Walking down the cleaner aisle at the store is quite the experience. The first thing that hits you is the strong smell of artificial fragrance; the second thing is the large amount of brands to choose from. If you are looking for a more natural dishwasher detergent, I’ll share info on why you should consider them and what my recommendation is, so you don’t have to sift through the endless options in the detergent aisle to find a great one.
A truly natural dishwasher detergent will:
Be Biodegradable – This means that the product only contains natural, plant-based ingredients that will break down/dissolve easily without destroying the environment.
Be Free from Artificial Fragrance – It will either be unscented or scented with natural essential oils.
List Its Ingredients – Full disclosure will be given when it comes to the ingredient list. If the ingredients are not listed, then it’s probably a good idea to not buy the product. Companies that manufacture cleaning products are not required by law to list their ingredients.
In 2010, Canada banned phosphates from all dishwashing detergents, laundry detergents, and all other cleaners, so that harsh ingredient is no longer a worry. Phosphates, in short, make detergents clean better. What was bad about phosphates is that they got into our water ways and were doing harm to all living things—from plants, algae, to fish which is why the government stepped in to ban them.
There is one other thing to note about phosphates. Right after phosphates were banned, there were many articles written about natural detergents. The articles focused on the fact that the new phosphate-free detergents did not work well and that dishes always came out dirty. In the four years since the phosphate ban, companies have had time to formulate better detergents that now work extremely well. Personally, I don't notice any difference when comparing a natural brand to a non-natural brand.
The Environmental Working Group created a Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Over 2,000 cleaning products, including dishwasher detergents, were “graded” based on several different criteria such as systemic/organ effects, general ecotoxicity, and biodegradation.
We all love dishwasher pods because there are no messy powders or liquids to measure—with a pod, you just simple throw it in the compartment, close it, set the dishwasher, and you are done. They are my personal preference.
The brand I use, Nature Clean Automatic Dishwasher Pacs, earned an A (the top grade).
When compared to a mainstream brand, let’s use Cascade Complete All in 1 Dishwasher Detergent Pacs, Citrus Breeze as an example. This dishwasher pod brand was at the bottom of the list. The ingredients that are known for this product scored it an F (the worst score).