Green dishwasher products (such as detergents and rinse aids) have gained great popularity in the past few years thanks to a growing concern about chemicals and their affect on the environment. Experts agree that
automatic dishwashers are the most environmentally friendly way to clean your dishes but many consumers are concerned about the safety of commercial detergents. Here are some basic facts about green dishwashing products.
Do Natural Dishwasher Detergents Work?
As with many environmentally friendly products, the answer is “sometimes.” Natural products can be effective, depending on whether you pre-rinse your dishes and how much crusty build-up you expect your dishwasher to clean off. Or they may not be. Using the short wash cycle may not be enough to properly clean your dishes when using an environmentally friendly detergent. Many consumers have luck with organic detergents, even without pre-rinsing, if they have soft water. However, high mineral levels in water can prevent soap from cleaning properly so you may want to consider installing a water softener if you have this problem in your area.
Are Green Detergents Safe for My Dishwasher?
Some consumers report serious problems from using natural dishwashing detergents. Discoloration and build-up inside the dishwasher are the most common and in some cases, dishwashers require extensive repair or even replacement. If your dishwasher has a filter, natural detergents can cause problems there as well. Food particles may wash off the dishes successfully but wont’ break down the way they do with standard commercial detergents. The particles then build up in the filter, potentially causing clogs or preventing the water from draining.
What About DIY Dishwasher Detergent Recipes?
This is an area where you must tread VERY carefully. For example, many blogs recommend using white vinegar as a rinse aid, however doing so can ruin your dishwasher’s rubber parts. Many do-it-yourself dishwasher recipes contain ingredients that are actually harmful for the machine. Unless you are a specialist in organic chemistry, it may be difficult to know what’s safe and what’s not.
The bottom line about organic or natural dishwasher products is to approach with caution. If you are unable to verify that all ingredients are safe for your machine, you run the risk of voiding your warranty, facing expensive repairs or even having to replace your dishwasher. Caring for the environment is important but if natural products fail to clean your dishes or destroy your appliance, the cost outweighs the benefits. When it comes to green dishwasher products, be a careful and conscious consumer.