These 12 Dish Soap Brands (Like Palmolive) Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals


Most people think the soap they clean their dishes with is harmless, when in fact they are filled with toxic chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment. Most conventional dish soap brands contain cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde, sulphuric acid, fragrances, and more.

A quick search on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website will tell you whether your dish soap is safe or toxic. Even products labelled as “natural” or “green” contain ingredients that are harmful to the body. Now most people wonder – “why dish soap? We don’t consume it!” – well, in fact, you wash your dishes with it, which when absorbed through the skin, bypass your liver and enter the bloodstream and tissues directly (without filtering). Dish soap residues also stick to your dishes and cutlery, even after rinsing, which are then later consumed when you eat with them.

The most commonly found chemicals in liquid dish soap include preservatives, fragrance, colour, and surfactants. All of which are harmful to the body (and environment). This is by no means a complete list of chemicals found in dish soaps. However, it does highlight some of the worst offenders.

1. Formaldehyde

We all know what formaldehyde does. It preserves bodies and other body flesh that would otherwise go bad. It is also present in disinfectant products like dish soaps. Formaldehyde can cause a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat, and can trigger coughing, wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies it as a known  human carcinogen. Many dish soap brands contain a small amount of formaldehyde – so it is best to avoid them all. Palmolive promises to remove it from their products by the end of 2017.

2. Sulphuric Acid

This chemical is carcinogenic and can cause burns upon contact with the skin or sensitive nasal passages when exposed in large amounts. It is used in dishwashing gel, dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent. It is mainly known to cause laryngeal cancer, nasal sinus cancer, and pneumonitis.

3. Fragrances

Although you may like your apple-scented dish soap, those fragrances are simply composed of a cocktail of chemicals. Fragrances can be made up of a combination of 3,000 different chemicals, most of which are never disclosed to the customer. Instead, fragrance is simply listed as “fragrance”, when in reality, it should be comprised of a long list of tongue-twisting chemical names. Fragrance is known to cause allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and can cause distress in the reproductive system.

4. Triclosan

This chemical was originally developed and registered as a pesticide in 1969. It is found in soaps, toothpastes, cosmetic, deodorants, first aid products, clothing, kitchen ware, and many more products. The active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use, and can alter hormone regulation. It has been found to decrease circulating concentrations of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) in rats.

5. Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS)

This ingredient is a surfactant used to break down surface tension, allowing the soap to be a more effective cleanser. Unfortunately, this ingredient is also linked to nitrosamines, a potent carcinogen that causes your body to absorb nitrates, which are known carcinogens. This absorption occurs when SLS is contaminated with NDELA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) during processing (such as TEA (triethanolamine), a commonly used ingredient in dish soaps and shampoos). Over 40,000 studies in PubMed science library include information on the toxicity of SLS.

6. Ammonium Sulfate

Used as a cleaning and foaming agent, ammonium sulfate is far from safe. It is known to cause gastrointestinal pain if ingested, and may damage the skin and eyes if contact occurs. Inhaling the substance can also cause respiratory irritation, and even respiratory failure.

Conventional Dish Soaps To Avoid

If you want to avoid the above ingredients and reduce your risk of cancer, consider dropping these brands:

– Cascade
– Legacy of Clean
– Finish
– Sunlight
– Palmolive
– Dawn

“Natural” Dish Soaps To Avoid

The following “natural” dish soaps aren’t all that good for you either. They have all received very low scores for both personal and environmental safety (according to EWG):

– Simple Green Naturals
– Mrs. Meyers
– Seventh Generation
– Method
– Green Works
– Bon Ami Dish Soap

Best Dish Soaps

The detergents that have received the best scores from EWG are Better Life Dish it Out and Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. They’re made without toxic ingredients, and will ensure the safety of your health. Making homemade dish soap is probably the best bet, however, seeing as how it does a great job, and costs way less!

DIY Homemade Dish Soap Recipe:

– 1/2 cup Dr. Brooner’s Sal Suds
– 1/2 cup white vinegar
– 1/2 cup warm distilled water
– 1 tsp. citric acid or lemon juice
– 2 tsp. kosher salt
– 20 drops essential oil of your preference (lavender is very nice!)

In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the salt in the water. In a separate bowl, combine the Sal Suds, vinegar, and citric acid (or lemon juice). Add the vinegar mixture to the salt water and stir until thick. Add essential oils and store in a jar or soap dispenser!

Carly Fraser has her BSc (Hons.) Degree in Neuroscience, and is the owner and founder at Live Love Fruit. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a determined life mission to help inspire and motivate individuals to critically think about what they put in their bodies and to find balance through nutrition and lifestyle. She has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals to re-connect with their bodies and learn self-love through proper eating habits and natural living. She loves to do yoga, dance, and immerse herself in nature.


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