Zero Waste Dish Soap Alternatives
Zero waste dish soap is an easy way to immediately reduce your plastic packaging consumption. Below I’m sharing a few of my favorite zero waste dish soap alternatives – both dish soap bars, and concentrated liquid soaps sold in bulk packaging. Keep reading if you’re interested in how you can make the switch to eco-friendly dish soap.
Low and Zero Waste Dish Soap Options:
- Sal’s Suds
- Farmhouse Basic Collection Coconut Oil Dish Soap Bar
- Anatolia Daphne Olive Oil Dish Soap Bar
- No Tox Life Dishwashing Block
Ingredients to Avoid in Zero Waste Dish Soap
Castile soap is a fantastic option for washing your hands or your body in the shower. The problem with using it for dishes is that Castile soap reacts with minerals in hard water, leaving a film behind on shiny objects (like dishes). That film is also referred to as “soap scum.” It isn’t harmful, but if you’re looking for that shiny, clean finish on your dishes, it will be difficult to achieve when using Castile soap.
The overproduction and overuse of palm oil is heavily contributing to deforestation. This means multiple endangered species are going extinct, among other environmental concerns. If you are interested in a high-level overview, check out this article from One Green Planet. With that said, palm oil is a popular ingredient in a lot of soap recipes, including “low waste” options.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the dish soap options below are made without palm oil.
If you’re open to dish soap bars, then there are plenty of great options available. If you can find them locally, that’s your most sustainable option. Alternatively, dish soap bars can be delivered plastic-free to your door. Keep reading for some great options below.
If you’re committed to liquid dish soap, purchasing in bulk at a local refillery is your best zero-waste option. If there isn’t a refillery available near you then your next best bet is purchasing your soap in bulk.
Zero Waste Dish Soap Options
Sal’s Suds (Purchased in Bulk)
- VERSATILE ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER: Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner is powerful & concentrated enough to clean floors, laundry, dishes, furniture, & cars—but gently formulated so it...
- PERFECT FOR GENERAL HOUSEHOLD CLEANING: Sal Suds cleans & rinses with exceptional power, yet is mild & gentle on skin. Equally effective in hard or soft water, rinses freely in hot or cold water....
- PLANT-BASED SURFACTANTS THAT WORK: A balanced formulation that cuts grease & dirt, generates copious suds, & biodegrades quickly & fully—can take on tough jobs! Dilute to make your own DIY recipes!
While this product isn’t sold “plastic-free,” it is sold in bulk sizes and will hands down be the most effective degreaser of the options below.
Sal’s Suds is a biodegradable cleaner sold in a concentrated form in gallon sized jugs. When diluted, this product works extremely well on dishes, in bathrooms, on floors, on cars, and so much more. It is different than Castile soap, so you don’t have to worry about soap scum. For more information, read this article on the differences between Sal’s Suds and Castile Soap.
It is important to note that palm oil is used in the production of Sal’s Suds. With that said, Dr. Bronner is committed to supporting sustainable agriculture and trade processes.
Farmhouse Basic Collection Coconut Oil Dish Soap Bar
If simple, natural ingredients is your priority then this bar soap from Farmhouse Basic Collection is a great option. This is a coconut oil-based dish soap that only contains 3 simple ingredients: Saponified (lye) coconut oil, filtered water and essential oils. If you purchase the unscented bar then you’re looking at a two ingredient bar of soap.
Anatolia Daphne Olive Oil Dish Soap Bar
Like the Farmhouse Basic Collection bar soap, this dishwashing block uses minimal, natural ingredients: olive oil, water, and lye. This is another great option for both a dish and hand soap bar.
No Tox Life Dishwashing Block
- SUDSY! REALLY CLEANS GREASE on pots and pans, even stainless steel. Gentle on glassware & china.
- PLASTIC-FREE & ZERO-WASTE & LONG LASTING — Replaces one or more plastic bottles at the kitchen sink.
- MULTIPLE USES: Remove laundry stains & carpet stains, take labels off jars, clean walls & counters.
These dishwashing soap bars are handmade in California with vegan and biodegradable ingredients. It’s advertised as long lasting enough to replace up to three conventional plastic dish soap bottles.
How to Use a Bar of Dish Soap
First use a scraper to remove any excess food debris from your dishes. Next, wet your sponge or scrub brush, rub it on the outside of your bar soap, and then clean your dishes as you normally would.
If your goal is to soak dishes in soapy water, then hold your dish soap bar under running water as your fill your pot or sink basin.
5 Helpful Zero Waste Dishwashing Tools
If you choose to try dishwashing bar soap, a good soap dish is essential.
Before washing your dishes you want to make sure to scrape off as much food debris as possible. A scraper will make this job much easier.
After you scrape off excess food, you’ll need a scrubber to partner with your zero waste dishwashing bar soap (or liquid soap). Here are a number of good options.
Unless you plan on immediately drying your pots and pans, a drying rack is a helpful accessory.
Drying towels are helpful to lay on your counter underneath wet dishes and to hand dry dishes. Whether you choose to upcycle old t-shirts as drying cloths or purchase new, below are a few options to consider.
- Cotton Towels (we use this in lieu of paper towels in our kitchen)
- Microfiber Towels (read more about the pros and cons of microfiber)
- Hemp Dish Towels