Many of us have thought about switching out products in our homes that clean our bodies, like shampoo and conditioner bars but what about when it comes to our dishes? In fact, switching to zero waste dish soap can be one of the simplest changes you can make in your home.
If you are a clean freak like me, at this point you are probably wondering… “Will zero waste dish soap actually clean my dishes?”. Yes! Absolutely! 100%! Can I say it in any other ways? I believe completely that a sustainable lifestyle shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality, so rest assured, any of the options listed below will be a fantastic swap to keep your dishes germ free.
Other than the obvious plastic bottles, our ‘regular’ dish washing routines can actually be really harmful to the environment. From the chemicals included in most conventional dish soaps can be toxic to aquatic life and, believe it or not, even us! A rule of thumb I like to go by is that if I see an ambiguous looking ingredient, it probably isn’t very good for me or the planet. Yes, I am talking to you ‘fragrances and colorants’. These additives are often non-biodegradable which toxins remain in the water ways even after the water is treated.
Ready to have a think about changing to zero waste dish soap? AMAZING! Keep on reading for answers to some of the most common questions about plastic free dish soaps and a few recommendations to try out!
FYI, this is a guest post written by Little By Lottie, a zero waste advocate and blogger. This post contains 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: 11 Plastic Free Dish Soaps
What is zero waste dish soap?
Zero waste dish soap simply means dish soap that doesn’t harm the environment through packaging or the ingredients used to make it. Most zero waste dish soaps are plastic-free, or at least not packaged in single-use casing. They’re made with natural, eco-friendly ingredients that won’t harm waterways once washed down the drain. At the end of their life, there’s minimal to no waste (aka, you use up the entirety of it, can refill it, or recycle it).
How do you wash dishes with zero waste?
There is no reason why washing your dishes must be radically different than what you do it now. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a dishwasher or just prefer to wash your dishes by hand here are a few simple steps you can take to create a more eco-friendly washing up routine by:
- Use a zero-waste dish soap – like the ones listed below.
- Use compostable scrubbers to remove tough grim from pots and pans.
- For super stuck-on food, try these bamboo pot scrapers.
- Try out wooden dish brushes – they often come with changeable heads for even less waste!
- Dry your dish soap out between uses with a bamboo soap dish to reduce wasted product
- Clean stubborn pans with a Natural Loofa Kitchen Scrubber – check out these awesome non-scratch designs. Compostable at the end of it’s life too!
- Use reusable and biodegradable Swedish dishcloths – an added bonus is they come with tons of cute patterns on!
- Make sure your bottles are cleaned out properly with a plastic free bottle brush.
How do you make dish soap without plastic?
You can make dish soap without plastic by visiting a refillery and getting castile soap in bulk. Then, you will need to combine 1/2 cup warm distilled water, 1/2 cup of castile soap, and any essential oils of your choice. I recommend placing this mixed dish soap into a mason jar with a pump top lid. I have a full recipe for DIY dish soap on my blog.
Is dish soap biodegradable?
In the most general sense, the answer to this question is no. Many conventional dish soaps actually contain toxins which can’t be broken down, even when water is cleaned and treated. One of the key ingredients in many cleaning products, including dish soap is surfactants. These are used to help the soap foam up, however there is research to suggest that surfactants can irritate skin.
What is the most eco friendly way to wash dishes?
When thinking about the most eco friendly way to wash dishes there is a bit of debate about whether it is better to wash dishes by hand or whether to use a dishwasher. There is, some research to indicate that as much as five times a much water can be used if washing by hand. However, the evidence is rather inconclusive and will depend on the efficiency of your dishwasher. Either way, the best thing you can do with your dishes is soak your dishes as soon as you can. By rising off the excess food, and not allowing food to dry onto your dishes. Not only will this make your life easier but will also maximize the lives of scrubbers and dish soaps.
Another great tip is to clean the least soiled dishes in soapy water first. This allows the water to go further as you are not dirtying it up straight away with greasy pots and pans. Of course, you should also check out some zero waste dish cleaning products such as the ones mentioned on this post.
Is Dawn dish soap sustainable?
Sadly, no. Dawn dish soap contains a vast number of colorants, fragrances as well as stabilizers in the ingredients. In particular, it has been reported that Dawn also contains 1-4-dioxane, a chemical that is known to pollute groundwater.
Despite the advertisements you may see, Dawn is not as planet friendly as they like you to think. In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rated Dawn Original as a pretty pathetic D! They are said to have “Poor disclosure” of ingredients “with potential for acute aquatic toxicity”. My advice is to avoid them if you have the means to do so.
Is Blueland dish soap biodegradable?
Yes, absolutely! Blueland carefully formulate all of their products, including their dish soap to be free of dyes, fragrances, phosphates and petroleum-based ingredients. This means that they are 100% biodegradable, so you can clean your dishes guilt free. Like what you see? Keep reading to find out more information about this awesome brand.
What are the hazards of dish soap?
Unbelievably, there are a bunch of toxic chemicals that go into the products that clean our dishes0. Chemicals such as sulfates, formaldehyde, ammonia and many others. Not only are these chemicals toxic to the water ways and aquatic life but they have also been shown to be an irritant to human skin and eyes too. It is, however, unlikely that dish soap residue will be harmful to your health.
What is the safest dish soap to use?
Personally, I believe the safest dish soap to use are any of the options I’ve listed below. These are all non-toxic, plastic-free alternatives to what you’ll find at the grocery store. Some of them are even refillable. Their ingredients lists aren’t going to pollute waterways when you wash them down the drain, because there aren’t any harsh chemicals in them. And, they’re gentle on the skin if you happen to get some on you.
Best rule of thumb? Always read the ingredients labels and look up any ingredients you don’t understand or want to learn more about.
Zero Waste Dish Soap: 11 Plastic Free Dish Soaps
- Powder Dish Soap
- Super Concentrated Design
- Fragrance Free
- Refill Scheme in Compostable Packaging
Blueland, a US based company, have super innovative products which I love! They are one of the only places that sell zero waste dish soap in powder form. For your first order you will receive a 16oz silicone forever shaker and a compostable paper pouch of powder dish soap. Unlike many dish soaps, there is no need to add water, all you have to do is add to a we sponge, squeeze to lather and you are good to go! From there, you can just order their refills.
The powder design also has the added bonus of a huge reduction in CO2 emissions from transporting the product.
- Liquid Dish Soap
- Available in Blue Sage, Grapefruit Basil and Lemongrass Scents
- Refill Scheme
- Take back program for cartons
- Carbon Neutral
- Made in the USA
This is a dish soap in a container you might associate more with a juice or milk. Yes, that’s right, this dish soap comes in 100% recyclable carton refills. If you can’t recycle them in your local program, they also have a send back scheme! Once you have received your carton you are free to decant into any container of your choosing, whether that be one of their very own soap dispensers (like the one pictured) or using one you already have.
Something you will love about this product is that it is exactly the same as using any other liquid dish soap! All you need is one pump on a sponge to remove all grime on dishes.
- Solid Bar Dish Soap
- 1% for the Planet
- Cruelty Free
- B Corp Certified
- Women owned, family run business
If you love bar products as much as I do, this is definitely one of the best zero waste dish soap options for you. This B Corp certified product is incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is rub a wet sponge or dish brush onto the dish soap. It will lather up and can be applied to your dishes in the normal way.
The reason I love bar products so much is because they are super concentrated. Therefore, they will last far longer than their liquid equivalents, meaning you get more bang for your buck. If you do decide to go down this route, I highly recommend grabbing yourself a wooden soap dish (this one is bamboo!) to allow the bar to dry properly. This will make the product last even longer.
On top of all of this awesome stuff, Meliora pledges to donate at least 2% of all sales to non-profits such as Women’s Voices for the Earth AND is a member of the 1% for the planet scheme.
- Solid Bar Dish Soap
- Ultra Concentrated
- Microplastic free
- Entirely Plant-Based
- Gentle on Skin
Etee, a Canadian company, have another really awesome dish soap bar, which you should totally check out. This plant based dish soap is super concentrated so a 6oz bar will last you an incredibly long time. Also, unlike liquid dish soap, you are much less likely to waste any of the product itself, especially if you allow the bar to dry properly between uses. My favorite is their coconut and lemon scent, which I have to say, smells insane!
Etee as a company are committed to making sure all of their products are plastic free and free from all the nasties such as formaldehyde, parabens, SLS and synthetic fragrances.
- Concentrated dish soap that dissolves and activates in water
- Compostable packaging
- Unscented or Citrus Scent options
- Entirely Plant Based
- Compact Design
If you really love the ethos of Etee but you are hesitant about trying a bar dish soap, this dissolvable dish soap may be perfect for you. With the options of unscented or citrus, you can’t go wrong with these concentrated soap pods. Many liquid dish soaps are up to 90% water, which causes an increase in CO2 emissions during shipping for something most of us can readily access from our faucets.
Etee have developed these concentrated, plant based pods that can be dissolved in water to produce 13oz of dish soap. This is a super innovative product and definitely worth a try. Added bonus… it saves on storage space too!
If you love gorgeous smelling dish soaps but you don’t want synthetic fragrances, this might be an awesome option for you. Grove Co. have three lovely scent options to choose from: Lavender & Thyme, Lemon & Eucalyptus and Free & Clear (unscented), all made of 100% natural ingredients. Its is great at removing tough stuck on food and has been shown to be able to clean over 1,000 dishes.
One great benefit about this brand, is that they are also stocked in Target now. So if you are out and realize you have forgotten to order some more dish soap, you don’t have to compromise to a toxic option.
- Bar Dish Soap
- FSC-certified paper box
- Multi-purpose product
- Plant derived ingredients
- Good for dry skin
If you love the sound of Grove Co. but you would prefer a multi purpose bar product, you should definitely check out this dish soap bar. It is especially designed to allow you to remove tough grime from dishes as well as wash and moisturize your hands. The shea butter in this will be especially good if you have slightly sensitive skin too! The products have been carefully formulated to include natural ingredients, which are sulphate-free, paraben-free and free from artificial colors and fragrances. The bar comes in a beautiful Ginger and Lime scent and in a fully recycled paper box.
- Castile Dish Soap Bar
- Female owned company
- Compostable packaging
- Handmade in USA
- Certified PETA Cruelty Free
- Vegan Friendly
Bestowed Essentials make really awesome solid dish soap bars which are all handmade. All of the packages are completely plastic free and compostable. The dish soap is super concentrated so will last far longer than conventional ones. On top of all of that, the company has an incredible ethos. The women owned US company has sustainability at its heart. All products are manufactured using renewable solar power and 1lb of beach trash is picked up!
- Dish Soap Bar
- Super Concentrated Design
- Family owned business
This multi-purpose dish soap is unique because not only can you use it to clean your dishes, it can also be used to wash down your counters or even remove stains from your carpets! The block itself is unscented and fragrance-free. This bar also has aloe vera in it which will help keep your hands from drying out while using it.
- Dish Soap Bar
- Traditional Soap Making Methods
- Safe to use on body and face too
- Vegan and cruelty Free
- A tree is planted with every order
Like many of the other dish soap bars mentioned here, this product is super easy to use as you simply rub a wet dish brush directly onto the soap bar. This not only is this awesome for making sure the product goes a long way, it also reduces the CO2 emissions from shipping the product. This is due to its super concentrated formula with no added water. This soap is made of 72% olive oil and is made using traditional methods inherited throughout generations. Finally, an added bonus is that a tree is planted for every order you put in.
11. DIY 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)
Did you know that you can make your own DIY zero waste dish soap? In fact, Ariana actually has a really awesome, simple and totally natural recipe on this blog! What I love about it is you are able to use whatever containers you already have in your home and there are just three simple ingredients.
DIYs definitely aren’t for everyone but if you do want to give it a go you can find the full recipe here.
Which of these zero waste dish soaps will you try? Did I miss anything? Leave your favorites in the comments!
For more cleaning inspo, be sure to check out this zero waste laundry detergent post.
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Guest post: Hi, my name is Lottie and I have my own zero waste blog too (it’s littlebylottie.co.uk if you want to check it out or @littlebylottie on Instagram). I live across the pond in England and am super passionate about sharing easy changes you can make in your life to have a huge impact on the planet. I’ve been lucky enough to have a chat with Ariana on a few occasions. I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to write for her page.