• Nathalie

5 tricks to replace nasty dish soap

January 2021.

It can be a giant step to think about replacing conventional dish soap because advertising did a super good job in making us believe that our dirty plates are dangerously dirty. But the real danger might come from the cleaning products themselves, threatening marine life, our skin, our health and even making bacterias stronger!

Lets make dishwashing safe, FUN and trash free in 2021 with 5 very easy tricks + a bonus for dish soap users!

Why should we change our dish washing habits?

Choosing a dish soap is as important as choosing a face cream or buying low pesticide vegetables. I spend at least on hour per day washing dishes with my bare hands and what I clean will be touching my food and my lips so I need to know it is safe for me and what are the consequences for the environment once it goes down the drain. Water treatment plans can't remove all of the toxins and marine life will suffer from it.

Industrials can be very vague on the product ingredients listing as they are not controlled and not forced to state certain chemicals under a certain level. They can also make up properties that are not very accurate like "eco friendly" or "for sensitive skin".

In the European Union where ingredients are regulated above a certain level you can look for trust-worthy labels (read more on the footnotes + French article).

Under the CLP European Regulation dangerous chemicals in products must be labeled above a certain level and you can find the following pictograms on dish soap bottles:

Reading the ingredient list of the products you use - even the "green" labeled ones - and looking them up online is a good habit to take when embarking on an environmentally conscious journey.

Equipment! For easy dishwashing I use:

  • A compostable sponge - synthetic sponges release microfibres in water and will take thousand years to decompose in landfills. You can also look for washable sponges or natural sponges like loofas. A kitchen sponge should never smell bad! Remember to keep it clean and change it often.

  • A copper scourer - to clean without scratching

  • A bottle brush - because reusable bottles...

And now, 5 tricks to replace nasty dish soap:

1. Marseille soap and Olive soap

  • 100% vegetable oils, no added fragrance, colouring-free and additive-free

  • Mild on the skin and on the environment

  • You only have one soap around your sink for hands, dishes and surfaces!

It's the easiest swap because it's a soap. Rub it on your sponge or melt it with water to have a liquid solution.

Making liquid olive soap.

100:1000 ratio - 100 g of soap for 1L water

Chop your soap and dissolve it in hot water. The thinner you chop, the faster it dissolves.

This ratio is for olive soap only, if your soap has additives it might harden back.

Extra tips

  • Read labels to make sure you have a clean product. A traditional soap is made of vegetable oil, water, sodium chlorine (salt) sodium hydroxide (lye)

  • Glycerine is not wanted on dishes it will leave a layer

  • Soap and vinegar are a bad match, don't use them together

2. White vinegar

  • Anti bacterial

  • Perfect on grease

  • Leaves a shine

Rince your dishes, spray vinegar and wipe with a sponge. After a greasy diner, I would spray vinegar on tableware, cutlery, pans and let it sit over night for an easier cleaning in the morning!

Extra tips

  • Cleaning vinegar is more acidic than cooking vinegar = more efficient (but I use cooking vinegar anyways, it's cheaper. For more acidity see tip number 5)

  • For very greasy and hard to clean pans: sprinkle with baking soda and give it a minute before wiping with a sponge or a scourer

  • Hot vinegar is perfect for removing hard deposit on a tea kettle

  • I particularly like using vinegar for cleaning metallic lunchboxes and cutlery, leaving them shiny and spotless

  • Spray at the bottom of your sink once you are done and all around your kitchen!

3. Used coffee grounds

  • Abrasive natural cleaning scrub, replaces a scouring sponge to scourer and polish

  • Neutralises odours

Dry them and store in a jar or live on the kitchen counter for a nice smell!

Sprinkle them directly on dishes and pans and scrub with a sponge.

Extra tips

  • Sprinkle on dirty dishes you don't have the time to clean immediately to neutralise strong smells

  • Coffee grounds brings great nutrients to your compost. Sprinkle some at the bottom of a counter top bin to avoid peals from sticking to it

  • Use them to clean the bottom of your sink

  • Great hand scrub to get rid of a smell

4. Baking soda

  • Mild natural cleaning scrub

  • Absorbs odours

  • Removes grease and stains

Make a paste with a bit of water and scrub with a sponge.

Extra tip

  • Sprinkle baking soda on grease and boost its action by spraying vinegar on top and leaving it for a minute. Works like magic

  • Use it to clean the stove, the oven and the bottom of the sink. Rince with hot water

  • Great hand scrub to get rid of a stain

5. Lemon [and salt]

  • More acidic than vinegar

  • Anti bacterial and mildly disinfectant

  • Removes stains, dissolves grease

Cut it in half, rub he pulp side on the dishes and rince. Combine with salt for deeper scrubbing.

Extra tips

  • To clean a cutting board: sprinkle with salt, scrub with half a lemon. Leave it to absorb the smell and dissolve the grease, rince. You can oil your wooden board once it's dry with vegetal oil

  • After juicing a lemon for cooking keep the peels to wash your dishes or freshen your sink (and nails ;-))


You want to use dishwashing soap anyway but you want to make sure not to arm the environment:

  1. Chose a biodegradable product.

  2. Use a foamer. It's a soap dispenser in which you dissolve 1 part soap and 3 part water to created a foam. You'll use less water and less product.

  3. Dilute it in the bottle. Add 1/3 water to your soap bottle. Dishwashing soaps are now super concentrated but the caps are too wide so we tend use too much.

  4. Do not chose an anti bacterial product, it is not possible to kill all the microbes and it is proven to reinforce the resistance of remaining bacterias.

Washing dishes is about common sense and hygiene. We don't need to kill bacterias but we shouldn't also let dishes pile up for days to avoid bacterial development.

If you found this article resourceful please share with your friends and consider subscribing to my Instagram for daily tips and tricks on living more respectfully of our bodies and the environment. Your feedbacks are super important, drop me a line if you try one of my tricks!



European labels:

  • European Ecolabel

  • Ecocert

  • Label « Allergènes contrôlés »

Lire l'article de 60 millions de consommateurs

Lire l'article de Que Choisir sur les allergènes à éviter


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