Staying Clean While Going Green

When it comes to cleaning dishes, there are 3 changes we wanted to make to our cleaning up process.

  1. To use soaps that have plant-based ingredients and no artificial fragrances, both good for our health and the environment

  2. Use products that have not been tested on animals

  3. To reduce our waste of plastic bottles and sponges

Cleaning dishes can be a personal thing, we all have different ways of doing things. For us we use a dishwasher and hand wash the items that can’t go in the dishwasher, or hand wash when you are in need of giving just one item a quick clean.  So we addressed our cleaning goals to still keep things convenient and easy for us!

Sustainable Dishwasher Detergent

In replacing our dishwasher detergent I was able to check off all the requirements for our changes with Dropps Dishwasher Detergent Pods.  They use non-toxic plant based ingredients with the option of no scent or scented with essential oils, are cruelty free and their packaging doubles as their shipping container.  The product is shipped in a cardboard box made of recyclable materials which is reusable, recyclable or compostable once you are done with it.

In the past I have struggled to find a plant-based dishwasher detergent that actually works, and Dropps really does work!  I love these! Plus I enjoy the convenience of using the subscription that they offer so it just arrives at my doorstep as needed, while their packaging is helping me reduce my footprint a little bit. On a side note, Dropps also offers laundry detergent which we love too.

​Making Our Own Liq​uid Castile Soap

My internet research always pointed to the fact that Castile soap was the clear winner when it came to replacing my dish soap. Castile soaps are made of plant-based oils, water and essential oils.  It lathers easily, cuts grease, is gentle on the environment and is mild enough to use on babies and pets. Plus the bonus is that it can have many uses from dish soap, to hand soap, body soap, shaving cream, face wash, dog shampoo and more. The most popular brand on the market, Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap is cruelty free.  

See our Step-by-Step Recipe for Liquid Soap here.

We didn’t want to keep buying liquid castile soap however because it comes in a plastic bottle. The bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic, but we’d like to get away from plastic packaging wherever possible.  So we bought bar soap instead and tried our hand at a recipe to make the bar soap into liquid soap. The wrapper for the bar soap is biodegradable and made from 100% recycled material. 

This recipe worked out fine and the soap worked great. Our only complaint was that after it sat for a while it would turn jello-like, so we had to regularly shake it up to keep it liquid.  The pro of making our own liquid soap was that it was very economical. The one bar of soap turned into enough liquid soap to last us about 6 months.

Does my soap need to be Anti-Bacterial?

I am so used to buying soaps that say “antibacterial” on them, that we naturally were concerned that we would not be killing germs with our new homemade soap.  A quick search however led us to this statement from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did recently ban Triclosan from antibacterial soaps. Most antibacterial soaps now use Chloroxylenol and the ruling does not yet apply to it.  It is not significantly toxic to humans in small doses, but it is highly toxic to fish and cats and can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.

According to the FDA, there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. To date, the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap haven’t been proven.  In addition, the wide use of these products over a long time has raised the question of potential negative effects on your health.

So antibacterial soap has gotten the boot from our house!

Replacing our Soap dispenser and dish brushes 

Now that we are checking off point one and two for our dish/hand soap, we needed to address point three - something to put our liquid soap in and a replacement for plastic dish brushes and sponges.  We are obsessed with mason jars, so we chose this glass mason jar with a metal pump. There are small parts of plastic inside the pump. The pump has worked well though so I’m sticking with it even though it seems we can’t get away from plastic 100% on this one.

Redecker products were able to help us replace our scrubbers with both the dish brush and the pot scrubber.  Both of these are biodegradable and compostable, minus the metal parts on the handle of the dish brush. The head of the dish brush is replaceable though so your metal handle will last a long time.  We tried both the dish brush heads made of horse hair and tampico fiber. The horse hair is much softer, it took a lot of gentle scrubbing to remove sticky food from dishes. So personally I will continue to use the tampico fiber replacement heads on this one.

Conserving Water

Something that was not on my initial 3 point checklist, was to save water. Growing up in drought ridden South Africa and living through drought here in California, means saving water is always in the back of my head.  So I added this glass spray bottle to my collection of dish cleaning supplies. All that I put in it is a tiny bit of soap and mostly water. This soapy water is a great way to clean without leaving the tap running. Give the item you want to wash a few sprays, scrub, then turn your tap on to a light flow to rinse off.  There’s no reason to leave the faucet running! This method has been working well for me.

I bought a couple of these bottles for different reasons. One has worked really well, and the other did not. The sprayers are plastic and these are just notorious for breaking and not lasting. So while I am doing well with saving water, it was not a fully successful purchase in reducing waste as I do have to replace the sprayer head now.  I’d recommend reusing plastic spray bottles that you have from other cleaning products first before opting to buy a glass spray bottle. Maybe one day I’ll find a spray bottle with an all metal sprayer???


Up Next
 See our Step-by-Step Recipe for Liquid Soap here. 
In our next video, you can find out why Don has to eat pickles every night this week.

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See our Step-by-Step Recipe for Liquid Soap here.

Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Bar Soap
We choose to use the Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Bar Soap unsented with no added fragrance, super safe for a Baby and those with sensitive skin.

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser
​​After eliminating plastic in our soap consumption we found these glass and metal mason jar soap dispensers! You know we are crazy about Mason Jars and these fit the bill for our kitchen soap delivery needs.

Spray Bottle
Growing up in drought ridden South Africa and living through drought here in California, means saving water is always in the back of my head. I bought a couple of these bottles.
One has worked really well, and the other did not. While the bottle is glass, the sprayers are plastic and these are just notorious for not lasting. So while I am doing well with saving water, it was not a fully successful purchase in reducing waste

Dish Brush
The wood and bristles in this dish brush are biodegradable and compostable and the heads are replaceable! We tried both the horse hair and tampico fiber replaceable heads.

Pots & Pan Brush
When it comes to cleaning pots and pans, we found a stronger sustainable option. These work great with the flexible yet strong fiber scrubbers and this Pot and Pan Brush is designed to handle heavy duty cleaning,

In the past we have struggled to find a plant-based dishwasher detergent that actually works. But Dropps dishwashing pods really work.  Dropps also offers laundry detergent which we love too.

Fact Check

EWG rating on Dr Bronner’s Castile soap - Environmental Working Group

Chloroxylenol  - Wikipedia

FDA findings on antibacterial soaps - Food and Drug Administration

CDC Quote on Antibacterial Soap - Unity Point Blank Children’s Hospital

EWG rating on Dropps LaundryDetergent Pods - Environmental Working Group

EWG rating on Dropps Dishwashing Pods - Environmental Working Group

By Mela & Don

Mela and Don are sharing their journey as they make conscious decisions to live a more healthy, environmentally friendly life together.

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