What Is Lurking In Your Dishwasher?

by Jennifer Boudreau on June 24, 2013

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Dishwasher 2Every time I unload the dishwasher the scene is the same. There is a 4 year old, a 3 year old and an 11 month old “helping” me out. Their tiny little fingers are all over the clean dishes and they are inhaling the “freshly run” dishwasher smell. Fortunately, several years ago I became educated on some of the potential dangers of most dishwashing detergents and we have since made changes.

As parents, we should absolutely be concerned about the products in our home. Did you know warning labels on cleaning products only apply to immediate effects the product can have but makes no mention of potential long term effects? Why not? Well, it is not required by the Environmental Protection Agency. As parents, this is concerning for us, but even more so for our children. The developing cells in their little bodies are more susceptible to damage than adult cells. Another reason for concern is that until they are approximately 13 months of age, children have virtually no ability to fight off the biological or neurological effects of toxic chemicals. I could go on and on about various household products and the potential dangers of chemicals and the effects on children, but today I want to focus on dishwashing detergent.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit environmental organization, specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability. The EWG rates commonly used household products for potential health, environmental and disclosure concerns.

First, let’s take a quick look at a popular selling dishwashing detergent. Cascade Dishwasher Detergent Gel, which we used prior to switching, scored VERY poorly on EWG’s website. Cascade scored an overall rating of “F” and rated as a “high concern” for cancer risk. EWG’s top scoring factors for Cascade are as follows: “Corrosive; May contain ingredients with potential for developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects; cancer; skin irritation/allergies/ damage.” View the EWG review here.

Another popular brand, Finish Dishwasher Detergent Gel – Lemon, received an overall rating of “D” and a “high concern” for cancer. EWG’s top scoring factors for Finish are as follows: “May contain ingredients with potential for cancer; acute aquatic toxicity; chronic aquatic toxicity.” View the EWG review here.

Obviously, you will not see these statements disclosed on the actual bottle, but they are legitimate concerns that as consumers and as parents, we should be made aware of.

While shopping for dishwashing detergent, look for brands that do not use Sodium Hypochlorite (chlorine bleach), as it is one of the biggest toxins. While this ingredient is not classified as a carcinogen, it has been argued that it can become one when it reacts with other organic materials in our environment.  In addition, it can be worrisome for those suffering from asthma or other breathing problems. Chlorine bleach has been banned or limited in many countries, including Europe, due to the many risk factors it carries. We personally do not keep any product containing chlorine bleach in our home.

There are many dangers lurking in our environment, many of which we have no control over. The products we decide to use in our home are items we have complete and total control over. If you are like me, you want to protect yourself and your family, and by simply becoming aware of what is out there is a great start.

For more information on the products we use in our home, including dishwashing detergent, contact me on my Facebook page and I will be more than happy to share with you.

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