The contents of automatic dishwasher detergents are highly toxic and if you read the label it is clearly stated that it is “harmful if swallowed” and “burns skin and throat.”

These following ingredients  have the potential to cause long term health issues.

Ingredients commercial in dishwasher detergent:

  • Ammonia – Ammonia is a very volatile chemical and can be to your health. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death.
  • Coal Tar Dyes – Coal tar dyes are artificial coloring agents  that are made from petroleum distillates. Dyes in cleaning products can be absorbed through the skin or ingested in the case of soap residue on dishes.
  • Cocamide dea – This is a chemically-modified form of coconut oilused as a foaming agent. It’s also a possible carcinogen.
  • Chlorine bleach – Concentrated amounts of chlorine is a leading ingredient of commercial dishwashing detergents. Due to the concentration of this cleaning agent, it has also become the #1 cause of household poisoning. Each time you wash your dishes, detergent residue is left on them, which accumulates with each washing and is picked up next time you use the dish. Further, when chlorine is released, it’s fumes are also released into the air thus causing bronchial issues and asthma.
  • DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine) –Diethanolamine, or DEA, is synthesized from ethylene oxide and ammonia, and is used as a “wetting agent” to create a thick lather or creamy consistency when the product is mixed with water or spread onto the surface of the skin. One study showed that high doses of DEA caused liver tumors in animals. It has also been linked  with cancers in the skin and thyroid. Even the FDA noted a 1998 study that found an association between DEA topical application (on the skin) and cancer in laboratory animals.
  • Formaldehyde – This chemical is a cancer causing agent, as well has been found to cause severe asthma and allergies.
  •  SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)/SLES (sodium laureth sulfate):Surfactants used in dish detergents for foam building. They are commonlly used because they’re inexpensive and effective at cutting through grease. Easily absorbed through the skin with the strongest concern being the potential contamination with 1,4 dioxane. Can cause skin rashes, eye irratations and allergic reactions.
  •  Fragrance: More than 3000 chemicals are used when making fragrance mixtures.These toxic fragrance compounds coat plates, glasses and silverware which ultimately become ingested when used. A safer alternative is to choose products scented with pure essential oils, not those with artificial chemicals.
  • Glycol ethers – This is are grease-cutting compound that can damage developmental and reproductive systems. Overexposure to glycol ethers can cause anemia, intoxication, and irritation of the eyes and nose. In laboratory animals, low-level exposure to glycol ethers has caused birth defects and damage to sperm and testicles. The most commonly used glycol ether, 2-butoxyethanol, has been shown to cause liver cancer in animals.
  • Phosphates – According to Cascade’s website, phosphates “helped with dishwashing performance by facilitating food removal, removing the calcium that binds these types of foods together, and aided in grease removal. They also helped control water hardness and bound/suspended soils within the wash water so they did not redistribute onto plates.” What they did not say is that phosphates pollute lakes, bays, and streams and can create algae blooms and starve fish of oxygen. Luckily, 17 states passed laws requiring the removal of phosphates from detergents.
  • Sodium borate – Although sodium borate is a naturally-occurring mineral that poses high concerns for hormonal disruption

Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent



Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.


Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.