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What are Some Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Dish Soap?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are several alternatives to dish soap from conventional manufacturers which can be used to get dishes clean and sparkling. The main advantage to using an ecologically friendly dish soap is that the soap will break down quickly, and since it doesn't contain chemicals, it will not generate pollution. While there are lots of commercial alternatives to dish soap on the market, it is actually cheaper to make your own, and by making your own, you can control the composition and scent.

If you want liquid alternatives to dish soap, you have a couple of options. One of the best is castile soap, a natural soap made from vegetable oils. You can use straight castile soap, which is largely odorless, or you can add essential oils to the soap to create a specifically desired scent. If you're having problems with grease, add a few drops of lemon juice to your castile soap blend to help cut through grease. This liquid soap is available at most health food stores.

You can also make liquid dish soap by heating soap flakes with water until they dissolve, and then scenting this mixture, if desired. Soap flakes can be purchased in many stores, and they can also be made by grating bar soap. Be aware that this technique sometimes yields a chunky dish soap which may be challenging to deal with; some people prefer to use glycerin soap blocks, which melt down into a gel, making the soap easier to handle. Again, lemon or vinegar can be added to cut through grease.

Although you may be accustomed to liquid dish soaps, one of the best alternatives to dish soap is actually powdered soap, which will froth up quite nicely under hot water. Powdered dish soap can be made with soap flakes and essential oils, and it can also be used in the dishwasher, although be careful about how much you use; it froths quite a lot, and you don't want to clog or flood the dishwasher.

If you have a stubborn stain situation going on, you can use baking soda as a scouring powder. Baking soda can also be run through a dishwasher on an empty cycle to eliminate odors and remove soap residue. Soaking in a baking soda and vinegar mixture can also eliminate stains and odors from stubborn pans, and baking soda works very well to remove built-up grease and other materials, especially on baking sheets. With these alternatives to dish soap in your kitchen, you can save on regular detergent and help the environment to boot.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon926627 — On Jan 20, 2014

It is mentioned that it is good to do your dishes by hand, but I still believe that it is inconvenient. Also, I believe that you will never achieve the results as a dishwasher.

There are a huge variety of them, and everyone can find one suitable for themselves. For example, I use an indu plovikliai urmu, just because it isn't expensive, it is ecological, and washes perfectly. So try it, and I guarantee that you will never go back to any another type of washer.

By anon259061 — On Apr 04, 2012

This is very useful. I'm looking for ways to recycle my grey water and make it safer for watering plants. At the site where I'm building my camp, I'm getting a composting toilet to eliminate the need for a septic tank. But this means I still need to take responsibility for the quality of my grey water if I plan to reuse it.

To previous posters stating that the subject of this article is an infinitesimal detail of environmental friendliness: actually, the information in this article is very relevant to people living in rural communities that may not be connected to a city treatment plant. How dare you suggest I live like everyone else and not take responsibility for my own sustainability? This is about lifestyle and self-sufficiency.

By anon179908 — On May 25, 2011

i don't know why the first two people who commented are so disturbed by others seeking ways to be more environmentally friendly. Poverty and disease are issues of humanity, this article is about the environment, so the complaints are irrelevant and unnecessary. Not to mention racist against whites.

I, for one, am happy information such as this is available to me. I live in Ontario, Canada, and I'm making arrangements to build a small cabin on a plot of land I bought up in northern Ontario because I can't afford a house, let alone qualify for a mortgage. And it's not only cheaper, but it's also more responsible to be self-sufficient and environmentally responsible while doing it.

I'm seeking alternatives to a septic tank, which means I'll be using a compost toilet for 'blackwater' (human waste) and a leaching pit for 'greywater' (water from bathing and washing dishes). However, with the leaching pit, it is better to be mindful of the products being put into the greywater because natural products will breakdown much quicker, and will be less harmful to the soil and plants surrounding the leach pit.

No, I'm not doing anything about the poverty and disease in africa. Not every person in western society, or "white," as some commenters call them are privileged enough to do anything about issues of the world. I'm taking care of my own issues and trying to survive by my own means just like any other human on this planet.

Does that make me selfish or greedy? Well, I'm just another animal looking to survive and I don't remember having obligations to people on the other side of the country.

By anon173391 — On May 07, 2011

While your points are valid (to an extent), you are aware that this is a simple bit of info on how to clean dishes? I happened upon this article while looking for alternative products that I can breathe around. Here in the U.S., at least, many of our cleaning products are so perfumed that some of us have breathing troubles if using the products.

Now, how can we "save the world" if we cannot breathe? Also, why is it that "whites" in Europe and America must save people from themselves? why can they not help themselves some, too? All the wars and fighting that so often lead to that disease and famine are not necessary--they're human constructs.

Also, some peoples do not want us "whites" trying to save the world, imposing our own ideas on them, like the two of you are trying to do.

By Proxy414 — On Mar 03, 2011


I agree with you wholeheartedly. It seems that Europe is repeating its past mistakes of atheistic focus on purity and clean air, while ignoring the very real issues of suffering humanity. White people tend to dismiss issues of poverty and death among other peoples because they implicitly and tacitly dismiss them as inferior. This is what led to the Third Reich and the Holocaust, and issues which still plague the cynical European nations.

By Tufenkian925 — On Mar 01, 2011

It is sad to see how many of the western nations, particularly European nations, are becoming obsessively focused on infinitesimal details of environmental friendliness in a system of persnickety green legalism. If we could wake up and recognize that just south of Europe, in this little-known continent called Africa, people are dying of poverty and disease, then perhaps we would drop our ridiculous concern with darwinist issues such as clean dish soap.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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