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Top 9 Zero Waste Dish Soap Brands Today (2023 Reviews)

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Is zero waste dish soap a trend? Nope, it’s the future of cleaning.

Yet, plastic-free dish soaps are the minority. We chuck that bottle of “blue liquid” in our cart as we rush through the shopping list, thinking nothing of it.

But just how bad is this stuff?

You probably have an idea, considering you’re here. But let’s just say – this stuff assaults the environment from multiple angles. And not to mention the abuse to our skin. More on that stuff later.

For now, let’s focus on all-natural, sustainable dish soap. Zero plastic, zero toxins, and zero guilt!

Sounds great, but with so many choices out there, how do we choose?

Well, the Tgl team did the leg work for you. We researched and reviewed tons of low-waste dish soaps, ending up with the top nine. You’ll see them just below.

Then, towards the end, the five essential zero waste soap accessories. And after that, the brands to avoid moving forward and how to tell if any soap is eco-friendly.

After this article, your hunt for the best zero waste dish soap ends – plus, you’ll be a more conscious shopper.

Let’s dive right in.

Jump to a Section

Top 9 Sustainable, Plastic-Free Dish Soap Brands Reviewed

…& how we chose

Collage of the top plastic free dish soap options

(Click to jump ahead)

To show you only the best zero waste dish soap brands possible, we focused on these factors:


First and foremost, you better not use wasteful plastic.

Each plastic-free dish soap below ships either unpackaged or arrives in biodegradable containers.


We steered clear from petroleum-based, non-renewable surfactants. We also avoid palm oil. Its production accounts for massive deforestation.

Then, we kept away from the most common (yet troubling) soap chemicals…

Stuff like synthetic fragrances, dyes, phosphates, preservatives, sulfates, parabens, SLS, and triclosan.

This way, each option below is safe on your family’s skin and harmless after it flows down the drain.

You can jump to the end of this post for more details on precisely which chemicals to avoid. Plus, four (among many) popular soap brands who use these chemicals.

Brand ethics

The brands below never test on animals nor use animal-derived ingredients.

And most give back to eco-friendly non-profits. So, with your purchase, you’re directly making a difference in the world.

Cost Efficiency

Most popular liquid dish soaps contain 90% water. And they come packaged in single-use plastic. This adds to the product’s size and weight, increasing shipping costs and carbon footprint.

In fact, these mainstream soaps take 5x more energy to create and 20x more for packaging than zero waste options. That’s according to Conservation Magazine.

But the concentrated dish soap blocks below?

You don’t waste a cent on water or plastic.

You pay for soap; you get soap – nothing else.

Plus, one bar often lasts 2-3x longer than the liquid stuff. So, even if a block seems pricey, remember, your price per load costs less.

Now let’s get into the list!


Image: No Tox Life

The Soap

No Tox Life’s solid dish soap bar is currently the best-selling (solid) zero waste alternative. Where similar soaps fall short, this bar performs.

Not Tox avoids palm oil, synthetic dyes, fragrances, phosphates, sulfates, SLS, and triclosan.

Instead, they mix up natural, biodegradable ingredients rated A by the EWG. This includes coconut-based surfactants and foaming agents from the soapbark tree. Those are your natural grease-cutters.

Then, the added aloe vera keeps your skin nourished. Many customers with sensitive skin claim this soap never bothers them.

To use this soap, lightly wet your sponge and give a quick rub or two over the block. Then, begin scrubbing your dishes. You’ll notice a rich, creamy lather take form and effortlessly rinse away grime.

But notice I said only a rub or two, which leads to the main drawback of this soap— It’ll leave a film on your dishes if you apply too much. So, only use a small amount.

When used correctly, this reusable dish soap block can last for months. It’ll replace about two standard bottles of dish soap.

Plus, it’s versatile! You can rid laundry stains, spot clean carpets, degrease ovens, and more.

Each block arrives in plastic-free, biodegradable packaging.

The Brand

A small, family-owned team runs No Tox Life, with Sandee Ferman and Callie Milford – mother and daughter – leading the pack.

They handcraft all their vegan and cruelty-free products right in Los Angeles, California.

Any other accessories they need comes straight from responsible manufacturers in the US, Canada, and Europe. This eco dish soap brand never touches plastic packaging, either.

Instead, they ship in biodegradable kraft paper envelopes. For padding, biodegradable cornstarch peanuts. Tape? It’s paper! They even reuse old Amazon boxes.

And best of all, No Tox Life donates extra soaps and hygiene products to Recycled Resources and Showers of Hope. These two non-profits support the homeless in LA.

Altogether, you can’t go wrong with this zero waste dish soap brand. With No Tox, you’re cutting waste, keeping your skin healthy, and giving back to those in need.

Available on Etsy and Amazon.

Other set options: Get a 2-pack here – or a 4-pack here.

—Both sets save you money over buying one block at a time, especially the 4-pack… You get four blocks for the price of three!


Image: Meliora

The Soap

Meliora’s zero waste dish soap doesn’t only leave your plates sparkling like fresh snow… The brand really shines after the sale.

But first, the soap. Meliora never touches that synthetic crap.

Instead, they mix a simple blend of organic coconut and sunflower seed oils. For their scented version, a dash of lemon essential oil.

This non-toxic combo births a firm bar that lathers great – cuts grease even better – and rinses off without soap films.

In fact, dish soap blocks often don’t cut oil as well as the liquid stuff, but I’ve noticed this block does just as well a job.

For super-greasy dishes, you’ll still benefit from a small drop of Dawn paired with Meliora. That’s the only drawback, but you’ll use tiny amounts of Dawn and reduce waste as a plus.

Plus, all ingredients are 100% biodegradable and score a solid A rating by the EWG. Few products ever score an A, so you know this stuff is legit.

To use it, lightly wet your sponge or brush, give one or two quick rubs on the block, then go to town. To soak extra-dirty pots and pans, hold the block under running water as you fill the pot. Done.

Depending on how often you wash dishes, you’ll gain months of cleaning from one bar. I’ve had a block for three months now, already replacing almost two medium-sized bottles of Dawn.  (But then again, I live alone.)

And this soap is a workhorse too—

One adventurous customer scrubbed dishes, bathed, and cleaned laundry while exploring the Grand Canyon. Thanks to this versatility, she packed light, cutting clutter and waste.

Plus, you can turn solid castile into liquid dish soap, too – you’ll see how later.

Best of all, Meliora’s dish soap ships in biodegradable containers made from paper.

The Brand

Meliora is a small, woman and family-owned business. They craft every Made Safe-certified product in Chicago with vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.

In fact, they’re certified by Leaping Bunny, a leading organization fighting against animal testing.

Not only that, but Meliora is a certified B Corp. They provide living wages to workers while creating truly low-impact products.

But here’s what I meant by “shines after the sale” – this ethical dish soap brand is a proud 1% for the Planet member.

Meliora donates 2% of every sale to environmental non-profits. With your help, they’re ridding toxic chemicals from products through corporate accountability.

Go ahead, check out their soaps, laundry powders, stain removers, and more – all follow Meliora’s strict zero waste standards.

Available on Amazon and EarthHero (EarthHero has carbon-neutral shipping).


Image: Sea Witch Botanicals

The Soap

You’re going to love this powerfully simple dish soap – and love the brand even more.

Just three biodegradable ingredients bring this block to life – without all the BS: No parabens, phthalates, SLS, synthetic fragrances, palm oil, or petroleum.

Nope. Instead, Sea Witch Botanicals mixes kaolin clay, fair trade coconut oil, and orange essential oil (a powerful degreaser with a light yet uplifting aroma).

With a good zero waste dish sponge and one or two quick rubs on the dish block – a little goes a long way…

Watch a rich, foamy lather appear as you scrub, cutting grease and leaving nothing but a light citrus scent and a conquered sink.

You’ll notice the orange essential oil doesn’t leave residue, either. One former No Tox Life customer had this to say, “I like this one better. It leaves less residue on dishes (in my experience), has fewer ingredients, and smells great.”

If you pair this block with a well-draining soap dish, it can last two months.

But you may burn through it faster – as this soap is versatile: Wash dishes, glass, countertops, fabric, makeup brushes, your body, and more!

With its versatility and compostable packaging, you’ll cut some serious waste with this product.

The Brand

Sea Witch Botanicals creates its products using wind and solar power. And, of course, they never ship with plastic.

Their ingredients are all fair trade, non-GMO, organic, cruelty-free, and vegan – certified by

Sea Witch Botanicals also earned a Toward Zero Waste certification. They do this by lowering landfill-destined waste.

But this brand doesn’t stop there… They’re both a certified B Corp and a 1% for the Planet member. So, Sea Witch (and technically, you) donate to eco non-profits, including Earthjustice, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Conservation Northwest, to name a few.

This is a brand you can feel good about purchasing from… They practice what they preach.

Available on Etsy.


Image: Nustad Family Ranch

The Soap

If you’re a sucker for classics (and, of course, low-waste soap), you’ll love Savon De Marseille. It’s one-of-a-kind.

Since 1688, soap makers in Marseille, France, have crafted this stuff by hand using ancient and natural methods… Before all that synthetic junk existed.

Instead, soap makers blend olive oil, alkaline ash from sea plants, and saltwater from the Mediterranean. Then, heat the mixture in antique cauldrons for ten days – cool, right?!

The result? A plant-based, vegan, cruelty-free, and biodegradable dish soap with a rich, creamy lather. And Savon De Marseille isn’t only dish soap, either…

It’s versatile stuff. You can:

Relentlessly strip dish dirt, wash your face, remove makeup, and even use the lather as a shaving cream – all without worrying about your skin.

The large concentration of olive oil leaves you hydrated and nourished, not dry and cracked. The more you use it, the softer your skin!

In fact, dermatologists recommend this brand for people with irritated skin, eczema, or psoriasis.

And don’t forget the added sea salt! It not only scrubs off grease but gently exfoliates your skin too.

When you order this soap, it arrives in 100% biodegradable packaging.

Pair each block with a soap holder and soap bag, and you’ll get a couple of plastic-free months from one bar.

Drawbacks: Some customers explain that the soap has a weird, tire shop-like smell. But that’s actually a good sign. It means there are no fragrances hidden away in the soap.

The Brand

Today, only five authentic Marseille soap makers remain in the world. They offer this olive oil soap bar, along with a lavender option.

Now, we know this zero waste dish soap roots back to at least 1688… But some traces date back to the 9th century!

When a product has been around for over 1000 years, it must be good enough to try at least once.

So, when you want a tried and true, plastic-free dish soap that leaves your hands softer after using it, here you go.

Available on Etsy and Amazon.

Other sizes: A small 5.3oz block on a rope (on the left in the picture above). Also available in a jumbo 14.1oz block here.


Image: Bestowed Essentials

The Soap

Bestowed Essentials is one of the most “in the trenches” brands I’ve discovered in a while. Plus, they churn out damn good, American-made dish soap too.

Bestowed hand-mixes each bar with olive and coconut oils, sodium hydroxide, and french green clay. (The sodium doesn’t remain in the finished soap.)

Then, they add the final ingredient – pacific sea salt, which helps scrub away food bits.

Many customers explain how concentrated this stuff is. This ties into the one drawback I see, which is the same as other soap blocks—

Too much soap leaves a residue, so only use a bit. And with this soap, a little really goes a long way.

Pair this 12oz block with a soap dish and soap bag; it’ll outlast several large bottles of Palmolive… So you’ll save a few bucks at least.

Of course, this soap is vegan and cruelty-free. Plus, free from sulfates, parabens, artificial preservatives, coloring, fragrances, and palm oil.

Use this castile to: Wash dishes, your body, laundry, your dog, mop floors, wipe countertops, wash windows, scrub your toilet, and a ton more!

And as mentioned above, you can prepare DIY liquid dish soap with castile bars – instructions later.

And this dish soap ships without packaging, fresh off the press.

The Brand

Callee, the founder, is a young US Navy veteran. After selling products from her campervan, she opened a zero waste store in Rapid City, South Dakota, called Hippie Haven Shop.

There, she offers reusable/ refillable products, a recycling drop-off service, educational workshops, a free book library, and more.

Bestowed sources all their ingredients locally in the US to reduce carbon emissions. Then, repurposes the shipping materials, while solar panels fuel the entire production.

And get this… Bestowed Essentials collects 1lb of beach trash for every new order!

Choose from all kinds of zero waste goodies at their store. Each product is vegan and cruelty-free – they even have certificates from PETA to prove it.

Plus, all orders ship either unpackaged or nestled in plastic-free packaging.

Available on EarthHero with carbon-neutral shipping.


Image: Butter Me Up Organics

The Soap

Remember when kids began eating Tide Pods on social media? (…I know, I’m trying to forget too).

Well, here’s one powdered dish soap concentrate that’s so clean and natural, it is edible – in small amounts, at least.

That’s right; this handmade powdered dish soap remains free from all that artificial, unhealthy baloney we discussed earlier.

Instead, this stuff contains only four simple (vegan and cruelty-free) ingredients: Washing Soda, Kosher Salt, Sodium Borate, and Non-GMO certified organic Citric Acid.

To use, add one tablespoon of powder to a full dishwasher load (this 1lb bag will last a WHILE).

Now, I’ve noticed some users aren’t happy with the level of cleanliness this soap produces. That’s the only drawback. But, using white vinegar as a rinse aid can solve that issue!

By doing so, many customers say that this powder cleans better than their old mainstream detergent.

Here’s what one customer had to say, “Not exaggerating but they came out better than cascade. I’ve been blown away by dish soap lol!”

But unlike Cascade, this detergent comes packaged in a biodegradable, undyed paper bag.

The Brand

Since starting in 2008, Butter Me Up Organics has put product quality before profit. Instead, they choose all-natural, pricier ingredients.

Then, bulk-buys those ingredients locally to reduce carbon emissions.

Their product line includes sustainable dish detergent, haircare, face soaps, body oils, and more. All products are vegan, cruelty-free, and handmade in Livermore, California.

Of course, the packaging is always plastic-free, using glass, tin, and paper instead.

To go a step further, they even use recycled paper for their shipping labels. In the office, employees work with upcycled furniture!

As you can see, Butter Me Up doesn’t just make great zero waste dish soap; they walk the walk, too.

Available on Etsy.


Image: Etee

The Soap

When you buy ordinary liquid dish soap, you’re paying 90% for water and single-use plastic. That’s wasted money and needless pollution.

Yet, with Etee’s concentrated soap pods, you pay for soap only.

Etee packs each pod with 40ml of unscented concentrate – enough to churn out a full bottle of liquid dish soap.

And this isn’t your regular concentrate, jam-packed with bizarre chemicals.

It’s free from palm oil, phosphates, parabens, SLS, synthetic fragrances, and dyes. (Their scented products use essential oils.)

Instead, these pods contain a plant-derived, vegan, and cruelty-free formula that’s entirely biodegradable.

Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Pour 12.5oz of tap water into any old jar or bottle, then stir in one pod of concentrate with a spoon.
  • Step 2: Cover the bottle and shake until all ingredients mix.
  • Step 3: Let the mixture sit for an hour before use.

Voila! Now you have a fresh bottle of non-toxic, zero waste dish soap. Simply squirt a dab on a sponge and get scrubbing.

And because each pod brews a full 13.5oz bottle, you can expect this 7-pack to last for many months. Etee offers 4-packs and 10-packs as well. Just picture all that plastic and chemical exposure you’ll avoid!

After mixing a batch, chuck the pod right into your trash can or compost bin. It’s entirely plastic-free and biodegradable.

The pods arrive nestled in a biodegradable paper box, too. Chuck it in your recycling bin, compost heap, or the regular trash without concern.

The Brand

Everything from Etee’s ingredients down to the packaging is eco-friendly.

Products, tape, envelopes, stuffing, and all other packaging comes from recycled, compostable materials.

Plus, Etee partners with Hue Man Race, an organization fighting race inequality. They’ve also donated over 23,000 masks since Covid hit, plus Etee continuously donates proceeds to feed the hungry.

They offer several unique products like plastic-free wax food wraps, zero waste toothpaste tablets, and other cool stuff… All made in Canada.

Available on Amazon and Etsy.


Image: Cleancult

The Soap & Service

Not interested in solid dish soap blocks? Then check out Cleancult’s dish soap refills – an innovative way to tackle the plastic problem.

Now you might think, “wait a minute, aren’t we trying to avoid packaged liquid dish soap?” Normally, yes.

But these cartons are 100% recyclable – made from paper and aluminum with a plant-based cap.

Now, the cartons do contain a thin PE liner (the only one on this page), but this is the most widely recyclable type of plastic.

And get this – If your local recycling center does not accept PE (very unlikely), Cleancult recycles it for you.


They send you a prepaid mailer through their free Recycle Back program. Once Cleancult receives your carton, they turn it into tissues and paper towels!

I love how you can refill/ reuse existing soap dispensers at home. Or, pair your carton with Cleancult’s awesome refillable dish soap bottle.

The company even has a membership service. You can set up recurring deliveries, able to pause, adjust, or cancel your plan at any time. This makes zero waste living automatic on your part!

But what about the ingredients? Of course, this soap is entirely free from all the fake, nasty stuff we mentioned earlier.

Instead, Cleancult mixes up a powerful, plant-based, US-made formula.

With CocoClean technology, the effective coconut degreasers destroy grime, while the olive oil and aloe hydrate your skin.

Plus, this soap degrades (quickly) after heading down the drain… With no collateral damage.

But, I’ve noticed it takes a bit more soap to get comparable cleaning/ foaming action as Dawn, but that’s mainly due to the absence of SLS. That’s the only “drawback” I see.

One customer had this to say: “This dish soap cuts through grease and grime better than the normal name brand I always used before. This stuff smells so good! It’s tough on the dishes, but gentle on the skin.”

To create this wonderful Lemongrass scent, Cleancult uses essential oils only. They offer Blue Sage, Grapefruit Basil, and Sweet Honeysuckle scents too.

The Brand

Behind Cleancult stands a team of Ph.D. scientists based in Puerto Rico. They’re passionate about developing innovative, zero waste solutions.

Cleancult also partners with to plant trees for each shipment they send out. So you’ll feel great knowing your deliveries are 100% carbon-neutral.

And all of their products are vegan and cruelty-free, certified by Leaping Bunny. Plus, they have a dog-friendly office (I wouldn’t mind working there)!

Available on Amazon.

Other options: Check out Cleancult’s combo pack. It includes their refillable glass soap dispenser and two bottles of cleaner at a slight discount.

If you want to try a different brand, Eco Pod Shop on Etsy offers affordable dish soap refill pouches.


Image: Plantish Future

Why you need a zero waste dish kit:

Dish soap isn’t the only zero waste swap to consider. Have you thought about the actual gear you scrub with? You should.

Most dish sponges and brushes today are made from polyester and polyurethane – petroleum-based plastics.

Manufacturing them releases tons of wastewater and pollution. In fact, nylon and polyester production emits nitrous oxide (laughing gas) into the atmosphere.

According to the New York Times, “As a greenhouse gas, on a per molecule basis, nitrous oxide is 200 times worse than carbon dioxide.”

That’s just in production; how about afterward?

Sponges have a 2-3 week lifespan. So most households burn through at least 20 per year. And they’re not recyclable.

So, sponges end up littering landfills and the environment for thousands of years. Not to mention their thin, single-use plastic packaging that kills wildlife daily.

See why zero waste dishwashing tools are so essential?

That’s where Plantish Future’s biodegradable cleaning tool kit comes in! It’s the perfect one-stop solution to cut kitchen waste (and add some flair to your sink).

You score:

  • 1 sisal dish brush
  • 2 sisal brush refill heads
  • 1 sisal & palm pot scrubber
  • 1 plastic-free soap brick (all-natural, made from coconut and olive oil)
  • 1 flat loofah sponge
  • 3 bamboo washcloths
  • 1 coconut bottle brush
  • 1 brush cleaner.
  • And a soap dish duo (loofah + bamboo tray).

And all of that comes wrapped in biodegradable, plastic-free packaging.

But why buy a jumbo kit?

Well, if you snag all of these accessories separately, you’ll end up paying more… Not to mention the hassle of scanning countless product pages.

Here’s one customer who sums this kit up perfectly:

“All the essentials you’ll need to get started with low waste cleaning! I was trying to piece these items together from a variety of online sites but couldn’t find all of what I needed and the items also weren’t quite right.”

Available on Etsy in four different size sets: The XL set (pictured), or choose from smallmedium, or large.

If you don’t want a jumbo set, but rather 1-2 pieces, check out the zero waste dishwashing accessories section below.

How to Make DIY Liquid Dish Soap

DIY Liquid Dish Soap Dispenser

Here’s an easy way to make liquid dish soap using a solid block of castile (#2 Meliora and #5 Bestowed Essentials above).

Along with a dish soap bar, you’ll need washing soda (not baking soda), water, and essential oils of your choice (if you want scent).

This recipe yields about 16-18oz of soap. A big thanks to Zero Waste Chef for the idea!


  1. Shred your castile block with a cheese grater until you have 3 tablespoons of soap shreds.
  2. Pour 2 cups of water into a pot, turn on the heat (medium) and add the shredded castile soap.
  3. Once the soap fully melts, remove the pot from heat.
  4. Stir in 1 teaspoon of washing soda until dissolved.
  5. Cover the pot and set the mixture aside for several hours or overnight. (If the soap becomes too solid, blend it with a beater or whisk to liquefy it before continuing to Step 6).
  6. (Not necessary): If you want a scent, stir in 15 drops of essential oil until mixed.
  7. The soap is done. Pour it into any desired container, bottle, or jar.

Top 5 (individual) Sustainable Dish Soap Accessories


Maybe you don’t want a jumbo zero waste kit…

Perhaps you just want a simple dish soap bar and brush combo instead?

If so, here are the top 5 (separate) sustainable dish soap accessories. Each plant-based, biodegradable tool pairs beautifully with the soaps above.

And a few have naturally antibacterial properties – a huge plus. Because, believe it or not, traditional sponges are dirtier than you imagine.

Scientific Reports found that dish sponges breed more bacteria than your toilet!

Eco-friendly Dish Sponge

Pair these eco-friendly sponges from Juturna Studios with a block of castile, and you gain a versatile cleaning combo.

They’re soft enough to exfoliate your skin safely yet plenty rugged to scrub dishes clean.

And thanks to coming from the loofah plant (basically a squash), these sponges are 100% biodegradable!

Juturna handcrafts each one in the USA and ships using plastic-free, biodegradable packaging.

Eco-friendly Dish Cloth

Hemp is a super versatile material, so I’m not surprised JoyintheHome stitches these eco-friendly dishcloths with it.

And it’s a wise decision.

Not only is hemp biodegradable and sustainable, but it’s also more absorbent than cotton. Plus, hemp has excellent natural antibacterial properties.

So it’ll hold more suds, clean easier, and it’s less likely to stink!

JoyintheHome crafts these dishcloths right in the USA. Choose from unbleached hemp/ cotton blends and hemp/ bamboo blends. Hemp/ bamboo has a softer feel.

You can use these washable cloths for dishes, countertops, and even to replace paper towels – cutting waste and saving cash!

Eco-friendly Dish Brush

Use these eco-friendly dish brushes to rid stubborn messes with ease. I scrub my cast iron pan with them after messy meals.

They’re 100% plastic-free with rounded sustainable bamboo handles up top.

On the bottom sits firm coconut fiber bristles.

So the brush is entirely biodegradable – unlike those wood-handled yet plastic-bristled scrubbers.

Not only plastic-free, but the coconut fiber bristles have antibacterial properties. Of course, you still need to clean your brush (if only we were so lucky), but they won’t stink as often.

Zero Waste Soap Bag

No zero waste dish soap block is complete without a good soap bag. Here’s why…

The soap bars above do not contain any sodium lauryl sulfate (thank goodness). But, as a consequence, they don’t lather as well. That’s where soap bags help.

These soap bags from Eco Roots Shop increase lather and improve the scrub for easier cleaning.

Plus, the bag keeps your bar secure in one place when it gets small – extending the usable lifespan of your soap. So, you’ll save money on order frequency.

Best of all, Eco Roots uses 100% biodegradable sisal fiber to weave these bags. Sisal comes from the agave plant – the same plant used to distill tequila!

Zero Waste Soap Dish

If you’re not planning to turn your solid dish block into liquid, you’ll need a good soap dish.


There are no preservatives in the above soap blocks. So, the soap will turn moldy if it’s always soaked. Not to mention the soap scud mess around your sink :/ (and who wants more cleaning to do?).

So check out this handmade Canadian bamboo soap holder with bottom water catch (it’s 100% plastic-free).

The two-layer design features a top drying rack that rests inside of a bottom water catch

A double win. The top layer holds the soap while the bottom catches all the drained moisture.

So, your soap dries out after use – prolonging its lifespan, preventing mold, and shielding your countertops.

Why bamboo? It has a tighter grain than wood, which repels moisture better and prevents cracking and splitting. So it’ll last longer.

Plus, (of course), it’s biodegradable.

Here’s what ISN’T Zero Waste Dish Soap

… chemicals and brands to avoid – and why

dish soap bottle with red x

Each sustainable dish soap above has two critical things in common:

An absence of plastic and a lack of certain ingredients.

Of course, the absence of plastic is crucial for true zero-waste dish soap. But, considering a vital part of zero waste involves protecting the environment, we needed to look at ingredients.

See, I told you we’d come back to this!

For example, above, you kept seeing: “Free from synthetic fragrances, preservatives, petroleum/ palm oil-based surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), phosphates, triclosan, etc.”

Let’s explore these common ingredients in more detail below. We’ll answer two questions for each:

1. What is it? 2. How does it harm the environment?

  • Synthetic fragrances: Non-specific ingredients containing over 3000 unique (and undisclosed) chemicals. The EWG grades this category a D as the chemicals do not biodegrade. And they’re “Highly Toxic to Aquatic Life” when washed down the drain. It also produces skin allergies.
  • Preservatives: Methylisothiazolinone is a common preservative used in dish soaps to prevent mold. It scores a D in the EWG rating system for being “Very Toxic to Aquatic Life.” Plus, it causes skin irritation and contact dermatitis.
  • Surfactants: Used to create rich lathers and cut grease. These can be made from either petroleum or palm oil. After surfactants rush down the drain, they can reduce the oxygen in the water. Also, they break down the protective mucus layer that coats fish, severely harming aquatic animals.
  • Palm oil: Due to the issues around using petroleum (a non-renewable resource) for surfactants, many companies use palm oil. This leads you to believe it’s better, being “plant-based.” But palm oil production accounts for massive deforestation. It destroys the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan and pygmy elephant, according to
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): A common surfactant made from palm oil used to create rich lathers and cut grease. It scores a C by the EWG for “Aquatic Toxicity to Fish.”
  • Phosphates: Used to strip food and grease from dishes. It causes harmful algal bloom after it’s washed down the drain. This algae radically lowers oxygen levels in natural waters, killing organisms.
  • Triclosan: This is an antibacterial agent used in soaps to reduce bacteria. It scores a big fat F in the EWG system, considered “Very Toxic to Aquatic Life with Long Lasting Effects.”

The chemicals above are present in most dish soaps, even in some surprising brands.

For example, some “green” dish soap brands like Seventh Generation and Method use SLS.

Method Lemon Mint, for example, scores an F in the EWG for a slew of troubling chemicals.

Also, many Dawn products rate D in the EWG. They contain petroleum-based surfactants, synthetic dyes and fragrances, methylisothiazolinone, and other chemicals.

In fact, even Dawn Pure Essentials, a supposed natural version, scores a D.

Palmolive is another brand using palm oil surfactants (Side note: the brand name almost spells palm oil, too!).

Are you wondering why you need to know this?

Because understanding these chemicals will help you shop more consciously. From now on, you can scan soap labels and identify the bad stuff. Just look for any of these ingredients.

Plus, you have a better understanding of the products above.


If you’re still using traditional dish soap, it’s time to switch.

Both the long-term environmental impacts and chemical exposure are just too significant. It isn’t worth the convenience of saving a few bucks.

Here, you found nine sustainable dish soap alternatives that clean dishes just as well – without the environmental (and health) impact.

So, which zero waste dish soap will you choose?

Will you try plastic-free dish soap blocks instead of the traditional liquid stuff? What are your thoughts on DIY liquid dish soaps?

Leave us a reply!

P.S. Now that you’ve eliminated wasteful dish soap from your home, have you thought about your dinnerware?

What’s the point in choosing ethical soaps when your dinnerware contributes to massive environmental harm?

Check out our eco-friendly dinnerware guide! In it, you’ll find nine brands and marketplaces to buy the most ethical, artisan-made dinnerware out there.

Adam Heck
Adam Heck

Adam - the author and TGL founder - has a background in product research and design. For years, he's successfully created, produced, and sold eco-friendly, sustainable kitchenware in all fifty states. When he's not reading, cooking, or lifting, he's helping families level up their kitchen and dining gear with relevant blog posts.

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