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Understanding the link between dishwasher liquids and altered gut health

"Chemicals present on dishware enter the human body and affect the overall gut health," Dr GS Lamba, chief of gastroenterology and Hepatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute told

dishwasherCan dishwashing agents affect one's gut health? (Source: Pexels)
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A new study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, has said that commercial dishwashers and rinse agents can negatively affect gut health. According to the study, the residue from rinse agents is often left behind on dishes after they are cleaned in professional-grade dishwashers. This residue, further, damages the natural protective layer in the gut that can contribute to the onset of chronic diseases, as demonstrated by researchers working with organoids.

The study team used various biomolecular methods to investigate the effect that commercial detergents and rinse aids have on these cells. They diluted these substances to reflect the amounts that would be present on dry dishes (1:10,000 to 1:40,000).

When individual components of the rinse aid were investigated separately, the study noted that alcohol ethoxylates elicited a strong toxic and barrier-damaging effect. “RNA-sequencing transcriptome and proteomics data revealed upregulation in cell death, signaling and communication, development, metabolism, proliferation, and immune and inflammatory responses of epithelial cells,” it mentioned.

What to know about detergents and your gut? (Source: Pexels)

“These chemicals present on dishware enter the human body and affect overall gut health,” Dr GS Lamba, chief of gastroenterology and Hepatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute told According to him, rinse aid liquids that are usually used in the dishwasher “contain harmful chemicals”. “Most of the people are not able to identify these harmful chemicals,” he mentioned.

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Beyond surfactants, triclosan is an ingredient included in antibacterial detergents (as well as antibacterial dish and hand soaps) that has been linked to colon inflammation and microbiota disruption, according to Dr RR Dutta, HOD- internal medicine, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

“In addition, phthalates, which have been linked to an imbalance in the microbiota of certain animals, may be present in the synthetic scents found in standard detergents,” explained Dr Dutta.

How does  it happen?


Dr Shubham Vatsya, senior consultant, gastroenterology and hepatology, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad explained that mucus lines the gastrointestinal tract to various degrees.

“Your stomach, for example, has a thick layer of mucus, which is necessary to stop the hydrochloric acid from breaking down your stomach wall. Your intestines have a mucus layer that helps to protect the delicate, one-cell-thick lining from damage. If a dishwashing tablet can dissolve heavy grease and grime from your dishes with water pressure alone, there’s some concern over what its leftover residue may do to these delicate linings,” Dr Vatsya told

The study further noted that a defect in epithelial barrier in the gut is associated with conditions such as food allergies, gastritis, diabetes, obesity, cirrhosis of the liver, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorders, chronic depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What can help?


For problems like these, a better alternative is to switch to green dishwashers with no or less amount of harmful chemicals formulas in it, suggested Dr Lamba.

*Best way to completely avoid them is by educating yourself about the harmful chemicals and always paying attention to the product labels. Dr Dutta suggested going for “cleaning agents with natural ingredients from plants and minerals, and no artificial fragrances (if you opt for a fragrance, it should come from essential oils),” he mentioned.

Dr Lamba further said that it is essential to “clean utensils properly, and wipe them thoroughly with clean cloth before use”.

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First published on: 09-12-2022 at 13:20 IST
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