Monday, April 6, 2009

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel | Natural Cleaning Product Review

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel, lemon scent, a green cleaning product comes in 45 ounce 25% post-consumer recycled plastic bottle that is completely recyclable.

This green cleaning dishwasher detergent is phosphate and chlorine free and according to their container: “helps reduce the risk to our lakes and ponds”. It is safe for septic and greywater systems. They “only use those ingredients that do not pose any chronic health risks and are safe for the environment”.

Derived from a quote out of the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, the company name of Seventh Generation, has a tagline which states: “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” This is awesome wisdom for anyone’s life, for a company’s motto, and for every country, as well!

Seventh Generation, started by Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation’s President, is a prolific author and speaker on the subject of sustainability. For close to twenty years he has been focused on building a business that provides a complete line of green cleaning household products that are environmentally-friendly and sustainable, including the entire process from manufacturing to the supply chain.

This is a new generation of business strategy in which profit is not the baseline, but a part of the equation, and the health of consumers and the planet are the foundation. Currently, Seventh Generation is the fastest-growing green cleaning line of household products.

No Stranger to Controversy

7Gen is no stranger to controversy, but they have taken it in stride in a "stand-up" manner that I admire.

June, 2007 the President of 7Gen, apologized for having the word “biodegradable” on their bottles when all the ingredients were not, after Consumer Reports called them on it.

And in March, 2008 the Organic Consumers Association, a consumer advocacy group, released a report showing that 47 organic and natural consumer products contained detectable levels of the contaminate 1,4-dioxane. Seventh Generation was one of the brands named in the study. They now fully discuss this failing and their progress at correcting it on their website.

On their website, an explanation for consumers to review states: “Trace materials may be present in our cleaning products at percent levels, at parts per million (ppm) levels, or even at parts per billion (ppb) levels...”

Further they state on their website: “...Two examples of this are 1,4-dioxane (present in the surfactant sodium laureth sulfate) and formaldehyde. Seventh Generation sets strict limits on the concentrations of these byproducts, negating any risk of human health or environmental hazard. In the case of 1,4-dioxane, we require that our suppliers vacuum strip the sodium laureth sulfate in order keep the levels of this byproduct below 5ppm in the raw material.”

They are working towards minimizing and eliminating these toxic factors from their manufacturing process.

Washington State and the Phosphate Detergent Ban

Recently, the State of Washington put into effect a phosphate ban for all detergents sold within the state, other states including my own will be instituting similar bans, to protect rivers and streams from phosphate pollution. In some water with a high-mineral content, phosphate-free detergents, similar to Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel, don’t work as well.

There has been some reports of Washington State residents actually traveling across state lines to get their old stand-by, toxic detergents, like some strange Prohibition era drama (whether this is really true, I’m not sure) but I’d like to put my “two cents” in and encourage Washington residents about a natural cleaning product "trick" to solve their problems.

If they have “hard water”, to use ½ cup of white vinegar as their rinse-aid in dishwashers or add it to the rinse cycle manually. Also, to assist phosphate-free detergents in the laundry, add ½-1 cup of white vinegar as a natural substitute for fabric softener or in a “Downy” ball.

On the back of the bottle for the Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel, it does state that for best results: “A rinse aid is recommended for very hard water.”

Using white vinegar in a rinse cycle, will handle the hard water residue and further rinse out any detergent killing many germs, as well as, leaving dishes sparkling and clothing fresh smelling. I use this method all the time!

Price 4.33 to 4.66 for the 45 ounce bottle.

o Non-toxic
o No chlorine bleach or phosphates
o No dyes
o No NTA or EDTA
o Safe for septic & greywater systems
o Not tested on animals
o Kosher-certified


Not Biodegradable. Contains some synthetic acrylic polymers which do not readily biodegrade. Seventh Generation states that they are “working to replace” these ingredients with more environmentally friendly alternatives.


Seventh Generation states their policy on ingredient transparency on their website:

“The next time you are in a store, read the label on one of our cleaning products. You'll see that we list all of our ingredients and what they do, even though there are no regulations that require us to do so. In fact, the cleaner aisle is the only area of a supermarket or grocery store where the products are unregulated.”

Having Label Transparency is another big plus for 7Gen.

· water
· sodium silicate (protection agent and alkalinity builder)
· sodium polyacrylate
· sodium citrate (water softener)
· sodium carbonate (water softener)
· xanthan gum (thickener)
· lemon and lime essential oils and other botanical extracts
· ppg-6 C12-15 pareth-12 (a cleaning agent)*

*This ingredient is petroleum-based but has a low-toxicity level according to the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database, but there is not much testing done to verify this level.

Powdered dishwasher detergents, since they do not contain water, do not need preservatives. This is a good thing to know when choosing to decide whether or not to use a dry or liquid detergent, particularly if anyone in your home is allergic to any preservatives. I usually choose powered detergents for the lower price and greater environmental benefit.

My Take: Big Thumbs Up! For cleaning ability and transparency Thumbs on the Side…. For some petroleum-based ingredients and toxic trace elements and synthetic preservatives.

I found Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel, the lemon-scent, to be effective. I appreciate the openness of the Seventh Generation Company; their website gives a lot of environmental information.

Compared to the typical toxic-laden detergent manufacturer they are great, but I was not doing cartwheels over the ingredient list. I am glad that the toxicity level for this detergent is low, but I want a completely biodegradable product, not a partially-petroleum-based one.

Also, I didn’t like the lemon scent, because it seemed chemically derived vs. a fresh lemon essential oil.

I give Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel, lemon scent, a grade of B+…..Seventh Generation: “Glad you’re in the market, please keep improving! And thank you for your continued work towards building better, healthier green cleaning products.”

Happy Green Cleaning, Green Keen a.k.a. Pamela Palmer


  1. Soap Nuts as a Natural Laundry Detergent to Wash Your Clothes.

    Imagine buying something that has no harsh chemicals in it. Something that was made in a 100% natural way and gives you no anxiety or fear of disease. Along with all this something that comes from the bounty of the nature and helps us restore and preserve. When you buy soap nuts you are giving back to the environment by not polluting it via synthetic detergents. So go green, go natural and go the soap nuts way.

    Natural detergent that has given new meaning to washing your clothes safely is the “Soap nut”. Soap nuts are a revolutionary and interesting natural detergent and the best part is they grow literally on trees. A soap nut tree to be precise. In the Asian countries of India and Indonesia they have been used for centuries with great results. They are good for both your clothes and you and are a gift of nature. They grow on a tree called sapindus mukorrosi or the Chinese Soapberry Tree. Their outer shell is dried and can be used as soap by combining 2-3 of these nuts in a small bag.

    No matter how much care you take in washing your clothes and personal items, you will often see your garments fade in color and fall apart much before you expect them to. They are still young and new but something is taking away life from them. You go to the store you bought them from and complain of bad quality, you curse your washing machine but the real culprit is hidden safely in your house. The harmful synthetic detergents and fabric softeners are the actual cause behind the loss of shine from your clothes.

    So go green, go natural and go the soap nuts way.

  2. We all need to do what we can to protect our environment. Our company is an environmental company that saw a need to reduce the problems being caused by plastic bottles. We developed the world's first biodegradable plastic bottle that biodegrades in a landfill environment. It's not the only answer, but it is a step in the right direction. The problem isn't just water's all the plastic containers.


  3. Max: Good point about water bottles, currently in the media they are the "enemy" but truly the real enemy is ANY "non-recyclable" plastic.

    You product sounds like definitely a part of the solution to the bigger problem, thanks for your comment.

    Pam aka GreenKeen

  4. And You know I love soap nuts!! Thanks for the information and enthusiasm about your product.

    Pam aka GreenKeen

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