Washing-up liquid


Ethical shopping guide to washing-up liquid, from Ethical Consumer

Ethical shopping guide to washing-up liquid, from Ethical Consumer


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

This product guide is part of a Special Report on Cleaning Products.  See what's in the rest of the report.

 

This product guide to Washing-up Liquid includes:

  • Ethical and environmental ratings for 22 washing-up liquids
  • Best Buy recommendations
  • The hidden contents of washing up liquids
  • Handwashing versus machine washing 

 

 

Customise your scorecard ratings

How important to you?
Less
More
Click the + icon to expand categories

To save your personal score settings and use them elsewhere around the site, please  Log In.

 

Help

Score Ratings

Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings

 

Score table

The score table shows simple numerical ratings out of 20 for each product. The higher the score, the more ethical the company.

Move the sliders to customise these scores. 

Click on a product name to see the stories behind the score (subscribers only). 

 

Full Scorecard

The Full Scorecard shows the 'black marks' for each product, by each of the 17 negative categories. The bigger the mark, the worse the score. So for example a big black circle under 'Worker Rights' shows that the company making this product has been severely criticised for worker abuses.

Scores start at 14.  A small circle means that half a mark is deducted, a large circle means that a full mark is deducted.

Marks are added in the positive categories of Company Ethos and the five Product Sustainability columns (O,F,E,S,A).  A small circle  means that half a mark is added, a large circle means that a full mark is added.

The Full Scorecard is only available to subscribers. Click on the More Detail link at the top of the score table to access it.

 

Customising Rating Scores

Move the sliders to change the weighting given to each category. You can open up each of the 5 main categories by clicking on the + sign. This way you can compare products according to what's ethically important to YOU.  

 

Saving Your Customised Weightings

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 

 

Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 

 

Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

How the Sliders work
Move the sliders to see how different issues affect the score table
Refine each category by clicking the + icons
Save your settings (you need to be signed in first)
Key to expanded Score table

Best Buys

as of May/June 2012

As our ratings are constantly updated, it is possible that these companies may not always come out top of the score table.

 

Bio-D and Faith in Nature are the clear best buys.

They are followed by Dishmate (Earth Friendly Products), Ecoleaf, Ecozone, Lilly’s Eco Clean, Bentley Organics, Sodasan and Sonett.

All these Best Buys are available online or from some health food shops.

Dri Pak scores well on the table if you want to make your own.

The best scoring widely available green brand is Ecover because of their company-wide approach to using green ingredients and they are certified cruelty-free.


Places
to buy

 


 


Ethical Consumer makes a small amount of money from your purchase. This goes to fund our research and campaigning. We ethically screen all the sites we link to.
Published June 2012

 

 

Hands that do dishes ...

 

Most of us in the UK do our washing up by hand with only about 42% of us owning a dishwasher. [31]

The best selling brand is Fairy which boasts a seal of approval by the British Skin Foundation, though this claim is not all that it seems. The British Skin Foundation is a charity that Fairy’s owner, Procter & Gamble (along with many other product manufacturers) supports financially. [20]

Washing-up liquids do not contain phosphates so products labelled ‘phosphate-free’ are misleading. But conventional brands do contain petrochemical surfactants and synthetic fragrances, not to mention the increasing number that claim to be antibacterial.

“Using a dish detergent in hot water also creates another health hazard- chemical vapours. In hot water the chemicals vaporise and are inhaled as steam; and some ingredients can produce vapours that cause severe irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract.” [20]

 


 

 

 

Marigold versus machine

 

The great debate – is it better for the environment to do the washing up by hand or use a dishwasher?

One of the most detailed studies ever done was in 2004 by Professor Rainer Stamminger of the University of Bonn.(14) He found that dishwashers used less water and electricity than washing by hand. On average, human washers in his study each used 103 litres of water, 2.5kWh of water-heating energy and took 80 minutes. By comparison, the machines used 15 litres of water and 1-2kWh of electricity, taking between 80 and 160 minutes.

These days, the most efficient dishwashers on the market use only 6.5 litres of water and less than 1kWh.(22) Stop it before the drying cycle begins and let it air dry (or use the quick wash setting) and you’ll use even less energy.

So dishwashers seemed to come out top, but they had to be full for the figures to stack up. But this may not have been a robust conclusion. A better handwashing technique makes the figures more competitive.

The best human washers in the 2004 study were only using 30 litres and 1 kWh of energy by, for example, scraping not rinsing food scraps, not pre-rinsing under a running tap and rinsing in a second sink full of cold water. British washers were using even less water than average.(14)

The energy used for handwashing could be even less because he calculated the energy used based on electricity use. Whilst most dishwashers now, annoyingly, only have a cold fill and so have to use electricity to heat the water, many people have efficient gas condensing boilers, gas having a lower carbon footprint than electricity.(13) So carbon savings can be made there, even more if you are using solar-heated water.

In addition, Rainer Stamminger did not include the embodied energy of manufacturing and transporting the dishwasher in his figures nor the materials used to make it.

 

 

Company Profile

 

Colgate-Palmolive are another large company owning many popular brands including Ajax and Sanex. It is under a boycott call from Uncaged over its use of animal testing and has also been criticised by PETA for the same.

The company has consistently scored badly for supply chain policy. It continues to score worst in the new supply chain management rating.

The company also uses phthalates, linked to hormone disruption, birth defects, kidney, liver and testicular damage, and Triclosan, another hormone disruptor.

In addition the company has a number of subsidiaries in tax havens including Singapore, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Ireland, Panama, The Philippines, and Uruguay.

 
Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table. 

This information is reserved for subscribers only. Don't miss out, become a subscriber today.

 


 

 

References
13 How bad are bananas?, Mike Berners-Lee, 2010 Profile Books 
14 A good Life, Leo Hickman, Eden Project Books 2008
20 Behind the label: Fairy Liquid, The Ecologist, 5th February 2009 
22 www.sust-it.net viewed 8th March 2010
31 Mintel Dishwashing Detergents - UK - April 2011    

 


 

This product guide is part of a Special Report on Cleaning Products.  See what's in the rest of the report.

  


 

Navigate To:

 

Ethical made easy

Detailed ethical ratings for over 40,000 companies, brands and products, plus Ethical Consumer magazine.

30 day trial subscription - find out more