Tired of tossing soap bottles in the bin and praying they actually get recycled? Switching to zero waste dish soap is a big step towards banishing single-use plastic from your kitchen.
And plastic isn’t the only thing you’ll be rid of–big brand dish soaps contain a number of nasty additives and toxic chemicals. From skin irritants to aquatic toxins, these ingredients are neither necessary nor healthy for the evironment.
That’s why one of the best and easiest plastic swaps you can make is ditching your traditional cleaners for these plastic-free dish soap options. I’ll share my top brand recommendations along with a simple recipe for you DIY fans.
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Scrubbers to use with zero waste dish soap
To make the most out of these zero waste dish soap options, you’ll want to invest in a plastic-free scrubber (i.e. not your typical sponge).
We have used and recommend the following:
Coconut Coir Pads – The natural fibers of these scrubbers are not only safe on coated utensils, but also won’t result in any nasty microplastics making their way down the drain and clogging it up. Those that do break off will decompose quickly.
Bamboo Dish Scrubbers – One of the best zero waste swaps I’ve ever made, these are incredibly efficient at cleaning grease and grime. Bamboo is very sustainable–just make sure you get ones that don’t have plastic bristles, or it kind of defeats the point.
Sisal Cloth – These are made from 100% sisal fiber, which is a vegetable from the agave cactus family. So yes, these are entirely plant-based and very eco-friendly. When they’ve reached the end of their life, just pop them in the compost!
Natural Loofah – These are made–and grown–by Mayan families in Guatemala using totally traditional methods. They are made from bamboo and 100% all-natural, biodegradable, and compostable. No chemicals, no nonsense, completely natural and safe for any surface or dish in your home.
Best zero waste dish soap brands
Farmhouse Basic Collection Kitchen Soap
Farmhouse Basic Collection is a family-run business that specializes in 100% plastic-free household products. This tiny little zero waste dish soap bar is a godsend. Seriously, it lasts forever–especially if you hang it up to dry (using the attached string) after use.
The instructions actually suggest submerging the bar in a vat of water for 10-15 seconds and then using it to wash your dishes. I do agree that this method works better. But like most of the soaps on this list, you can also scrape off a few pieces and let them soak, OR, use a scrubber of choice (as listed above).
In addition to the kitchen, this insanely versatile eco-friendly dish soap can be used to clean pretty much every surface of your house, including laundry.
The bar is made using all-natural, biodegradable ingredients. In fact, the only ingredients are saponified organic unrefined coconut oil, lye, and filtered water. They also have scented bars, which have all natural essential oils, as well.
Although the bars are never initially tested on animals, being a farm-friendly product, they are all perfectly fine to use on animals. However, a full scrub for animals or humans is not recommended, as they don’t have any ingredients for moisturizing skin.
Meliora’s Organic Castile Dish Soap
Meliora’s zero waste dish soap bars are a concentrated block of Castile dish soap. Castile soap is a plant-based alternative that originated in the Castile region of Spain, and where it is traditionally made using olive oil. However, many companies now also make it with hemp, castor and coconut oils.
Because it’s made without synthetics or animal fats like most soaps, Castile soap is a greener and cruelty-free option. Additionally, it’s free of fragrances, dyes, preservatives, and brighteners, and is completely biodegradable and septic-friendly.
As an added bonus, it can be used on all surfaces of your house –and on human bodies!
Meliora is also financially committed to helping the planet. As a 1% for the Planet business, Meliora’s donates 2% of all their sales to eco-friendly nonprofits. Their partner of choice is Women’s Voices for the Earth–a non-profit dedicated to eliminating toxic chemicals from products through corporate responsibility
No Tox Life Dish Washing Block Soap
As the brand name suggests, No Tox Life is all about non-toxic and eco-friendly products. Behind the scenes is a mother-daughter team committed to making useful vegan and sustainable goods.
No Tox Life’s eco-friendly dish soap block is free from pesky additives like parabens, phosphates, sulfates and fragrances, which can be damaging to the environment and to your skin. Additionally, absolutely no palm oil is used and the soaps are completely vegan, which means no animal testing.
Once it gets wet, it won’t take long to create more than enough suds to clean off any grease and grime, a task it does better than any regular washing up liquid I’ve used in the past.
Not only does it provide a better clean, but these bars also last more than twice as long as the big bottles. Plus, since they are infused with Aloe Vera they won’t dry out your hands like regular dish soap.
As a company, No Tox Life is committed to creating as little waste as possible, and even recently redesigned the packaging for several products in order to cut out more manufacturing waste. All their products are either biodegradable, zero waste or completely recyclable (and many are made from post consumer recycled materials).
Karmic Seed Probiotic Dish Washing Soap
Karmic Seed’s Green Roots zero waste dish soap set comes with two bars of soap AND two all-natural coconut coir scrubbers.
With this eco-friendly duo, you’ll be able to wash off any grease and gross smells effortlessly. In fact, the bristles are naturally anti-microbial so they’ll keep your dishes clean and smelling fresh.
The founders of Karmic Seed traveled all over the world in order to answer the question: what are the most sustainable products that could replace plastic? They were most inspired by the incredibly eco-friendly and sustainable everyday products they saw being used in India like palm leaf plates and coconut bowls.
Now Karmic Seed continues to work with artisans and local businesses in India to ethically source the best materials for their products, and everything is made from agricultural by-products. All their products support local businesses, this one in particular goes towards a women-owned rural initiative, and their reforestation program.
Save me for later!
Bestowed Essentials Handmade Castile Solid Dish Soap
Another concentrated Castile soap option, but this time created by Bestowed Essentials, one of my all time favorite eco-friendly brands. This 12oz concentrated plastic-free dish soap is made from french green clay, sea salt and all natural oils which–when paired with a natural scrubber–will create a wonderfully sudsy lather for your dishes.
The reason I love Bestowed Essentials is because they’re 100% dedicated to sustainable products. From sourcing to production to packaging, it’s all as ethical and green as possible.
They also outright refuse to include any materials that aren’t completely natural. This means absolutely no artificial preservatives, chemicals or dyes, fragrances, sulphates, parabens, or anything else questionable goes into their products.
Bestowed Essentials painstakingly researches every single ingredient and supplier, and only works with companies that meet their incredibly high standards. It’s also a women-owned and run business, and every single employee, including interns, are paid a living wage.
If all that wasn’t enough, for every order they receive, they pick up one 1lb of beach trash through their partnership with the Ocean Blue Project. You can buy this amazing zero waste dish soap and feel good about supporting women AND the planet!
The Laundress Kitchen Soap Bar
If you cook with wooden utensils, this is the soap for you.
The Laundress company does such amazing laundry cleaning products that I wanted to try out their kitchen stuff as well. And they didn’t disappoint.
The kitchen soap bar is designed to keep your hands clean while you’re preparing food, but it’s also perfect for cleaning wood and bamboo kitchen tools such as cutting boards or large spoons.
I do find it cleans these more effectively than some other zero waste dish soaps. So if you find you use a lot of these products and your dish soap isn’t cutting it, I recommend trying out this bar.
The Laundress is a great sustainable company based in New York that, as you might have guessed, specializes in laundry and fabric care cleaners. They are dedicated to sustainable practices, using only post-consumer recycled materials for their plastic bottles and their shipping. Their products are all made using all natural materials and are only ever tested on the founders, Gwen and Lindsey, and NEVER on animals.
Additionally, they are a carbon neutral shipping company and contribute to the UPS Carbon Offset Program for every purchase made.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
If using a dishwashing soap bar just doesn’t work for you, I do have one further suggestion: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Dish Soap.
Unlike the two Castile soaps mentioned above, this soap is liquid, rather than concentrated. If you’re looking to make a DIY zero waste dish soap, it only takes a few extra ingredients.
Zero waste dish soap recipe
- ¼ cup Castile soap
- 1 tbsp baking soda (for extra-grimy dishes)
- 2 cups water
Carefully pour the soap and water into a jar, and gently stir to combine. Mix in the baking soda if you need extra scrubbing powder. Some people like to add scented oils to the mix, but that’s up to you (I don’t).
Unfortunately, this isn’t an entirely plastic-free dish soap option, but I still want to give it a shout out because this company is an awesome eco-friendly company based in the US.
Dr. Bronner’s has six basic tenets: (1) Word hard and grow, (2) do right by customers, (3) treat employees like family, (4) be fair to suppliers, (5) treat the earth like home and (6) fund and fight for what’s right! So this is a company I am happy to support, because it feels like giving back to the community while also protecting the environment.
Plus, while it might not be entirely zero waste dish soap, Dr. Bronner’s packaging is at least made from 100% post consumer recycled plastics. As for the soap itself, all of it is made using completely biodegradable and all-natural, vegan ingredients that don’t hurt the planet. They also never use synthetic additives, which is good news for your skin AND the environment.
When you factor in the large container and long-lasting properties (a little goes a long way!), it’s no wonder Castile soap is a favorite in the zero waste world. Some people even use it as a plastic-free shampoo alternative!
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