Is Dawn dish detergent biodegradable? (5 alternatives) 

The article will discuss the biodegradability of ​​Dawn dish detergent. Other covered aspects would include:

  • Is it advisable to use Dawn dish detergent?
  • Is Dawn dish detergent safe for water bodies?
  • Is Dawn dish detergent good for septic systems?
  • Is Dawn dish detergent bad for the soi?

Is Dawn dish detergent biodegradable?

Yes, Dawn dish detergent can be called biodegradable as it is made from 90% biodegradable materials. As per Dawn, it does not make use of chemicals such as triclosan, phthalates, and parabens and about 90% of the ingredients that are used to make Dawn dish detergent are biodegradable. 

To properly build a stance on the biodegradability of any product, it is essential to have a look at the ingredients that make up Dawn dish detergent. If we look at the ingredients that make up Dawn dish detergent, it is seen that most of the ingredients used are rather safe and inert in terms of environmental friendliness. 

Dawn dish detergent also does not make use of any phosphates and this is also something worth appreciating. However, there are some ingredients that are home to some controversies such as methylisothiazolinone, fragrances, and dioxanes. 

Biodegradation can be perceived from two main factors. One is how readily it can be degraded by the action of microbes and the other is how eco-friendly it is. While a stance may be given on biodegradation, a final stance can not be said regarding the sustainability or eco-friendliness of  Dawn dish detergent because of the use of controversial ingredients.

If Dawn dish detergent is biodegradable, is it sustainable too?

While in most cases, a positive relationship may be drawn between biodegradation and sustainability; there are certain cases where in which defiance is observed. 

The case of Dawn dish detergent is like that because Dawn dish detergent makes use of materials such as dyes, dioxanes, and methylisothiazolinone. Owing to the presence of these ingredients, there are negative repercussions on the environment and health that include:

  • Death of fish eggs
  • Productive complications 
  • Breeding abnormalities 
  • Organ damage
  • Irritation to the skin 
  • Groundwater pollution 
  • Damage to the septic system

Owing to these points, it can be said that Dawn dish detergent can not be given the status of being sustainable. However, there are certain points that indicate otherwise. These points include:

  • Dawn dish detergent does not contain phosphates
  • Dawn dish detergent does not contain triclosan 
  • Dawn dish detergent does not contain phthalates
  • Dawn dish detergent is made from PCR (post-consumer recycled material) 

Therefore, it can be summed up that although Dawn dish detergent is considerate of the environment by taking the green measures discussed above, there are further steps that need to be taken that mainly include the avoidance of controversial ingredients so that Dawn dish detergent may be said to be completely eco-friendly. 

Is it advisable to use Dawn dish detergent?

Since we have discussed the biodegradability and eco-friendly aspects of Dawn dish detergent, let us address an important question which is should you use Dawn dish detergent or not? 

As per various opinions, it is not advisable to use Dawn dish detergent and prefer other alternatives because of certain reasons such as: 

  • It uses synthetic dyes
  • It uses synthetic fragrances
  • It contains methylisothiazolinone

Synthetic dyes

The use of synthetic dyes such as Blue#1 and Yellow#5 are linked with medical damages such as:

  • Cancer
  • Skin irritation 
  • Damages to the nervous system 
  • Organ damage 
  • Skin allergies 

Synthetic fragrances

Dawn dish detergent also makes use of synthetic fragrances that also have certain defects and health effects (negative) including: 

  • Skin allergies
  • Skin irritation
  • Aquatic toxicity 

Use of methylisothiazolinone

The use of methylisothiazolinone is also of concern since it is linked with negative and degradative environmental phenomena such as aquatic toxicity and damage to aquatic ecosystems. 

More than that, there are also negative effects such as organ damage, skin damage, vision damage,  and also cancer. 

Final verdict (5 alternatives) 

Therefore, in light of these points, it is advised and asserted that Dawn dish detergent should not be used and other eco-friendly alternatives could be preferred as those alternatives would be made from natural materials and would not have any degradative effects on the health or on the septic systems. 

Therefore, you can go for alternatives such as:

  • Eco roots dish soap
  • Bestowed Essential dish soap 
  • Etee liquid dish soap
  • Ecos Dish soap 
  • Aspen clean dish soap

Is Dawn dish detergent safe for water bodies?

No, Dawn dish detergent is not safe to be disposed of in the water bodies as it does contain chemicals that can cause aquatic toxicity. What this means is that there can be negative and degradative repercussions on aquatic ecosystems in terms of biology and chemistry. 

There also would be health impacts rendered on the aquatic life such as:

  • Breeding anomalies
  • Reproductive complications
  • Death of eggs

Is Dawn dish detergent good for septic systems?

It is not greatly advisable to pour the Dawn dish detergent down the drain. That is because otherwise, there could be negative repercussions such as groundwater pollution, damage to aquatic life, reproductive complications, and also organ damage.

However, the most important point is that when Dawn dish detergent is poured down the drain, there could be negative effects on the septic systems which is a downside. 

For these reasons, it is also advisable to not drain the Dawn dish detergent directly into water bodies such as lakes, streams, rivers et cetera as this can lead to aquatic toxicity and direct damage to the aquatic ecosystems.

Is Dawn dish detergent bad for the soil?

Many people inquire if they can use Dawn dish detergent as an insecticide because of its properties and applications. While Dawn dish detergent is better than many, it is not entirely safe to use it in the soil because of the following reasons:

  • It contains fragrances
  • It contains Methylisothiazolinone (a biocide) 
  • It contains dyes and colourants (Blue#1 and Yellow#5)

These are some reasons that can make Dawn dish detergent bad for the soil and render undesirable and unwanted effects. Therefore, it is best to rely on natural insecticides rather than Dawn dish detergent. 


It is concluded that Dawn dish detergent is biodegradable (90%) but some of the ingredients used are linked with degradative effects on health (such as organ damage, skin damage, and cancer). Therefore, it has unsustainable downsides too that must be worked upon. 

Also, there are negative effects on the environment such as effects on the septic systems and aquatic toxicity. Therefore, owing to these effects, it is not advisable to use Dawn dish detergent and prefer the greener alternatives mentioned in the article. 

The use of dawn dish detergent as a biocide or insecticide was also discouraged as it could lead to unwanted effects. 


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