9 Zero Waste Dish Soaps Perfect For Non Toxic Dishwashing
Your dishes can and should be shiny and clean without the use of harmful ingredients.
Dish soap has never needed a complicated ingredient list in order to work – and some brands are starting to catch on.
I decided to test a variety of different zero waste dish soaps so you don’t have to, and this is what I came up with.
If you want to read a bit more about the environmental impacts of soap, I’ve covered that below my recommendations.
So let’s take a look at the best soap options available:
Zero Waste Dish Soap Options
Tested & Reviewed Favorites
Plantish Future’s zero waste dish soap bar is my new favorite dish washing soap for a few specific reasons.
Firstly, it quickly lathers up into a satisfying sudsy foam. I’ve tried a bunch of similar dish soaps, and juggling a slippery block of soap as you desperately attempt to get a lather going can be incredibly annoying – that doesn’t happen here.
It’s made from a short but sweet list of ingredients: coconut and olive oil, water, and sodium hydroxide. That’s really all a bar of soap requires, and Plantish keeps it simple without sacrificing any cleaning power.
It has a very mild olive scent, and not only scrubs dishes well but also leaves no slippery layer once rinsed or any dried soap residue once dry. Last but not least, their blocks of soap are budget friendly and should last you awhile – they’re nearly twice as large as a few other options on the list.
I’m also a big fan of their eco friendly sponges!
Blueland makes the most unique sustainable dish soap I’ve stumbled upon so far. When you order from them, you’ll receive a packet of dish soap powder along with a reusable silicone shaker.
I had never used dry dish soap before trying Blueland’s, and despite my initial doubts I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works. However, there’s a bit of a learning curve to using it effectively, which may scare some people off.
The best way to use it is to pour a generous amount on your wet sponge or brush, and then rub it in until fully dissolved. If you’re impatient and don’t let all the granules dissolve, there’s a good chance you’ll see barely any suds at all.
With that being said, I like this soap alot; I think waterless dish soap is an interesting solution to the packaging issue soap has – liquid soap and even bars weigh more and require sturdier packaging compared to powders.
Another one of my favorite products from Blueland are their dishwasher detergent pods!
Extra Blueland Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
- EWG Verified
- MADE SAFE Certified
- Certified Vegan
- Certified Climate Neutral
No Tox Life
No Tox Life’s solid dish soap bars have been around awhile, and I’ve gone through quite a few of them in the past. This is the only product this brand makes, and it’s been perfected over time starting in 2015.
Unscented, lathers easily, simple packaging, asymmetrical aesthetics – there’s a lot I love about this brand. It’s pretty similar to Plantish Future’s soap, the main difference being the size. It’s definitely not a small amount of soap, but there are larger options out there.
If you prefer a soap that rinses off super quick, this may be the one for you. After scrubbing, I’ve noticed that No Tox Life’s soap rinses quite fast compared to other brands – leaving my dishes squeaky clean with no chance of dropping them due to slippage.
They’ve added an interesting vegan ingredient as well: Quillaja saponaria, also known as the soap bark tree – a species planted to restore areas that have been deforested.
Extra No Tox Life Info:
- Etsy Star Seller
For those of you looking for a plastic-free liquid soap concentrate, Grove makes one of the most popular options. While they don’t specifically call it a concentrated dish soap, I’ve found watering it down works quite well.
In fact, not watering down this soap has led to a few frustrating moments for me. Pouring or pumping too much of this soap at once means you’ll be stuck rinsing off insane amounts of lather and residue for a bit (they sell separate glass pump dispensers).
Which isn’t exactly a negative, but you genuinely need to know the perfect amount of soap to use if you want to avoid runaway suds.
If you’re a fan of unique fragrances, Grove is the best choice: they usually have 5+ different scents to choose from, with limited editions appearing from time to time as well.
Extra Grove Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
Meliora’s sunflower seed and coconut oil dish soap bars are pretty similar to other brands, aside from their unique puck shape.
Most people don’t care that much about the aesthetics of product packaging, but I do. And Meliora’s scratches that itch for me while only using sustainable materials like paper, cardboard, glass, and recyclable metals in their products.
If there’s any downside worth mentioning, it’s the rounded shape of these bars. In my opinion, soap bars shouldn’t have rounded edges – it’s just too easy to lose your grip. I like my dish washing sessions to be relaxing, and having a bar of soap tumble around my sink is the opposite of that!
Meliora always comes in clutch with their simple vegan formulas, and I’d highly recommend checking out their foaming hand soap and zero waste cleaning products as well.
Extra Meliora Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
- 1% For The Planet Member
- Certified WBENC
Etee’s dish soap concentrate is formulated without water, and sold as a concentrate, unlike Groves which unintentionally fills that niche.
If you’re vegan, you’ll want to avoid this option as it contains beeswax in the form of squeezable soap-sleeves. Ethical beekeeping does exist, but by definition honey and beeswax aren’t vegan.
Etee’s dish soap design is a great example of creative, sustainable product innovation; their plant-based soap and beeswax pods can be composted once you’ve finished with them.
Because Etee’s soap is so concentrated, you can kind of mix it up however you want. Need to wash a huge load of dishes? Squeeze a glob of soap into a sink filled with hot water. Want a foaming soap? Use a higher ratio of water to soap, and fill up a pump dispenser.
Brightside Organics’s biodegradable dish soap is made from pretty standard vegan ingredients, with an added twist of sea salt and grape seed oil.
The first thing you’ll notice about their soap: it’s quite a chonker! It really is a huge block of soap, priced similarly to Plantish Future’s.
If you’re looking for a gift option for any soap-lovers in your life, you may want to poke around a bit on their Etsy shop.
They have a variety of different dish soap bar and brush options to choose from, and you can mix and match various handmade ceramics and other addons if you’re looking for more than just a block of suds.
Extra BrightSide Organics Info:
- Etsy Star Seller
Cambridge & Carlino
I’m a sucker for ceramics, and Cambridge & Carlino’s suds and soap dishes are another option for art lovers and soap enthusiasts alike.
Their uniquely shaped soap-pucks are made by pouring freshly brewed soap into ceramic ramekins where they can then cool off. Once settled, it can be easily lathered onto a brush or sponge without popping out of the ceramic dish.
One of the issues with solid bars of dish soap is their storage after using them – but ceramic dishes like these solve that issue and prevent any major messes most of the time.
Essential oils are used to give their soap a few different fragrances: lemon, orange, and garden basil. When you run out of soap, you can find replacement pucks on their Etsy shop without the ceramic dishes!
Extra Cambridge & Carlino Info:
- EtsyStar Seller
Wild Elixir – a small business based off Etsy – makes a low waste dish soap with only three ingredients; four if you buy a scented version containing essential oils.
Made primarily out of coconut oil, these bars last quite a while. Poorly formulated soap bars tend to crumble, but Wild Elixir’s builds a steady lather without falling apart after a few washes.
Their goal was to create a bar of soap that works for dishes and doesn’t leave any residue or overly dry out your hands if used for handwashing. I’m not usually one for fragrance in my soaps, but they do have a few decent options; with orange and clove or lavender cedarwood standing out.
How does dish soap impact the environment?
When you’re faced with a sink full of last night’s filthy dishes, the environmental impacts of dish soap may not be the first thing that crosses your mind.
Some of these issues are more obvious than others – for example, it’s pretty clear that plastic soap bottles are becoming a bit of an issue (even with brands who claim to care about the environment).
The recyclability of plastic depends on too many variables to keep track of; but by now you may be aware that the fossil fuel industry never intended plastics recycling to be effective at all.
Not only that, but efforts to curb plastic pollution and improve recycling efforts are being undermined even by organizations that do alot of good, like the United Nations (UN).
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a huge uptick in soap usage – many are no longer interested in sharing germs with others, and more dishes are being scrubbed down as a result. More soap being used means more packaging waste thrown away, and more sudsy petrochemicals washing down our drains.
In fact, almost all the ingredients in your average bottle of dish soap are petrochemicals. Thousands of different molecules can be produced from crude oil refinement before being combined and added to various product formulas.
Dawn is a perfect example of a dish soap brand that loves coming up with emotional greenwashing campaigns. Dawn’s “claim to fame” is that it’s so effective yet gentle it can be used to wash crude oil off penguins and seals if they’re unlucky enough to be the victim of an oil spill.
Here’s one of their oil spill commercials:
Washing birds covered in oil with more petrochemicals is not only ironic, Dawn is also owned by Procter & Gamble (P&G) – a multinational corporation that produces hundreds of other similar products packaged in plastic.
As of 2021, P&G was one of many brands who refused to stop sourcing wood pulp from intact old-growth boreal forests. These incredibly important forest ecosystems are under constant siege – and not many remain fully intact in the global north.
P&G also uses huge quantities of palm kernel oil, one of the main ingredients required to make sure your dishes foam up so well. Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil derived from massive monoculture plantations, usually grown on top of previously deforested land.
Dawn is really just one example, however, and most brands they compete with operate with similar disregard for the environment.
What animal products are found in dish soap?
A majority of ingredients found in dish soap are synthetic, but some brands do include animal derived ingredients; these can be quite innocent sounding and may go by multiple names.
A few examples of what to look out for:
- Stearic acid (beef tallow or fat)
- Glycerin (animal fat, but can be plant-based)
Aside from specific ingredients, many brands also test their products on lab animals – another reason to avoid some of the biggest dish soap brands!
You don’t have to eat with dirty forks and knives to be more sustainable; however you wash your dishes, there’s an eco friendly dish soap option for you.
Washing dishes is something most people do everyday – which makes finding a plastic free replacement for your favorite brand a small but highly impactful lifestyle change you should make.
Are solid blocks of soap as effective as liquid soap, in your experience?