Study: Toxic rinse aid used in industrial restaurant dishwashers linked to serious health problems
12/14/2022 // Belle Carter // Views

A recent study has found that industrial restaurant dishwashers leave toxic chemical residue on plates and utensils. This residue could weaken the gut barrier and cause health issues.

Researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH) in Switzerland said alcohol ethoxylates, chemicals found in dishwashers' rinse agents, could endanger diners eating out by harming their gut. It is standard procedure in restaurants to wash and clean cutlery and crockery as quickly as possible for the next round of customers. However, this puts the customers at risk of ingesting the toxic residue.

Normally, commercial dishwashers run only two 60-second cycles. The first cycle uses hot water and detergent, while the second one uses circulating water and rinse aid. Rinse agents used in the second cycle contain alcohol ethoxylates, which can be left on newly-washed plates and ingested when food is served to subsequent diners.

The UZH researchers' findings were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Using a newly-developed technology – human intestinal organoids and intestinal cells on microchips – they scrutinized the effects of commercial detergents and rinse aids on these. They diluted these substances to reflect the amounts that would be present on dry dishes.

They found that high doses of rinse agents killed these cells, while lower doses made them more permeable. The study authors also observed that the substances triggered several genes and cell signaling proteins responsible for inflammation. (Related: Is your dishwasher detergent and rinse aid destroying your gut?)


"We assume that defective epithelial barriers play a role in triggering the onset of two billion chronic illnesses," said main study author and UZH professor Cezmi Akdis. "The effect that we found could mark the beginning of the destruction of the gut's epithelial layer."

Damage to the gut barrier is associated with a whole host of conditions, including food allergies, gastritis, diabetes, obesity, cirrhosis of the liver, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorders, chronic depression and Alzheimer's disease.

Public should be made aware of the risks linked to rinse agents

"What's especially alarming is that in many appliances, there's no additional wash cycle to remove the remaining rinse aid," Akdis commented. "It is important to inform the public about this risk since alcohol ethoxylates seem to be commonly used in commercial dishwashers."

The researchers noted that while alcohol ethoxylates are also present in household dishwasher detergent, they are not at concentrations high enough to do any damage.

Ethoxylates are widely used in lubricants, cosmetics, soaps, detergents, cleaning chemicals and solvents because of their attributes such as rapid surface-wetting, excellent detergency and low-foaming properties.

The middle class has already increased their spending ability for high-quality personal care products and this may subsequently increase consumer demand for cosmetics. Critics are also worried that the "cleaning efficiency" of rinse aid used in industrial restaurant dishwashers are outweighing their safety attributes, or lack thereof.

Visit for more on the health risks of industrial chemicals.

Watch this video that explains what is leaky gut and the health issues it triggers.

This video is from the WPRMedical channel on

More related stories:

A silent killer: Leaky gut syndrome is often misdiagnosed or ignored.

Fiber and gut health: Study links low-fiber diet with leaky gut.

Homesteading hacks: 3 Non-toxic dishwasher rinse aid recipes.

Leaky gut? Drinking green tea can help.

Fiber and gut health: Study links low-fiber diet with leaky gut.

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