Do You Really Need a Natural Dishwasher Detergent?


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 Earth Friendly tablets 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?

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11 Responses to Do You Really Need a Natural Dishwasher Detergent?

  1. Kristina Greene March 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    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?!?!?!

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters March 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      I haven’t done any serious research on BioKleen Kristina, but from what I can tell it looks like a good option.

  2. Anna March 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    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.

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters March 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      I’m so glad you found a non-toxic option that works so well for you Anna – thanks for the recommendation! ~Alicia

  3. Janine B April 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Have you tried GrabGreen dishwasher pods? I’d love to get your take on it.

  4. Bentina August 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    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.

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters August 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

      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

  5. Lorna Ladd July 23, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

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

  6. Sarah King October 18, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    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.

    • Kay Love February 17, 2017 at 11:18 pm #

      Sarah, I was wondering where do you get that from. I was searching for it, but could not find it anywhere.

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