Home & Garden Home The 9 Best Eco-Friendly Dish Soaps of 2023 A few drops for a squeaky and sustainable clean. By Lorraine Wilde Lorraine Wilde Lorraine Wilde is a freelance writer for Treehugger. She is the Owner and Strategist of the public relations and content company Wilde World Communications. Learn about our editorial process Updated January 18, 2023 Home Natural Cleaning Pest Control DIY Family Green Living Thrift & Minimalism Sustainable Eating We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Treehugger / Chloe Jeong Choosing an eco-friendly dish soap is an easy step you can take towards protecting our waterways. We’ve put together this list of some top-rated, widely available environmentally-responsible soaps to help you make this simple, positive transition. In general, we’ve chosen dish soaps that are chlorine and phosphate-free to protect the environment, and naturally scented or fragrance-free for those with sensitive noses and/or skin. Most brands are also available in scented form. We’ve also considered the rating (where available) by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) who ranks products based on the toxicity of their chemical ingredients. As you’ll discover if you spend time on the research, it is difficult to find a quality detergent whose ingredients are all “A’s” so keep that in mind as you choose your favorites. Here are the best eco-friendly dish soaps, according to our research and tests. The Rundown Best Overall: Puracy Natural Dish Soap at Walmart Jump to Review Best Budget: Ecos Free & Clear Dish Soap at Walmart Jump to Review Best Bar: No Tox Life Vegan Dish Block at Notoxlife.com Jump to Review Best Bulk: Better Life Dish Soap Refill at Amazon Jump to Review Best with Essential Oils: Koala Eco Natural Dish Soap at Koalaeco.com Jump to Review Best for Camping: Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap at Walmart Jump to Review Best Packaging: Cleancult Liquid Dish Soap Refill at Amazon Jump to Review Best Dissolvable: etee Dish Soap Concentrate at Shopetee.com Jump to Review Best for the Dishwasher: Aspen Clean Natural Dishwasher Pods at Aspenclean.com Jump to Review Best Overall Puracy Natural Dish Soap 5 Amazon View On Walmart View On Amazon View On Puracy.com To earn Treehugger's Best Overall spot, a dish soap must be free of harmful chemicals and affordable. Puracy Natural Green Tea & Lime Dish Soap Refill fits the bill, and our tester reported that it cleans effectively, even on greasy pots and pans. The entire Puracy line of home cleaning products was originally developed by two couples from Austin, Texas who wanted safe alternatives for their newborn daughters. With help from physicians, each product was developed for those with sensitive skin and allergies. This fresh smelling dish soap is plant-based, cruelty-free, and has never been tested on animals. You can buy the refill size and reuse the same dispenser over and over. Buying the concentrated 64-ounce refill size, which covers more than 600 average sinks of dishes in hard water, saves you 20% of the cost over the smaller-volume size. Because this product comes in a #7 recyclable pouch made of nylon and polypropylene plastic, you’ll also save 90% of the plastic, water, and energy used for several smaller plastic containers. The vegan coconut-based formula contains no sulfates, triclosan, parabens, phosphates, SLS, SLES, MEA, DEA, TEA, petrochemicals, dyes, or caustics. It is available in a nearly identical formula scented instead with organic lemongrass or citrus and sea salt. Although the formula contains sodium lauroamphoacetate that is concerning in high concentrations, EWG gives it an “A” grade overall when compared to other detergents. We also like that Puracy pays it forward with each purchase by making donations to local children and families in need. Puracy is also made in the United States and has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Price at time of publish: $21 for 48 oz. refill What Treehugger Testers Say "It has a strong-ish, peppery fragrance that I believe is green tea. I didn't smell the lime. The scent is quite strong, but I like it! I could see it being unpleasant to some, although the scent didn't linger." Best Budget Ecos Free & Clear Dish Soap Walmart View On Walmart View On Thrive Market View On Amazon Earth Friendly ECOS Hypoallergenic Dishmate Free & Clear Dish Soap is trying to make it easy for you to leave behind traditional dish soaps. It is plant-based, 100% biodegradable and free of chlorine and petroleum-based ingredients all for just a few pennies more per ounce. This brand is made of just eight ingredients. That's unusually low for dish soap. ECO’s surfactant, sodium coco sulfate, a main soapy ingredient of detergents whose job is to break up stains and suspend the dirt in the water to be rinsed away, is made from anionic coconut kernel oil. It’s considered a safer alternative to sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. However, our testers did not that this soap has a thinner consistency than other dish soaps, and doesn't suds up as much. These ingredient choices and Earth Friendly’s Zero Waste manufacturing principals have earned ECOS the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice Certification and an “A” grade from EWG. Made in the United States, the company is based in California and is majority women-owned. Price at time of publish: $8 Best Bar No Tox Life Vegan Dish Block Amazon View On Notoxlife.com View On Zerowastecartel.com View On Zerowastestore.com Although liquid dish soaps are the most popular, when it comes to the environment and energy savings, using a dish soap bar (or washing block) is an even better choice than liquids. That’s because most liquid soaps are packaged in plastic and contain a high percentage of water, and the increased weight and volume uses more fossil fuels to transport. One 5.9-ounce bar is about equivalent to about three standard 25-ounce plastic bottles. Although there are a number of quality dishwashing bars out there, No Tox Life Vegan Dish Washing Block earned a spot on our list because of its gentle ingredients that earn it an “A” from EWG. It's made with seven ingredients and water. It does contain soapbark (Quillaja saponaria), which can be irritating to the eyes and may trigger asthma symptoms for some. This biodegradable, septic-safe soap is vegan and free from fragrance, dyes, sulfate, parabens, and palm oil. Its plastic-free packaging is made from recyclable paper. It also works well to safely clean walls and counters and removes laundry and carpet stains too. This soap works best in average water, making fluffy suds that cut grease well. Some users with soft water noted a residue (spots) on air-dried dishes, but towel drying solves that problem. This brand is made in the United States by a mother-daughter team in small batches. If this bar works for you, you can save more by buying in larger quantities and sizes. Price at time of publish: $15 How to Use a Dish Soap Bar Using a dish soap bar is easy. Just rub a sponge or soft brush gently across the bar and use directly on dishes or dissolve in the sink water. It might take some practice to get exactly the right amount for a typical load, but that’s the case for liquid soaps as well. The 8 Best Eco-Friendly Dish Towels Best Bulk Better Life Dish Soap Refill Amazon View On Amazon View On Cleanhappens.com Many brands can be purchased in larger quantities or in concentrated “pro” varieties to save you more money. The affordable, hypoallergenic Better Life Dish It Out Sulfate-free Unscented Dish Soap Refill is corn- and coconut-based and free of dyes, fragrances, alcohol, parabens, and sulfates. Its few mild ingredients—including soothing aloe and vitamin E—earn it an “A” from EWG. They’ve found a way to cut grease well without irritating sulfates. Better Life is also a Leaping Bunny certified company, meaning it meets high standards for non-animal tested products. Because of its natural ingredients that are free from harsh preservatives, only buy this dish soap in bulk if you do a lot of dishes. Some say Dish it Out can go bad after opening if it sits around for too long. If you prefer a little scent during your chores, try their lemon mint or pomegranate varieties. Price at time of publish: $7 Best with Essential Oils Koala Eco Natural Dish Soap with Lemon Myrtle & Mandarin Essential Oil 5 Amazon View On Koalaeco.com Although the brand is proudly Australian, Koala Eco's products are made in the United States using essential oils and no synthetic fragrances. The soap is certified vegan, and also has two different third-party certifications showing the formula is free of toxic chemicals. Our testers loved the citrus scent, but also found that the smell didn't linger on dishes after a good rinsing. It's a concentrated formula, but not that that the manufacturer does recommend using it with hot water. Koala Eco is a member of 1% for the Planet, and the soaps are packaged in 100% recycled bottles. You can get a discount for signing up for a subscription. Price at time of publish: $18.90 Best for Camping Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap 4.5 Target View On Walmart View On Amazon View On Bed Bath & Beyond Because any soap you use while camping may be discharged directly to the water or soil without treatment, it’s important to choose a dish soap with only the mildest of ingredients. Campers have also been choosing Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap since the company was founded in 1948. Its skin-softening plant-based ingredients haven’t changed much over the years and include vitamin E and palm kernel, olive, coconut, hemp seed, and jojoba seed oils. These simple ingredients have earned this dish soap an “A” from EWG as well as certifications from Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, Leaping Bunny, Vegan Action, and the Non-GMO Project. At least 70% of the ingredients have been certified Fair for Life by IMO. Still family-owned and run, Dr. Bronner’s brand makes socially- and environmentally-responsible products based on their Cosmic Principles. Those principles include treating employees like family, using fair practices with suppliers, and treating the Earth like home. If you shop online, you might notice that the unscented variety is sold with “baby” in the name. That’s because it’s mild enough for even the most sensitive skin. You can also try the scented options that include natural citrus, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose, tea tree, and almond. Price at time of publish: $17 TIP: If you’re new to Castile soap, you’ll find that it has many uses beyond dishwashing and a wealth of benefits including affordability and eco-friendliness. It's a versatile addition to any camping trip or home. The 9 Best Plastic-Free Storage Containers Best Packaging Cleancult Liquid Dish Soap Refill 4.5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Cleancult.com Cleancult Natural Liquid Dish Soap’s paper-based packaging reduces plastic waste by 90%. You’ll get 32 ounces of dish soap, in a simple quart-sized milk carton. Each is equipped with a plastic pouring spout and cap of biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) derived from corn, soy, and sugarcane. PLA is recyclable in industrial compost facilities. Inside the carton is thin aluminum and polyethylene liner that make up 20% of the packaging. It is accepted by most recycling centers that take #2 plastic. If that's not recyclable in your area, Cleancult offers a recycling program that allows you to send your cartons back to them so they’ll recycle it for you. It’s not just the packaging that we like. Cleancult’s dish soap organic ingredients are simple, plant-based, and scented with essential oils, earning them Leaping Bunny certification. Because it doesn’t have typical surfactants, this dishwashing liquid doesn’t create a lot of suds, but that doesn’t affect its ability to clean. The coconut, olive oils, and aloe in this soap will keep your hands from drying out. Available in grapefruit basil, blue sage, and lemongrass, most people find the scents are pleasant without being overpowering. Price at time of publish: $17 Best Dissolvable etee Dish Soap Concentrate etee View On Shopetee.com Etee, an Innovative Plastic-Free Buyers' Club Liquid dish soaps are about 90% water. Shipping that water across the country and around the world has a real environmental cost. Etee Dish Soap Concentrate eliminates the water and lets you add it at home instead. Even better, there are no plastic bottles involved. Their organic packaging can be reused and fully composted at home.Made in Toronto, Canada, each 40 milliliter pod makes about 13 ounces of dish soap that can be stored in a canning jar or other refillable pump container. Available in unscented and citrus, the concentrate is made of just four plant-based ingredients. The citrus scent is made with essential oil ingredients. Price at time of publish: $21 for 3 pack What Treehugger Testers Say "You cut the end off, squeeze the concentrated paste into a glass jar, and add water. It mixes quickly and thoroughly, and then you use it like any ordinary dish soap. It’s a fabulous way to cut down on the superfluous plastic waste that goes along most liquid dish detergents." Best for the Dishwasher Aspen Clean Natural Dishwasher Pods Aspen Clean View On Aspenclean.com In general, dishwasher detergents contain more ingredients and more environmentally troublesome ingredients than dish soap. So you may have to work harder to find one that doesn’t contain harmful ethoxylates and sulfates. But Aspen Clean Unscented Dishwasher Packs is just one of two automatic dish detergents that have earned EWG’s highest honor of “Verified” for strict standards for health and transparency. That’s even better than an “A” grade. Some of its ingredients are derived from coconut and palm kernel oil and chicory root. They also employ two enzymes, subtilisin, and amylase, to break up organic proteins on your dishes. Aspen Clean is 100 percent free of synthetic fragrances and dyes. Price at time of publish: $18 Final Verdict When choosing a dish soap that is effective, affordable, and easy on your skin and our water resources, our testers found it’s hard to beat Puracy Natural Dish Soap. For a top quality, all purpose liquid soap that’s safe for camping, baby, laundry and so much more, we also love Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. Frequently Asked Questions Why is it important to use eco-friendly dish soap? When we’re just trying to get the dishes done, we’re probably not thinking much about the environmental cost when the sink is drained. But what happens to the spent dishwater? It usually drains to your septic or a municipal treatment system. That’s where the dish soap and detergents you use become important. In a septic system, bacteria in your system break down what you send down the drain and water slowly drains out of your system into the surrounding soil. If you’re using antibacterial soap, that’s great for cleaning, but it's killing the “good” bacteria you’re counting on. Many of these same chemicals may be harmful to aquatic organisms in our streams, lakes and oceans.The same is true for water sent to a municipal system. There it is treated with a number of chemicals (and plenty of bacteria) to remove the soap, solids, and floating organic materials. Once that water has been “treated” well enough to meet public standards, it is discharged to nearby streams, rivers or oceans. Because we often do dishes every day, we can make the biggest impact by choosing carefully the dish soap we use. You can check the ingredients of your go to dish soap to see how it stacks up. Some people also choose to avoid conventional dish soaps, because they want to minimize their skin contact with certain chemicals, particularly when washing dishes by hand.For example, the phosphates in soaps have been linked to heart disease and osteoporosis while also disruptive to natural phosphate cycles in the environment as well as being toxic to marine animals. Phosphates are just one of many chemicals found in traditional detergents that people choose to avoid. Luckily, there are a range of quality eco-friendly alternatives on the market, including those above. Do eco-friendly dish soaps really sanitize dishes? Sanitizing your dishes means that you’re sufficiently killing bacteria and viruses. Although eco-friendly dish soaps don’t contain the toxic chemicals (like formaldehyde) that would allow them to claim to be “antibacterial,” when used properly and as directed, you can ensure that harmful bacteria and viruses are removed from your dishes. Most automatic dishwashers are designed to ensure your dishes are safely sanitized and many include a “sanitize” cycle. They often will use less water than hand washing, so if you have a dishwasher, use it.When washing dishes by hand, proper dishwashing is a little like properly washing your hands. It’s the important combination of enough soap, sufficiently hot water, and enough contact time to achieve results. If you skimp on any one of these three elements, you may not effectively sanitize your dishes.Often, your dish sponge contains more germs than your dirty dishes. So, start by soaking your sponge in a dilute vinegar solution between uses. Consider ditching the sponge and use a dish cloth that can be laundered after each use or try Squishful’s kitchen sponges.Use the hottest water you can stand to both wash and rinse. You can either soak dishes in hot soapy water for at least five minutes or apply dish soap directly to your sponge and scrub directly on dishes (with your water off). Let them sit in the empty sink covered in soap for a couple of minutes before rinsing well with very hot water. Why is using a dishwasher more sustainable than hand washing? It saves a lot of potable water: Hand washing one load of dishes can use 20 gallons of drinking water. You can improve that by using a water- and energy-efficient automatic dishwasher, which can use as little as 4.5 gallons.Weigh the pros and cons and choose which is right for your household and lifestyle. But there are a lot of small things you can do to spend less time washing dishes. Can I make my own homemade eco-friendly dish soap? Yes! Before dish soaps were widely available at grocery stores, our grandmothers made their own from simple ingredients. Many have found success with those same recipes—or improved them by replacing harsher substances with essential oils. Try your hand at making your own lavender Castile dish soap. Why Trust Treehugger? To make this list, we first researched dish soaps and carefully reviewed ingredient lists to make sure they contain safe and eco-friendly ingredients. Our team also tested a selection of top products at home, to see how well these soaps wash dishes in real-world conditions. Since the age of five, Lorraine Wilde has washed more dishes than she’d like to admit over the last 40 years. She has only the highest standards for what goes on her family’s skin and into our delicate water bodies. Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and is a firm believer that consumers can make informed, healthy, and environmentally-conscious choices to protect our planet. The 7 Best Reusable Utensils View Article Sources Calvo, Mona S. and Uribarri, Jaime. "Public Health Impact of Dietary Phosphorus Excess on Bone and Cardiovascular Health in the General Population." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 98, no. 1, 2013, pp. 6-15., doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.053934 "Nutrient Pollution: The Issue." Environmental Protection Agency.