Reducing plastic at home, with plastic-free dish soap, is a great step to producing less waste overall. But it’s not just about the waste right? Zero waste dish soaps usually come without plastic packaging – making them zero waste of course – and they are generally more natural than their traditional equivalent. To us, it’s a win-win if you are working to reduce waste and toxic chemicals in the home, but the block version does take a bit of time to get used to.
Zero waste dish soap style dishwashing blocks were the go-to in every kitchen before liquid detergent became popular in the mid 20th century. Little did we know that we’ll be drowning in plastic just short of 100 years later and should’ve stuck with the trusty plastic-free dish soap bar. Life has moved on from the original dish soap bars and you do get lots of options to choose from.
We love using dishwashing blocks and find them to be less wasteful than their liquid counterparts. With a block, you can rub just the right amount of soap on your dishcloth or brush where you always seem to dispense too much of the liquid soap, especially when doing quick small washing up jobs.
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With all that said, here are our favourite Zero Waste Dish Soaps:
No Tox Life is a certified female-owned, family-run business that provides effective, vegan body and home care products. They are based in the USA and each product is handmade using the highest-quality ingredients.
The Dish Block® dishwashing soap that No Tox Life makes is very popular as it’s a cleaning powerhouse with a rich, soapy lather. It will take care of stubborn grease and grime on your dishes, pots and pans with added aloe vera to be gentle on your skin. This version is completely unscented, fragrance-free and surfactant based.
You can even use it for cleaning duty all over your home. It is able to take stains out of laundry, get labels off of jars, spot clean your carpet, use it to wipe down counters… it’s definitely a multipurpose product.
This soap is palm oil free and comes in an XL and standard size, you can also buy them in bulk directly from the company’s website.
Based in the UK, Eco Living is a sustainable product distributor that also makes its own range of products.
The company is carbon neutral and part of the 1% for the Planet project.
The Eco Living washing-up soap bar is made with organic plant-based ingredients that are gentle on your skin and tough on greasy pots and pans.
This soap is so mild the company says you can use the water on your plants, we’ve not tried this yet but if you have let us know if your greenery is still alive in the comments! And yes, it’s a plastic-free dish soap bar that is biodegradable and palm oil-free.
Mamaforest is a natural zero waste dish soap that uses natural additives makes plenty of bubbles. The Angel Baby soap listed here is fragrance-free and perfect for sensitive skin.
This is a cold process soap that doesn’t contain palm oil and is safe enough to wash fruits and vegetables with. Their ingredients are plant-based and they’re in the process of obtaining vegan certification. However, note it’s made in Korea so has quite a distance to travel to get to your door.
Ingredients include: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kaolin Clay, Oatmeal Powder, Sugar
Meliora’s soaps are all handmade. The company is based out of Chicago and the focus on understanding the lifecycle of the product by examining the environmental impact and waste each product creates throughout its life.
At Meliora they design products to Work, yet be People- and Planet-Friendly.
The handwashing zero waste dish soap in their range uses Coconut and Sunflower Seed Oils as the base vegetable oils for the soap. This combination gives a firm bar that lathers and cleans while easily.
This is a soap-based dish block that contains:
Sodium Cocoate: This is the chemical name of saponified coconut oil. It’s the chemical that grabs onto both dirt and water to do the cleaning.
Sodium Sunflowerate: This is the chemical name of the saponified sunflower seed oil. We’ve also featured Meliora in our post about zero waste laundry detergent.
Bower is committed to leaving a better world behind. They bring you products that look good, feel good, reduce waste, are sustainable and effective.
Their washing up liquid is a perfume-free power liquid that cuts through grease and burnt-on stains effortlessly, it’s highly concentrated and ingredients are ethically sourced. The product is 100% hypoallergenic, making it suitable for those with sensitive skin and allergies.
The company offers refill packaging that is a massive plus. It means once you’ve collected around four of the refill pouches you can post it back to them using a returns box. They then clean and sterilise the pouches before refilling them for the next person.
Created in 1894, the Savonnerie du Midi is one of the last soap factories in Marseille. They have been making soap for more than 120 years.
This company makes soap the good old fashioned way and perfected the art of cleaning before liquid soap was even sold for the first time.
These soaps are natural, palm oil free, hypoallergenic, environmentally friendly and made in Marseille as mentioned. Marseille Soaps La Corvette is certified by ECOCERT according to the COSMOS-standard.
Their dish soap is a saponified product and not surfactant-based like some of their more modern counterparts.
We love the Cleancult concept, the company package their products in paper-based milk cartons to help reduce plastic waste. Transfer to a re-usable container once it arrives, recycle your paper one and you’re good to go! You can buy a beautifully designed re-usable container from Cleancult if you choose.
On top of this product’s plastic-free credentials, the ingredients are all plant-derived and blended to power through your dirty dishes, leaving a fresh smell and clean dishes. It uses coconut oil as a base so aren’t harsh on your hands either.
Being a natural cleaning product you won’t necessarily get all the bubbly foam you’d get with a general supermarket brand of dish soap, however, we’d take natural products with less foaminess over plastic and chemicals any day.
As a company, Cleancult makes natural cleaning products that actually clean. They’ve been named as an IAB Top 250 customer brand in its first year of launch. Which is impressive, to say the least.
Ecoleaf is owned by Suma, you might remember them as an organic food company, but they also offer a range of environmentally friendly cleaning products. The Ecoleaf range is derived from plant extracts and is based on biodegradable and non-hazardous ingredients, rather than the chemicals found in many household brands.
Ecoleaf products are made in the UK, Vegan, and they are animal cruelty free. Their eco-friendly dishwasher tablets come with a soluble wrapper made from plant derived ingredients that are biodegradable and non-hazardous. The dishwasher tablets are designed to leave your dishes sparkling clean with a built in rinse-aid degreasing agent.
Types of Zero Waste Dish Soap
As you may remember from my post about choosing Zero Waste Shampoo Bars, you get two types of soaps; a surfactant or syndet based soap and a soap-based version. For dishwashing, the surfactant soaps are likely to be a bit more effective, but it’s worth giving the soap versions a try to see what works for you.
We tend to lean towards surfactant-based as we live in a hard water area, which can help prevent soap residue and buildup on surfaces, especially in the sink plughole – which can be a pain to remove.
In the spirit of a zero-waste philosophy, aim to look for products that are biodegradable and have reusable or recyclable packaging. Choosing zero waste products one by one is done in small and incremental steps, not all in one go. Use what you have first and then replace the products gradually.
DIY Zero Waste Dish Soap
You can, of course, make your own soap at home using a base of Castile soap. For the Castile, you can either buy one such as the Dr Bronner Castile Soap or make your own using a recipe such as this one from the Soap Queen.
Once you have your Castile Soap you can follow this handy tutorial by elsaannukka to making your own plastic-free dish soap. It basically uses grated Castile Soap, mixed with bicarbonate soda, essential oils and water. Just be mindful that water can encourage bacterial growth within liquid soaps and should ideally contain a form of preservative so if you are set on making your own it’s best to make this soap in small quantities using distilled water. Once made, place it in a soap dispenser that does not encourage bacterial growth such as this one.
Eco-friendly Washing-Up Sponges
So you’ve chosen the zero waste dish soap you’d like to try, the next step would be to replace your plastic-based scrubbers with something more eco friendly. There is no need to just chuck your current scrubby in the bin if it still has life left, you can replace it once it’s dead in the water.
Personally, we like a dish brush like this one and Swedish Dish Cloths like these as they last a really long time. You can also get a scouring pad made of coconut husk or walnut shells. For a full list of eco-friendly washing up gadgets, see our previous post linked below:
Related: Eco-Friendly Washing-Up Sponges