When you switch to a zero waste lifestyle, you quickly realize that the sea of plastic bottles above and below your kitchen sink will need to go. Like any change, this can feel intimidating! Fortunately, there are so many plastic-free and zero waste dish soap options out there. You’ll easily find the zero waste dish soap for your lifestyle and budget!
This post is all about plastic-free and zero waste dish soaps you use to clean dishes by hand. Looking for something else?
Click here for more information about zero waste dishwasher detergent.
Why should I switch to a plastic-free dish soap?
Conventional dish soaps have a few issues that make them not quite as sustainable as we’d like.
- Plastic packaging
- Heavy shipping weight from water increases fuel use
- Fragrance & other irritants
From an environmental standpoint, regular liquid dish soaps contribute to plastic pollution.
Since they are mostly made of water and water is heavy, that extra weight increases the fuel required to ship it across the country (or world).
You can reduce your carbon emissions by opting for concentrated personal care products including cleaning concentrates, bar soap, and even biodegradable pods!
If you’re trying to live a non-toxic lifestyle, many conventional dish soaps have harmful chemicals like synthetic fragrances and synthetic dyes that can cause irritation to our bodies and potentially harm the environment.
There are so many zero waste dish soap options made with simple, natural ingredients and essential oils.
Three types of zero waste dishwashing soaps
Move beyond the bottle. There are so many ways to clean your dirty dishes without plastic! In this post, I’m going to break it down into 3 main types of zero-waste dish soap to make it easy to find one that works for your cleaning routine.
1. Liquid dish soap
This is the easiest switch for most beginners to a zero waste lifestyle because it’s the closest to the regular liquid dish soap you’ve likely used your whole life!
I know what you’re thinking though…how on earth can you get liquid dish soap without the plastic?
refill liquid dish soap at the bulk store
Liquid castile soap as dish soap
Sal suds dish soap
I’m a huge fan of using the cleaning powerhouse Sal Suds around the home! If you’re not familiar, Sal Suds is Dr. Bronner’s cleaning concentrate. It is even more condensed than their castile soap and is an excellent cleaner.
Just like all of Dr. Bronner’s products, Sal Suds is made without animal testing and Sal Suds is an excellent multipurpose product. If you know about water types, Sal Suds is ideal for folks with hard water. Read our complete Sal Suds review here!
Although it is a synthetic cleaner, it is made of entirely biodegradable ingredients. You can use this as a dish soap concentrate and simply dilute it following the instructions below.
Simply squirt 1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp of Sal Suds in your sink of water. You can also add about half a cup of Sal Suds to a quart of water to make your own zero waste dishwashing liquid.
liquid dish soap in recyclable metal packaging
The folks at Grove Co always seem to have products that help beginners transition to a more sustainable lifestyle with simple swaps. For example, they sell liquid dish soap in recyclable metal packaging!
Get the Roadmap to Sustainable Living!
Don’t overthink it! At its core, sustainable living is easy. People have been doing it for years. By following a few, tried-and-true strategies, you’ll be living an eco-friendly lifestyle in no time (even in this complicated world)!
What about dish soap refills?
2. zero waste Dish soap blocks
This is perhaps the trendiest zero waste dish soap bar. I know…dish soap is trendy? Yep! Lots of people are trying to live more sustainably and dish soap blocks are so unusual, that they draw a lot of attention!
Since dish soap bars require no plastic packaging at all and they ship with way less water than liquid soaps, they may be the best zero waste dish soap out there! Just be sure to purchase a bamboo soap shelf to keep your dish soap block from dissolving in water.
What is a dish soap block?
A dish soap block is basically a hard bar of soap made specifically for dishwashing. They’re completely plastic-free and there are many vegan and palm oil-free options out there, too.
Just like any other bar soap, they use lye (sodium hydroxide) to saponify oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and more.
Can I use my regular bar soap for dishwashing?
How should I store my dish soap block?
We have this two-piece bamboo soap dish from Plantish and the top tray makes it way easier to move the bar around. I can hold it directly under running water and I never have to worry about unsticking the bar from the board.
I recommend choosing bamboo because bamboo can handles being in water very well unlike other woods that may crack and split after washing and drying. Plus, the bamboo won’t shatter like glass or ceramic!
How to use a dish soap block
There are two common approaches to washing dishes with dish soap blocks. For best results, use hot water.
Rub and scrub
Rub dish block with your brush or wet sponge and then scrub your dish. Easy! This is great for cleaning up an item or two and not for washing a sink full of dishes.
Run water over your bar
If you need a sink full of water, hold the soap bar directly under the hot water as it runs to suds up your sink. We actually prefer to turn the sprayer on and as the tiny streams of hot water hit the bar, you’ll see it suds up.
Wash and rinse your dishes like normal.
Where can I buy dish soap bars?
If you’re lucky, you may have a zero waste store near you! If so, look for dish soap blocks next to the other soaps and cleaning products.
Most of us will need to purchase our blocks online and the following brands are a great place to start!
No Tox Life
Meliora dish soap block
Silver Falls Sustainability Company
We also shopped at Plantish Future for the soap dish and dish brushes from our pictures. We like that we can replace the head of the long dish brush when it wears down!
Can you use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap bar for dishwashing?
Did you know Dr. Bronner’s sells a bar version of their famous castile soap? Just like their liquid castile soap, you can use their bar soap for dishwashing, too! This is an easy way to step away from single-use plastic and save some money while you’re at it!
Make your own dish soap bar!
3. Powdered dish soap
How does powdered dish soap work?
where to buy powdered dish soap
What is the best plastic-free dish soap brand?
To save even more money and plastic, grab a bar of Dr. Bronner castile soap and simply use that to wash your hands and dishes!
What zero waste dishwashing soap do I use?
After that…I want to make my own dish soap bars! I’ll be sure to share the recipe when I do.