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February 21, 2023

Rinse aid affects immune and inflammatory responses 

A new study has revealed an important link between gut health and inflammation and exposure to alcohol ethoxylate used in professional rinse aids, to alterations in gene activity in the epithelial barrier, including cell survival, signalling, and metabolism.  


The study found that professional rinse aid and detergents leave residues that can lead to disruption of the gut epithelial barrier that might cause immune and epithelial gut inflammation responses. 


The research arose against a background rise of many chronic inflammatory diseases being linked to gut epithelial barrier leakiness.  


The epithelial barrier protects the gastrointestinal system. Damage to this barrier can cause barrier “leakiness” which can lead to neurological, joint, and allergic and autoimmune system diseases. This prompted the research team to investigate the role of dishwasher detergents in gut health. They concluded that alcohol ethoxylate can be cytotoxic, or toxic to cultured epithelial cells. 

What are Alcohol ethoxylates (AE)? 

AE are a large group of surfactant chemicals used to break down surface tension. They are widely used ingredient in laundry and household cleaner to allow active ingredients to disperse more widely to act as “grease busters”.  


They are also used in cosmetics and skincare cleansing products. 


We can come into contact with AE via skin contact, inhalation, and ingestion from surface residues such as crockery and utensils. 

What about domestic dishwasher rinse aids? 

The study measured residues of rinse aid used at professional concentrations, so it’s not known yet if there are any harmful effects of using rinse aid at home. 

But if in doubt, it’s best avoided. Consider allowing dishes to air dry or fill the rinse aid compartment with water. There are a wide range of eco-friendly, plant bases alternatives available as well. 

Read the full study 


Graphic credit: Study authors

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