How to Use a Zero Waste Dish Soap Bar

How to Use a Zero Waste Dish Soap Bar
Listen to the audio of this post here:

This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on June 19, 2023.

Friend, I’m so excited for today’s blog 😁😁
(Do I say that every week??) Because today we’re talking about one of my absolute favorite zero waste swaps - the humble dish soap bar.

I’ve been using a solid dish soap bar for years now and I honestly can’t imagine ever going back to liquid. It’s just sooo much more convenient to use, is quite literally zero waste, and honestly just looks better next to my sink than a plastic bottle of Dawn dish soap.

And even more so than that - it’s so great for so much more than just handwashing dishes. We’ll get to that in a minute.

But if you’ve never used a solid dish soap bar before, you might be hesitant to make the switch. I mean, we all know Dawn, we know it works, we know what we can expect. So why switch to a dish soap bar instead?

Oh, friend... I’m so glad you asked.

Let’s get into it!

What are dish soap bars? Do they really work?

Let’s start at the top. Dish soap bars are exactly what they sound like - a solid, bar form of dish soap. They’re used for handwashing dishes, not for your dishwasher. 

(But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with PVA-free and Dropps dishwasher pods if you’re on the hunt for some eco-friendly dishwasher detergent, too)

Our solid dish soap bars are handmade right here in the South Sound with just ten, easy-to-pronounce ingredients, and, yes, they really freaking work.

Fun Behind-the-Scenes fact: We used to stock a different brand of dish soap bar at A Drop in the Ocean back in the day. But when I wanted to move away from that brand, I reached out to our soap vendor (who, at the time, was only making shampoo bars and salt scrub bars for ADITO) and asked if she could make me a dish soap bar to replace the one I was currently stocking. 

She said absolutely she could, and then looked at the ingredients list of the current bar.

“Is this an accurate ingredient list? Because that’s just a bar of soap. I can totally make that, or we can do some degreasing and spot free stuff and change the pH so it’s a proper dish soap.”

Yep. Apparently the dish soap bar we used to sell wasn’t even formulated for actual dish washing! 🤦‍♀️

So, yeah, we made the switch to our current bars and they have been a hit ever since.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Dish Soap Bar Review

Why are dish soap bars better than liquid dish soap?

So dish soap bars are just a solid version of dish soap. What actually makes them better than liquid dish soap, then?

Solid dish soap bars are 100% package- and plastic-free. 

Since our dish soap bars are made just a few miles from us, we are able to get them without any packaging whatsoever.

Even the boxes they’re transported in are returned to our vendor to be reused again and again

Then, when you order a dish soap bar from us, it’s still totally package-free. We put one kraft paper sticker on it so you know what it is when it arrives on your doorstep, but other than that, there’s zero packaging.

💭 TBH, I will never understand why so many bar soaps come in a box. It’s 100% unnecessary, yet it’s becoming even MORE common as zero waste living becomes more popular. But that’s a topic for another day…

The only time you’ll get any sort of packaging on the bar is if you live within our local delivery radius

In that case, I’ll wrap the bar up with some reused kraft paper (I’ve literally never purchased kraft paper for ADITO) and 3 small pieces of paper tape. But if you have a safe space to put your delivery that’s protected from the elements, you can always leave a note on your order to let me know you want everything unpackaged and put in said safe space.

Solid dish soap bars are more sustainable to transport.

Because solid dish soap bars don’t contain any liquid, they’re actually more sustainable to transport. They require less packaging and are lighter than their liquid counterparts. 

Solid dish soap bars last longer than liquid.

Dish soap bars are highly concentrated, so you don’t need to use a lot to get a big, bubbly, grease-cutting lather.

I do have a dishwasher, but I also hand-wash A LOT. Between my place and my partner’s, the two of us collectively have used about one bar in the last six months. 

Solid dish soap bars lather and cut through grease.

Like I said above, our dish soap bars are specifically designed to cut through grease and grime on your dishes, and give you the most luxurious big, bubbly lather.

Now, more lather doesn’t necessarily mean that a soap is working better. 

In fact, most soaps have added synthetic bubblers to make you think they’re working better when really all it’s doing is bubbling for the sake of bubbling.

But, when your soap is nice and sudsy - without any synthetic additives to make it so - AND it works like a champ? Now that I can get behind.

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Store Solid Dish Soap Bar

How do you use a dish soap bar?

Okay so now that you’re hooked on dish soap bars and ready to make the switch, how the heck do ya use it?

Well, friend, if you know me you know I’m really freaking good at being lazy. So the things I use every day have to be really freaking easy to use. And a dish soap bar is no exception.

  1. Grab your loofah, dish brush, Swedish dishcloth, or whatever you’re using to wash your dishes and get it wet.
  2. Rub the loofah/brush/cloth on the top of the bar until you start to get some lather. If you’re not getting a lather, just add more water.
  3. Wash your dishes! Just like you would wash your dishes with Dawn or any other liquid dish soap.
  4. Rinse off the suds with clean water and set your dishes aside to dry.

And that’s it!

I told you - easy peasy.

How do you care for a dish soap bar?

The number one rule of thumb for all solid bar soaps is to keep them dry, and a dish soap bar is no exception.

I’ve seen some dish soap bars that come in metal tins, but I definitely would not recommend that.

The more drainage and air flow you can give your soap bars - including dish soap bars - the longer they’re going to last you.

Keeping them dry will keep them firm, less messy, and easier to use.

So make sure to store your dish soap bar on a soap dish designed to allow the bar to dry between uses. Washboard style wooden soap dishes work great for this, or a small tile will also do the trick.

Check out our full guide to caring for soap bars, too!

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Dish Soap Bar

What else can you use a dish soap bar for?

I teased at the beginning of this blog that dish soap bars are great for SO MUCH MORE than washing dishes, and I will die on this hill. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:

  • Handwashing dishes. Obviously. We’ve already covered that one.
  • Cleaning glass-top stoves. My partner has a glass-top stove, and one day I was staring at it, trying to figure out the best way to clean the sucker. Why not give the dish soap bar a shot? So I lathered up a plastic-free loofah sponge with the dish soap and got to work. And DANG that thing worked! I barely had to scrub, and once I was done with the deep cleaning, I grabbed a clean, wet Swedish dishcloth, and wiped up all the suds. Lemme tell ya - that stove was ~sparkling~.
  • Cleaning sinks and bathtubs. Okay so I tried this one for the first time a few weeks ago and I was NOT expecting it to work as well as it does. Same as the glass-top stove, I just grabbed a loofah lathered up with the dish soap bar and that soap removed all the soap scum and buildup easier than I could have even imagined. I have a new bathroom cleaning routine, and it’s solid dish soap.
  • Removing stickers and labels from jars. Got some glass jars you want to reuse but don’t love the labels that came on them? Peel off as much as you can, then fill a large bowl or your sink with warm water and rub the dish soap bar in your hands under the water to get it sudsy. Let the jars soak in the water, then use the dish soap bar and a loofah or dish brush to get any remaining residue off.
  • Cleaning eyeglasses. I dunno about you, but my glasses are always filthy. Every day, never fails, they gotta be cleaned. But recently I’ve started using my dish soap bar to clean my glasses and yet again, I was so not expecting it to work so well. I run my fingers under warm water, then rub them on the dish soap bar - just a little. Then I use my fingers to clean my glasses with the dish soap, in the same kinda way I’d use a microfiber cloth or lens cleaner. Once they’re all cleaned, I rinse them off with warm water, then use a handkerchief to dry them. Absolutely sparkling, every time.

So yeah, friend, I’m a bit hooked on our dish soap bar, and I just know that you will be too once you give it a shot. 

So the next time you’re running low on dish soap, instead of running to Target for a new bottle of Dawn, why not give our solid dish soap bar a try instead?

And if you’ve used a dish soap bar for something other than washing dishes, I wanna know about it! Comment below and let’s swap ideas!


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