Of the 88 dishwasher detergents listed in Environmental Working Group's new Guide to Healthy Cleaning, nearly 70 percent scored a rating of D or F, indicating that the ingredients offer 'likely' or 'potentially significant' hazards to health or the environment. Along with a gaggle of ingredients that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, other ingredients like sodium hypochlorite and zinc carbonate are of high concern for acute and chronic toxicity to aquatic life.
Meanwhile, four products - that's right, four out of 88 - received an A rating which indicates that they are considered relatively safe for human health and the environment. Those four are:
- Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Powder, Free & Clear
- Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs, Free & Clear
- Green Shield Organic Squeez Automatic Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Lemongrass
- The Honest Co. Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel, Free & Clear
While it's reassuring to know that there are a few products out there that aren't going to make us sick and maim the fish once their dirty work on our dishes is done, some of these specific products may be harder to find (depending on your location) and possibly pricier (although totally worth it) than their toxic cousins.
Which of course conveniently leads to the topic of making your very own, non-toxic, fish-friendly dish detergent. As many of you may know, this is not as easy as it sounds. So much can be done in the name of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, but dishes are a bit trickier and require some extra magic. The majority of DIY dish formulas rely on Borax, but many DIY homemakers are reluctant to use it. Which is why the Borax-free formula below from My Healthy Green Family is a keeper. It uses baking soda, citric acid, course salt, and citrus essential oil. And, it's used in conjunction with another formula for a citrus vinegar cleaner that is a very clever addition. AND, it works out to a mere $0.08 a load!