There’s nothing grosser than a pile of dirty dishes. Except maybe the plastic packaging and harmful chemicals that come in traditional soap. If you want to get your dishes clean and help keep the planet clean, we’re here to help.
We’ve found the top seven zero waste dish soaps to help you get your dishes clean without dirtying up the Earth.
We even found one innovative liquid dish soap that comes in biodegradable packing you can dispose of in your compost. Intrigued? Keep reading to learn more.
Top 7 Zero Waste Dish Soaps
Sometimes, it seems like even when we want to get things clean, we make even more of a mess for ourselves. Using commercial dish soap in a single use plastic bottle with a plastic sponge may clean your dishes, but poor Mother Earth is crying over all the trash.
But don’t you cry too. There is a better way. We’ve scoured the internet to find the top seven eco-friendly dish soaps on the market. Whether you prefer liquid or solid, scented or unscented, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a handy little chart to help you figure out which dish soap is best for you.
Still not clear which dish soap is best for your kitchen? Keep reading our in depth dish soap reviews to wash away all your doubts.
Normally, when we buy liquid dish soap, it comes in an ecologically unfriendly plastic bottle. But not etee Unscented Liquid Dish Soap. This innovative Toronto based company packages its dish soap in biodegradable pods. While you can simply throw the empty pod in the trash, if you add it to your compost pile, it will break down over time.
How is that possible, you ask?
The pods are made from beeswax, tree resin, and other plant based oils. So everything is all natural and will eventually return to the earth, which we think is super cool!
Inside each pod is concentrated liquid dish soap. You will need to squeeze it out of the pod and into a new receptacle. Mason jars with pumps look and work great. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can also recycle an old liquid soap bottle. Simply fill the bottle with 12 ounces of water and mix the soap and water.
You do need to wait before you can use your soap, so make sure you plan ahead and mix up your batch before you are ready to wash the dishes. But once it’s ready, you can you this soap just like you would any other liquid dish soap.
Bar soap of all kinds is having a revival. With minimal packaging, bar soap is an excellent choice for folks looking to live a zero waste lifestyle. If you think it’s weird to wash your dishes with a bar of soap, you probably just haven’t tried the right one.
The No Tox Life Dish Washing Block Soap is a great budget choice if you are not fully sold on the bar soap idea. Despite the budget price, you will find this bar has everything you are looking for in a dish soap and nothing you don’t.
The block has the cleaning power you want from your dish soap. Simply wet a sponge, washcloth, or cleaning brush, and then rub it on your block of soap. Check out all the foam you get. That foam is going to cut through grease and get your dishes shiny clean. And it does it with all natural ingredients.
That’s right! This vegan soap was formulated by a mother daughter team and is made from plant based ingredients. Not only is it chemical free, but it is also dye and fragrance free as well.
While you may wash some dishes by hand, chances are you have a dishwasher as well. If you are looking for zero waste soap for washing your dishes by hand and in the dishwasher, the folks at Blurland have you covered with the Dish Duo. This combo features both handwashing soap and dishwashing soap packages in nifty reusable containers.
The dish soap is a little different than the other soaps out there, as it is neither liquid nor bar. Instead, you will find it is a powder that comes in a silicon shaker. Just shake the powder onto your sponge or washcloth and scrub away. Once you get past the strangeness, you’ll be impressed with how well it cleans.
The other half of the duo is the dishwashing tabs, which come in a convenient steel tin. Like the soap, these are made without any petroleum based products, parabens, artificial dyes or fragrances. Just natural cleaning power. Simply drop them in your dishwasher and turn it on.
Refills for both the dish powder and dishwasher tabs are available.
Cleancut Dish Soap is just like any liquid dish soap you are used to using, only more eco friendly. So if you are looking to cut down on your plastic waste but don’t want to radically change your dishwashing routine, this may be your best choice.
This coconut based soap comes in a cute recyclable paper based milk carton. Since it is not concentrated, there’s no need to mix it with water and do anything at all. When it arrives, all you need to do is pour it into a soap dispenser to make it easier to use.
While no artificial dyes are used, the soap is scented using an essential oil blend. You have your choice of two scents- grapefruit basil or lemongrass. Choose your scent wisely because you get three 32 ounces boxes of soap when you order!
Do you love the smell of fresh, clean dishes? If unscented soap just doesn’t cut it for you, check out Cassia Organics Solid Dish Vegan Soap Bar. And I mean, I get it. Smell is the sense most associated with memory. Decide which scent smells cleanest to you. Choose from Lemon Zest, Cucumber Mint, Rosemary & Thyme, or Olive Tree.
The soap is handmade in small batches using all organic, plant based products. In fact, it only has five ingredients in it. Compare that with the long list of chemicals, dyes, and artificial fragrances on your traditional dish soap.
Another great thing is that you can use this soap bar for more than just dishes. You can wash just about anything with- even your laundry. Just grate it up and mix it with some washing soda. You’ll be amazed at how fresh and clean they smell.
The Earth Hero Castille Zero Waste Dishwashing Kit has everything you need to get started on your zero waste journey. Whether you are moving to a new home or are looking for the perfect housewarming gift for an eco-warrior friend, this kit won’t disappoint.
Let’s start with the soap. You receive a 7 ounce block of lemon scented Castille soap, perfect to get your dishes sparkling clean. The soap is super concentrated, so just a little bit goes a long way. Keep the soap on the cedar dish tray to extend its life.
But there is more to cleaning dishes than just soap. You need sponges and scrubbers and dishcloths as well.
I don’t know about you, but I think plastic sponges are both gross and bad for the environment. And this set lets you banish them from your kitchen. Instead, use the included dish brush and copper scouring pads included. You also get two darling Swedish dishcloths that are perfect for wiping up messes, much more sustainable than paper towels.
If you are looking for a complete zero waste dishwashing experience this set has you covered.
The first time you buy Public Good Mandarian Basil Dish Soap you receive it in a reusable plastic bottle. Once that runs out, you can simply order dish soap refills and cut down on packaging (and your carbon footprint).
We’re pretty convinced once you try it, you’ll be hooked. But don’t worry, you won’t have to be reordering every other week. Just a tiny bit of this concentrated soap packs a punch. It cuts through grease and helps remove stuck on food so your dishes are shiny and clean.
Not only do they look clean but they smell clean as well. The mandarin orange and basil essential oils do more than just smell good. They help add to the cleaning power and antibacterial quality of the soap. But because they are all natural you don’t need to worry that they will be harmful even if you have a graywater system for your home.
Eco-Friendly Dish Soap Buying Guide
If you think all dish soap is created equally, think again. From chemical ingredients and single use packaging, most soap out there is really kind of dirty. But that trend is changing. We are starting to see more eco-friendly, zero waste options out there.
We’ll explain what to look for in your zero waste dish soap, from the ingredients inside to the packaging outside. That way, you can be sure the soap you buy is good for you, as well as the planet. Because when you think about it, zero waste dish soap, like an energy efficient refrigerator, is an essential part of your sustainable kitchen.
Solid vs. Liquid
When it comes to liquid versus solid dish soap, it really is a matter of personal choice. There are pros and cons for both. So let’s take a closer look at what’s good and bad about each soap.
One of the strongest cases for using solid dish soap is that it uses less packaging. There is no need for plastic bottles with a bar of soap. You can simply wrap it in recyclable paper and be done with it. Though as companies like etee continue to come up with innovative new eco-friendly packaging, this argument in favor of bar soap begins to hold less weight.
But when talking about weight, that is another mark against liquid soap. Much of the product is composed of water, making it weigh more, and cost more in both manufacture and shipping than bar soap, which makes it not so eco-friendly.
But liquid soap isn’t all bad. Buying in bulk and refilling containers can help cut down on the waste traditionally associated with liquid soap. And buying more concentrated formulas means you add the water at home, cutting down on shipping weight.
For some purposes, liquid soap just seems to clean better. It’s easier to use if you will be soaking extra dirty, baked on food. And many people feel it cuts grease better than a bar soap does.
Scented vs. Unscented
Like liquid versus solid, scented versus unscented soap is a highly personal choice. If you experience allergies or skin sensitivities, you probably want to stick to unscented soaps. But you might be surprised by the scents in these soaps.
Many of these soaps, like Public Goods Mandarian Basil Dish Soap, use essential oils rather than using chemically derived artificial fragrances. Many people are less sensitive to natural scents than they are to chemical fragrances. Also, essential oils can bring additional benefits to the soap, like antibacterial properties.
The truth is most people don’t know what really is used to make soap. So let’s start there. When it comes right down to it, real soap is made up of three ingredients, fats or oils, lye, and water (1). When you combine these ingredients, a chemical process called saponification occurs, and the end result is soap.
When you make a cleaning product that isn’t the result of saponification, then you have a detergent. And most dish soaps on the market are just that– detergent, not soap.
It’s easy to be confused by what’s inside your soap.
Many synthetic detergents can be derived from natural, plant based ingredients. While these ingredients aren’t derived from petrochemicals like so many detergents are, they are still detergents rather than soap.
All the soaps we reviewed are made with naturally derived ingredients of the highest quality, and most use 100% plant based ingredients. In fact, the only non-Vegan ingredient is the beeswax used to make etee’s biodegradable packaging.
Packaging is a crucial component when discussing zero waste. Obviously, the least amount of packaging is best. For this, you will want to look for something like the No Toz Life Dish Washing Block Soap. Its recyclable cardboard box is about as zero waste as you can get.
Liquid dish soap is a bit more complicated. By nature, it needs more in terms of packaging because it’s, well, liquid. So if you prefer liquid soap, look into something that comes with a reusable container and minimally packaged refills.
- How to Make Bar Soap Yourself. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-make-soap
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.