An honest review of non-toxic dishwashing soap

This is going to be an honest review of the different ingredients and recipes I’ve tried and used to clean our dishes.

I have to say dishwashing soap, whether in liquid form for handwashing or as tabs for the dishwasher, has been one of the MOST difficult products to replace on this non-toxic lifestyle journey.

You’ll notice these are all DIY or single-ingredient options. I could have explored store-bought products but, in all honesty, a lot of them have ingredients I don’t recognize, are expensive and just bring unnecessary extra packaging into our home.

More and more, I am seeing that my non-toxic journey is not only about reducing toxic exposure but also about lowering our environmental impact, living a minimalist lifestyle and keeping things all-around simple.

Our current dishwashing products look like this:

I’m happy for the most part with these products. Except, I was finding the Castile soap to be a more expensive option and it runs out quickly so I was finding myself buying bottles often. (Hello, plastic waste!) Plus, it’s not super effective at cutting grease.

Some of the challenges I still struggle with are:

  • Getting lip balm stains off glasses
  • Cleaning bowls that have dried oatmeal in them
  • Ridding dried up smoothie from our cups

So this past weekend, in an effort to address these challenges, and to step it up by reducing the ingredients I use and plastic bottles making their way into our cupboards, I started experimenting with washing soda and soap nuts (AKA soap berries).

Almost right away, I regretted making the washing soda. Turns out, it is super caustic and can irritate your lungs and skin. If using, you need to wear gloves to avoid making contact with it. No thanks.

The washing soda won’t go to waste, however. I do plan on testing it out to whiten laundry and in certain bathroom cleaning products.

But I’ve been super impressed with soap nuts. I already loved them for doing laundry but hadn’t thought about trying them for dishwashing. I ended up making the more complex recipe for using soap nuts, which involved boiling 10-12 nuts for an hour and making liquid. Next time, I plan on simply leaving the nuts in a mason jar filled with water and infusing overnight. Even less work!

So far, I tried the soap nuts liquid in the dishwasher and it worked as well as the dishtabs I was making. Unfortunately, it did not conquer the three challenges…

I also tried it to hand wash dishes with some added grapefruit essential oil to it. It worked well and was WAY more effective at cutting grease than the Castile soap. So I think I found my cheaper, more environmental option to Castile soap for liquid dishwashing.

(Oh, and I used some of the soap nuts liquid with extra water and essential oils to wash our floors. It made an amazing lather and worked great!)

So no need to say it but… I’m going nuts for soap nuts. Literally, folks.

I will keep trying to find the solution to the famous three challenges but, in the meantime, I will keep rinsing or soaking grimy dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I will also keep rewashing those 2-3 items that aren’t as clean as I like them. All in all, it’s still an extremely SMALL PRICE to pay for the health of my family and of the environment.

What are your favourite non-toxic dishwashing products and ingredients?

M.

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