Which Eco Friendly Dishwasher Detergent Is the Best for Sparkling Dishes?

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Did you know that many conventional dishwasher detergents contain harmful chemicals and are not really safe for you or the environment? That’s just their ingredients – we haven’t even started talking about the plastic bottles! In this post, I’m going to break it down to help you find the best eco friendly dishwasher detergent for your budget and needs.

best eco friendly dishwasher detergent

Why do you need eco friendly dishwasher detergent?

Most conventional dishwashing detergents are packaged in single-use plastic and contain harsh chemicals like artificial fragrances. They also use ingredients that are not always safe for the environment especially aquatic life.

Ingredients to avoid

  • Zinc sulfate
  • Hydrozincite
  • Phosphates
  • Synthetic fragrance
  • Artificial dyes

What to look for:

  • Sodium carbonate peroxide (natural whitener)
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine (natural surfactant from coconut)
  • Sodium percarbonate (stain remover)
  • Sodium chloride (prevents caking)
  • Sodium citrate (tackles hard water)
  • Citric acid (water softener & cleaning agent)
  • Sodium silicate (prevents mineral spots)

Fortunately, you can get clean dishes without pollution!

How do conventional dishwasher detergents stack up?

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s rating tool for consumer products, conventional dishwasher detergent tabs score poorly.

Finish Quantum Max Powerball – Rated as a D for some asthma/respiratory, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity concerns, and moderate environmental concerns.

Their fragrance-free alternative was rated slightly higher at a C. That’s just not good enough.

Cascade Platinum Pacs, Fresh Scent – Rated as a D for some asthma/respiratory, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity concerns, and moderate environmental concerns.

Their lemon scent was rated even worse at an F. Not good!

The Best Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Detergent Options

There are lots of eco friendly dishwasher detergent options out there, but I’m going to prioritize zero waste dishwasher detergent options.

It doesn’t make sense to me to recommend eco-friendly dishwashing detergent packaged in plastic when there are perfectly suitable zero waste products out there that work just as well.

Why would someone want zero waste dishwasher detergent?

  • Ditch the plastic packaging
  • Less fuel to ship lighter packages
  • Safe for all water systems
  • Avoid harmful ingredients like fragrances, bleach, and dyes
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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)!

How to find non-toxic personal care products

Especially if you’re new to the eco-friendly lifestyle, I recommend always checking your products with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The EWG reviews every single ingredient in products for safety for the environment and your personal health. Look for products that are either EWG Verified or rated A.

best eco friendly dishwasher detergent

6 Best Eco Friendly Dishwasher Detergent Brands

Ready to dive in? Find your new favorite eco friendly dishwasher detergent right here.


Dropps is an eco-friendly, zero waste cleaning company that sells an entire suite of products for your home, including laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and more.

What you need to know

Their unscented eco friendly dishwasher pods have an A rating from EWG. They house a powdered cleaner inside of a dissolvable pod made from polyvinyl alcohol. They’re great for cleaning with hard water and leave no water spots!

We used their lemon-scented dishwasher tabs (rated B due to fragrance) for about 6 months and they completely replaced several other inferior natural cleaning products. I did eventually have to switch to their unscented line as the fragrance started irritating my allergies. I just wished they used essential oils!

These zero waste dish soap tablets ship in recyclable & compostable packaging (cardboard box) and each pod is coated in a plant-based jacket to keep the cleaning powders dry and separate.

Price: As low as $0.29/each

Where to Buy


Blueland is a well-loved sustainable brand that sells compact, plastic-free and completely dry cleaning concentrates. For example, they sell a hand soap tablet refill packaged in compostable paper!

In your first order, they send you a metal Forever Tin and a pack of 40 zero waste dish detergent tablets. In the future, you simply order refills for your tin.

What you need to know

Blueland’s eco friendly dishwasher tablets are a fan favorite in the zero waste community! They also sell a powder dish soap alternative for handwashing dishes.

Photo property of Blueland

Price: Starter set $18; refills as low as $0.28/each

Where to Buy

Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder

Made with entirely biodegradable materials, Nellie’s dishwasher powder is very popular in the eco friendly community. Plus, it’s entirely free of synthetic fragrances and is actually fragrance-free!

Nellie’s typically packages their powder in a plastic pouch, but you can buy a metal tin in a larger size. For zero waste folks, this is a limitation as the product is not entirely plastic-free.

What you need to know

Price: As low as $0.26/load

Where to Buy

Want to live an eco-friendly life every day?

Learn more about living a simple, sustainable life with these posts & resources!

Cleancult Dishwasher Tablets

Cleancult sells dishwasher tablets made with biodegradable ingredients packaged in a colorful paper carton. Scented with plant extracts, this line should not irritate any fragrance sensitivities!

What you need to know

  • EWG Rating: not reviewed
  • Plastic-free packaging
  • Non-toxic ingredients
  • Pressed tablets have no film to dissolve

Although Cleancult uses rave about this product, I have a hard time justifying such a high price per use with so many less expensive alternatives.

Price: As low as $0.43/each with subscription

Where to Buy

Grove Collaborative Dishwasher Tablets

Over the years, Grove Collaborative has been working to create plastic-free products for our homes. There are several things to note about this line.

What you need to know

  • EWG Rating: not reviewed
  • Made with natural fragrance from essential oils
  • Available in a plastic pouch or a recyclable metal tin
  • Cruelty-free
  • Free of chlorine bleach & artificial dyes
  • 91% plant-based ingredients

I appreciate that this is another plastic-free dishwasher detergent option for detergent tablets. This has a smaller carbon footprint than a dishwasher gel packaged in plastic. Plus, you can buy Grove Co products online or at Target, which makes this a very convenient product for many people.

Price: As low as $0.33/each

Where to Buy

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Powder

If you’re looking for an effective dishwasher powder that’s inexpensive and easy to purchase, check out Seventh Generation!

  • EWG Rating: A
  • Fragrance and dye-free
  • Septic-safe
  • Not tested on animals
  • No phosphate
  • Certified B Corp
  • USDA Certified Biobased Product

There are several types of plastic-free dishwasher detergent from Seventh Generation. Typically, you’ll see the cardboard box with the natural dishwasher detergent at many retailers.

Seventh Generation also offers a professional-grade powder for commercial machines. They now also sell their powder in a stainless steel tin. Since stainless steel is one of the easiest materials to recycle, there are no doubts about this packaging lingering in a landfill.

Price: As low as $0.10/load with powder

Where to Buy

What is the best eco-friendly dishwasher detergent?

Personally, I’m sold on Dropps detergent pods. As someone who almost never repeats a subscription, I’ve repurchased my Dropps tablets several times.

They’re entirely zero waste, free of harmful ingredients, safe for septic tanks, and they have an unscented option. Unlike other pods we’ve used, they’ve never broken apart in transit and they don’t stick together in my jar!

I think it’s the best dishwasher detergent for people who want simple, sustainable products that really work. I was able to stop using several other inferior “natural” products packaged in plastic by switching to just Dropps.

If I had to choose a different product, I’d probably go to the Seventh Generation powder due to its excellent rating from the EWG, eco-friendly packaging, super low cost, and that I can get it from Target!

Are eco friendly dishwasher detergents more expensive?

Not always!

The 82 ct pack of Finish Quantum on Amazon is $22.41 That’s about $0.27 per tablet.

If we use that as our benchmark, then Nellie’s is a cent cheaper. Dropps, and Blueland are both 1-2 cents more per load. That’s a pretty negligible difference for much safer products.

However, Seventh Generation’s powdered dish detergent is as low as 10 cents per load! (At Target, you can get 75 oz for $7.59. Most dishwashers use about 1 oz of powder per load).

Even zero waste, eco friendly dishwasher detergents can be affordable! No extra cost needed.

What about an eco-friendly rinse aid?

It’s important to know that for some folks, a rinse aid may be necessary even with a high-quality dishwasher detergent.

Specifically, people with hard water may struggle to get clean dishes even with a great eco friendly dishwasher detergent.

We recently replaced our old, constantly moldy dishwasher with a brand new, top-of-the-line stainless steel dishwasher.

We decided to continue using Dropps and add a non-toxic rinse aid that we get at our local co-op to ensure we would avoid mineral build-up from the get-go.

It’s very possible we could do without the rinse aid to save a little cash and avoid a little waste, but we are so thankful to have actually clean dishes after years of gunk.

We’d rather invest a little extra now to avoid build-up than try to deal with it later.

And I have to say…our dishes have been cleaner than they’ve ever been every single time!

It’s very likely that Dropps will be enough for you to go without a rinse aid, but if you find yourself with streaks or spots, you likely have hard water and would benefit from some extra help.

Here are some eco-friendly rinse aid options:

Ecos Rinse Aid

Ecover Rinse Aid

Seventh Generation Rinse Aid

Have you heard the tin foil trick?

Did you know you can crumple up a ball of foil and stick it in your dishwasher to remove tough gunk?

There is a chemical reaction between the foil and your dishwashing tablets that help remove all the stuck-on crud with less water. Plus, you can reuse the aluminum ball over and over again!

This is a great way to repurpose leftover foil, too.

How can I make my own eco friendly dishwasher detergent?

I’ve heard differing opinions about this, especially with modern high-efficiency automatic dishwashers.

They’re made to use small amounts of concentrated cleaners. I’d recommend conducting your own research and trying DIY options cautiously.

If you do want to make your own dishwasher detergent, here are a few recipes to try:

  • Greenify-Me recommends this mixture of baking soda, washing soda, citric acid, and salt.
  • Eco Boost has their own take and their recipe doesn’t have any baking soda.
  • Drips n Drops even makes their own dishwasher tablets!
best eco friendly dishwasher detergent

Did you find a new eco friendly dishwasher detergent?

Or did I miss a brand you adore? Tell me in the comments!

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  1. Your post couldn’t be more timely. I used 7th Gen for years but something changed and now even the unscented affects me. Thanks for all of the options and detailed info!

    1. Isn’t it surprising how something like that can even happen? Definitely sounds like it’s time for a switch! Thanks for the visit!

  2. Excellent inputs on how to make a difference every day!
    Unfortunately the brands you recommend are not available in Switzerland.
    Nice to meet you, Rachael! Happy Blogging!

    1. Yes! I was shocked to see how harmful some of the most popular detergents are. I’m glad there are so many great alternatives available these days! Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this detailed post on clean dishwashing options! We have made the switch with many food items and have slowly been switching over to sustainable household and personal products as well. These recommendations are really helpful! I will share this info everywhere I go! Thanks again, and looking forward to more posts!

    1. Natalie, I’m so happy this is helpful! It’s hard making sense of all the options out there and I try to make it as straightforward as possible. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I’ve been using 7th Generation powder in the card board box from Target and it appears to be discontinued. Amazon sells it but it’s only 45 oz (instead of 75) and double the price! Thanks to your post I was able to find the 75 oz at Grove!

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