Natural dish soaps generally aren’t as effective as the ones that are a startling orange color and full of chemicals that makes your dishes sparkle. The trouble with being tough on grease is that this usually also means tough on the health of whoever uses the stuff–and on the aquatic life of the rivers and streams where it ends up.
Common dish soap ingredients include:
Fragrance. Anything scented probably contains hormone-disrupting phthalates, unless the manufacturers specify that they only use essential oils. Even phthalate-free synthetic fragrances usually are petroleum-derived.
Dyes. Food-grade coloring is implicated in behavioral issues in children.
Antibacterial ingredients. You may see “triclosan” listed on the label, or it may just say “antibacterial agent” or something along those lines. This stuff is totally toxic (carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting) and may be causing the super bugs we are hearing about.
Surfactants. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are common foaming agents. Both SLS and SLES produce lovely bubbles in your dish soap, and are found in lots of “natural” brands. SLS is okay in my opinion (although not ideal), but SLES is not.