Is Dawn Dish Soap Biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: November 19, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Dawn dish soap can be used for many things. 

You probably want to clean dirty dishes after having lunch together – dawn soap can turn your dishes sparkling clean. 

Thanks to its grease dissolving properties.

We’re all aware of many inorganic substances, chemicals, and dyes in these cleaning products and how they can harm our environment. 

But is dawn dish soap biodegradable? Let’s delve into this topic in more detail. 

What Is Dawn Dish Washing Liquid?

To fully understand this, we need to know the basics of dish soap. 

The question that should pop up in your mind is, ‘what is dish soap made out of?’ 

It’s simply a surfactant made from a process called saponification, where fats and oil are mixed with a base. 

A good example is Lye (a mixture of water and ash).

The surfactants reduce the ‘surface tension’ between a liquid and solid or between two solids. 

That is to say, if you add surfactants on a leaf-covered with droplets, you break the surface tension. 

The bonds holding the liquid break, causing the water drops to disappear. 

Simply put, the surfactant loosens the dirt on the dishes. 

That’s how it works.

So, what is dawn dish washing liquid?  Soap isn’t the only surfactant you’ll get out there. 

There exist other types of chemical surfactants. 

Dawn dish washing liquid is a detergent made from a combination of ingredients (both natural and synthetic). These includes:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Alcohol Denatured
  • Lauramine Oxide
  • PPG 26
  • Methylisothiazolinone

Nearly all dish liquids from eco-conscious manufacturers have natural ingredients. 

Others are created by combining synthetic ingredients. 

This leaves the environmentally friendly debate questionable, but it all comes down to your choices. 

Is Dawn Dish Soap Biodegradable?

It’s 90% biodegradable. In fact, dawn dish soap contains zero amount of phosphates. 

It’s for this reason that dawn soap is used as a wildlife cleaner of choice. 

Dawn soap removes grease after an oil spill without causing any harm to the skin of the animal or bad. 

Accordingly, dawn soap contains glycerin, a variety of soils, water, and oils. 

These natural ingredients are used to make safe detergents. 

Microbes break down the ingredients. If you add the detergents into your compost heap, bacteria and worms will break the soap into compost.

Is Dawn Dish Soap Environmentally Friendly?

It depends on the ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group, Dawn soap got a grade ‘D’ because it contains methylisothiazolinone. 

This is a major concern to eco-conscious users as it is toxic. 

Some concerns include; allergies, skin irritation, and damage to septic systems. 

Again, it contains 1,4-dioxane, which can contaminate groundwater. 

Be sure not to use it every time you’re cleaning your dishes. Remember, most of us drink and eat from dishes cleaned by soap. 

If the ingredients in soap aren’t safe, we will get sick. 

The best thing is that dawn contains no allergens and, to be specific, phosphates. 

Dawn says it doesn’t include phthalates and triclosan in its detergents. 

Is Dawn Dish Soap Bad For Soil?

Dawn dish liquid is fairly safe for soil. 

It’s a far much better alternative to commercial insecticidal detergents we usually use to kill insects like mites and aphids. 

If those abrasive ingredients remain in the soil, they become toxic to the degree of even killing your plants. 

It’s advisable not to use the dawn dish detergents regardless of its natural version.

Instead, use organic pure castile soap to kill insecticides since it’s not only natural but also highly effective. 

Is Dawn Bad For The Environment?

Dawn is good at cleaning animals without causing any harm to their skin. 

But it’s primarily designed to eliminate dirt, stains, and grease from dishes.

But to balance the surfactants, there are chemicals added to the detergents to cut the grease. 

If the chemicals remain in the environment for too long, they can harm the aquatic such as fish and sea animals.   

  • They can cause fish eggs to die
  • Halt the breeding 
  • Can damage fish gills

Most fish have died due to these detergents. If that continues, we may have fewer fish in our rivers and lakes.

Is Dawn Dish Soap Toxic?

Dawn dish soap is toxic. Some synthetic ingredients in it are harmful. 

A good example is methylisothiazolinone which causes aquatic toxicity. 

It’s also linked to nerve and liver damage.

Furthermore, the dawn dish contains 1,4-dioxane, fragrance, and dyes. 

All of these are groundwater contaminants. 

Uses of Dawn Dish Soap

  • Removes oil-based stains from clothes
  • Unclogging toilets
  • Shower and tub cleaner
  • Cleaning your furniture and windows 
  • Pool cleaner
  • Cleaning automobile tools
  • Repel and kill insects


You need to take some precautions when using dish soaps. 

Make sure you check the packaging to see the ingredients contained. 

If there’s any dyes, fragrance, phosphates, and scents, consider another choice.

Dawn dish soap is biodegradable, but it comes with a few cons. 

So don’t dump it directly into rivers, gardens, streams, and lakes.

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