Safer Dishwashing Detergents Cheat Sheet

By Kristie Turck •  Published 01/28/10 •  6 min read

Last updated on April 27th, 2022 at 07:39 pm

I get a lot of questions about safe dishwashing detergents. In fact, it’s one of the most requested Cheat Sheets. So I figured I’d put together a quick list of some safer dishwashing detergents. If you scroll to the bottom I also have a recipe for making your own natural dishwashing detergent.

Ingredients in dishwashing detergents to avoid.

Let’s focus on the top three worst chemicals that are often used in dishwashing detergents.

  1. Phosphates: Phosphates are all sorts of bad and are completely unnecessary in your detergents.  Phosphates act as a water softener, in order to make your detergent “work better.”  They leak into the ground and water system and wreak havoc on our ecosystem.  Once in the water system, it causes algae blooms, which rob the water of oxygen.  This is just a smidge important for our aquatic life.  (fish need oxygen too!)
  2. Chlorine: Chlorine is one of those cleaners that people swear by.  Your house is just not “clean” unless you douse it with a healthy dose of bleach.  Need your baby’s toys or bottles sanitized?  Just add a little bleach to the water.   Again, entirely unnecessary.  Bleach is caustic.  The fumes alone are enough to make you sick.
  3. Artificial perfumes (phthalates): By now, it’s known that phthalates are just plain bad for you.   Those fresh morning daisies you’re smelling in your dishwashing detergent, most likely contain phthalates.   And are most likely leaving that residue on your glasses.  Ew.

Safer Dishwashing Detergents.

Please keep in mind that this is not a complete list, but we do our best to update and add detergents as often as possible. Do you know of one that should make the list? Drop us a line.

Without further adieu here are some of the best safer dishwashing detergents.

Better Life Automatic Magic: Naturally Crumb Crushing Dishwashing Gell is an ultra-concentrated gel designed for use in automatic dishwashers – and it’s scent-free.  Ahhh.

SafeMama Pick
Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent
  • Inexpensive
  • Made in the USA
  • No phthalates, chlorine or phosphates
  • IT WORKS WELL
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Seventh Generation: This is probably one of the more popular eco-friendly dishwashing detergents on the market.  It’s available at most grocery stores, as well as Target.   Truthfully, I was not a fan of it, BUT, I only used the powder, so the gel may be a different story entirely. Kathy has used the gel version with much success – she’s a fan! Please note that some Seventh Generation products use SLS and this might be one of them. If you avoid it, skip this one.

SafeMama Pick
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs
$24.54

This is probably one of the more popular eco-friendly dishwashing detergents on the market. It’s available at most grocery stores, as well as Target.  Truthfully, I was not a fan of it, BUT, I only used the powder, so the pods may be a different story entirely.

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05/28/2022 09:47 am GMT

 

Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder: I haven’t tried biokleen’s dishwashing detergent, but I have used some of their other stuff and am a big fan.  Their bac-out works wonders. So this might be worth checking out.  I’ve always found their products to be affordable too.

Biokleen Automatic Dish Soap Powder - 128 Loads
$27.98
  • Phosphate & Chlorine Free
  • Eco-Friendly
  • No Artificial Fragrance, Colors, or Preservatives
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05/28/2022 09:49 am GMT

 

Dapple: We’ve actually done a review of the Dapple dish soap, and it worked pretty well.   This detergent was made specifically for baby bottles and dishes.  I haven’t had a chance to try the detergent, but given that my daughter gets bottles, and given how much I hate washing them by hand (which I still do, anyway, because they just don’t seem as clean otherwise, see above re: caked-on food), it makes me feel better that there are moms out there who get the same icky thoughts about putting their baby’s bottles in the dishwasher with a harsh chemical detergent.

Made in the USA
DAPPLE Baby Dishwasher Pacs
  • Plant-Based
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Plant Based
  • No Chlorine
  • No Phthalates or Parabens
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Bottle And Dish Soap
Dapple Baby, Bottle and Dish Soap Dish Liquid
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Ecover: I have to say, out of all of the eco-friendly dishwashing detergents out there, this one worked the best.  Especially being a powder.   If you couldn’t tell, I tend to not be a powder fan.  I hate the powder residue.  But these handy little tablets actually worked rather well and didn’t leave much in the way of residue.  The downside?  Is the cost.   I also had a hard time finding them, and that whole new baby thing has left me a tad bit forgetful in remembering to order some.   Given the number of dishes we go through on a regular basis, running out of detergent is just not an option.   But this has no bearing on the performance.  I love Ecover products!

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Soap Tablets
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Method Dishwasher Detergent Packs: If there’s one thing that Method has down, it’s a knack for packaging.  They try to make their packaging appealing and cute.  And I’ll admit that it gets me.   Those sleek curved edges.   But I have not tried their smarty dish.  I’ve heard good things, but I just have a hard time justifying the cost of only 20 tablets.  That’s like a week in my house.  Also, the fact that it’s a powder makes me leery.   I’d like to say you can teach an old dog new tricks, but not for a mere 20 tablets.

Method Dishwasher Detergent Packs, Free + Clear
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Nellie’s Dishwasher Nuggets: Again.  I haven’t tried these, but they popped up in my quest for a safer detergent.  I passed on them, because of the powder/ small amount they give you combo.   If you only do a few loads a week, maybe this is the detergent for you.

NELLIE'S Dishwasher Powder
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DIY Dishwasher Detergent Recipe.

Alternatively, I did find a recipe for making your own, online, and the recipe is as follows:

Instructions Here: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax

I’m ALL about the vinegar and baking soda.  We use TONS of it in our house, and I did try my hand at a couple of methods (not this one) in my dishwasher and was unsuccessful.  I would love to hear if anyone has used this recipe or something similar with success because I would switch in a heartbeat if I knew it would work.

Now it’s your turn SafeMama readers.   Is there anything here that we haven’t mentioned that has worked for you? Drop me a line and I’ll check it out.