12 Best Eco Friendly and Zero Waste Dishwasher Detergents

Looking for a way to clean your dishes without harsh chemicals, overpowering fragrances, and single-use plastics? An eco friendly and zero waste dishwasher detergent is the answer.

Dishwashers make cleaning up after a meal so easy. Just load the machine, add some detergent, and you have sparkling clean dishes in no time.

What’s not to love, right? Well, commercial dishwasher detergents–that’s what. 

Many popular dishwasher detergents contain toxic compounds that are harmful to both you and the environment.

Eco friendly cleaners, on the other hand, use natural ingredients to cleanse your tableware. And if you opt for a zero waste dishwasher detergent brand, you can wash up without single-use plastic waste as well.

It’s the perfect beginner-friendly zero waste kitchen swap!

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Why Switch to Zero Waste Dishwasher Detergent? 

Commercial detergents are packaged in single-use plastic that can take up to 1000 years to partially degrade into tinier bits of toxins. These bits of plastic and microplastics make their way from landfills into our waterways and food, causing harm to us, aquatic life, and the environment.

Check out this recent study that discovered microplastics in the human bloodstream to see why it’s something to be alarmed about. 

Toxic compounds found in the detergents themselves is another thing to be concerned about. Phosphates, chlorine, sulfates, dyes, and fragrances end up in the drain and eventually in the ocean, endangering marine life. 

Reducing our use of chemicals to save the environment is one way to make a difference, and that’s where zero waste dishwasher detergents come in.

Non-toxic dishwasher detergents contain biodegradable ingredients and mineral-based compounds that do not leave residue on foods, as come in compostable packaging that’s safe for our environment.

Plus, they’re just as effective as big-brand detergents you’ll find on supermarket shelves.

RELATED: 7 Best Zero Waste Dish Soap Bars & Liquids

What to Look for in Eco Friendly Dishwasher Detergents

Woman in kitchen loading colorful plates and eco friendly dishwasher detergent into machine.

Dishwasher detergents contain many chemicals that are good at cleaning dishes but bad for our health and marine life.

Phosphates, for instance, make their way into waterways and support the growth of algae blooms that deplete marine life and oxygen. Chlorine and sulfates, too, have similar effects on the ecosystem. Other chemicals like fragrances and dyes irritate skin and disrupt the endocrine system. 

Always remember to scan through the ingredient list before buying an eco friendly dishwasher detergent.

Avoid detergents that contain phosphates, sulfates, chlorine, dyes, or fragrances. Instead, the cleaning action should come from plant and mineral-based ingredients.

Another way to ensure you’re making a responsible choice is to check that the detergent is produced by an environmentally responsible brand. You want to make sure of two things: that it never tests on animals, and that it takes steps to reduce its impact on the environment.

RELATED: 9 Best Zero Waste Dish Sponges and Alternatives for Green Cleaning

Best Zero Waste Dishwasher Detergent Pods and Tablets 

While these tiny pre-portioned packs of dishwasher pods are convenient, they’re often wrapped in single-use plastic or a dissolvable exterior that breaks down into microplastics. Apart from causing significant harm to our environment, they are also unsafe for us. 

With these zero waste dishwashing detergent pods and tablets, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Their plastic-looking wrappers are actually made of PVA film, which doesn’t create microplastic when dissolved.

Dropps Dishwasher Detergent Pods 

Made with mineral-based ingredients, natural enzymes, and oxygen-based bleach, Dropps Dishwasher Detergent Pods remove food and grease from dishes without the use of harsh chemicals.

Unlike other less-effective brands, Dropps pods require no pre-washing to get your dishes 100% clean. 

They are free from phosphates, chlorines, artificial fragrances, dyes, and phthalate. Furthermore, these polymer pods are biodegradable and cruelty-free, making them an all-around great alternative to single-use plastic pods. 

Designed to be compact and efficient, they come in a biodegradable cardboard box that you can compost after use and have no plastic packaging. They fit dishwashers from the US as well as many other countries just fine and are available in both unscented and lemon-scented varieties. 

Beyond Natural Dishwasher Tablets

Packaged in recyclable and compostable cardboard, Beyond Natural’s dishwashing tablets have wrapped fiber-based films that are dissolvable and free from plastic.

They are widely acclaimed for their superior cleaning abilities and are free from chlorine, fragrances, dyes, or toxic chemicals.

Made of plant and mineral-based substances, the ingredients have been specially developed to counteract hard water and leave your dishes sparkling clean.

Moreover, they are USDA BioPreferred Program approved and contain more than 75% biobased content. When using these tablets, there is absolutely no need to worry about chemical waste. 

Cleancult Dishwasher Tablets 

We all want sparkling clean dishes, and Cleancult dishwashing tablets certainly deliver on that front. 

These small blocks come in dissolvable PVA film wrap and remove grease, stains, and residue with ease, leaving your dishes smelling citrusy and fresh. The packaging is made of decomposable paper which is an added bonus. 

Cleancult’s true mission is to redefine clean, both in terms of ingredients and packaging. To that end, this eco friendly and zero waste dishwasher detergent is created from natural ingredients and has never been tested on animals. 

If You Care Automatic Dishwasher Tablets 

If You Care’s eco friendly tablets are a potent blend of mineral and plant-derived ingredients like coconut, rapeseed, and certain other enzymes meant for cleaning.

The phosphate- and chlorine-free tablets are made in a concentrated and compact form to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint. 

Don’t be fooled by their small size either. The strength and efficiency of these tiny pellets wash away tough, stuck-on grease, and gunk without the use of any harmful chemicals. 

Best Zero Waste Dishwasher Powders 

If you like having control over how much detergent you use per cycle, dishwasher powders might be a better choice for you over pods. Although a little messier, dishwasher powders have the added advantage of working better on hard water. 

Read on to know more about zero waste dishwashing powders that don’t make using less plastic a chore. 

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Powder 

Ecover is a popular brand among eco-conscious people. I use quite a few of their products in my own home, including their toilet bowl cleaner and fabric softener.

Plant-based and made of ingredients that are phosphate-free, Ecover’s Automatic Dishwasher Powder is packaged in biodegradable recycled cardboard, making it safe for you, your pets, and the environment.

Plus, their products are never tested on animals and are completely cruelty-free. 

Ecover’s strong composition battles hard water to clean dishes without leaving behind any traces or stains. That being said, I recommend pre-rinsing your vessels before using this cleaning powder. 

Seventh Generation Natural Automatic Dishwasher Powder 

Thanks to its plant enzymes formulation, Seventh Generation’s chlorine- and phosphate-free detergent removes dried food and stains without harming you or the environment. 

The product is fragrance- and dye-free making it great for people with sensitivities.

It’s a common problem with fragrance-free commercial detergents that they leave your dishes smelling weird, but not Seventh Generation dishwasher powder. This one’s known for leaving dishes smelling neutral and clean. 

USDA and Leaping Bunny Certified, this biobased product comes packaged in a plastic-free carton and is completely cruelty-free. One 45oz pack offers around 70 full loads, making it suitable for long-term use too.

All things considered, this one really is one of the best eco friendly and zero waste dishwasher detergents out there. 

Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder 

Nellie’s products are free from harsh chemicals, perfumes, and colors, based on the principles of a mother on a mission to find new ways to be ecologically responsible.

Its dishwasher powder comes packaged in a vintage-inspired tin box and is known for being eco friendly because of its effectiveness even in small amounts. 

The phosphate- and SLS-free powder works well in hard water to penetrate deep into grease and debris and leave your dishes clean and spotless. It’s best to use a smaller quantity of the powder if your household has access to soft water instead of hard. 

Best Eco Friendly Dishwashing Detergents

The process of going green is less intimidating if you go one step at a time. If you aren’t ready to jump into zero waste living, these eco friendly dishwasher detergents are a good stepping stone.

Biokleen Clean & Free Dishwashing Detergent 

Biokleen dishwashing powder is non-toxic, plant-based, and biodegradable.

Free from phosphate, chlorine, artificial dyes, fragrances, and brighteners, it’s the detergent’s natural oxygen bleach that aids in stain removal, while its plant-based surfactants remove residue and grease. 

This power-packed formula comes in a plastic bottle, but don’t worry, you only need a small amount of concentrated powder per cycle. Plus, the bottle is simple to clean and reuse once it’s empty.

Puracy Dishwasher Packs 

Founded by two parents who wanted baby-safe cleaning products, Puracy creates products keeping two things in mind: the environment and safety.

The brand’s chemist-developed pods have been featured by The New York Times, NBC, and BUSINESS INSIDER. 

These eco friendly dishwasher packs clean all dishwasher-safe vessels without the need for a pre-rinse. Thanks to its formulation not containing phosphates, sulfates, parabens, chlorine bleach, colors, or scents, these cruelty-free pods are safe for your newborns.

They have the extra benefit of being a 2-in-1 dishwasher soap and rinse aid, sparing the need for extra products and packaging.

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Gel 

If powders aren’t for you, Seventh Generation also makes an eco friendly dishwasher gel.

The advanced cleaning plant-based formulation eliminates dirt and grime from your dishes without the use of phosphates, synthetic scents, chlorine, and colors. 

The essential oils and plant materials in this USDA-certified, 65% biobased dishwasher detergent gel give it a pleasant lemon scent that is comparable to that of commercial gels. The benefit of using a detergent gel is that you can adjust the amount you use for each load in your dishwasher. 

Keep in mind that the brand recommends washing stainless steel, aluminum, and silver plates in a separate load while using this detergent. 

Better Life Dishwasher Gel Detergent 

Better Life Natural Dishwasher Gel Detergent is made with plant-based components like soap bark, coconut, and corn that possess natural cleaning properties. This crumb-smashing cleaner will leave your dishes looking as good as new. 

Better Life is Leaping Bunny certified and provides ingredient transparency. The ultra-concentrated detergent has no phosphates, chlorine, dyes, or sulfates and uses only one tablespoon for a full load of dishes. Just one 30oz bottle of this stuff will last you a long time to come. 

The gel detergent comes in a plastic bottle that can be readily washed and reused (or recycled) once empty. While not completely zero waste, this detergent is still a good choice thanks to its natural ingredients. 

DIY Zero Waste Dishwasher Detergent 

An affordable and easy-to-make DIY non-toxic dishwasher detergent is the ultimate way to clean dishes sustainably. It will save you money, help the planet, and keep your dishes clean all at once. 

This homemade zero waste borax-free dishwasher detergent powder uses just four ingredients to make your dishes gleam: washing soda, citric acid, baking soda, and kosher salt.

Mix the ingredients, and you’re ready to go. The low-cost detergent can be made in large batches and stored in glass bottles.

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