Are you looking for a planet-friendly soap to efficiently clean your dishes? Free of plastic waste and affordable? Well, that is what we have been looking for as well, hence this review.
The below zero waste dish soaps were carefully selected based on several criteria that matter to us at Puratium:
- Cruelty-free guaranteed. And in this review, each soap item is made of vegan-friendly ingredients only.
- Minimum impact on the environment: a biodegradable formula and in zero (low) waste packaging.
- Multi-purpose and recommended for different surfaces (not only the dishes!).
- No questionable ingredients.
- Transparency in the manufacturing process.
On a personal note, we believed it was easier to switch to a zero waste dish soap bar than to liquid dish soap. It is more straightforward and lighter, and no worries in terms of reuse or recycling.
However, we understand that some of you might prefer a liquid dish soap for a smoother transition. Therefore, we will detail the advantages of using refills from Cleancult.
Before digging into each list of ingredients, remember to order from brands located closer to your home. Thus, reducing your carbon footprint related to shipping (and potential custom duties!).
- Excellent certifications
- Full sustainability report available
- Significant contributions to long lasting change
- Family owned, handcrafted products
- Inspiring approach to packaging
No Tox Life - USA
Why this brand
The mother-daughter team proudly crafts all their products by hand, preferring ingredients of superior quality. For accessories like wooden soap dishes, they partner with other responsible manufacturers and local farmers.
This female and family-owned business is dedicated to creating a home and beauty care collection without any harsh or irritating ingredients, including strong detergents (Sodium Laureth Sulfate is one example).
After hundreds of hours of testing and learning, Sandee Ferman started her own company in 2014. She combined her love for math, science, and art to create a nontoxic collection of safe, effective products that don’t contribute waste.
Later on, she came to realize the importance of combining this greener offer with a low or zero waste approach to packaging.
An inspiring story that led to creating an innovative dish soap bar: No Tox Life’s dish block, which is one of our favorites on the market.
In addition to the usual devilish substances like paraben or palm oil, this zero waste dish soap is made without Phosphate, fragrances, or dyes.
Namely, the soap is made with 7 vegan-certified ingredients that are either mineral or plant-based— for example, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate or Aloe Vera Leaf (organic).
Each unscented 6 oz bar will last about two or three months. Use it with a scrub or a sponge to wash the dishes, with a wet cloth to clean all types of surfaces, and remove stains on your clothes or carpets.
Extremely efficient against grease, this concentrated soap is a cleaning powerhouse in all water types. Rest assured, the added Aloe Vera will avoid drying out your skin.
No Tox Life ships are entirely plastic-free. They use a plant fiber, i.e., brown recycled cellulose, for padding and recycled paper to wrap fragile items. They reuse and upcycle cardboard boxes received from suppliers or donations.
Don’t be surprised if you see packing peanuts in your box. Made from corn-starch, these are biodegradable and water-soluble.
They offer refills from their nontoxic only – bulk store located in Los Angeles. Educating their customers regarding the substances they put on their skin is part of their mission, thus highlighting the potentially harmful effects in conventional products versus their way of choosing their soap components.
We love the approach to empower people; through a better understanding, you can make better choices.
Meliora - USA
Why this brand
Pronounced’ meh-lee-OR-ah’, the name comes from Latin and means ‘better.’ Yes, now we all know where the English verb aMELIORAte comes from!
Better products but lower environmental impact is this company’s motto.
The Midwest-based brand is MADE SAFE certified, i.e., “America’s first nontoxic seal for products we use every day.” Their factory in the West Side of Chicago is where the soap is made and where all products are packaged.
We commend Meliora for its ambition to offer a product line entirely in the US while being people and planet-friendly.
Reducing the environmental impact of each product created, and inherently its waste is part of their DNA. You can even book a tour to visit their factory!
Lastly, this B Corp brand is part of 1% for the Planet and hence donates 1% of its revenue to various environmental causes.
This vegan, cruelty-free guaranteed dish washing soap can be purchased either unscented or lemon scent. The list of ingredients is extensively described on Meliora’s website. We appreciate the transparency!
- Sodium Cocoate (the chemical name of saponified – made into soap – coconut oil),
- Sodium Sunflowerate (chemical name of the saponified sunflower seed oil),
- Glycerin (plant-based),
- Organic coconut oil and organic sunflower seed oil.
The sunflower oil is sourced from a 140-year-old family farm in a Wisconsin village and is certified organic.
On the other hand, the coconut oil used is sourced from fair-trade, organic coconut in the Philippines, or Sri Lanka.
This vegetable oil base for the soap makes it a great combination resulting in a firm bar that lathers and cleans while quickly rinsing away.
Thus, this zero waste dish soap is free of any synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives. And, it scores as one of the highest in terms of price/quality ratio together with Bestowed Essentials.
This plastic-free dish soap bar comes with zero packaging and shipped in a recyclable/compostable paperboard box.
We also recommend this brand for their recycling and composting efforts, thus eliminating the need for someone else to obtain additional materials and creating what they call ‘negative emissions.’
Detail-lovers can enjoy the full read of their sustainability report here.
Bestowed Essentials - USA
Why this brand
We appreciate this small scale, female-owned company for sparking progressive change in their community. Thus, they opened an eco friendly, low waste store and are not afraid of speaking their minds!
They sell their flagship items from Bestowed Essentials, but that’s not all. They have partnered with other eco friendly, female-owned small businesses (i.e., 70% of their articles, at the time of publishing this article!).
Additionally, they have teamed up with Ocean Blue Project. Concretely, this means that for every online order, they remove 1 lb of trash from American waterways.
Lastly, we recommend this brand for its mission to galvanize long-lasting change: their free weekly podcast is an ‘educational resource on living harmoniously with ourselves, others & the planet.’
Bestowed Essentials is without doubts one of our preferred – truly engaged- eco friendly brands on this list!
All their primary ingredient suppliers are located in the US. In addition to being vegan and plastic-free, their zero waste dish soap is made of 5 highly efficient ingredients: olive oil, water, coconut oil, sodium hydroxide, French green clay, and pacific sea salt.
Rest assured, though: sodium hydroxide is known to be corrosive; however, while being mandatory in the soap making process, there isn’t any residue or waste left in the finished soap.
Their products are free of any artificial preservatives, coloring, or fragrances. The South Dakota-based brand is committed to researching each ingredient extensively. It needs to be natural, and for their dish soap, concentrated and grease-cutting.
Lastly, we recommend Bestowed Essentials for its price/quality ratio: only 13 USD for a 12 oz dish soap makes it the most affordable soap bar on this list.
Their packaging is truly earth-friendly! Thus, their products come in post-consumer waste: recycled glass, recycled cardboard box, reused plastic. Lid-wise, they use either compostable cork topper or recyclable metal.
They also offer unpackaged items, as is the case for their Solid Dish Soap. A real zero waste dish soap that further decreases the amount of unnecessary plastic bottle waste in the US.
To further decrease their environmental footprint, they acquire their primary ingredients in large quantities and either donate, reuse, or recycle these shipments’ packaging.
Cleancult - USA
Why this brand
Because cleaning should be made easy on you and on the planet, Cleancult offers you a sustainable cleaning routine.
We recommend this eco friendly brand for its dedication to reshaping the cleaning industry: safe, biodegradable, and cost-effective ingredients, but that’s not all.
Their packaging is made in the USA and is 100% recyclable. And while making sure all shipments are carbon-neutral.
If you happen to be lacking any refillable recipients at home and do not want to start the DIY products adventure, their bundles’ collections are an ideal way to start:
- Choose the amount and type of refillable shatter-resistant glass bottles. Thanks to their colorful, protective silicone sleeve, you’ll avoid any slip grip. These are dishwasher safe and built to last.
- Combine the refillables with plant-based cleaning refills such as hand soap, dish soap, or an all-purpose cleaner.
- Decide on your subscription method and frequency of shipping – only in the US.
We recommend this innovative brand for its holistic, customizable – yet low waste – approach to cleaning your home in a safe manner.
Let’s take a look at their coconut powered, zero waste dish soap in particular. Ingredients-wise, the formula contains a longer list than the solid dish soaps in this review:
- Sweet honeysuckle essential oil,
- Coconut and olive oils,
- Potassium soap, a natural stain remover that conventionally consists of water, lipids, and potassium hydroxide (1).
- CAPB, a synthetic fatty acid made from coconuts (2).
- Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Limonene, Sodium Gluconate,
- Aloe juice.
It is available in 4 scents, all being smooth with the skin. The plant-based formula is GMO-free, made in the USA, and harnesses coconut power for efficient cleaning rituals. Thus, you only need a small amount that will be tough on your dishes’ grease and grime.
Rest assured that the brand is cruelty-free: it is even Leaping Bunny certified.
Lastly, we would have appreciated more transparency in the manufacturing process and each ingredient’s exact origin. Hence, a slightly lower rating for this dishwashing soap.
Cleancult’s signature formula is shipped in a sustainable, thoughtful manner in recyclable, biodegradable milk cartons. The cap is made from 100% PLA for the sake of avoiding conventional plastics and promote more socially responsible materials.
Thanks to their partnership with CarbonFund, the plastic-free brand can assess its real shipping carbon footprint. They can hence better target carbon reduction solutions thanks to planting trees and investing in sustainable projects. This results in being truly carbon neutral!
Plantish - Canada & USA
Why this brand
Living in a plant-ish future is why this brand was established. All their products are handmade in Vancouver, Canada.
More broadly speaking, they partner with other makers in Canada and the US to develop zero waste products.
At the time of publishing this article, the brand confirmed they are in the process of applying for trustworthy certifications.
Price-wise, the brand is slightly more expensive than similar zero waste dish soaps on the market, hence our lower rating.
However, we like their efficient yet straightforward formulas. And, we definitely recommend you take a sneak peek at their Zero Waste cleaning set: one of the most eco friendly, complete sets we have seen so far. Ideal if you’re starting a low waste journey!
Plantish’s solid and zero waste dish soap is made of the following plant-based ingredients (only 4!): coconut oil, olive oil, water, and sodium hydroxide.
As indicated in the above paragraph on Bestowed Essentials, sodium hydroxide is corrosive but necessary in most soap making formula. However, it is eliminated during the saponification process, so… all good!
Hence, there are no additives, no preservatives, and no fragrances: an all-safe-for-your-skin formula.
This dish soap bar is a powerful stain remover for any oil stain and generally cuts grease effectively: choose a small (5oz) or larger version (13oz) depending on your preference.
This zero waste dish soap option comes in kraft paper packaging that is easily recyclable.
Plantish ships in plastic-free, upcycled, or recyclable packaging.
The Australian Soap Kitchen - Australia
Why this brand
A health scientist, Sara is the mother of 3 and spent years studying, researching, and teaching health and wellness in Melbourne.
Throughout the years, she realized how important it was to feed not only your body but also your skin, with only the finest and purest ingredients.
She created her company with the idea to use only earth-friendly, all-natural and organic alternatives for their traditionally made soaps.
Her range of products is inspired by the Australian flora. They mainly partner with local partners and seek non-Australian alternatives as a last resort.
Price-wise, the soap-dedicated brand is slightly more expensive than a similar zero waste dish block on the market, hence our lower rating.
The eco friendly brand is proud to create a dishwashing soap block that contains over 80% Australian grown and produced ingredients. Concretely, this product, free of animal products and animal testing, is made of:
- Saponified Australian organic extra virgin olive oil.
- Saponified organic virgin coconut oil.
- Australian pure lemon myrtle/mandarin/sweet orange essential oil.
We particularly appreciate this zero waste dish soap for its essential oils. Thus, your kitchenware and glassware will be left smelling fresh and clean due to their antiseptic, antibacterial properties.
Lastly, certified organic ingredients are incorporated in the soaps whenever possible.
These handcrafted soaps come with a recycled paper tag and twine.
As for the shipments, The Australian Soap Kitchen packs all items securely using recycled packaging materials.
Green Tailors - Portugal
Why this brand
Conventional liquid soap entails single-use plastic but also unknown (well, unclear to us at least) preservatives and chemicals.
Green Tailors wants to be part of the solution to current environmental challenges by raising awareness and offering affordable, earth, and skin-friendly alternatives.
Their Code of Conduct ensures a partnership with other companies and peers that not only commit to producing better products but products that are also responsibly produced.
We appreciate this brand for its complete -yet simple and to-the-point offer of sustainable cleaning products. If you are looking for eco-conscious giftpack ideas, Green Tailors offers a few of those here.
The brand’s zero waste dish soap is ethically handmade in small batches in Northern Portugal, using raw materials from the area.
For example, the olive oil is sourced from local artisan producers, and so are some essential oils.
Each of the 180 grams soap bars (around 6 oz) replaces between 2 and 3 plastic bottles of conventional dish soap: we like this option for being long-lasting and extremely sudsy.
It is safe to use on pots, pans, and even stainless steel while being gentle on glassware and porcelain.
Let’s have a detailed look at the list of – biodegradable – ingredients for this vegan-friendly dish soap bar:
- Citrus Medica Vulgaris (Lemon)
- Peel oil and Lavandula Stoechas oil
- Limoneno and linalool
- One – unclear – ‘soap’ ingredient caught our attention and we are awaiting the brand’s answer on the matter.
And, price-wise, the brand is slightly more expensive than other similar zero waste dish soaps on the market, hence our lower rating.
Another great way to go for a plastic-free alternative, this zero waste dish soap is wrapped in a recyclable carton that will last a long time in your kitchen!
We also asked Green Tailors about the materials they use for shipment. We will update this point once we get more information.
We appreciate the brand’s position on shipping: they propose only a standard option.
Remember that fast and express shipping is known to come with higher environmental costs and waste: it stands in the way of a more efficient shipment method, like, for example, trucks not fully loaded going out regardless, in order for your items to arrive faster (3).
Mainly, be patient and make sure to bundle your orders to contribute to a zero waste lifestyle.
EcoLiving - UK
Why this brand
The West Sussex-based eco brand is a proud member of 1% for the Planet and Eden Reforestation Projects.
The latter aims at reforestation and agroforestry thanks to tree planting and at reducing extreme poverty by employing local villagers.
The brand is entirely plastic-free and refuses to partner with prominent third party market places with devastating environmental practices that contribute to waste.
Thanks to its collaboration with Carbon Footprint, the brand’s entire operation is carbon neutral. By funding organizations working to remove carbon from the atmosphere, EcoLiving has a net-zero carbon footprint.
Last but not least, we appreciate this brand for its use of renewable energy sources, whether for their offices or when commuting! Which goes a long way in reducing waste.
No plastic, no toxins, no waste for this zero waste dish soap concentrate. Approved by EcoCert, here is the complete list of ingredients for this palm oil-free cleaning product made in the UK:
- Organic coconut oil
- Glycerin (naturally occurring)
- Sodium carbonate
- Sodium cocoyl glutamate (derived from coconut oil)
This dish soap block comes in two options: unscented or lemon-scented. Whatever you prefer, this zero waste dish soap is palm oil-free and is so soft that you can reuse the rinse water afterward on your plants!
EcoLiving is committed to drastically reducing plastic and microplastic in their offer, and even more so for packaging.
For its zero waste dish soap, it comes wrapped in a recyclable carton.
We also asked the brand about the materials they use for shipment. We will keep you updated on the matter.
Our Preferred DIY Dish Soap
Fair to say that we prefer a solid zero waste dish soap version over a liquid version. However, we never really quite managed to reach the quality and efficiency of the above products!
After a few trials and errors, we decided to go for a simple liquid version: we found our zero waste dish soap recipe to be quite handy to clean our dishes, kitchen, and various surfaces.
We recommend lemongrass essential oil for its antibacterial properties and powerful, fresh citrus scent.
Please note, however, that we consider it optional. As such, the castile soap (option 1) or the vinegar (option 2) are sufficiently efficient against grease and grime. Additionally, essential oils can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
Used sparingly in our home, essential oils did not cause any issues for us. Plus, we love the scent. We are all different, so feel free to test both versions of each formula and choose the one you prefer.
Let’s think of DIY in these cases as GIY – green it yourself! We are happy to share two options below. The second being the easiest and works well with glassware, according to us.
DIY Zero Waste Dish Soap – option 1
- 3 cups of water
- 20 drops of essential oil
- 2 teaspoons of washing soda
- 4 tablespoons of grated soap: we prefer Castile soap or Marseille soap
- Grate the soap with a cheese grater.
- Boil the water and incorporate the soap.
- Stir gently for 2-3 minutes.
- Take off the heat and add washing soda.
- Wait until the formula is lukewarm to add the essential oil.
- Pour in a glass container, or reuse another dish soap container (ideally with a spray lid).
- Because this water-based formula can likely solidify, shake the container gently before using it on your dishes or kitchen counter.
DIY Zero Waste Dish Soap – option 2
- 2 cups of water
- 2/3rd cup of vinegar
- 10 drops of essential oil
Simply mix the above ingredients gently and pour them into a dishwashing dispenser. Stir before use.
Eco Friendly Accessories For Your Kitchen
In addition to using zero waste dish soap bars in your kitchen, let’s have a look at other sustainable cleaning products and utensils.
In order to so, we recommend opting for utensils that are reusable and made in an ethical, earth-friendly manner.
Typically, this means materials such as bamboo wood, FSC certified wood, stainless steel, or glass.
For sponges and brushes, prefer items that you can compost and/or easily replace to reduce unnecessary waste. This means you only need to replace the head, for example.
As for the products, we encourage you to scrutinize the content: prefer nontoxic, biodegradable formulas with a short and revealing ingredients list.
For more information on how to implement a zero waste cleaning routine, have a look here.
Here are a few easy zero waste(certainly low waste!) switches that you can implement at home. And why not, as an eco friendly gift?
- A pot scrubber and/or sponges
- A soap dish brush
- Natural loofahs: 100% plant fibers- based, these are compost-friendly and made from organic bamboo.
- Dishwasher tabs all safe for your dishwasher
- Washable dish cloths and/or ‘Unpaper’ towels
- Wooden soap holder: to allow your soap bar to dry out more quickly between uses, and hence lasts longer.
- Or… a zero waste cleaning set for your kitchen to combine your purchases!
As usual, at Puratium, we encourage you to first reflect on your needs and preferences. Yes, a kit is an easy way to start, but maybe you’re used to only using a brush and a loofah, and that is fine.
Buy less, but buy better! Reducing waste at home goes hand in hand with a minimalist approach to consumption.
What's Wrong With Conventional Dish Soap?
Unfortunately, this section could be incredibly long. Let’s try to stick to the most worrying parts and why switching to a more ecological zero waste dish soap formula is a no brainer.
The main issues with conventional dish soap are its questionable, potentially toxic ingredients and single-use plastic packaging.
The main issue with conventional liquid soap in plastic bottles is that it contains questionable, even harmful chemicals for people or aquatic life and often, to both.
These can range from low hazard to highly toxic, hence the importance of looking up any ingredients you are unsure of or have never heard of.
Dish soap containing ‘fragrances’, ‘colorants’, cleaning ‘agents’, ‘adjusters’ or ‘foaming agents’, to name a few, should catch your attention.
Looking at the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to healthy cleaning, we wanted to share a few highlights.
Taking into account the worst components ranking at C (moderate concerns), D (high concerns), and F (highest concerns), we found quite a few examples from VERY well known brands, even some using the word ‘green’ on the label.
This is not only worrying for your dishes, but also for the environment and your health!
Let’s then take time to educate ourselves on the topic (4):
- Formaldehyde (F); can provoke cancer; concerns regarding general systemic/organ effects, respiratory effects.
- Sulfuric Acid (F): can induce cancer; concerns regarding respiratory effects.
- Botanical oil (D): concerns regarding developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, damage to DNA.
- Methanol (D): can cause vision damage, skin irritation/allergies.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS (C): concerns regarding general systemic/organ effects, can provoke acute aquatic toxicity/damage to vision.
- Laureth 7 (C): can cause cancer; concerns regarding digestive system effects, respiratory effects.
Lastly, the other main issue related to conventional liquid dish soap is its packaging.
Well-known brands typically use a plastic bottle as a container: these are not easily recyclable (or not recyclable at all, depending on where you live).
If you would like to find out more about zero waste packaging, we detail our ideas for food packaging here, and for other items such as slow beauty products here.
We hope you found the zero waste dish soap of your dreams! In all seriousness, we wanted this review to be a point of reference in terms of analyzing each soap’s ingredients, packaging, and manufacture.
The soap industry is making slow moves in the right, more eco friendly direction. But we are not there yet. Let’s actively contribute to this necessary change for our planet by boycotting standard, polluting products.
And by supporting local businesses producing fairly, sustainably, and transparently.