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Unlocking the Secrets of Dishwashing Liquid Formula: A Comprehensive Guide to Effective and Eco-Friendly Solutions

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Dishwash Liquid Formula

1. Introduction

Dishwashing liquid is an essential household cleaning product that makes it easy to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the kitchen. With the right dishwashing liquid formula, you can effortlessly cut through grease, grime, and stubborn stuck-on food, leaving your dishes sparkling clean with minimal effort. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into various aspects of dishwashing liquid formulas, exploring their key ingredients, popular brands, and eco-friendly solutions for modern kitchens.

The history of dishwashing liquid dates back to the early 20th century when the first synthetic detergents were developed. Since then, there have been continuous innovations in the formulation of dishwashing liquids to make them more effective, safe, and environmentally friendly. Today, we have a wide range of options available in the market, offering a variety of benefits to consumers, including powerful grease removal, gentle formulations for sensitive skin, and eco-friendly alternatives.

Dishwashing Liquid Formula

2. Typical Ingredients in Dishwashing Liquid

2.1 Typical Dishwashing Liquid Formula Components

Dishwashing liquid formulations incorporate different ingredients to serve various functions, such as cleaning, degreasing, foaming, and maintaining consistency. Here is a table displaying an overview of the ingredients and their functions, common options, and adding ratios in a typical dishwashing liquid formula:

IngredientFunctionCommon OptionAdding Ratio,
% w/t
Anionic SurfactantsPrimary cleaning agentsSodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate(SLES)
Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulphonic Acid(LABSA)
Alpha Olefin Sulphonate(AOS)
Nonionic SurfactantsSupplementary cleaning, degreasing, and foamingAlcohol Ethoxylates (AEO)
Cocamide DEA(CDEA)
Amphoteric SurfactantsMild cleaning and foam boostingCocamidopropyl   Betaine (CAPB)
Cocamidopropylamine Oxide(CAO)
pH Adjusters and BuffersMaintain optimal pHSodium Hydroxide
Citric Acid
Grease-cutting AgentsEnhance grease removalEthanol1-5%
PreservativesPrevent bacterial growthParabens
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
Fragrances and ColorantsAesthetic appealSynthetic Fragrances
Essential Oil
Thickeners and Rheology ModifiersAdjust viscositySodium Chloride(Salt)
Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose(HPMC)
An overview of common dishwashing liquid ingredients and their roles in formula

2.2. Must-have ingredients for a basic dishwashing liquid formula

The following four core ingredients form the foundation of a functional dishwashing liquid formula, ensuring effective cleaning, foaming, and overall product performance. While other ingredients such as thickeners, preservatives, and fragrances can enhance the product’s usability and appeal, the primary and secondary surfactants, pH adjusters, and water are necessary to achieve a minimum level of cleaning effectiveness.

  1. Primary Surfactant (Anionic Surfactant): Anionic surfactants, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LABSA), provide the main cleaning power in the dishwashing liquid, breaking up and removing dirt and grease from dishes.
  2. Secondary Surfactant (Amphoteric or Nonionic Surfactant): A secondary surfactant, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) or alcohol ethoxylates (AEO), contributes to additional cleaning and foaming properties. These surfactants also help stabilize the foam and improve the mildness of the formula.
  3. pH Adjuster: Sodium Hydroxide or Citric acid is vital for maintaining the optimal pH level (typically between 7 and 8) of the dishwashing liquid. The appropriate pH ensures the cleaning performance is maximized, while also improving the product’s compatibility with users’ skin.
  4. Water: Water is a crucial component of the dishwashing liquid, as it serves as a solvent and carrier for the other ingredients. The percentage of water in dishwashing liquid typically ranges from 65% to 90%. It helps dilute and distribute the surfactants, pH adjusters, and any additional additives throughout the liquid, making it easier to apply and rinse off the dishes.

2.3. Additives for performance and marketing

In addition to the core ingredients, dishwashing liquid formulas often include various additives to improve performance and create marketing appeals. These additives provide additional functionality or characteristics that differentiate one product from another, catering to specific consumer needs and preferences.

  1. Enzymes: Enzymes such as proteases, amylases, and lipases are biological catalysts that help break down food particles, protein, starch, and fat residues, respectively. Their inclusion in dishwashing liquid enhances the cleaning power, allowing for more effective removal of stubborn food stains and residue.
  2. Fragrances: Fragrances or essential oils can be added to dishwashing liquids to provide a pleasant scent, improving the sensory experience for the user. Different fragrances can be used to appeal to different consumers, creating a range of options, such as citrus, floral, or herbal scents.
  3. Dyes and Colorants: Adding colorants to the dishwashing liquid can make it more aesthetically appealing and eye-catching on the shelf, helping to differentiate the product from competitors. Color can also be used to indicate a specific fragrance or ingredient, such as a green liquid for a herbal scent or blue for ocean-inspired fragrances.
  4. Chelating Agents: Chelating agents like Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) work by binding to metal ions in hard water, reducing soap scum and increasing cleaning efficiency. This helps prevent deposits and residue on dishes and glassware, ensuring they come out sparkling clean.
  5. Grease-cutting Solvents: Additional grease-cutting agents like d-limonene or glycol ethers can be included to enhance the formula’s ability to tackle tough grease and oil. This can be particularly appealing to consumers who frequently cook with heavy oils or need a powerful cleaning solution for their dishes.
  6. Skin Conditioning Agents: Ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, or panthenol can be incorporated to provide a gentle, skin-friendly formula. These additives help to moisturize and soothe the user’s hands, reducing the risk of dryness or irritation from frequent use.
  7. Antibacterial Agents: Some dishwashing liquids may contain antibacterial agents like benzalkonium chloride or triclosan to help kill bacteria and prevent the spread of germs. This type of additive can be a selling point for consumers who prioritize hygiene and germ-fighting properties in their cleaning products.

By incorporating these performance-enhancing additives and creating appealing marketing angles, dishwashing liquid manufacturers can tailor their products to a wide variety of consumer preferences, improving their overall competitiveness in the market.

3. Practical Dishwashing Liquid Formulations for Commercial Use

In this section, we will present three sample dishwashing liquid formulations to offer a clearer and more practical understanding of the critical factors involved in developing a dishwashing liquid. Both example formulations cater to residential and commercial applications, highlighting the essential components and purposes of various ingredients in a dishwashing formula.

A: Economical High-viscosity Dishwashing Formula

This formula addresses the need for an affordable dishwashing liquid with high viscosity, which ensures better adherence to surfaces and longer-lasting suds. The formula contains the following ingredients:

IngredientWt, % (as is)Function
Caustic soda0.26%Neutralizer
LABSA 96%2.0%Primary Surfactant
SLES 70%8.0%Primary Surfactant
CAPB 35%1.5%Secondary Surfactant
CDEA 70%0.5%Secondary Surfactant
EDTA-2Na0.1%Chelating agent
Fragrance, Dye, Preservativesq.s.Additives
Deionized waterq.s. to 100%Solvent, Carrier
HPMCq.s. to achieve a desired viscosityThickener
Citric acidq.s. to achieve a desired pH (7-8)pH Adjuster
Pouring dishwashing liquid onto a washing sponge

B: Ultra Grease-cutting Dishwashing Formula

This formula is designed to provide an enhanced grease-cutting capability for effortless cleaning of even the greasiest pots and pans. It incorporates the following ingredients:

IngredientWt, % (as is)Function
Caustic soda1.0%Neutralizer
LABSA 96%7.0%Primary Surfactant
SLES 70%8.0%Primary Surfactant
CAB 35%3.0%Secondary Surfactant
EDTA-2Na0.5%Chelating agent
Fragrance, Dye, Preservativesq.s.Additives
Deionized waterq.s. to 100%Solvent, Carrier
Salt (NaCl)q.s. to achieve desired viscosityThickener
Citric acidq.s. to achieve a desired pH (7-8)pH Adjuster
Dishwashing is crucial in modern kitchens

C. Rich-foaming High-active Dishwashing Formula

The formula’s composition ensures strong cleaning performance while providing an enjoyable user experience with ample foam and a visually appealing appearance.

IngredientWt, % (as is)Function
Caustic soda0.95%Neutralizer
LABSA 96%7.2%Primary Surfactant
SLES 70%4.5%Primary Surfactant
AOS 35%11.2%Secondary Surfactant
CAO 30%2.2%Secondary Surfactant
EDTA-2Na0.5%Chelating agent
Fragrance, Dye, Preservativesq.s.Additives
Deionized waterq.s. to 100%Solvent, Carrier
Salt (NaCl)q.s. to achieve desired viscosityThickener
Citric acidq.s. to achieve a desired pH (7-8)pH Adjuster
Washing dishes by hand with high foaming dishwashing liquid

4. Popular Dishwashing Liquid Brands and their Formulations

4.1. Dawn dishwashing liquid

Dawn is known for its powerful grease-cutting formula, featuring a combination of anionic and amphoteric surfactants, such as SLS, SLES, and cocamidopropyl betaine. The formula also contains enzymes to break down stubborn food particles and a fragrance to provide a pleasant scent.

4.2. Palmolive dishwashing liquid

Palmolive combines SLS, SLES, and lauramine oxide—an amphoteric surfactant—to create a powerful yet gentle dishwashing liquid formula. In addition to its cleaning agents, Palmolive includes enzymes, fragrance, and dye to improve its performance and user experience.

4.3. Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid

As an eco-conscious brand, Seventh Generation uses plant-derived, biodegradable surfactants in its dishwashing liquid formula, such as sodium coco sulfate and lauryl glucoside. These ingredients provide efficient cleaning power without using harsh chemicals or compromising the environment.

4.4. Mrs. Meyers dishwashing liquid

Mrs. Meyers dishwashing liquid focuses on using natural, plant-derived ingredients in its formula, combining powerful surfactants like lauryl glucoside with a range of essential oils to create a pleasant scent. The result is an effective and environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid suitable for households prioritizing non-toxic ingredients.

Unlock the Secrets Behind Successful Dishwashing Liquid Brands with Yeser Chemicals

Do you want to know the formulas that drive the success of these popular dishwashing liquid brands? We can help! At Yeser Chemicals, we boast a leading R&D center and a team of industry veterans dedicated to developing tailored product recipes to capt your target audience.

With expertise in Home & Fabric care, Personal care, and Cosmetics, our tailor-made formulas are not only science-based but also comply with local regulations and market demands.

And as a leading producer and supplier of home care and personal care ingredients, Yeser Chemicals offers one-stop-shop solutions for your raw material requirements.

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5. DIY Dishwashing Liquid and Homemade Formulations

5.1. Benefits of making your own dish liquid

Creating your own dishwashing liquid at home allows you to customize the formula to suit your preferences and needs while potentially saving money compared to store-bought options. It also benefits the environment, as homemade cleaners typically use fewer chemicals and produce less plastic waste compared to their commercial counterparts.

5.2. Simple homemade dishwashing liquid recipe

To make your own dishwashing liquid, simply mix the following ingredients in a clean container:

  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of washing soda
  • 5-10 drops of essential oil (optional, for fragrance)

Shake the container well to combine the ingredients, then use your homemade dishwashing liquid as you would any store-bought product.

5.3. Customizing homemade dish liquid with essential oils

Essential oils not only contribute a pleasant fragrance to your homemade dishwashing liquid but may also offer specific antimicrobial and aromatic properties. Popular essential oils for dishwashing liquids include lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil.

6. Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Dishwashing Liquid Formulations

6.1. The impact of dishwashing liquid on the environment

Traditional dishwashing liquid formulas may harm ecosystems, as some surfactants do not biodegrade easily and can accumulate in water sources. Additionally, the widespread use of plastic bottles for packaging contributes to plastic pollution, harming both marine life and humans.

6.2. Biodegradable and plant-based formulations

To address these environmental concerns, eco-friendly dishwashing liquid formulas often use biodegradable surfactants, such as alkyl polyglucosides, and sustainable ingredients like coconut-derived surfactants. These formulations minimize the impact on aquatic life and ecosystems while providing effective cleaning capabilities.

6.3. Brands prioritizing sustainability and eco-friendliness

Numerous brands have embraced sustainability, prioritizing the development of eco-friendly dishwashing liquid formulas and packaging. Some popular eco-friendly brands include Seventh Generation, Ecover, Method, and Mrs. Meyers.

7. The Future of Dishwashing Liquid Formulation

7.1. Innovation in surfactants

Ongoing research strives to develop even more effective surfactants, minimizing the environmental impact while maintaining their cleaning power. Some examples include the use of enzymatic surfactants derived from microorganisms and innovations in plant-derived surfactants that function at room temperature, reducing the energy required for hot water.

7.2. Zero-waste packaging options

To reduce packaging waste, some companies are exploring zero-waste packaging solutions, such as refillable containers, solid dishwashing soap bars, and dissolvable sachets. These innovations aim to conserve resources and prevent plastic pollution.

7.3. Effective natural alternatives

Research continues in the search for effective natural alternatives and plant-based ingredients to replace synthetic compounds in dishwashing liquid formulas. This includes the use of essential oils, botanical extracts, and enzymes that provide equal or improved cleaning abilities with less environmental impact.

8. Dishwashing Liquid Formulation for Sensitive Skin

8.1. Causes of skin irritation

For some individuals, certain ingredients in dishwashing liquid formulas can cause skin irritation, such as redness, itching, and dryness. Common irritants include harsh surfactants, fragrances, and dyes.

8.2. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free options

To cater to those with sensitive skin, some dishwashing liquid brands offer hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formulas. These products avoid using harsh surfactants and additives, focusing on milder ingredients like amphoteric surfactants and natural cleaning agents.

8.3. Tips for selecting a dishwashing liquid for sensitive skin

When choosing a dishwashing liquid for sensitive skin, look for products labeled as hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, or dermatologically tested. Avoid products containing known irritants like SLS, SLES, or artificial fragrances, and opt for mild surfactants such as cocamidopropyl betaine or alkyl polyglucosides.

9. Dish Soap vs Dishwasher Detergent

9.1. Key differences in formulation

While both dish soap and dishwasher detergent are designed for cleaning dishes, their formulations are specifically tailored to their respective applications. Dishwasher detergents typically contain stronger surfactants and alkaline agents to effectively break down food particles and stains during high-temperature washing cycles. In contrast, dish soap is formulated for handwashing with milder ingredients and balanced pH levels to minimize potential skin irritation.

9.2. Pros & cons of using dish soap vs dishwasher detergent

Dish soap is ideal for handwashing dishes and is gentle on the skin, but it may not be as effective at removing stubborn food particles or stains. Dishwasher detergents effectively clean dishes in a dishwasher but can be harsh on the skin and should not be used for handwashing. Mixing the two can result in excessive foam production, potentially damaging dishwasher components or impairing the cleaning process.

10. Triclosan and Dishwashing Liquid: Facts and Controversy

10.1. What is triclosan and its function in cleaning products

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent formerly used in a variety of cleaning products, including some dishwashing liquids. It was added to these products to prevent bacterial growth and improve their overall cleaning efficiency.

10.2. Controversial aspects: health and environmental concerns

In recent years, triclosan has raised concerns about its impact on human health and the environment. Evidence suggests that the widespread use of triclosan may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disrupt hormonal balance in humans and wildlife. Moreover, triclosan can accumulate in waterways, posing risks to aquatic organisms.

10.3. Current regulations and its future in dishwashing liquids

As a result of these concerns, regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union have restricted the use of triclosan in consumer products, including dishwashing liquids. As a result, triclosan-based dishwashing liquid formulas have been largely phased out in favor of safer alternatives.

11. Cost Comparison: Store-Bought Dishwashing Liquid vs DIY

11.1. Factors affecting the cost of dishwashing liquid

The cost of dishwashing liquid can vary based on factors such as the brand, formulation, packaging, and marketing. Some premium brands with specialized formulas or eco-friendly features may command higher prices, while budget brands may offer more economical options.

11.2. Saving money by making your own dishwashing liquid

Making your own dishwashing liquid can be a cost-effective alternative to store-bought products, especially when using simple, readily available ingredients. By controlling the ingredients and formulation, DIY enthusiasts can ensure they are getting an effective cleaning solution at a fraction of the cost of commercial products.

12. Summary

In conclusion, understanding the dishwashing liquid formula’s components not only empowers consumers to make informed choices but also opens up the exciting possibility of crafting their own effective, safe, and eco-friendly cleaning solutions. By taking the DIY approach, you can tailor your dishwashing liquid to your specific needs and preferences while also contributing to a more sustainable future. So why not give it a shot? Dive into the world of formulation and enjoy the satisfaction and benefits of creating your personalized, homemade dishwashing liquid. With ongoing innovation and research, you’ll be joining a growing community of individuals focused on balancing effective cleaning with environmental responsibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

A. Can I use dishwashing liquid to wash fruits and vegetables?

While dishwashing liquid may remove visible dirt, it is not specifically formulated for washing fruits and vegetables. Instead, opt for a produce wash or plain water to rinse fruits and vegetables.

B. Can I use dishwashing liquid as a hand soap?

While some mild dishwashing liquids may be suitable for occasional hand washing, they are not specifically formulated for this purpose. It is best to use a dedicated hand soap designed for frequent handwashing, as it will be gentler on the skin.

C. Is dishwashing liquid safe for pets?

Most dishwashing liquids are safe for use around pets but should be kept out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion or exposure. If you are concerned about the safety of a specific dishwashing liquid, choose a pet-friendly or eco-friendly option with non-toxic ingredients, or consult with a veterinarian.

D. Can I use dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher?

Using dishwashing liquid in a dishwasher is not recommended, as it can produce excessive foam that can overflow and damage your dishwasher. Instead, use a dishwasher detergent specifically formulated for use in dishwashers.

E. Can I adjust my current dishwashing liquid formula to improve its performance?

Yes, working with professional chemists and industry experts can help you optimize your dishwashing liquid formula. Enhancing the formula can lead to improved cleaning performance, grease-cutting ability, and eco-friendliness, setting your product apart from the competition.

Written by:
Jun Xie
Jun Xie
Jun is the head of R&D at Yeser Chemicals. He holds a master's degree in Chemical Engineering and Technology. After joining Yeser Chemicals in 2013, he has been dedicated to researching and developing new coconut-based green surfactants and their safe uses in Home & Personal care products. In addition to serving as the Head of R&D at Yeser Chemicals, Jun is the director of the Guangdong Green Surfactant Engineering Technology Research Center and a member of the Standard Committee of Guangdong Daily Chemical Chamber of Commerce.

Yeser Chemicals is a leading producer of CAPB, CDEA, CMEA, EGDS, and other various Coconut-derived surfactants.

By self-manufacturing and 3rd-party toll-manufacturing, we provide a long list of safe ingredients, including surfactants, conditioners, thickeners, etc.,  used in Home & Fabric Care, Personal Care, and Cosmetics.

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