The Problem: In learning about hand dishwashing soaps online and reviewing different products on GoodGuide.com, I found that the two biggest problems appear to be lack of transparency about ingredients and the presence of anti-bacterial ingredients like Triclosan, which can act as neurotoxins, are dangerous to the environment, and may contribute to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
The Options: I found relatively high-ranking products that disclose their ingredients and do not have Triclosan on GoodGuide.com made by Method, Seventh Generation, Bright Green, and Green Works.
My Decision: While there is some debate about how toxic Triclosan is, given the controversy and number of studies that raise questions about its safety, I would like to avoid it if I can. I also believe it is very important for companies to disclose what ingredients are in their products. So assuming they are available and not too much more expensive, I plan to only buy with full ingredient lists and no Triclosan in them.
When I first reviewed the different options in 2012, among brands that met these criteria, Seventh Generation had the highest overall score on GoodGuide and the most certifications, although it did not have EPA’s Design for the Environment certification, which has a very rigorous standard and process. I appreciated their engagement with the Responsible Palm Oil Roundtable though, and they are B-Corp certified, “cruelty free” and Leaping Bunny Certified. Method and Seventh Generation overall had the highest scores, and ultimately it came down to an additional factor that we focused on when we were in the store — the Seventh Generation was the only one that came in a manageable bulk size (50 fluid ounces) — all the rest were smaller products that require more packaging. The bottle is also made out of recycled material. So we decided to go with the Seventh Generation product, and it has been working pretty well.
- Environmental Working Group’s discussion of the problem of the lack of disclosure of ingredients in household cleaning supplies. http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/weak_regulation
- Beyond Pesticides’ overview of Triclosan: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/antibacterial/triclosan.php
- CBS news discussion of Triclosan: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/does-antibacterial-soap-cause-more-harm-than-good-fda-to-decide-after-four-decades/
- FDA update on Triclosan: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm205999.htm