Posted on

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

Disclosure: Our reviews stay ad-free as they're entirely reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. This revenue helps us test products and develop quality content.

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

Yet, dish soap that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle is 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. This stuff assaults the environment from multiple angles, not to mention the abuse to our skin… More on that later.

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

The Tgl team researched and reviewed tons of low-waste soap options, ending up with the top nine— You’ll find them below. Or, jump straight to our #1 dish soap bar or #1 liquid detergent pick.

We’ll cover the five essential zero waste soap accessories toward the end. And finally, the brands to avoid moving forward (and how to tell if any soap is eco-friendly).

Let’s get started.

Top 9 Sustainable, Plastic-Free Dish Soap Brands Reviewed

…& how we chose

Collage of the top plastic free dish soap options

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

  • Packaging: Each option below comes in biodegradable packaging or is unpackaged altogether (minus the shipping envelope). At a minimum, the packing is entirely recyclable. 
  • Ingredients: We steered clear from petroleum-based, non-renewable surfactants. We also avoid synthetic fragrances, dyes, phosphates, preservatives, sulfates, parabens, SLS, and triclosan. Palm oil is another ingredient you won’t find below (production accounts for massive deforestation). Jump to the end for a complete list of chemicals to avoid.
  • 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 making a difference in the world.
  • Cost Efficiency: Most liquid dish soaps are 90% water and packaged in single-use plastic. Water and plastic add size and weight, increasing shipping costs and carbon footprint. But you don’t *waste a cent on logistics with the concentrated dish soap blocks, powders, and liquids below. You pay for soap only.

   – *Mainstream liquid detergents take 5x more energy to create and 20x more for packaging than zero waste options – Conservation Magazine.


No Tox Life

The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

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.

The brand avoids using palm oil, synthetic dyes, fragrances, phosphates, sulfates, SLS, and triclosan.

Instead, they mix up natural, biodegradable ingredients rated A by the EWG. These include 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 bothered them.

To use this soap, lightly wet your sponge and rub it once or twice on the block. Then, begin scrubbing your dishes. You’ll notice a rich, creamy lather take form.

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. More doesn’t equal better! I’ve found just a little bit is all you need.

When used correctly, this reusable dish soap block lasts a few 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.

Packaging & Brand Ethics

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 soaps in Los Angeles, California. Any other accessories come straight from responsible US, Canada, and European manufacturers.

This eco dish soap brand never touches plastic packaging, either. Instead, they ship their soap blocks 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 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: Available in a 2-pack and 4-pack.



The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

Meliora’s dish soap block 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 stuff.

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 good.

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 achieve an A rating, so you know this stuff is legit.

For general use, lightly wet your sponge, give one or two quick rubs on the block, then go to town. Hold the block under running water as you fill the pot to soak extra-dirty pots and pans. Scrub, then rinse.

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.

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Meliora is a small, woman and family-owned business. They craft every Made Safe-certified product in Chicago with vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. They’re Leaping Bunny-certified, a leading organization fighting against animal testing.

This brand is a certified B Corp, too. Meliora provides living wages to workers while creating truly low-impact products.

But here’s what I meant earlier: “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.

And, of course, Meliora’s dish soap ships in plastic-free, biodegradable paper containers! Want even less packaging? Grab their zero-waste package-free bar!

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).


Sea Witch Botanicals

The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

You’ll love this powerfully simple dish soap – and love the brand even more.

Just three biodegradable ingredients bring their soap 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.

I’ve noticed the orange essential oil formula prevents residue better than No Tox Life’s soap bar. This former No Tox Life customer said, “I like this one better. It leaves less residue on dishes (in my experience), has fewer ingredients, and smells great.” I can’t disagree.

If you pair their 4 oz 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!

Plus, you can pair Canary Clean with Sea Witch’s Produce Wash soap bar to ensure your fresh veggies are clean before consumption.

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Sea Witch Botanicals creates its products using wind and solar power. Their ingredients are all fair trade, non-GMO, organic, cruelty-free, and vegan – certified by

They also earned a Toward Zero Waste certification by significantly 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) donates to eco non-profits, including the EWG, Earthjustice, and Conservation Northwest, to name a few.

This is a brand you can feel good about purchasing from. And between Sea Witch’s versatility and compostable packaging, you’ll cut some serious waste using their products.

Available direct from Sea Witch Botanicals.



The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

If you’re a sucker for classics (and low-waste soap), you’ll love Savon De Marseille.

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 Mediterranean saltwater. Then, heat the mixture in antique cauldrons for ten days… The result?

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.

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

Now, one “drawback” is the earthy scent, which may turn some people off. But that “earthiness” is a good sign; it means no synthetic fragrances are hiding in the soap! Go with their lavender soap bar for a better scent.

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Today, only five authentic Marseille soap makers remain in the world. Along with olive and vegetable oil formulas, you can find Marseille in pleasant-smelling honey, clay, lemon, and lavender essential oil bars! All soaps are made in France.

We know this soap has existed since 1688. And some traces even date back to the 9th century! When a product endures hundreds, even thousands of years, it must be worth trying.

So, when you want a tried and true soap that leaves your hands softer after using it, here you go. This soap ships without packaging once ordered (except for the mailer).

Available on Etsy.


Bestowed Essentials

The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

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

This brand 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, to help 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. A little really goes a long way.

Pair this 12 oz block with a soap dish and bag; it’ll outlast several bottles of Palmolive. So you can 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.

Uses for this Castile soap: Wash dishes, laundry, your dog, mop floors, wipe countertops, wash windows, scrub your toilet, and more! While you can also use this soap on your body, Bestowed Essentials’ green tea/ eucalyptus soap is ideal.

As mentioned above, you can also prepare DIY liquid dish soap with Castile bars – instructions later.

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Callee, the founder, is a US Navy veteran.

After selling products from her campervan, she opened Hippie Haven Shop – a zero waste store in Rapid City, South Dakota. 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. The brand repurposes shipping materials, while solar panels fuel their entire production. And they collect 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. Or, order online! All products ship either unpackaged or nestled in plastic-free packaging.

Available on EarthHero with carbon-neutral shipping.


Butter Me Up Organics

The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

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

Well, here’s one dish soap concentrate that’s so clean and natural, it is edible in small amounts (technically – but I still wouldn’t!). That’s right; this handmade powdered dish soap remains free from all that artificial nonsense we discussed earlier.

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

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

Now, I found this zero-waste soap (by itself) slightly less effective than others. That’s the only drawback.

But, customers discovered that white vinegar (used as a rinse aid) solves that problem. Paired with vinegar, this powder detergent cleans just as well as the mainstream stuff – without the waste. One customer said, “Not exaggerating but they came out better than cascade. I’ve been blown away by dish soap lol!”

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Since starting in 2008, Butter Me Up Organics has put product quality before profit. Instead, they choose pricier, all-natural ingredients bought locally in bulk to reduce carbon emissions.

Their product line includes sustainable dish detergent, haircare, face soaps, body oils, and more. You can also give their solid soap bar a try for handwashing dishes. All products are vegan, cruelty-free, and handmade in Livermore, California.

Of course, the packaging is always plastic-free – using glass, tin, and undyed biodegradable paper instead. The brand even uses recycled paper for shipping labels. And office employees work with upcycled furniture!

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

Available on Etsy.



The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

When you buy ordinary liquid dish soap, 90% of your cost is water and single-use plastic packaging. Yet, with Etee’s concentrated soap pods, you pay for soap only.

Etee pods contain 40 ml of unscented concentrate – enough to churn out a full 13.5 oz bottle of liquid dish soap.

And this isn’t your regular concentrate that’s 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, biodegradable, and cruelty-free formula.

Here’s how it works, step-by-step:

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

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

Etee sells their pods individually (great for testing it out) up to long-lasting 9-packs. And each pod brews a full soap bottle, so you can expect months of cleaning from one set.

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

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Everything from Etee’s ingredients down to the packaging is eco-friendly and compostable. Tape, envelopes, stuffing, and all packaging come from plastic-free, recycled materials.

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 other unique products like plastic-free wax food wraps, zero waste toothpaste tablets, and more. Etee makes all its products in Canada.

Available direct from Etee.



The Soap (Ingredients, Features, & Usage)

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

Now, one might ask, 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.

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 suppose your local recycling center does not accept PE (very unlikely)… In that case, Cleancult recycles it for you through their free Recycle Back program!

Using this product, I love how you can refill/ reuse existing soap dispensers at home. You can even set up recurring deliveries (cancel anytime), so you always have refills on hand!

But what about the ingredients? Cleancult mixes up a powerful, plant-based, US-made formula. Simple yet effective, the coconut degreasers destroy grime, while olive oil and aloe hydrate your skin. Plus, this soap degrades quickly after heading down the drain.

But I’ve noticed it takes a little more soap to get cleaning/ foaming action comparable to Dawn; that’s the only “drawback” I see. However, this is due to the absence of unhealthy SLS.

Cleancult uses essential oils only for their scented detergents – no synthetic fragrances. Along with Lemongrass, they offer Blue Sage, Grapefruit Basil, and Sweet Honeysuckle scents. For your dishwasher, check out their highly-rated zero-waste Eco Tabs!

Packaging & Brand Ethics

Behind Cleancult stands a team of Ph.D. scientists based in Puerto Rico. The brand 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 Leaping Bunny-certified vegan and cruelty-free. Plus, they have a dog-friendly office!

Available on Amazon.


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 your cleaning gear?

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

Manufacturing these materials emits wastewater and pollution into the atmosphere, including nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The New York Times reports, “As a greenhouse gas, on a per molecule basis, nitrous oxide is 200 times worse than carbon dioxide.”

That’s in production; what about later on?

Sponges have a 2-3 week lifespan, so dozens get thrown away yearly per family. And they’re not recyclable or biodegradable.

So, sponges sit in landfills (and the environment) for thousands of years. Plus, their single-use plastic packaging kills wildlife daily through ingestion and suffocation.

This is why zero waste dishwashing tools are essential. And Plantish Future’s biodegradable cleaning tool kit has you covered! It’s the perfect one-stop solution to cut kitchen waste. 

Available in various configurations, the XL set includes:

  • 1 Sisal Dish Brush
  • 2 Sisal Brush Refill Heads
  • 1 Sisal & Palm Pot Scrubber
  • 1 Soap Brick (370g)
  • 1 Flat Loofah Sponge
  • 2 Grey Swedish Sponge Cloths
  • 1 Coconut Bottle Brush
  • 1 Brush Cleaner
  • 1 Dual Layer Bamboo Soap Dish

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

This jumbo zero waste kit saves time and cash.

Available on Etsy in five set sizes: The XL set (pictured), or choose from small, medium, large, or the complete XXL set!

Check out the zero waste dishwashing accessories section below if you prefer 1-2 pieces over a jumbo set.

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 16-18 oz 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’re looking for a simple dish soap bar and brush combo instead?

If so, here are the top five 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!

Dish Sponge

Pair this eco-friendly sponge with a block of Castile, and you gain a versatile cleaning combo.

Juturna Studios creates these sponges from the loofah plant (basically a squash). As a result, they’re 100% biodegradable! Plus, the unique texture is soft enough for gentle skin exfoliation yet rugged to scrub the dirtiest dishes clean.

Juturna handcrafts its dish accessories in the USA and ships using plastic-free, biodegradable packaging.

Dish Cloth

Hemp is super versatile, so I’m not surprised Joy in the Home uses it to stitch these eco-friendly dishcloths. And it’s a wise decision…

Not only is hemp biodegradable and sustainable, but it’s more absorbent than cotton. Plus, hemp is naturally antibacterial.

So these dishcloths will hold more suds, clean and dry dishes more effectively, and repel odor!

This brand produces its dish products right in the USA. Choose from unbleached hemp/ cotton blends or a hemp/ bamboo version (the bamboo blend is softer).

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

Dish Brush

Use these eco-friendly dish brushes to cut 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 scrubbers with plastic bristles.

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.

Soap Bag

No dish soap block is complete without a good soap bag. Why? The soap bars above do not contain any sodium lauryl sulfate (thank goodness). As a result, they don’t lather as well.

That’s where soap bags help. They increase lather and enhance the scrub for easier cleaning. Plus, the bag keeps your bar secure in one place as it shrinks – extending its usable lifespan and saving you cash.

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

Soap Dish

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

There are no preservatives in the above soap blocks. So, they’ll turn moldy if left soaking wet all the time. And not to mention the soap scud mess around your sink.

This handmade, 100% plastic-free bamboo soap holder is your savior. Made in Canada, its two-layer design features a top drying rack that rests inside a bottom water catch.

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 and repels moisture better. It’s also less likely to crack or split, so it’ll last longer. And it’s biodegradable, of course!

Dish Soap to Avoid (& 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.

Picture of Adam Heck
Adam Heck

Hi there! I'm Adam, author and founder of TGL. Since 2016, I've produced and sold non-toxic kitchenware throughout the US. Today, I'm using my passion and experience in sustainable product manufacturing to help families avoid unsafe reusable foodware. When I'm not writing, you'll find me hiking or camping throughout Appalachia!

Enjoyed this post? Share it with your friends!

FREE Guide

Non-Toxic Kitchenware Checklist

Get a step-by-step product guide with insider tips & tricks for the safest kitchen possible!