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Do suds equal clean dishes?

One of the top complaints about dish soap in the sustainability space is that it doesn't suds like traditional dish soap and that more product is needed to get the suds needed to clean. But why do equate suds with cleaning? And why don't more naturally made dish soaps suds like the blue stuff? Let's talk about it!


Suds are not necessary for dish soap to clean effectively. In fact, suds are primarily a cosmetic effect that can make it appear as though the soap is working harder than it actually is. The key cleaning agent in most dish soaps is a type of surfactant, which is a substance that helps break up and remove dirt and grease from dishes. These surfactants can work just as effectively with or without suds. However, some people may prefer soap with suds because they find it easier to gauge how much soap they have used, and it can make the process of washing dishes more enjoyable.


The ingredient that causes dish soap to suds is usually a type of surfactant known as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or a similar compound called sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These chemicals are added to dish soap and other cleaning products because they lower the surface tension of water, allowing it to spread out more easily and penetrate dirt and grease.


While SLS and SLES are effective at producing suds, they have also

been associated with skin irritation and allergic reactions in some people. Additionally, they are known to be harmful to aquatic life and the environment, as they can persist in waterways and harm aquatic organisms. For this reason, some people prefer to use dish soap that is free from these ingredients and instead opt for alternatives that rely on other types of surfactants, such as plant-based compounds like coco-glucoside or decyl glucoside.


Switching to a low sudsing dish soap can be an adjustment. With any change in habit or product, your frame of reference and openness to trying something different than what you are used to is key. We invite you to question the "why" behind your preferences, conditioned habits, and products. It's a fun exercise!


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