Cleaning Sustainability

Zero Waste Dish Soap Alternatives

Zero waste dish soap options from bar soap to liquid dish soap sold in bulk sizes.

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:

Ingredients to Avoid in Zero Waste Dish Soap

Castile 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. 

Palm Oil

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.

Plastic

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)

Dr. Bronner's - Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner (1 Gallon) - All-Purpose Cleaner, Pine Cleaner for Floors, Laundry and Dishes, Concentrated, Cuts Grease and Dirt, Powerful Cleaner, Gentle on Skin
  • 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 won’t irritate skin! The very best for home & Earth!
  • 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. Biodegrades rapidly!
  • 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!
  • MILDLY SCENTED WITH FIR AND SPRUCE: Our multi-purpose cleaner is made with pure fir & spruce essential oils—fresh forest scent! No synthetic dyes, fragrances or preservatives—no harsh pine stump oil—no phthalates or ammonium compounds—none!
  • OUR SAL SUDS ARE 100% CRUELTY-FREE & NEVER TESTED ON ANIMALS: Dr. Bronner’s products & ingredients are never tested on animals so they qualify for the Leaping Bunny logo. Finally, a product you can totally get behind!

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

Kitchen dish, cleaning, veggie and hand soap, solid bar. Handmade, organic, mild, cuts grease and grime. Plastic-free soap and eco-friendly packaging. Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free soap. Unscented
  • If you do not like a strong scented soap, please consider unscented. We are a reputable company who has been hand making soaps for the last 25 years. Our soaps have been purchased for humans, fur-babies, horses, goats and even a cow! FREE SHIP in ONE DAY!
  • Try and find a commercial dish soap with 3 natural ingredients, you won’t find any. Your soap only has 3, all natural-ingredients-Saponified coconut oil, filtered water and essential oils (if not unscented). Can’t get much simpler than that.
  • Gentle Multi-Purpose Soap. We are so proud to offer a dish soap without all the harsh chemicals that can be used in so many different ways. Besides cleaning your dishes sparkly clean, it can clean more than dishes. Use it to clean floors, dirty, greasy hands, walls, counters, high-chairs, baby toys and the list is endless.
  • Multiple applications of use: Swish in water, run the bar under the water, swirl in a mop bucket, lather up a sponge or washcloth. Slice off a small piece and let sit in water for more cleaning strength. Great on laundry stains too! Just wet stain, and rub a little dish soap on the stain and let sit 1-24 hours depending on the stain. Wash as normal.
  • Be Kind to the Planet and Oceans! No bulky plastic clogging up our Mother Earth. Do your part and save the landfill with unnecessary bottles. Also, saves the bulk when recycling; less to take to the recyclable centers. The big stick lasts a very long time especially if allowed to dry between uses. Saves on storage in your cabinets, can be stored in a drawer versus valuable real estate under the sink.

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

Olive Oil Soap Bar - 100% Pure Natural & Artisan Crafted Quality  (Double Bar)
  • NEW: We realized that some of us may find genuine smell of olive oil is foreign to them. So, we are pleased to offer a set of 6 olive oil bars where 5 of them enhanced with natural extracts. In this set you will find Almond-Rose-Lavender-Sulfur-Clay and classic Olive Oil bars of 4.4 oz each. These bars enhanced with extracts will come with their natural benefits enjoyed by Mediterraneans for so long. You can find out about their wonders on a quick internet search.
  • QUALITY: Olives from the Mediterranean to your home handmade by artisans using traditional techniques and 100% raw organic materials for best cleansing and health care. None of the soap bars went through automation processes or chemical treatment. Please excuse even small imperfections in each bar's cuts they were all done by hand.
  • INGREDIENTS: Olive - vegetable oil (cold pressed), water (aqua), and soap base (sodium hydroxide - lye). Nothing else. Enhanced set includes extracts of indicated scent.
  • COMFORT: Cleanse, moisturize, soften, exfoliate your skin while refreshing and soothing without irritation. Therapy for body. Safely use it in the bathroom, kitchen, baby tub, spa, or give the gift of nature to the loved ones. Please note that the soap is not tear free.
  • PURE: Not animal tested (cruelty free), handmade, free of parabens, alcohol, sulfate or any other checmicals. Naturally Anatolian from Turkey.

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

No Tox Life Dish Washing Block Soap - Free of Dyes and Fragrance - Zero Waste
  • SUDSY! REALLY CLEANS GREASE on pots and pans, even stainless steel. Gentle on glassware & china.
  • PLASTIC-FREE & ZERO-WASTE & LONG LASTING — Replaces up to three plastic bottles at the kitchen sink.
  • MULTIPLE USES: Remove laundry stains & carpet stains, take labels off jars, clean walls & counters.
  • VEGAN & BIODEGRADABLE INGREDIENTS. FRAGRANCE-FREE. PALM OIL-FREE. CRUELTY-FREE. NO ANIMAL TESTING.
  • HANDMADE IN CALIFORNIA by NO TOX LIFE - Made in small batches - MADE IN USA

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

Soap Dish

If you choose to try dishwashing bar soap, a good soap dish is essential.

Scraper

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.

Scrubber

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.

Drying Rack

Unless you plan on immediately drying your pots and pans, a drying rack is a helpful accessory.

Drying Towels

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.

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Last update on 2019-12-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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