Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cleaning Step 4: The Dishes

I am not the regular evening dish washer in our home. I leave this job to my husband mostly because I love to cook but I hate doing the dishes. So after dinner while my husband does the dishes I put everything away and pack up leftovers (in glass reusable containers). Unfortunately since my husband is usually working during the day after breakfast, lunch, and snack I am the dish washer.

As a daily chore all the water and soap used for dish washing can be very hazardous not only to the environment but also to your health. When you are constantly putting soap on your dish rag and hands you skin is absorbing that soap and all the chemicals in it. Which is why antibacterial should not be a part of your dish soap. Read why here. Cleaning the dishes can easily be taken from a hazardous activity to a green one and you may find it much easier to complete this step then any of the previous ones.

First off look at your dish soap, dish washing detergents, and rinse agent. Read through the ingredients do not be surprised if all of the ingredients are not listed. Companies do not have to list ingredients on anything non edible. If there are no ingredients listed do a quick search to see if you can find them online. If you are like me you may be wondering why ingredients are not listed and what do the companies have to hide.

The best thing you can do for your health and the health of your family is to know what you are bringing in to your house and putting on your hands and dishes. Check out the Green Cleaner Buying Guide for more information on what should or should not be in your detergents.

In our house we use Seventh Generation dish soap and either Trader Joe's or Seventh Generation dish detergent. We do not use any rinse agents besides being an extra chemical and extra expense they are mostly unneeded. I have found that the best rinse agent out there is vinegar. Just pour vinegar into your dish washing rinse agent compartment. Refill as needed about every 5th time you run the dish washer.

Here are the most important things to remember when using your dishwasher.

  • Use chlorine free dish washing detergent
  • Ventilate your kitchen during and after dishwasher operation
  • Filter your homes water supply with a carbon water filter, if your public water system uses chlorine to treat drinking water.
  • Test your water for radon and treat it accordingly
  • Keep your dishwasher closed for at least an hour after a completed cleaning cycle.
  • Use the no heat dry option
  • Only run your dishwasher when it is completely full
  • Use phosphate free dish washing detergent
For more information on any of these points please read Naturally Clean by Jeffrey Hollender/

Some more sites to check out

Now that you have cleaned your house cleaning and your dish washing. Check out the last cleaning step 5 to see how you can now clean your laundry greener and safer.