‘Do I have to use rinse aid in my dishwasher?’ – This is a very innocent question of mine that lead me to a search on the internet and guess what, immediately my question turned into ‘is rinse aid safe to use?’
What is Rinse aid for?
If you use a rinse aid once, you will use it again. Because the extra charm that it adds to your dishes after a perfect wash lures whoever loves good housekeeping.
Also, the new age of dishwasher appliances suggests you to use a rinse aid to avoid having white streaks and spots in your dishes. And the rinse agent truly works wonder in having a shining effect in your glassware mostly.
Water streaks create a hazy look in your dishes. But with rinse aid, you will get a crystal-clear shine. The reason behind having such a beautiful shine is that the rinse aid is a surfactant. It reduces the surface tension of the water. Thus, the water no more lingers in your dishes. Rather it forms thin sheets in place of droplets and slips through the dishes hence fastens the drying process.
The demo videos, advertisements, so many blog posts, YouTube appliance gurus – everything and everyone promotes the dishwasher rinse aid. Thousands of people are already buying them, using them, and eating food in those dishes.
But have you ever thought, are dishwasher rinse agents safe?
The human health and environment watchdog – EWG (Environmental Working Group) rated 19 different rinse aid products, 12 brands, 11 rinse aid companies (as of 05.05.2020) available in the market to see if they are safe enough to use.
Among them, 3 rinse aids are safer choices than the rest. Those are the Ecover Rinse Aid (Amazon Link), Lemi Shine – Shine + Dry Natural Rinse Aid (Amazon Link), and Nature Clean Dishwashing Rinse Agent (Amazon Link).
6 rinse aids received D and 4 received F grading.
What getting F and D grade means?
The Environmental Working Group has a mission to protect human health and the environment. For which they have started a grading system to help consumers like us, differentiate the products that are safe to use for our health and for the environment.
F graders and the D graders are the lowest-performing ones, that have some concerning ingredients in them such as the Sodium tripolyphosphate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Antiredeposition agent, Oxybenzone, etc.
The Big Health Effects:
Unfortunately, most rinse agents in the market, have an anti-redeposition agent which has moderate concern for respiratory effects, general system or organ effects, cancer, kidney, and urinary effects, digestive effects, nervous system effects, allergies, irritation, several damages mostly visionary and also endocrine effects.
Several rinse agents have troclosene sodium, dihydrate, which can affect your respiratory, urinary, endocrine, reproductive, and digestive systems. It has some concern for chronic aquatic toxicity too. It also can damage your vision, cause allergies and irritation.
Clearly, rinse agents with these ingredients are off-limits.
Is Dishwasher Rinse Aid Necessary?
The main work of rinse aid is to help fasten the drying process of your dishes by lowering the clingy nature of water molecules. This way they stop forming droplets instead become like thin sheets thus get dried faster.
A dishwasher rinse aid is necessary for those who live in a hard water zone or do not have a dishwasher with a water softening unit. Hard water makes very nasty stains on your dishes if sits for a longer period. Hence a dishwasher rinsing aid by fastening the drying process makes the dishes shiny and streak-free. Also, some rinse aids have anti-redeposition agents that keep all the dirty food bits away from your dishes once the dishwasher cleans them. Overall, a dishwasher rinse aid is a useful addition to your dishwashing if you are buying a natural or plant-based product.
What is a plant-based or natural dishwasher rinse aid?
The natural plant-based surfactant is made with unique biodegradable formula extracted from plants. All the ingredients are natural and derived from plants inducing naturally antibacterial properties and making it chemical-free.
These natural plant-based dishwasher surfactants loosen the grip of tough stains and grease on the dishes resulting in deep cleaning and proper drying. It is free from toxic residues hence safe and healthy for use.
The best part is safe from any harm-causing properties that may affect marine life, making it safe around the environment, and most part of it is biodegradable.
Best Natural Rinse Aid For Dishwasher: Ecover Dishwasher Rinse Aid
The Ecover rinse aid is one of the most trusted and loved non-toxic dishwasher rinse aid. It is biodegradable, safe, and eco-friendly.
I am using this rinse aid for a year now. I like to have no synthetic smell on my dishes and flowery or fake lemon-scented dishes are very harmful.
It comes with no fake and awful fragrances that might leave your dishes to smell like detergent. It is free from toxic ingredients like phosphates, chlorines, and artificial dyes. Clearly, this rinse aid is safe for your septic system.
It is made with renewable plant-based ingredients. The best part is it also works best with well water and cleans the dishes with the shine & spark.
I also like this seller on Amazon who gives a surprising deal on bulk purchases. Most importantly if you use a natural product, the concern is the result. However, this rinse aid offers a great grease-cutting ability. You won’t encounter cloudy film. That’s why Ecover is the best natural dishwasher rinse aid.
Are homemade DIY rinse agents better than natural rinse aid?
Only three Dishwasher Rinse Aid in the market scored an A grade. If you really want to use a rinse agent then you can choose from them or many DIY gurus tell you to use vinegar and some other recipes, but those recipes can affect you too.
The white streaks that the water leaves behind while drying without a rinse aid are because of the hard water. Hard water creates white build-up, spots, and stains. If you have a dishwasher water softener, then your water will be automatically softened. Hence while drying normally your dishes will not have white streaks.
However, in case you don’t own a built-in water softener dishwasher and unaware of the water quality running through your taps, check these hard water symptoms to know if your water is hard or soft.
Bottom Line: If you are asking, ‘is rinse aid really necessary?’ I will say no. It can be skipped. Once you solve the hard water issue at your house, or you have a dishwasher with a built-in water softener, a rinse agent is not essential. Given the harmful ingredients that the rinse agents are coming with, we must stop using them. However, if you have hard water problems, use the best natural dishwasher rinse aid.