Zero Waste Dish Soap – here is my personal reasons why you should try this!
Have you ever wondered how exactly companies make soaps that remove grime and dirt so well?
Do you ever ask yourself if your dish soap is safe for you and your family to touch every single day several times a day?
How about if it’s safe for the environment? Probably not, and I don’t blame you.
Who thinks that much about dish soap, much less zero waste dish soap?
Good news is, I investigated a lot of green brands out there and curated this list of safe, Earth-friendly dish soaps.
I also tried out several DIY zero waste dish soap ideas, and added the most successful one below.
Part of living a zero waste lifestyle means knowing what my products are made of.
So naturally, I thought, what better way to be sure than making my own?
Here’s my take on an easy-to-make and natural homemade dish soap.
Homemade Dish Soap
Note: I made this recipe in bulk, but you can adjust the ingredients as needed. Feel free to make alterations too based on what ingredients you have at home.
- 6 tbs bar soap, grated
- 2 tsp of washing soda (See instructions below for making your own washing soda.)
- 20 drops essential oil (for scent)
- 4 cups water
Before we get to making the actual dish soap, let’s check off our ingredients list.
First, the grated soap. Most people use castile soap. It’s an olive oil-based soap that’s proven safe for cleaning around the house. It’s available in bulk soap bars and liquid form. The catch is, liquid soaps usually come in plastic containers. Of course, you can always recycle these containers, but when there’s a plastic-free alternative, the choice is easy.
Second, the washing soda. Making your own washing soda is actually surprisingly easy. First, shake out a thick layer of baking soda onto a baking sheet. Set the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the soda for one hour and stir several times. Once the mixture has cooled off, put away what you don’t need in a safe container like a lidded glass jar.
I’ll tell you, it’s nice to have a ready-made container of washing soda. I have a glass jar container for different homemade cleaner recipes. I’ve used it to take out stains from dishes and clothes. What can I say, I love multipurpose products–they save me time, money, and effort.
The thing about washing soda is it will give your soap a little more kick. You can also use regular baking soda, but you might need a little more product to tackle the same amount of dirt. And remember, the more washing soda you add, the thicker your soap will be.
Tip: you can purchase washing soda from the store if you want to make the recipe ASAP.
Third, the essential oils. This part is optional, but essential oils are a nice add-in if you want a specific oil either for scent or another purpose. For instance, you could add rosehip oil for extra skin hydration. On the other hand, you can infuse your soap with lavender oil to make a vegan dish soap that’s soothing for your skin and mind.
Now, let’s get on with the magic formula:
- Pour water into a pot and heat until hot.
- Mix in the grated soap until melted, then take the pot off the stove.
- Next, mix in the washing soda and let the mixture sit out until the next morning.
- Then stir in the essential oil drops and transfer the mixture into a soap dispenser. Save the rest for refills.
This is a great opportunity to buy a reusable dispenser like a glass jar with a steel pump. (Try a secondhand shop before buying brand-new.)
Cutting out another plastic item? Yes, please!
It’s also helpful to mention that the texture comes out to a thick liquid soap, but if you prefer a more watery mixture, simply add more water. On the more extreme side, if the soap turns into a solid or really thick liquid, add warm water or blend it in a machine if possible.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve turned out some thick batches when I’ve made this recipe. That’s the thing about homemade soaps–they won’t always be perfect because the ingredients aren’t held together by synthetic chemicals to keep it smooth at all times.
It’s a small tradeoff for natural ingredients though, right? One trick I’ve learned is to leave a little room in the dispenser for warm soap so I can just shake up the soap if it gets too thick.
Premade dish soaps you can buy today
Admittedly, DIY dish soaps aren’t for everyone. If you prefer to support green businesses instead, I highly recommend two great products below.
Check out Fillaree’s dish soap, which is made of natural ingredients like coconut oil and a plant-based thickener instead of sulfates. It’s available in citrus and unscented options, but either way, this soap made my hands feel so soft.
Beyond that, the best thing about this company is their refill subscription program.
How does it work? First try out a small 16-ounce glass bottle sample to see if you like it. Then you can join their subscription program online.
Fillaree offers dish soap, body wash, and multipurpose spray. For this instance, you’d choose their Clean Plate Club Dish Soap first. If you’re satisfied, then you order a 32-ounce jug to refill the original bottle every one, two, three, or six months.
Once that refill is done, you send it back, (they pay for shipping and label!), they clean and refill it, and send it back to you. To top it off, their plastic-free packaging is compostable.
Yes, it’s true! I admire their commitment to a green approach as much as I enjoy their vegan dish soap. If you’re concerned about the carbon costs of shipping, you can visit any one of their retailers instead.
I haven’t participated in their mail-in subscription program, but I have gone to some of their retail partners to refill my bottle. I thought it would be messy and awkward, but all the staff are very helpful and most of them personally use the product too.
It’s super simple, and hassle-free. I would say one 16-ounce bottle will probably last the average family a few weeks. This means it’s even more worth it to subscribe if you have a large family.
You don’t have to keep buying soap in disposable plastic bottles anymore. Lastly,you can enjoy spotless dishes without worrying about water pollution or skin irritating chemicals.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer a solid zero waste dish soap bar, I can’t say enough good things about this zero waste dish washing block.
I know what you’re thinking, a solid bar dish soap? At first, it sounds like it wouldn’t be very good for washing dishes. I thought the same thing, but this dish soap bar proved me wrong.
The best thing about the No Tox Life washing block is you can use it for other cleaning purposes besides dishes.
It also lasts a long time–mine lasted a couple months. I’ve used it to clean my kitchen countertops and oven range. They recommend that you use warm water for best results, and I’ve found that that’s true. Warm water made it easier for me to rub a cloth onto the bar and make suds.
What’s more, it’s fragrance-free, so it won’t leave you dizzy even if you use it to clean your whole kitchen. It’s also gentle enough to use on clothes for stains. Trust me when I say you’ll prefer using this soap bar on clothes instead of industrial cleaners that dry out your hands and wear out your clothes quicker.
The secret to making this soap bar last even longer is using a soft cloth sponge or something similar. I use a soft plant-based loofah, an wooden dish brush and a scrubber to clean dishes and a cloth sponge for cleaning surfaces.
I’ve heard that rough sponges tend to scrape off too much at once and can waste more soap than you need.
Why would you want to waste your money?
Another step you can take to extend the soap bar’s life is investing in a wooden soap dish that lets water escape. I’m sure you’re familiar with soap dishes that collect water and melt your soap. Not to mention hoard tons of bacteria!
Bottom line is, you can maximize a solid dish soap using the right tools without buying extra strength detergent.
Honestly, it’s strong enough dish soap and for a 7.5-ounce bar, it will go a long way.
Before I started making my own dish soap, these two were my go-tos. They were very effective and to top it off, the companies that supplied them were dedicated to making truly environmentally-friendly products.
A zero waste dish soap reduces water pollution and protects your skin.
Obviously, the biggest flaw with traditional dish soaps is the plastic containers they come in.
What about what they’re made of?
You might already know that mainstream dish soap companies use chemicals to create foamy products.
The only problem?
These chemicals aren’t gentle on your skin. Moreover, they contaminate waterways like rivers and oceans. What’s worse, the polluted waterways poison fish and other organisms.
Once upon a time, companies used phosphates generously. What’s the big deal with phosphates?
Basically, this mineral strengthens traditional dish soaps through various chemical reactions with water. Its main purpose is to eliminate hard minerals from your water source so the rest of the ingredients can do their jobs more efficiently. It’s helpful, but phosphates have big consequences.
Phosphorus is food for algae.
Fact: when algae suddenly have too much to eat, they take over bodies of water. Typically, algae aren’t used to having so much food available. And what’s worse? This massive algae growth kills off other organisms like fish and plants.
Luckily, companies have been phasing out phosphates for the past few decades. But other chemicals in common dish soap brands remain problematic. They hurt the natural environment and your body.
Here’s a relevant example. You can find Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS in a lot of dish soap ingredient lists. Essentially, it makes soaps foam up. People are split on SLS but fact is, it irritates your skin by stripping away natural oils. This means if you already have sensitive skin, products with SLS can make it worse.
Think I’m exaggerating? I wish!
So reconsider traditional dish soaps. They give the illusion of stronger cleaning power, but home-made dish soaps are just as effective.
If you had a chance to try out our DIY dish soap, please let us know how it went for you! Share your helpful tips to improve our recipe so we can spread the word.