Time for a dish soap deep dive 🧽 My readers frequently ask me for recommendations in this area. And for good reason—it’s a difficult category to find swaps for! So let’s chat about what’s wrong with conventional dish supplies, and how to select better alternatives.
This post contains affiliate links.
Table of Contents:
- Dish Soap Ingredients to Avoid
- Common Greenwashed Dish Soap Brands to Avoid
- The Best Non-Toxic Dish Soaps
- Green & Clean Dishwashing Accessories
Dish Soap Ingredients to Avoid
When you’re shopping for dish soap, look out for these common culprits on an ingredient label!
❌ Synthetic fragrances: The term “fragrance” has no FDA regulation and can be a combination of over 3,000+ different chemicals that imitate a smell or contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Fragrance is associated with allergies, neurotoxic symptoms (headaches, dizziness), and hormone disruption.
❌ Benzisothiazolinone (BIT), Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT), and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): Preservatives that are sensitizers and linked with skin irritation, allergies, and lung irritation. Some are even banned in other countries!
❌ Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Surfactants that cause foamy suds in products but may be contaminated with carcinogens like 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide. They have also been shown to inflame and irritate the skin barrier.
Wanna learn more about reading ingredient labels and what to avoid? Download this Ingredient Index! It has a glossary of 55+ ingredients to watch out for in your cosmetics, cleaning, and personal care products.
Common Greenwashed Dish Soap Brands to Avoid
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, nor is my goal to shame you or make you feel bad if you DO use these brands (I’ve used some of them in the past myself). But I wanted to call out some popular brands that are known for greenwashing and make you aware of their misleading marketing claims. Many people purchase these brands and *think* they are natural or non-toxic when in reality they use unsafe ingredients in their formulas.
- Better Life: I am super bummed because this was my go-to brand for years! Better Life used to be clean but is now owned by Bissell, and unfortunately, their ingredients changed and added BIT and MIT preservatives.
- Everspring: Contain SLS, CMIT, and MIT.
- Method: Contain SLS, MIT, dyes, fragrance, and octylisothiazolinone.
- Mrs. Meyers: Contain SLS, polysorbates, fragrance, MIT, and BIT.
- Planet Ultra: Contain SLES.
- Seventh Generation: Contain SLS, MIT, and BIT.
The Best Non-Toxic Dish Soaps 🧼
Finding safe and low tox dish soaps can be TRICKY. First of all, there is sooooo much greenwashing to dodge and it’s tough to find brands that have good ingredients. Secondly, some of the natural ones don’t always work as well (I’ve tried a lot of duds!). But don’t you worry! Here are the best dish soaps that are truly clean and work.
Branch Basics Concentrate
$55 for 34 oz. (comes to about $0.34 per wash load) • Most versatile! 🔀
If you’re not familiar with Branch Basics, it’s pretty neat: you buy a concentrated solution and dilute it with water and it will make ALL of your different cleaning products. You can use your own bottles or they have reusable glass bottles. It’s unscented and the ingredients are so great too!
The only caveat with Branch Basics is that you’re supposed to fill up your sink with hot water and use 1 teaspoon of the concentrate to wash your dishes. So it’s not really economical if you just want to squirt and clean one or two dishes quickly. You can get one of the foaming wash bottles to dilute the concentrate and use it with fewer dishes, but I find that filling up the sink works more effectively.
So if you already buy Branch Basics for the rest of your cleaning products or you prefer the full sink method, then this might be the way to go!
You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount on Branch Basics starter kits 🏷️
Clean People Dish Soap Liquid (⭐️ Becca’s favorite!)
$6 for 12 oz. • Overall top pick and strongest suds!
Clean People is affordable, concentrated, lathers nicely, and cuts through grease. What more can you ask for!? If you’re searching for a stronger suds and don’t want to spend too much money, then this is my top choice.
I recommend getting the Fragrance-Free version! Clean People uses essential oils and natural fragrance in the scented versions (they claim no synthetics), but I can’t find exactly what the fragrances consist of, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
I’m happy that I discovered this one because it works so well!
Meliora Castile Dish Soap Block
$10 for 7 oz. • Most eco-friendly! 🌎
If you’re looking for a sustainable option, Meliora blocks come in paper boxes and are plastic-free! You just get a brush wet and rub it against the block, then wash your dishes as usual. Choose from Unscented or Lemon.
Meliora is a MADE SAFE® Certified brand which is an impressive certification to have. It’s a non-profit that rigorously screens for 6,500+ toxins. So yeah, this bar has some awesome organic ingredients, and it’s also palm oil-free!
The eco-friendly aspect is lovely, but there are cons to dish soap bars if you’ve never used one. Mostly, they can just start to look kind of gross after a while and can be messy and leaky. So I suggest getting some sort of bamboo tray to rest the block on to keep your counters gunk-free!
You can use code BECCA10 for a discount on these at EarthHero 🏷️
Also available here on Amazon.
Related post: “Your One-Stop-Shop for Zero Waste Swaps: EarthHero”
Molly’s Suds Dish Soap Liquid
$9 for 16 oz.
Molly’s Suds has amazing ingredients! Choose from Unscented, Lavender, or Lemon. The scented ones are from natural plant essences and oils (Safer Choice and ISO-9235 compliant).
The downside is that the liquid is not as concentrated, so I find that you have to use a bit more to get a stronger lather compared to others in this post. The suds aren’t very intense or foamy (but dishes do still come out spotless).
So if you don’t mind spending a little more money, but want a higher level of purity, you might like these!
Rosey Dish Soap Liquid (by Thrive Market)
$4 for 24 oz. • Most budget-friendly! 💰
Rosey is a brand exclusive to Thrive Market, which you do have to be a member of to purchase from. But it’s totally worth it; I’ve been a member for years! Especially since this is the cheapest dish soap and the bottle is huge. I typically buy the Unscented one, but you can also get Lemon or Lavender which are scented with essential oils.
I feel like some others in this post work slightly better, but you can’t beat the price. Plus, it’s so convenient to add this to my cart when I’m already placing a Thrive order.
Learn more here: “How I Save Money on Organic Food & Natural Products with Thrive Market”
Truly Free Dish Soap Liquid
$8.50 for 16 oz. • Refillable! ♻️
Truly Free uses a REFILL model which is so cool. Your first order comes with a free bottle and two refill packets, then you reuse your bottle going forward. It has a pleasant Sweet Basil scent that isn’t too potent.
It’s quite comparable to Clean People and has a pretty solid lather and grease-fighting power! However, it does cost slightly more which is ultimately why I prefer Clean People (the cost is less if you subscribe though), plus I can grab that one at Amazon.
But this is still a force to be reckoned with and I love that it creates less waste! And, my readers can get a nice discount.
You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a 30% discount at Truly Free 🏷️
Green & Clean Dishwashing Accessories
Bamboo Pot Scrubber: Stiffer bristles to tackle stubborn stuck-on food, made with bamboo, sisal fiber, and palmyra bristles. Use code BECCA10 for a discount on these at EarthHero!
Blueland Compostable Scrub Sponges: These are dual-sided; one is a sponge and the other a scrubber! Made with plant-based materials, plus they’re reusable and dishwasher safe.
Blueland Dishwasher Detergent Tablets: If you’re looking for a dishwasher-specific detergent, these are the best! They clean my dishes so well and don’t leave any residue or streaks. They do NOT come wrapped in plastic, and you can get refill packs.
Full Circle Bamboo Dish Brush: These have replaceable heads (you can use a sponge or brush attachment) and dispense soap! They’re made with Bonterra plant plastic, bamboo, plant fiber bristles, and recycled plastic.
Natural Latex Cleaning and Dish Gloves: For deep cleaning or doing dishes, these are natural latex with cotton cuffs. Use code BECCA10 for a discount on these at EarthHero!
Swedish Dishcloths: Made with FSC-certified plant-based cellulose fibers and cotton, and can absorb 20x their weight in liquid, making them a great sponge or paper towel alternative.
You might also like this post:
Let me know if you have any questions below in the comments! Hopefully this post was helpful and guided you towards safer options for your home and your family. Thanks so much for reading 💚
- Acute Toxic Effects Of Fragrance Products
- Determination Of Residual 1,4-Dioxane In Surfactants And Cleaning Agents Using Headspace Single-Drop Microextraction Followed By Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detection
- Skin Sensitization Risk Assessment: A Comparative Evaluation Of 3 Isothiazolinone Biocides
- More thorough info and studies are linked in my Ingredient Index ebook!