contain any petroleum-based surfactants. I wouldn’t use anything else for my family’s health and safety. And, yes, I am a Shaklee Distributor, and I have been using these amazing natural products for over 25 years. Worth checking out.

    • Sophie Bai Lei

      I am very interested!….could you provide the complete ingredients list for the Shaklee’s Hand Dish Wash Liquid Concentrate? Thanks so much!

    • http://forgetmenotusa.com/ calebsmum

      what are the ingredients?

  • Santalena

    This is great information that you’ve shared. Thank you for all your time and effort in completing your research. I consider it a gift to my family and the world.

    • frugalfaye

      You are welcome! Glad it helped!

  • Doug

    I used to use Dishmate Free and Clear, but they either changed the formula or began disclosing more ingredients becuz at some point Methylisothiazolinone and Phenoxyethanol began appearing on the label. I switched to Eco-Me. Dishmate is a grade ‘C’ on EWG database. Still seems fairly clean as you say, but unless you don’t trust EWG methodology, there are many better options.

  • Aimy

    I love love love Shaklee’s dish soap. It’s safe, and cleans so much better than dish mate. Only need to use a dab, and non toxic. ( not trying to sell you but I do love it.)


    What do you think about the Melaleuca dish soap, Lemon brite?

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      I used Melaleuca for a while, but unfortunately it is near impossible to get your hands on an ingredient list! It worked just fine, but I really wanted to use a brand that was more transparent about their ingredient list.

  • Kevin Darling

    Swansons also has an “eco friendly” dish soap that seems to pass the standards…Has anyone used it before? http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-healthy-home-eco-friendly-dishwashing-liquid-25-fl-oz-739-ml-liquid

  • Henry

    Botanic Gold is a wonderful soap, but rather expensive. A small bottle makes a gallon for $35. I’m not sure how that works out for dish-washing. It’s not terribly sudsy, but it really rinses well and is great for hand washing of clothes. Very very pure. http://www.nontoxicsoap.com

    • Henry

      • NO Ammonia
      • NO Animal Products
      • NO Artificial Ingredients
      • NO Chlorine
      • NO Dye or Colors
      • NO Hydrofluoric Acid
      • NO Petroleum
      • NO Perfumes or Fragrances

      Botanic Gold Ingredients:

      Purified water, fatty acids, folic acid, minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed bearing plants.

  • Monika Mons

    I love Botanic Gold soap, but it’s too expensive for me, my husband just brought me a full box of dish soap from hungary http://www.bpg-fine.lt/lt/dishwashing-liquid/produkts/ind-plovikliai-fine , has anybody try it? Could you tell me is it good? Or i should sell them ?

  • Renae Reu

    Wondering about the Norwex dish washing Liquid. Anyone know?

  • Antonia Redmon

    Hey my name is antonia and i am wondering if you know anything about the brand babyganics? i am going to have a baby soon and am really looking forward to using this brand for diapers wipes and cleaning supplies as well as body things for the baby anything you can tell me about babyganics?

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Yes, I really like Babyganics! We use their foaming baby soap/shampoo! Great option. I found this brand through my midwife.

  • GP

    what about Ecover? Dishmate got some really lousy reviews on Amazon. I’m not sure using twice as much of a product makes it that cost effective…

  • Shanna Sambola

    adding vinegar to soap will completely throw off the ph and make it separate therefore rendering the soap useless and wasting your money. This doesn’t happen with dawn and other commercial cleaners because they aren’t really soap, they’re chemical detergents.

  • Mommy Shopper

    Thanks; this was helpful. 😉

  • likalaruku

    Trader Joe’s coconut derived surfacant = sodium laurel sulfate. Don’t use it, or the eco-friendly one at Fred Meyer’s.

  • teb

    Thank you for doing the research and sharing! I am just looking into this because my kids started helping with the dishes. They don’t need a lifetime of soaking their hands in toxic chemicals.

  • nora jean

    I won’t buy Mrs Meyers, uses SLS. The Trader Joes soap doesn’t give good suds, so it gets more expensive when using 3X’s the product. I use Miracle 2 soap. It sounds a lot like the Botanic Gold, but not as expensive. Botainic Gold is $99.00/gal, Miracle 2 is $44.99 on missdaisyshealth.com, plus you can buy a double or triple strength gallon so the shipping is cheaper. You just take the double strength gallon and add a gallon of water to make 2 gallons. Its very concentrated with a very light clean scent, it’s clear green, I like to put it in a foamer for hand washing and even for a few dishes, a great degreaser, foams well, takes out stains, dilute it for different strengths. It will wash a baby or full strength, take grease off the driveway, you can put a drop ( thats all you need) on your toothbrush along with a drop of essential oil and a natural toothpaste, you can put a few drops in water for stomach upset, is great for windows, appliances sparkle. Ingredients: Prayer, electrically engineered eloptic energized oxygenated water, ash of dedecyl solution, calcium, potassium, magesium, foaming agent, and the anointing of God. was created by Clayton Tedeton about 20 yrs ago when he said God wrote the formula one night on his bedroom wall. He made it and gave it away for a few years to find out what people thought, and they told him it was amazing and he should think about selling it, after many years he finally did sell it and it’s very popular, it is also a natural antibacterial. I keep a 32 ounce spray bottle with 2 TBS M2 for windows and mirrors-light duty, and another with 4 TBS M2 and 4 TBS M2 neutralizer, kills all bugs, spray on plants to keep bugs off, people spray their vegetables in the garden and they grow faster and bigger. The neutralizer is good for indigestion, and for wound cleaning after cleansing with the soap, just a ton of stuff. Google Miracle 2 testimonies/uses.

  • Mabel

    Thanks for researching this topic, and posting it for us! One side of me is all about using Eco products, but I feel open to mainstream brands since there are some items that my husband and I hate washing.. So rather than let it sit for days, I figure it’s less scrubbing work if I just put my rubber gloves on and wash it with a harsher chemical dish detergent. My husband doesn’t use gloves, this bothers me – I would never want the chemicals to affect his health.

    Can someone confirm, there aren’t any health issues that can arise from eating off water rinsed and air dried dishes/ cutlery?

  • Tracie K

    I did not see Norwex dish soap on your list. Did I miss it by mistake?

  • Chelsea Sawyer

    In my search for cruelty free body soap, I discovered Made from Earth’s soaps, and it has answered all my prayers for a perfect daily soap. Simple ingredients and a gentle scents – I use the Citrus Lavender and the Blood Orange Soap.

    No drying, no chemical scent, no sllck, artificial feel on the skin. My allergy prone skin is handling it well. My skin is in better shape than it has been in quite a while.

  • April

    It does have a sneaky paraben like preservative Phenoxyethanol

  • cristine

    Thank you for your time consuming research! I am looking forward to trying the Earth Friendly Dishmate. Just wanted to mention that you have the price at $16. / oz. Did you mean to $ .16/ oz.

  • JC

    Thank you so much for doing that research – and sharing it!!
    I was anticipating having to spend a lot of time looking at many websites to find a safe dishwashing detergent, and you did it all for us! Can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/lamouretlamusique Mercedes

    What an unbelievably helpful post. I’m about the run out of my Seventh Generation dish soap and just browsing all the “green brand” ingredient lists was eye-opening. A quick google search turned up your article, and I’ll now be switching to Earth Friendly Dishmate. Many, many thanks!!

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Glad I could help!

  • Amy

    Earth Friendly contains Sodium Coco-Sulfate which is just as bad as SLS. I will let you research that part. I will share this link with you regarding Shaklee products. And no, it’s not my blog. I did a simple search of Shaklee containing SLS. You can request the ingredients on any Shaklee product. I love Shaklee, but I still do not understand why they won’t make their ingredients known rather than having to request them.

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Yeah, sorry Amy. I can’t add Shaklee to my list. First, as you said, their product ingredients are not readily available to the public. Second, plant-based ingredients like coco-sulfate are still safer than petroleum-based ingredients like SLS. I have already researched it! :) Thank you for commenting!

  • Kim

    Thank you, this was such a great article! I was wondering if you knew anything about KG gold and Norwex? Look forward to hearing from you!

  • aj779

    How do you feel about Poofy Organics dishsoap? We love it!

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Never heard of it! Where do you get it?

  • Celine

    This might be stupid but many of the really good dish soaps are toxic. Dish Mate has a ton of chemicals. I used to use an okay dish soap from Mendards but they now put toxic ingredients in it. Why is there so much greenwashing even coops. So would just plain vinegar work as well for dishes? Also aren’t the plant derived ingredients still have the pesticides in the formula?

    • mirnaeads

      Melaleuca a lemon brute is safe and works, no testing on animals and safe around children and pets

  • urt

    Hi there I don’t know if formulas were changed since your original post but as of today 5/20/15 I checked ewg.org and it says Earth Friendly dishmate actually scores a C, the grapefruit scent a D! The Better life dish it out scores an A but they don’t have any data in a few categories so how did you check that one? And the Honest Co. free and clear dish detergent gel scores an A and has all the data. So from where I am standing that looks like the best choice. What do you think?

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      The funny thing is, Honest Co. and Ecos should score the same because Earth Friendly Products actually manufactures BOTH! I put each ingredient into the database individually. Sometimes something as simple as “skin irritation” from essential oils will throw off a grade. My main concerns are always whether or not the ingredient is considered carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting. Hope this helps, and I apologize for the LATE response! I think I was actually in labor on the day you posted this comment! Ha!

  • stephanie

    I notice that you mentioned using vinegar with Dr. Bonners. This “tip” is all overt the Internet but the chemistry does not support it. Vinegar is acid and castile soap is alkaline. When you mix the two the acid basically causes the castle soap to seperate which is why you end up with a greasy mess. At that point you are washing with olive oil.

  • Becca Perry

    Ava Anderson has safe, organic liquid dish soap. This company’s whole goal is provide products without harmful chemicals like the ones you mentioned by Faye!
    Two 16 oz bottles for $21.95. This company has done it’s homework! You can view these at http://www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/beccaperry I didn’t post just so you’d go buy it from me but I too, am trying to create a healthier environment in my home. Look around though…it’s awesome!

  • Michelle Mitchell Wortham

    Methylisothiazolinone causes horrible, horrible skin irritation for me and thousands of other. It is almost impossible to find a dishsoap that doesn’t contain this preservative.

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Yes, it is very hard. Almost any dish soap that contains water will have this ingredient. I’m sorry!

    • Susanne

      The European Union (EU) has discussed to ban Methylisothiazolinone (MI) because of the reasons below.
      “Methylisothiazolinone it is a powerful synthetic biocide and preservative within the group of isothiazolinones, which is used in numerous personal care products and a wide range of industrial applications.

      It is a cytotoxin that may affect different types of cells. Its use for a wide range of personal products for humans, such as cosmetics, lotions, moisturizers, sanitary wipes, shampoos, and sunscreens, more than doubled during the first decade of the twenty-first century and is proving to be a concern because of sensitization and allergic reactions as well as cell and nerve damage.

      Industrial manufacturing and distribution of the biocide has resulted in more severe health hazards to the humans involved in the handling of large concentrated quantities of the biocide.

      Industrial applications also are quite wide ranging, from preservative and sanitizing uses to antimicrobial agents, energy production, metalworking fluids, mining, paint manufacturing, and paper manufacturing, many of which increase potential exposure to it by humans as well as organisms, both terrestrial and marine. Industrial applications in marine environments are proving to be toxic to marine life, for instance, when the effect of its now almost-universal use in boat hull paint was examined.”


  • Mary

    I am looking for a dish soap that will get grease stains out of clothing. I was using all natural product for home and personal products, but I could not find a product that could get out grease stains. I was desperate because I was ruining all my clothes while I was cooking. I read on a site that they have not ever found a green product that could get out grease. The only thing that could do this was Dawn dish washing liquid. It goes against my principles, but I bought some. It works but it is petrochemical based and stinks, So, I immediately wash the cloths after scrubbing the stain out in baking soda, Biokleen laundry soap and a tiny bit of Biokleen oxygen bleach plus. The cloths smell so nice and fresh after the baking soda wash.

    If anyone has a better option, please let me know.

    • Emo

      I wear an apron (nearly all day long) to protect my clothes so I don’t have to use nasty chemicals to clean them. Easy on and easy off and a total life saver!

      • Mary

        My post was not as clear as I wanted it to be. I meant to say I worked in dawn into the stain, rinsed out the soap and then, washed the clothing item in Biokleen power detergent and baking soda and sometimes Biokleen oxygen bleach plus to get rid of the stink of dawn.

        But really the only way to deal with this problem is to cook naked.

    • su

      Oil Soap is the most fantastic cleaner I ever tried. If you got paint on your cloths you can just use that and clean it with and the paint will disappear from the fabric and the color of the fabric will not be damage. It’s fantastic. You can clean everything with this soap, floor, hands (they will not dry out your skin) , I even cleaned my hair once with this. There are no chemicals in it, 100 % natural and does not smell that strong that linseed oil usally do. The reason it doesn’t is because they took out the protein from it. You can find it here:
      or here:

  • User2984

    Hi, Faye.

    I have a question about your dish soap recommendation. Earth friendly Dishmate lists their fragrance ingredient as “Natural fragrances;” this seems like a red flag to me, since most companies with natural fragrances will list the oils or ingredients they used to produce that fragrance. Also, the term “natural” when used in ingredients lists is suspect bc its is so often used to describe compounds that are NOT natural. Finally, fragrances like apricot and pear and not often seen in natural products because they don’t come from readily available essential oils. All these factors make me suspect that the fragrance may not be 100% naturally derived.

    Can you weigh in on the vetting you did to make sure that their “natural fragrances” really are natural? And what are these fragrances made from?


    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Hi there! All the information about the Earth Friendly Products that I gathered is right from their website, which gives detailed specs about each product. I just checked and they actually do not list “natural fragrance” on any of their dish soaps. Instead, they use the verbiage “pleasantly scented with expensive, pure, natural pear oils.” (Or oils from whichever plant they have used to make the soap.) There is also a free and clear dish soap, which contains no fragrance at all. They have recently re-branded, so maybe their verbiage changed from what you are referring to (or maybe that’s what’s on the bottle label?) As a general rule, my litmus test for all fragrances is to find out whether or not the produce is phlathate-free. Phlathates are the biggest concern when it comes to fragrances. Also, I ran out of dish soap the other day and had to grab some “natural” dish soap from Costco (Kirkland brand.) As much as I love pretty fragrances, am now so unaccustomed to strongly scented dish soaps that I can barely deal with the smell of the Kirkland brand! I can taste the fragrances on my dishes! Ack! So I just ordered a new batch of Ecos dish soap from Vitacost.com! I hope this answer helps you!

  • Kathy

    Hi Faye, thank you for all of the research. I did not see the response on the “Kirkland environmentally responsible premium liquid dish soap” is it good or bad? Here are the ingredients. Thanks again!

  • Sully

    “Here are the safer paraben-free preservatives” and methylisothiazolinone is listed? Methylisothiazolinone is a highly toxic preservative, causing allergies and rashes on thousands. It is the number one contact dermatitis allergen in the country. Banned in UK and Canada. Legal action against Kimberly Clarke prompted the company to discontinue use of MI in their baby wipes. Research finds MI even affects immune system and neurons. Parabens are far safer.

  • Myrl Houser1

    I was looking for USDA CCC-933 last year and found a website that hosts an online forms library . If you are searching for USDA CCC-933 as well , here’s a http://goo.gl/VTOlT5

  • Cathy

    I love the article but the only problem I have it is so expensive buying these soaps. I use Dawn Dishsoap, Dove body soap and Head and Shoulders along with Tide. I try to use vinager and baking soda for cleaning. I just wish it didn’t cost so much to be healthy.

    • Bonnie

      Tide is not only bad for you, but it is Terrible for the environment. The production of palm oil necessary for Tide- the no.1 detergent in the US, is responsible for massive deforestation in Indonesia. It’s literally killing the Orangutan population. Tide is not worth that! See http://sites.tufts.edu/sarinatscott/report/ or stream Before the Flood for free.

  • vertigo_2_20

    I would recommend using caution letting sites like EWG do your research for you. There’s a lot of controversy about them, regarding their methods, agenda, and ethics. Personally, from what I know, what I’ve read about them, and what I see using their site, I don’t trust the information. I suggest people just look up each individual ingredient on their own and use multiple resources (including EWG if you insist, but know they appear to be biased and the information they offer is not necessarily accurate or in proper context) to determine if they feel a particular product is safe enough for them.

  • Millie

    I just looked at my Kirkland Environmentally responsible dish soap and found the same think as Kit below SLS is listed twice. Bummer! Glad I read your article.

  • Sherri

    The best way to test soap for harmful fillers is to put some in a bottle or jar and water, shake it up and let it sit for a few days. If there is a bunch of stuff that settles at the bottom that is no good. Mostly fillers. If it remains clear. You should be good to go.

  • Cheryl

    ( Here are the safer, paraben-free preservatives being used by eco-friendly companies:
    Phenoxyethanol ) I Have contact allergy to CL+ME-ISOTHIAZOLINONE
    CL+ME-ISOTHIAZOLINONE contains: Methylisothiazolinone if the eco-friendly companies are using this, I am in Trouble.

  • Cattlekate

    So I bought ecos dishmate, but wonder about seventh generation, because it’s at Walmart and otherwise I have to buy online

  • Neiko Cartier

    My mother has been using sunlight detergent for clothes and dishes my entire life, and as a result it’s all I use. It was not mentioned in any discussion or brought up on any lists. I have extremely sensitive skin, I’m sensitive to smells and get all sorts of reactions to new products so I stick to what I know works. But I am curious, are there any conflicts with this product I’m not aware of? I plan on making my own dishwashing soap from baking soda vinegar and a couple drops of sunlight dish soap. Even just a couple drops can’t be as harmful as some of the mentioned crap in most of our soaps? I’d love to hear your take on this. Thanks