Best Safe and Non-Toxic Dish Soap (Buyers Guide and Review)

person washing hands - best safe and non-toxic dish soap guide

Avoiding chemicals in daily life is an uphill battle. Changing to a more natural dish soap is one way to make that battle a little easier. Conventional dish detergents tend to contain substances you wouldn’t want on your plate.

To help you find a less toxic alternative to the conventional, however, we offer you this guide to the best safe and non-toxic dish soap. So while you might not have any control over the amount of pollution you breathe in during your commute, you can at least keep toxic substances out of your sink.

Note: The following review contains links to Amazon.com. When you purchase something after clicking these links we earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Best Dishwasher Detergent – Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent – 8/10

Features & Benefits

  • Non-toxic and biodegradable
  • Phosphate, bleach, preservative, dye and fragrance-free
  • Not tested on animals
  • Concentrated formula

Pros

  • Good value
  • A little goes a long way
  • Subscribe and save coupon in effect on Amazon

Cons

  • Company doesn’t do refunds or returns
  • Contains a non-specific ingredient (i.e. “enzymes”)
better life natural dishwasher gel detergent

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent

Rating: 8/10

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Editorial Review

We made Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel our top pick because it’s a well-priced product that’s a customer favourite. People who love this gel frequently mention that their quest for a really good natural detergent led them to try a number of alternatives but ended when they found this product.

We liked that it’s ultra-concentrated and that it comes in a handy gel formula. Reviewers actually report being able to use less than the recommended amount, which makes this an even better value.

We also liked that the company appears to be keeping an eye on its own manufacturing impact – its plant is partially solar-powered. You won’t find this soap everywhere, but it’s becoming more widely available.

What Others Are Saying

Reviewers were highly impressed by this dishwasher gel. They agreed that it does the job well, leaves no residue and keeps dishes shiny and clean even after many cycles.

Many commented that they also use this product as a regular dishwashing soap, as well as to clean up household messes. Reviewers warn new users that a little goes a long way.

More than a few people used the gel like a regular detergent (instead of an ultra-concentrated one) and found their machines overflowing with suds. Some people found that the gel left white spots on glasses.


Best Dishwasher Pods – Nature Clean Automatic Dishwasher Pacs – 9/10

Features & Benefits

  • Fragrance free
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan and Kosher Certified
  • Eco Logo certified
  • Safe for septic tanks and grey water systems

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Widely available
  • 60 count pack comes in a reusable plastic pail
nature clean automatic dishwasher pacs - best safe and non-toxic dish soap

Nature Clean Automatic Dishwasher Pacs

Rating: 9/10

Cons

  • Reviewers consistently recommended pre-rinsing
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Editorial Review

We picked Nature Clean Automatic Dishwasher Pacs as our top choice for three reasons. First, they work. They bust the myth that more ecologically sound cleaning products do a worse job than conventional chemical-based products do.

Second, they’re reasonably priced. Natural products often carry a much higher price tag than their conventional counterparts and we appreciate when a company makes eco-conscious choices more affordable for more people.

Third, they back up their ethical claims. They’re Eco Logo certified, cruelty free (as attested to by PETA), vegan and Kosher certified. If you’re making your consumer choices based (or partly based) on your ethics, it’s nice to know you’re making the choice you think you’re making.

What Others Are Saying

Reviews of this product are generally very positive. People find the soap cleans well and leaves dishes shiny. Those with babies especially appreciated knowing they didn’t have to worry about chemical residue on bottles. Most reviewers were also very happy with the value of the product.

Some reviewers mentioned that the product didn’t rinse well and left residue on their glasses. While most users were happy with its performance, a few others commented that dried food was a problem for this detergent. Tea stains also appear to be beyond the power of this soap. Most people recommended pre-rinsing and/or a rinsing agent.


Best Rinse Aid – Ecover Rinse Aid

Features & Benefits

  • Non-toxic and biodegradable
  • Made using plant-based ingredients
  • Safe for septic tanks
  • Certified cruelty-free
  • Lightly scented

Pros

  • Widely available
  • Bottle made using Plantplastic®, a plant-based plastic derived from sustainably harvested sugarcane

Cons

  • May not work in dishwashers that use condensation drying
  • Fragrance may be irritating to some
ecover rinse aid - best safe and non-toxic dish soap

Ecover Rinse Aid

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Rating: 8/10

Editorial Review

Ecover Rinse Aid is for anyone who wants spotless dishes but doesn’t want to have to use a toxic product to get them that way. We made it our top choice because it works well and lets people feel safer using it.

We liked that the company is transparent about the ingredients it uses and makes it easy for interested consumers to go to their site and look up not just what’s in the rinse aid but why those ingredients are in the rinse aid.

A good product to pair with a natural detergent, especially for those who are picky about how their dishes look coming out of the dishwasher.

What Others Are Saying

Typical reviews of this product are positive. People have been pleased with the quality of the rinse aid and tend to comment on its high performance. Even those who live in areas with very hard water found this rinse aid to be effective at removing streaks and spots.

People are even more pleased with the value of this product. There are more expensive rinsing agents on the market, but a lot of reviewers seem to think that you don’t need to pay more to get the residue off your dishes.

Some reviewers disagreed about the performance and a few noted that their plastic dishes felt sticky after using this product.


Best Dish Soap for Handwashing – Eco-Max Ultra Dish Wash – 9/10

  • Biodegradable
  • Made with sustainable botanicals
  • Contains aloe
  • Not tested on animals

Pros

  • Good price point
  • Offers a variety of scents, including a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic version
  • Ecologo certified
  • Bottle is 100% post-consumer recycled plastic

Cons

  • Not certified cruelty-free
eco-max ultra dish wash - best safe and non-toxic dish soap

Eco-Max Ultra Dish Wash

Rating: 9/10

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Editorial Review

Eco-Max Ultra Dish Wash was our top pick in this category because it gives people a safe, effective, ecologically conscious option with a reasonable price tag.

People who use this product typically comment that it works just as well as any conventional dishwashing liquid and that they feel better knowing they’re not putting any harmful substances onto their dishes or down the drain.

We liked that the product is Ecologo certified and that the company emphasizes the need for human, animal and environmental health. It also makes its ingredients freely available. We further appreciated that there’s some choice in terms of scent and that there’s a hypoallergenic option for people who prefer to stay scent-free.

What Others Are Saying

This is a product people tend to really like. Reviewers almost universally find the soap effective, even with very dirty dishes. They note that the suds are long-lasting and that a little goes a long way.

People often say they love that the soap doesn’t dry their hands out and that the scents are light. The general consensus is that the scents smell more natural than other brands.

By and large, users don’t have very critical things to say about this product. At most, some people found it a bit too gentle for the greasy dishes they had to clean.

Bottom Line

Our overall pick for the best safe and non-toxic dish soap is Eco-Max Ultra Dish Wash. When we consider the quality of the product, the ratings and reviews it gets from people who’ve used it, the ingredients and the price, this dishwashing liquid is our winner. The only thing we’d like to see the company do more of is disclosure. It’s a Canadian company but we’d love to see it certified cruelty-free in the U.S. and we’d love to know what it means, exactly, when it says it uses “sustainable” botanicals.


Buyer’s Guide to Dish Soap

This isn’t as straightforward as it should be. In some cases (but regrettably few, actually, when you think about it) if we want to know what’s in something, we read the label. We want to know exactly what’s going into our bodies before we eat food and food manufacturers are required to tell us that. Simple. -Ish. The same standards are not applied to the products we use to clean the dishes and cutlery we eat off of, however. Ingredients like formaldehyde, sulfuric acid and triclosan regularly appear in analyses of common household cleaners like dish soap. They often do not appear on labels.

Companies that manufacture cleaning products are under no legal obligation to list the ingredients that they use in their cleaning products. When looking at the label, you might come across terms like “foaming agents,” “surfactants” or “preservatives.” These are not ingredients. These are vague terms for groups of chemicals that a company does not want to list on their label. For whatever reason. If you want to know what your putting on that spoon you’re about to eat off of, you need to go deeper than the label.

Do Your Research

Over the decades there have been many scientific papers and studies that have examined the risks of specific cleaning chemicals on human and environmental health. For example, a major paper published in 2014 in Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology looked at over 250 studies on the environmental safety of surfactants (including “alcohol sulfate (AS), alcohol ethoxysulfate (AES), linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS), alcohol ethoxylate (AE) and long-chain alcohol (LCOH)”) and concluded that these substances don’t pose a risk to aquatic environments or to the sediment environments below. The project was a partnership between the University of Cincinnati, Aarhus University, the American Cleaning Institute and three major soap manufacturers. You can make up your own mind about that.

Get to Know the Environmental Working Group

Because companies often inadequately disclose what’s in their products, you might not know exactly what ingredient to even research. The Environmental Working Group has an in-depth guide to household cleaners that ranks specific cleaning products from common brands according to their levels of toxicity and the transparency with which companies disclose their ingredients.

Products are given a grade from A to F. The specific ingredients in those products are also given a grade from A to F. You can search for the product you’re currently using or thinking of using, see what grade it’s earned, get information about what’s in it and understand what concerns are associated with particular ingredients. You can also just browse and find non-toxic options in a variety of cleaning categories. 100% worth your time.

Learn About Certification Labels

Certifications about a product’s environmental friendliness are not all created equal. There are hundreds of “green” certifications, not all of which have any real meaning. So how can you know what a label means (and what it’s worth)? You have to do a bit of digging.

Look into whether the certification is endorsed by or partnered with an organization that does actual work around environmental protection. Read up on what issues the certification label is focused on. Some certifications are applied to specific environmental practices: using less energy, sustainable harvesting, conservation and so on. Find out what standards a product has to meet to become certified and what metrics the label uses to measure the product’s compliance. Finally, don’t assume that a cleaning product is better for the environment just because its manufacturer says that it is. If the company can’t seem to back up its claims, find one that can.

Consider Pairing Your Purchase with Small Actions

Making consumer choices that are aligned with your values can be a solid way to register your desire for change. Small actions, though, can amplify your voice and help you leverage your consumer power. Is there something your product needs to do better? Write to the company and tell them so. Are you buying a product because it seems to help with an issue you care about? Talk to your political representatives and ask them what they’re doing about that issue. Have you found a small company that you think is doing everything right? Boost their signal on social media. There are lots of ways to use your purchasing power for good. Your soap is just the beginning.

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