What's in your dishwasher detergent? Do you ever even question these things or do you simply grab one and stick it in your cart at the grocery store? To be honest, even if you tried to pick out the best one amongst those displayed in the aisle you probably would have a very hard time because... full ingredients lists are not disclosed on the bottle! What? Yes. I kid you not.
Consumer advocate Sloan Barnett explains: “The government only requires companies to list ‘chemicals of known concern’ on their labels. The key word here is ‘known'. The fact is that the government has no idea whether most of the chemicals used in everyday cleaning products are safe because it doesn’t test them, and it doesn’t require manufacturers to test them either. (1)”
"She adds that the EPA, under the terms of 1976’s Toxic Substances Control Act, “can’t require chemical companies to prove the safety of their products unless the agency itself can show that the product poses a health risk—which the EPA does not have the resources to do since, according to one estimate, it receives some two thousand new applications for approval every year.” She cites a recent study by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, which found that the EPA approved most applications within three weeks even though more than half provided no information on toxicity whatsoever. (1)"
Arlene Blum, Ph.D, a biophysical chemist, explains in a Consumer Reports Interview, "In Europe they reverse the burden of proof. Manufactureres have to show that chemicals are safe before they introduce them. In the U.S., chemicals are innocent until proven guilty (2)."
Although these horrendous loopholes apply to chemicals across the board (laundry detergents, all purpose cleaners, etc) I'm going to micro-focus on dishwasher detergent for this blog post today.
According to the EWG*, here are the toxicity ratings on a few household name brand detergents (A being the safest and F being the most toxic and dangerous). Click on any of the brands below to see the full toxicity report and what health concerns and diseases they are linked to.
THE BAD & THE UGLY:
Walmart Great Value Dishwasher Gel Detergent (Lemon Scent): GRADE C
Ajax Dish Packs (Green Apple & Lemon Scent): GRADE C
Cascade Complete Dishwasher Detergent Gel (Fresh Scent): GRADE D
Cascade Platinum Pacs (Fresh Scent & Lemon Scent): GRADE F
FINISH Powerball Tabs (Orange Scent): GRADE F
FINISH Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Powder (Lemon Scent): GRADE F
Click pictures below to purchase
THE BEST & THE SAFEST:
Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder (Citrus Essence Scent and Free & Clear): GRADE A
Nature Clean Automatic Dishwasher Pacs: GRADE A
Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets: GRADE B
THE TRICKY & THE DECEIVING:
Seventh Generation is a well known brand for "clean all natural products" however not all of their products are safe or recommended. For example their dishwasher detergent packs in lemon scent are rated a Grade A, but their Dishwasher Detergent Gel in Free & Clear is a Grade C while their Dishwasher Detergent Gel in Lemon is a Grade F!! For this reason alone, I do not use Seventh Generation Products unless I specifically look up the EWG rating for the particular product I am interested in.
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