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The Best Dishwasher Detergent for Your Eco Friendly Home


Last Updated on November 5, 2023

The best dishwasher detergent doesn’t look the same for every household, as conditions for each home are different. Do you have hard water? Do you prefer powder over a pod? Never fear — I have the best natural dishwasher detergent options, no matter your preferences and needs.

Contrary to popular belief, natural dishwasher detergent can clean just as well as traditional detergents can. And in addition to being good for the environment, these eco friendly dishwasher detergent companies avoid harmful ingredients that are bad for your health as well. I’m sharing the 10 best natural dishwasher detergents, including gel, tab, and powder options!

A woman's hand holding a detergent tab with overlay text reading "The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergents"

natural dishwasher detergent

Dishes: Everyone’s got to do them. If you’d rather load up the dishwasher, it might be time to question what detergent you’re using to get your dishes clean.

Did you know in the USA, cleaning companies aren’t legally required to disclose the ingredients in their products? This is a huge issue considering many of our products, including dishwasher detergent, get into our waterways where they can harm aquatic ecosystems.

Cleaning products don’t have to be toxic to work. For more info check out the blog post 15 All-Natural and Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products.

For me, the best non toxic dishwasher detergent is going to be derived from natural and organic ingredients that biodegrade so it doesn’t damage the environment.

The eco friendly dishwasher detergents on this list are efficient, safe to use for both humans and the environment, and have thoughtful packaging.

what makes these the best dishwasher detergents?  

Before we get into the dishwasher detergent, it’s important to discuss what makes these the best on the market. We all want a dishwasher detergent that’s tough on grease, but at what cost?  

Is the detergent contributing to waterway pollution? How safe is it for human health? Is it using innovative packaging and non-toxic ingredients? These are the questions we need to start asking. 

environmental impact: 

The environmental impact of dishwasher detergent boils down to two things: The chemicals used to make the detergent and the packaging.  

Most dishwasher detergents contain phosphates which can lead to eutrophication in waterways, resulting in big algae blooms. These algae blooms deplete the water of oxygen and can harm marine wildlife.  

Phosphates aren’t the only problem. There are other ingredients inside dishwasher detergents, like dyes and artificial fragrance, that are toxic to marine organisms too. When these enter waterways, they can lead to dead zones where waters are devoid of life.   

The chemicals in these detergents often reduce an organism’s life span and ability to reproduce if exposed. These chemicals can even make their way up the food chain as predators eat prey.  

Every brand on this list avoids using these harmful chemicals in their products, choosing to use more eco-friendly ingredients instead. There are no phosphates, harsh dyes, or fragrances in these products.  

Now, packaging isn’t everything when choosing a dishwasher detergent, but it should definitely factor in somewhere. Sustainable packaging is important because it reduces the ecological footprint of a product in its various life cycle stages. 

All the brands on this list utilize sustainable, thoughtful packaging that is reusable, compostable, or recyclable. Some brands even offer refill programs and reusable containers designed to last indefinitely.  

are dishwasher pods plastic?

It’s worth talking about PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) for a moment. A lot of brands create PVA pods, which is a water-soluble film that biodegrades according to the EPA. However, a recent study found that PVA doesn’t fully biodegrade during wastewater treatment. 

Now, the study was funded by a brand that doesn’t use PVA, and I’m always a bit skeptical of studies funded by a brand so that said brand comes out looking better. It’s kind of like the dairy industry funding a study that found plant milks are bad for you.

All in all, I think a good conversation has been started. I look forward to seeing more data and studies about this in the future and have included some PVA free options below.

what is the best natural dishwasher detergent for hard water? 

When shopping for a dishwasher detergent for hard water, you should look for one that contains a sodium-based chemical as the main ingredient. This is because it will act as a water softener by creating a reaction with sodium ions that ultimately reduce buildup that lingers on dishes. Essentially, it turns hard water soft. 

From the detergents I listed, Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder is the best for hard water because sodium chloride and sodium carbonate are the two first ingredients in it.  

do you need a rinse aid with eco friendly dishwasher detergent?

I’ve never used a rinse aid because I prefer to air dry my dishes, and you should too! Using your dishwasher’s heater is going to be the biggest source of energy use — so save some money and skip it!

You can read more about that in my blog post on 10 ways to save money on your electric bill in the kitchen.

But, if you’re really in a pinch and need to have dry dishes immediately — maybe some guests are coming over? — you should use a rinse aid because it enhances drying effectiveness. It also helps eliminate water spots and etching reduction, resulting in sparkling clean dishes.  

A rinse aid is basically a drying agent that helps improve your dishwasher’s drying performance which could help you cut back on a little bit of energy. The rinse aid only needs to be refilled every several washes.  

However, just like dishwasher detergent, not all rinse aids are created equal. I recommend checking to see if any of the brands listed here also sell rinse aid — I know Ecover and Seventh Generation do. 

And white vinegar, everyone’s favorite all-natural cleaning product, works amazing! I would recommend limiting it to once a month or a few times a year because the high acidity of vinegar can break down your seal on dishwashers over time.

ingredients to avoid in dishwasher detergent: 

There are a select few ingredients you never want to see in your dishwasher detergent. If you see any of these, it’s a red flag! None of the products listed here contain these ingredients. 

Here are the ingredients you should avoid. 

  • fragrance: Artificial fragrances can cause allergic reactions, chemical sensitivities, and even rashes. 
  • dyes: These add zero cleaning power and can cause allergies and rashes — many are proven carcinogens and almost all are endocrine disruptors too. 
  • phosphates: When these enter waterways, they cause eutrophication, which is mineral poisoning that causes high die-off of marine animals. 
  • sodium hypochlorite: Otherwise known as bleach, which is corrosive to eyes and skin, this can cause throat irritation, gastric burns, and fluid in the lungs.  
  • polyacrylates: These contain acrylic acid, 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, and methacrylic acid. Acrylic acid alone is known for causing eye damage and severe burns, and for being toxic to aquatic life
  • benzisothiazolinone: An eye, lung, and skin irritant as well as an environmental pollutant that’s harmful to fish.  
  • methylsothiazolinone: Linked to inhalation toxicity, allergic reactions, and possible neurotoxicity

the best non toxic dishwasher detergents:

So, now you know that you’re looking for a safe, eco-friendly, non-toxic dishwasher detergent.

If your head is spinning from all this information, don’t fear. I’ve rounded up a list of dishwasher detergents that get the Going Zero Waste seal of approval. All these brands are tough on grease but gentle on the planet.

I’ve gone ahead and highlighted some of my favorite features of each brand, but it isn’t an exhaustive list. Be sure to check out their websites for more information.

1. dropps

  • Detergent pods 
  • Compostable packaging 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Cruelty-free 
  • Carbon neutral shipping 
  • Made in the U.S.


Dropps: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

2. blueland

  • Dishwasher tablets 
  • Reusable steel tin 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Leaping bunny certified 
  • USDA BioPreferred 
  • PVA-free 
  • Plastic free refill program 


Blueland: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

3. cleancult

  • Detergent tablets 
  • Reusable tablet jar 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Leaping bunny certified 
  • Carbon neutral shipping 
  • Refill program 


Cleancult: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

4. ecover

  • Detergent powder and tablets 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Cruelty free 
  • Certified B Corporation 
  • Hypoallergenic 


Ecover: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

5. pur home

  • Detergent tablets 
  • Packaged in cardboard box 
  • Black and woman owned business 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • PVA-free 
  • Leaping Bunny Certified 


Pur Home: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

6. grove collaborative

  • Detergent pods 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Cruelty free 
  • Certified B Corporation 
  • Recyclable pouch packaging 
  • Carbon offsets for each shipment 
  • Plastic neutral  


Grove Collaborative: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

7. seventh generation

  • Detergent tabs 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Leaping bunny certified 
  • Certified B Corporation 
  • USDA certified biobased product 96% 
  • Recyclable pouch packaging 


Seventh Generation: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

8. ecos

  • Dishwasher gel and pods 
  • EPA safer choice certified 
  • Leaping bunny certified 
  • Vegan
  • Facilities are run on 100% renewable energy 
  • TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certified 


Ecos: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

9. mrs. meyer’s clean day

  • Dishwasher tabs 
  • Plant derived ingredients 
  • Cruelty-free 
  • Made in the USA 
  • Recyclable pouch packaging  


Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home

10. nellie’s dishwasher powder

  • Detergent powder 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Reusable tin 
  • PVA-free 
  • Leaping Bunny Certified 
  • Works great in hard water 


Nellie's Dishwasher Powder: The Best Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent For Your Eco Friendly Home


are liquid, powder, or pods best for your dishwasher?  

What’s best for your dishwasher can vary depending on what you’re looking for. If your goal is to completely avoid packaging, tablets and powders may be your best bet.  

However, if you want to ensure less of a mess, pods may be a better choice. Gel and tab detergents are good options for those who want the most concentrated cleaning power. 

is a natural dishwasher detergent really as effective as traditional detergents?

Yep! The biggest lie big marketing companies have ever told is that you have to use harsh, synthetic ingredients for a true clean. Each of these natural dishwasher detergent companies are proven to be effective at cleaning your dishes without harming the environment (or you!).

Which of these do you think is the best dishwasher detergent?

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  1. Did you look at Grab Green and was it left off the list for a reason that would make me want to stop using it? We’ve used it for a few years now and really like it.

  2. Which one would you reccomend for hard water and should I use a rinse since its suppose to help with hard water spots. I just completely cleaned filters racks etc.