Is finish dishwasher detergent biodegradable? (17 ingredients of finish dishwasher detergent)

This blog article shall look into the biodegradability of fishing dishwater detergent.

It shall also cover other areas such as:

  • The components of finish dishwasher detergent.
  • The biodegradation process.
  • The eco-friendliness of finish dishwasher detergent.

Is finish dishwasher detergent biodegradable?

Yes, according to the Finish website, finish detergent is completely biodegradable.

Finish detergent is made up of a mixture of organic ingredients and those that are naturally occurring.

Organic compounds are broken down by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi while natural materials are broken down by other means such as oxidation or UV radiation. 


Biodegradation is the process by which naturally occurring organic materials are broken down by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi into small particles which are not harmful to the environment.

Biodegradation is carried out by different agents such as UV radiation, light, wind, and water but the most effective agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

The biodeterioration process loosens up the structure of the organic substance. For instance, the cell wall of plants is weakened by light, wind, water, and UV radiation.

Bio-fragmentation involves the breakdown of organic matter into smaller, nontoxic particles by bacteria and fungi, releasing water and carbon dioxide in the process.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation and it involves the microorganisms taking up the products of bio-fragmentation into their biological machinery to be used to make energy.

Biodegradation can either involve the microorganisms using oxygen, aerobic biodegradation or it can involve the microorganisms which do not use oxygen, anaerobic biodegradation.

Types of biodegradation.

There are two distinct types of biodegradation.

  • Aerobic biodegradation.
  • Anaerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation.

This is the process of biodegradation that involves the use of oxygen.

The microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi use oxygen to break down organic matter into small biomass and carbon dioxide and water.

Most organic matter contains proteins and carbohydrate compounds that are broken down by endogenous enzymes into small particles such as amino acids and glucose.

The remaining proteins and carbohydrates, together with the amino acids and glucose are broken down into carbon dioxide and water, in the process, small biomass is formed.

Aerobic biodegradation is very fast.

Anaerobic respiration.

This is a type of reaction that involves microorganisms that do not require oxygen.

The microorganisms use other chemicals like hydrogen sulfide to break down organic matter into small biomass, carbon dioxide, and methane gas. 

The process of anaerobic respiration is very slow but very efficient. Composting is a type of controlled anaerobic reaction

What are the components of finish dishwasher detergent?

Finish detergent is used in breaking down all types of food residues.

The soap is free from chlorine bleach.

The components of finish detergent include:

  • Sodium carbonate.
  • Sodium citrate.
  • Sodium percarbonate.
  • Bicarbonate.
  • C12-C15 alcohols ethoxylated propoxylated.
  • Polyvinyl alcohol.
  • Polyacrylic acid sodium bisulfite terminated.
  • Tetrasodium etidronate.
  • TAED.
  • Alcohol polyglycol ether.
  • Protease enzymes.
  • Polyethylene glycol.
  • Amylases enzymes.
  • Manganese catalyst.
  • Colorants.
  • Fragrance.

Sodium carbonate.

This is a very important chemical in detergents. It is added as a softening agent.

It is added to soaps to soften the hard water by reacting with ions such as magnesium and calcium which make the water hard.

By removing the ions, other cleaning agents in the soap become efficient in removing stains.

Sodium citrate.

Sodium citrate is used in detergents as a sequestering agent. Sequestering agents are those substances that absorb other materials. 

Sodium citrate absorbs the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions found in hard water, and therefore, it softens the hard water.

Unlike phosphate sequestering agents, sodium citrate is environmentally friendly.

Sodium percarbonate.

Sodium percarbonate is a chemical used as a cleaning agent in detergents. It is used to remove stains in dishes.

It has bleaching property and so it whitens textiles and resins, making them whiter.


Sodium bicarbonate is used in detergents as a sequestering agent to combine with magnesium and calcium ions to soften the water.

Sodium bicarbonate also helps in de-staining and degreasing surfaces.

C12-C15 alcohols ethoxylated propoxylated.

This chemical is used as a surfactant in detergents and other products like shampoos.

The chemical helps in breaking the surface tension of water, increasing the efficiency of soaps.

The chemical works like other ethoxylates like lauryl alcohol ethoxylate by enhancing foaming, wetting, solubility, and degreasing properties of soaps and detergents.

Polyvinyl alcohol.

This is used in detergents as a thickener. It makes the detergents thick and greasy.

Polyacrylic acid sodium bisulfite terminated.

This chemical is one of the backbones of the detergent. It helps the detergent acquire detergent properties by providing carboxylic acid and salt compounds.

It helps in the cleansing properties of the soap by absorbing the stains.

Tetrasodium etidronate.

This chemical is added to detergents as a chelating agent. It is derived from etidronic acid.

The chemical helps the detergent in sequestering calcium and magnesium ions in hard water to make it soft and increase the efficiency of the detergent.


This chemical is a very powerful bleaching agent and biocide. Its bleaching action does not affect the colors of the surface it is working on.

The chemical has strong bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal properties and therefore it is used as a disinfectant and sterilizer in detergents.

Alcohol polyglycol ether.

This chemical is used in detergents as a surfactant.

The chemical works like other ethoxylates like lauryl alcohol ethoxylate by enhancing foaming, wetting, solubility, and degreasing properties of soaps and detergents

Protease enzymes.

A protease enzyme is a group of enzymes that breaks down proteins into amino acids. 

In the absence of these enzymes, the protein molecule coagulates and hardens.

The enzymes are added to detergents to break down protein coagulants in blood or milk stains on clothes or dishes.

The proteins are broken down into amino acids which are easily washed off by the cleaning agents in the detergent.

Amylases enzymes.

Much like protease enzymes and other enzymes such as lipases, amylase enzymes break down starch molecules into small and simple glucose molecules.

The enzymes are added to detergents to break down stains containing starch. After the starch is broken down, the cleaning agents easily wash away the stains.

Polyethylene glycol.

This chemical contains a hydroxyl ion and when introduced to detergents, they form non-ionic detergents. 

Non-ionic detergents are those that do not contain any ions. If they do not contain any ions then they can not react with anything.

The ionic detergents, therefore, can not react with any metal ions to form a scum on stains.

Manganese catalyst.

As mentioned earlier, detergents contain enzymes such as amylase and proteases. In addition, some soaps may contain hydrogen peroxide.

Manganese catalyst is added to detergents to activate these enzymes or to activate the reaction of hydrogen peroxide in soaps.

This increases the efficiency of the detergents in the cleaning stains.


These are dyes that are added to the detergents to give them their characteristic colors.

Different dyes can be used. Some of them include the following:

  • Allostrazol yellow QY.
  • Allostrazol orange II.
  • Allostrazol red 2G.
  • Allostrazol red 2R.
  • Allostrazol blue AS.
  • Allostrazol blue BB.
  • Allostrazol yellow FL.
  • Allostrazol yellow Jr.
  • Allostrazol red B.
  • Allostrazol violet AV.
  • Allostrazol yellow GL.
  • Allostrazol orange AR.
  • Allostrazol bright red AG.
  • Allostrazol deep red RB.

Fragrances or essential oils are also added to the detergent to give it a characteristic good smell.

Is finish dishwasher detergent eco-friendly?

Yes, the detergent does not contain any chemicals that are toxic to the environment.

According to an article, detergents that lack phosphates are eco-friendly because phosphates cause the blooming of algae, leading to the death of aquatic animals.

According to the manufacturer’s label, the finish dishwasher detergent does not contain phosphates as chelating agents but instead uses sodium citrate.

The chemicals are mostly biodegradable to give products that are not harmful to the environment.

The packaging plastics are recyclable and therefore reducing the landfills.


This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of finish dishwasher detergent.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Biodegradation process.
  • Components of finish dishwasher detergent and their functions.
  • The eco-friendliness of finish dishwasher detergent.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is finish dishwasher detergent biodegradable?

Is Finish dishwasher detergent phosphate free?

Yes, it is phosphate-free and in its place, sodium citrate is used as the sequestering (chelating) agent.

Are Finish dishwasher tablets toxic?

Yes, when touched for long with naked hands, they cause skin irritation because of chlorine bleaching agents.

The tablets are also toxic if ingested and they should be used as directed by the manufacturer

Which dish soaps are biodegradable?

Any dish soap that is made from natural, organic products from plants or animals is biodegradable.

You should check on the product’s ingredient label to determine it for yourself.


Finish Dishwasher Tablets and Its Buyers’ Behavior Essay. (January 30, 2021). An article on

Retrieved from:

Neugebauer, Judith M. (1990). “Detergents: An overview”. Methods in Enzymology. 182: 239–253. doi:10.1016/0076-6879(90)82020

Lichtenberg D, Ahyayauch H, Goñi FM (2013). “The mechanism of detergent solubilization of lipid bilayers”. Biophysical Journal. 105 (2): 289–299. Bibcode:2013BpJ…105..289L. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2013.06.007

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