Issue #46: The hidden dangers of dishwasher chemicals - Heart & Soil Supplements

Evidence based

| 5 min read

Issue #46: The hidden dangers of dishwasher chemicals

Hey Radical Health Seekers 👋

Coming up in your newsletter this week:

  • Animal-based lunch recipe: steak kabobs
  • The dishwasher chemical that causes leaky gut…
  • And a non-toxic alternative that you can make instead

Meanwhile, over on Twitter:

Join the conversation 🙂

Animal-based lunch: steak kabobs

How can I give my kids a healthy animal-based lunch to take to school?

We get this question ALL the time.

Well here ya go:

Kids will love the variety of colors, shapes, and textures in this lunch, but there’s no reason why grown-ups can’t eat it too.

The main ingredient is steak, but feel free to swap for whatever leftovers you’ve got, like ground beef!

Main course: Steak Kabobs

  • Grass-fed steak
  • Raw cheese (we like mature cheddar)
  • Organic grapes
  • Organic apples

Side: Guacamole with cucumber slices to dip

  • Organic avocado
  • Redmond Real salt
  • Organic lemon or lime

Dessert: Buttered Dates

  • Organic Medjool dates
  • Raw butter

If you haven’t tried buttered dates yet, you are in for a treat 😊😊😊

We have a cleaning problem

Once upon a time, cleaning meant a sweeping brush, a mop, baking soda, hot water, and some vinegar.

But nowadays, we’re more likely to use solvents, surfactants, chlorines, bleaches, deodorizers, and synthetic fragrances in our desire for perfect cleanliness.

And we know these chemicals are toxic and harmful to our health. 

They contain volatile organic compounds which we breathe into our lungs, and when they come in contact with our skin, we absorb them too.

There are many studies on this topic, one of which is a recently published paper showing a widespread compound used in dishwasher detergents to be particularly harmful.

The Dishwasher Study

Here’s the study in question:

It turns out that a chemical present in both dishwasher detergents and rinse aids is damaging to the human gut, increasing gut permeability and even leading to cell death.

The research was carried out in vitro, meaning not in human bodies, but on cellular tissue representative of the human gut lining instead.

The researchers adjusted the dilution factor to reflect the amounts typically present on dry dishes coming out of commercial dishwashers (1:10,000 to 1:40,000). 

The result was that high doses killed the intestinal epithelial cells, and lower doses made it more permeable.

This means a leaky gut, and it could be a big problem.

Because a leaky gut activates a pro-inflammatory immune response, and can trigger a wide range of health disorders and autoimmune conditions, including allergies, respiratory infections, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and obesity [ref].

It’s even implicated in mental health disorders like anxiety and depression by disrupting the gut-brain axis [refref] 😦

You do NOT want a leaky gut.

Now it looks like the damage stems from the rinse aid, not the detergent…

And the authors single out a specific ingredient– alcohol ethoxylates – as being responsible for the cell damage.

Most commercial dishwashers circulate hot water and detergent for about 60 seconds at high pressure. They then apply another 60 second wash and dry cycle, in which hot water and a rinse agent are applied.

But the rinse agent remains on the dishes. It isn’t washed off.

And so when you sit down in your favorite restaurant to eat off the sparkly clean plate, residues of alcohol ethoxylates can easily end up in your gut.

And while this study focused on commercial dishwashers, alcohol ethoxylates are also found in dishwasher detergents, dishwashing soap and laundry detergents that you might be using every day in your home.

So while the study didn’t investigate alcohol ethoxylates in households, we certainly can’t rule out the potential for them to cause harm in our homes either.

Look… we live in a world FILLED with potentially harmful chemicals…

And while the solution isn’t to go live in the mountains or never eat in your favorite restaurant again, it’s important to be aware of these chemicals so that you can make intentional choices for your and your family’s health.

And should you choose to do so, it’s easy to find non-toxic, safe, and effective alternatives to every cleaning product in your home.

Make your own non-toxic dishwasher detergent

Dishwashers clean with a mix of hot water, spray, and a cleaning agent (detergent)…

And even with a homemade detergent, those first two cleaning properties will still be at full force. 

Your detergent substitute might not provide the sparkling result that you get with your favorite Finish Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Aid…

But your dishes and glasses will still be clean… and best of all, free from harmful chemicals.

What You Need

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate) 
  • 1/2 cup powdered citric acid
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • Plastic storage container


This is easy. Just mix all the components in the container. Be sure to mix well. 

Then use 1 tablespoon of the detergent per dishwasher load.

Pro-tip 1  ⚠️ 🍽

Don’t overfill the dishwasher! It’s also best to remove items that can easily be hand-washed or items that shouldn’t be in the dishwasher in the first place. You can handwash with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)!

Pro-tip 2  ⚠️ 🍽

To boost the cleaning power of your non-toxic dishwasher detergent and get better results, try filling the rinse agent compartment with distilled white vinegar!

That’s all from us this weekend! 👋 

Stay Radical,

The Heart & Soil Team

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