Zero Waste Dish Soap

zero waste dish soap

Do you know what’s in your dish soap? I can confidently say what’s in mine (just 3 harmless ingredients), but it wasn’t always that way. Just recently, I convinced my parents to let me make some zero waste dish soap so they’d stop buying conventional products. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but not only are conventional brands packaged in plastic, but they’re also filled with water-polluting chemicals. Nasty ingredients like fragrance, methylisothiazolinone (what the heck right?), sodium lauryl sulfate, and more chemicals you can’t even pronounce are in conventional brands. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Dawn’s Ultra Concentrated Dishwashing Liquid (Original) has these harmful ingredients (and way more), which poses a high environmental concern. These chemicals enter waterways (and get on human skin!) every time we wash dishes with them. I’m just not comfortable letting those chemicals touch me, my family, or waterways, so I gave this DIY dish soap a try.

zero waste dish soap

This DIY doesn’t have sodium lauryl sulfate (or any sulfates) in it, so it doesn’t foam up like conventional dish soaps do. But I’m okay with that, because it still gets the job done. I got the mason jar dispenser at Home Goods (I squealed when I saw it, no joke). To use it, I just pump some soap onto my wooden scrubber (more on my dish washing tools later on). Whenever we run low on this dish soap, it’s super easy to just refill the mason jar dispenser – we just unscrew the cap and add the ingredients (as you’ll see below). I love how easy it is, and honestly, its saved my parents a lot of money. If you buy all the ingredients in bulk, you won’t have to buy anything else for a long, long time. Especially not icky conventional dish soap. Also, for those who aren’t into DIYs, I have an option for you as well! Just scroll down to the bottom of this post to learn more. Now without further ado, here’s how to make some zero waste dish soap!

This post was kindly sponsored by EcoRoots. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains some affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a very small commission at no extra charge to you. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.


Zero Waste Dish Soap
Zero Waste Cleaning

zero waste dish soap

  • 1/3 cup of castile soap
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup of water (or until it reaches the top of the container) 

Note: If you prefer a stronger dish soap, try adding more castile soap and less water. Don’t be afraid to experiment with it! Also, the baking soda helps with scrubbing stubborn grime off dishes. Pro tip: Add a little extra baking soda to any dishes or pots that have stubborn grime, then scrub using just a little bit of water. It will help get it off easier (I swear, baking soda is amazing)!

  1. First, fill your jar dispenser with the castile soap. I use Dr. Bronner’s – I got a big container at my local Trader Joe’s for ~$11. Unfortunately, I have no bulk options for wet products like soap, shampoo, etc. so I try to buy the biggest container I can find (the bigger it is the longer it lasts and the less plastic I have to recycle). 
  2. Next, dilute the castile soap with the water. Add the baking soda, then close the jar dispenser and give it a good shake. Your dish soap is ready to use!

    zero waste dish soap

    Note on soap dispenser: If you have an empty bottle of dish soap you’d like to reuse, go ahead. There’s nothing wrong with reusing what you already have, even if it’s plastic (just as long as you eventually recycle it). I bought a mason jar soap dispenser at my local Home Goods (I freaked out when I saw they had it considering not many places do. Also it meant I could try out this DIY and my mom wouldn’t have to continue buying conventional dish soap). If you’d like a mason jar dispenser of your own, Life Without Plastic sells stainless steel soap dispenser lids: These easily transform any mason jar into a soap dispenser. This lid fits any regular mouth (small mouth) canning jar with a 2.5″ / 6.4 cm diameter. If I didn’t find a mason jar dispenser on my own, I totally would’ve bought one of Life Without Plastic’s soap dispenser lids instead.

    zero waste dish soap

    I don’t have many complaints regarding this zero waste dish soap. It definitely does a great job helping me clean the dishes. While this dish soap doesn’t create the sudsy, foaming, bubbly action some conventional brands do, I still love using it. It cleans the dishes and at least I know I’m not polluting waterways, or harming my skin when I use it. Eventually, I’ll try experimenting with different recipes to see how I like them compared to this one. But for now, this is my new go to. My parents (who aren’t zero waste, mind you) love it too!

    zero waste dish soap

    But….what about the folks who don’t have time to make DIY dish soap? Or, what about those plastic sponges – what do you use in their place?

    I’m happy to say there’s a solution for both those problems.

    Zero Waste Dish Soap

    Not into DIYs? Try the Dish Washing Block.

    I get the fact not everyone has time for DIYs. And that’s totally okay! If you don’t, I highly recommend this amazing Dish Washing Block that’s both vegan and zero waste. It’s absolutely fantastic for busting through grime and grease.

    I know what you’re thinking: “But how do I use it? Isn’t dish soap supposed to be liquid?”

    Technically, there’s no law saying it has to be. In fact, back when my father was growing up, he said my grandmother used to use a dish washing block all the time. Liquid dish soap didn’t become a thing until recently – mind blow, am I right?

    This Dish Washing Block is honestly quite simple to use. All you have to do is place it on a soap dish ( I use this bamboo soap dish) and suds it up using a washcloth, brush or scrubber.

    I personally love using this wooden dish brush and this dish scrubber. The wooden dish brush has a long handle and a detachable head you can replace and compost at the end of its life. The wooden scrubber is completely compostable and designed to fit easily in your hand. Both work fantastic with the Dish Washing Block – no plastic sponges needed.

    The block is just 7.5 oz – about the size of my hand – but still packs a powerful punch. Also, if you hate a cluttered counter, let me tell you – this Dish Washing Block will certainly not take up much space at all.

    Best yet, it can last you up to six months’ worth of dishes, if only one person uses it. That replaces up to three bottles worth of liquid soap…might impressive if you ask me.

    Here’s more information about each of these handy dandy dish washing products:

    Zero Waste Dish Soap

    Dish Washing Block

    This handmade Dish Washing Block is so darn versatile and a game changer. It was designed and created by a mother and daughter team which makes it even more special. It’s completely vegan, cruelty-free fragrance-free, and made with no dyes, parabens or phosphates. I love using it on my dishes!

    To use: Just rub a wet sponge, scrubber or wooden dish brush on this dish block until it lathers. Then use the suds to wash your dishes! Store on a soap dish or rack.

    Ingredients: Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (plant derived) Decyl Glucoside (plant derived) Sodium Cocoate (plant derived) Quillaja Saponaria (from the South American soap bark tree – organic) Glycerin (plant derived) Aloe Vera Leaf (organic) Purified Water Sodium Carbonate (mineral derived).

    Pro tip: Use the same dish washing block suds to clean off carpet stains, kitchen counters, sinks, and more! It’s multi-purpose which is amazing.

    Zero Waste Dish Soap

    Wooden dish brush

    I love washing the dishes thanks to this wooden dish brush. This bad boy makes dish washing so easy because of its long handle – no more sticking my hand into mason jars to try to clean the inside! This baby does the hard work for me and leaves my hands soak-free.

    To use: This is great for scrubbing your pots, pans, and dishes clean. You can even use it to clean sinks and other items – like glass mason jars. Just get the head piece wet, scrub it against the Dish Washing Block until it lathers, then scrub away on the item that needs to be cleaned.

    Materials: The handle is made of sustainable wood and the bristles are made of sisal, a Mexican plant agave with large fleshy leaves. Once worn out, you can compost the wooden head and sisal bristles. All metal staples can be recycled.

    Pro tip: To prevent cracks, don’t leave the wooden part soaking in water. After use be sure to rinse off the sisal bristle with clean water and let it hang dry naturally. This will prolong its life!

    Zero Waste Dish Soap

    Dish scrubber

    I love this little dish scrubber. It makes scrubbing the dishes a breeze! Best of all, it’s fantastic for scrubbing stubborn grime off pans and pots.

    To use: Lather up on the Dish Washing Block and then scrub away! I recommend using this mostly on pots and pans with hard to remove grime (ex: stuck on egg, burnt bits, etc). It’ll let you really scrub and get in there nicely. However, you can also use this on all other dishes too!

    Materials: The handle is made from natural beechwood and the bristles are made of union fibers, derived from hard Mexican plant fiber. You can compost the entire scrubber when it’s at the end of its life.

    Pro tip: You can also use this scrubber to clean any area of your home – not just dishes! I recommend using it to clean the bath tub, or scrub grime off of tiles. It’s fantastic for that.

    Zero Waste Dish Soap

    There’s literally something for everyone. If you prefer DIYs, definitely make my zero waste dish soap. If you don’t have time for it, I recommend investing in the Dish Washing Block. Either way, you’ll never need to purchase a plastic bottle of dish soap again!

    Zero Waste Dish Soap

    Would you try making this zero waste dish soap? Or perhaps you prefer the Dish Washing Block? Check out my cleaning page for more zero waste cleaning ideas.

    For more zero waste cleaning, be sure to check out my favorite orange peel vinegar cleaner.

    If you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it! If you like my content, sign up for my newsletter to get notified every time I write a new blog post. To support me even further, please consider buying me a cup of tea to help support my blog.

    By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

    Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


    1. I am trying so hard to do plastic free and no waste. I like the idea of the dish soap, but I do not see any castile soap out there that does not come in a plastic bottle. Do you know of any?

    2. Love the idea of a zero waste dish soap, however Dr. Bronner's dish soap is not "zero waste" as it comes from a plastic container, plus it has palm oil 🙁

    3. I had a mason jar soap dispenser and it started rusting out almost immediately. Do the ones you're linking to last? I'm scared to try again but love the simple look of them.

    4. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and new initiatives in the same niche. Blog gave us useful information to work. You have done an amazing job! soap dish

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