Green Products: 3 Dish Soaps That Banish Dirt

Packed with hormone-disrupting phthalates, dyes, and harmful surfactants such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), conventional dish soaps are an excellent thing to avoid. They come into direct (and long-lasting) contact with your skin, which typically has warm-water-induced open pores and, thus, easy access into your body. In addition, these concerning suds wash right down your drain and into waterways where they can cause harm to your local water system and aquatic life.

We took a bevy of more natural dish soap options for a test run and these three options came up on top [Note: Surfactant-free dish soaps tend to provide significantly less suds, but don’t be put off, they still work effectively.]:

Caldrea Mandarin Vetiver Dish Soap

Despite its lack of concerning chemicals, this dish soap (16 ounces, $9) is noticeably rich and effective. Time after time, a dab on our sponge delivered cleaning efficiency (and, surprisingly, suds). When squirted into our sink for a full load of dish cleaning by hand, its sudsed up nicely—an extra quirt halfway through the dish load helped keep the cleaning factor up. Caldrea’s biodegradable dish soap contains Soap Bark extract, a natural degreaser, which cut grease on the tougher dishes fairly well. And, its fresh-smelling fragrance is primarily derived from essential oils. This product also contains Aloe Vera, which helps heal dry, dishpan hands. Check out the full ingredient list here.


Attitude Dishwashing Liquid Coriander & Olive

This fast-acting dish liquid (23.7 ounces, $5.99) also boasts an naturally derived scent and a more natural ingredient list. In fact, Attitude says this product is “free of all chemicals linked to cancer.” This biodegradable product is vegan and vegetable-based, plus free of 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. It also happens to be certified eco-friendly by EcoLogo and CO2 neutral. One squirt of this dish soap worked up a lather on our sponge and cleaned dishes—even cutting grease—effectively. This dish soap did, however, seem to require just a little more on our sponge to deliver the same muscle as others tested.


Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Free & Clear

This dish liquid (50 ounces, $5.99) also cleaned effectively when matched up with dirt, grime, and greasy pans. This product features a USDA-certified bio-based (plant-based) formula that, according to Seventh Generation, removes 100% of dried-on foods in standardized lab tests. The Free & Clear version, which we love (and use in Seventh Generation’s laundry detergent, as well), has no dyes or perfumes to be concerned about. It is also hypoallergenic and comes in a 100 percent recycled plastic bottle. This dish liquid also worked very well for hand-washing sink-full loads of dishes—it may also require just a bit more on the sponge to get the job done but the price is right for an abundance of this product. If you prefer a scented dish liquid, Seventh Generation also makes a few appealing to the olfactory senses—that are scented with essential oils.



Erinn Morgan


After a 10-year career as an award-winning New York City-based editor launching and redesigning urban, style-driven magazines, Erinn Morgan left downtown Manhattan after September 11th, 2001, in search of a less encumbered, freelance lifestyle. A two-year-long trek around the country eventually landed her in Durango, Colo., which she now calls home.

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Bike, Skiing, Delicious Living, American Cowboy, and on

Erinn is also the author of the eco-focused book, Picture Yourself Going Green, Step-by-Step Instruction for Living a Budget-Conscious, Earth-Friendly Lifestyle in Eight Weeks or Less.

She was previously the editor-in-chief of 20/20 magazine, a special projects editor at Playboy (overseeing the launch of a new, custom magazine), and the founding editor/editor-in-chief of SoHo Style, a much-lauded, avant-garde magazine that covered the culture and style of downtown New York and its reach around the world.

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