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Harmful Chemicals in Dish Soap

Jamie Conrad
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Dishwashing soaps are available in liquid and powder forms, and can be used to hand wash or machine wash dishes. While they are excellent for tidying up after a meal, conventional soaps may contain chemicals potentially harmful to you and your family.


Chlorine, alkyl phenoxy ethanols (APEs), dichloromethane (DCM), diethanolamine (DEA), dioxane, phosphates, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, and synthetic fragrances are chemicals often found in dish soaps.

Environmental Effects

Chemicals used in dish soap contaminate our water supply when they wash down the drain; they also decimate fish populations and contribute to excess algae in water.

Effects on Humans

Chemicals in dishwashing soap can be poisonous or cancerous, can contribute to genetic problems and asthma, and may cause skin irritation.


These chemicals are diluted when used in detergents and then diluted again when the detergent is used, making them less dangerous when the detergent is properly used. However, the chemicals leave residue which can make its way into the food you eat when your food touches your plate.

DIY Dish Soap

Try combining 1 cup liquid castile soap with 1 tbs. lemon juice for a safe, chemical-free dish soap.