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Best Plastic-Free Dishwasher Detergent & Tablets in 2022

plastic-free dishwasher detergent

Looking for zero-waste and plastic-free dishwasher detergent and tablets? Here are my favourites for 2022, including those made from vegan-friendly and plant-derived ingredients, the refill brands and more. I’ve also updated this article to make you aware of dishwasher tablet brands that contain microplastic.

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In Fresh Clean Home I show you how I make 95% of my own cleaning products.  This saves on so much plastic.  The other 5%?  Dishwasher detergent and washing up liquid.  Both have eluded me.  Dishwasher detergent and tablets in particular.

After trying countless formulations and re-formulations to make my own plastic-free dishwasher tablets or detergent, nothing cut the mustard.  Everything I tried either left a white film on all of our dishes, or a greasy film.  Sometimes, it even left the double-whammy – a white greasy film.  The worst!  The homemade dishwasher powder experimentation era in our house was a grim time indeed.

I sat down and did some extensive research to see where I was going wrong.  What I discovered was that pretty much all commercial dishwasher tablets and powders, even eco-friendly brands, contain an ingredient called sodium silicate powder.  Sodium silicate rinses away food and soap deposits and is completely soluble in water.  As a result, dishes always come out clean and streak-free. 

Dishwashing & The Law

Great, you’re thinking.  Just add sodium silicate powder to the ingredients of your homemade plastic-free dishwasher powder or tablets.  It’s not that simple I’m afraid.  Sodium silicate powder is only available commercially.  Its sale is very heavily restricted.  One supplier of sodium silicate powder says “we have a duty to control the supply of these chemicals and any private individual attempting to purchase these chemicals may have their details passed to the police in their area“.  

Eco-friendlier shop-bought dishwasher detergent/tablets it is then.  The pursuit of homemade dishwasher powder is not worth the very real threat of getting listed as a suspected terrorist!

The Best Plastic-Free Dishwasher Tablets

Flatlay of eco-friendly dishwashing products, with blue text box that reads the best plastic-free dishwasher detergent and tablets.

Eco-friendly dishwasher detergents/tablets are one or two a penny.  However, eco-friendly and plastic-free dishwasher detergent or tablets has proved to be a trickier thing to source.  Even Ecover tablets are wrapped in polypropylene plastic that can only be recycled in certain areas where facilities exist. Zero-waste it isn’t.

However, I have tracked down some zero-waste and eco-friendlier dishwasher tablets (that won’t get you in trouble with the law). Here’s what I found.

Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets

plastic free dishwasher detergent UK

Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets (£14.15 for 70* (20.2p per wash); or £5.69 for 25* (22.8p per wash) are a great eco-friendlier AND plastic-free dishwasher detergent/tablet.  Made from plant-derived ingredients, the dishwasher tablets are free of phosphates, SLS, SLES, parabens, triclosan, and synthetic fragrances.  They are also certified cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.  The one downside is that they do contain palm oil. 

Each tablet is wrapped in a water-soluble wrapper, that dissolves as your dishwasher starts running.  I initially worried that this wrapper might break down into something bad for the environment, or contribute to microplastic.  The good news is Grist says no.  The dissolvable wrapper is just like the coating that covers medicinal capsules and breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. No microplastic here.

The Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets are designed to leave your dishes sparkling clean. They have a built-in rinse-aid, degreasing agents, and powerful cleaning action.  I’ve been using them in our soft water area and I concur.  I have found that they perform great on our dirty dishes and glassware.  I’ve also had no issues with their cleaning ability.

Fill Dishwasher Powder

fill dishwasher powder refillable plastic-free

Fill dishwasher powder* (£7.36 for 500g / 29.4p per wash) comes in a recyclable glass jar with a metal lid. Produced in Northamptonshire, Fill is made with natural and biodegradable ingredients which are also vegan and cruelty-free. What’s more, once you have finished with the 500g jar you can purchase a 5kg bulk refill bag* (£23.70 / 10.5p per wash) to reduce both waste and cost. 

This dishwasher detergent refill comes in a plastic-free cotton stitched brown paper bag, so there’s no sneaky plastic in your dishwasher detergent here either. I’ve found (and readers have found) that this big bag of dishwasher detergent lasts for ages – around 250 washes!

Homethings Plastic-Free Dishwasher Tablets

homethings dishwasher tablets

Homethings dishwasher tablets* (£9.50 for 40 / 23.8p per wash) are made with a plant-based formulation that’s both vegan and cruelty-free. Delivered through your letterbox, these zero-waste and plastic-free dishwasher tablets tackle dirty dishes with ease. The tablets include rinse aid and dishwasher salts, so you don’t need to buy additional products.

If you like Homethings, you can set up a subscription. Here you can have your dishwasher tablets delivered through your letterbox, at a frequency that suits you. It works out cheaper this way too – coming in at 17.5p per wash.

What’s also good to know is that the tablets are made in the EU, and contain no phosphate or chlorine. The only thing is that I do suspect that Homethings dishwasher tablets contain palm oil. The tablets contain Glycerin, which is often derived from palm oil. In May 2022 I contacted Homethings for verification. I will update here when I hear back.

Plastic Free Dishwasher Tablets That Contain Microplastic

Unfortunately, some of the ‘plastic-free’ brands do contain microplastic, in the form of plastic-based polymers. These go by the name of Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, Acrylates copolymer, Carbome, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polyquaternium-7, and/or Sodium polyacrylate.

You might be wondering why some brands use these types of polymers in their ingredients. Dishwasher brands use plastic-based polymers to keep your dishes clean and to increase the shine on your crockery.

Whilst your dishes may be shiny, it’s certainly hard to swallow that microplastics are turning up in the placentas of unborn babies, and in pretty much all the food we eat.

Here’s the brands to watch out for:

Smol Dishwasher Tablets

Smol dishwasher tablets

Smol’s dishwasher tablets* (£5.80 for 30 tablets / 19.3p per wash) are 100% free of animal-derived ingredients. This makes the tablets vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. Smol has the Leaping Bunny accreditation to back this up.

Packaging wise, Smol dishwasher tablets come packaged in a cardboard box that fits through your letterbox. As the pink and white tablets look like sweets, Smol has made their cardboard box childproof. This means that if your child gets to the post first, they can’t get into the box.

The only problem I’ve found with this is that as well as being childproof, the box is adult-proof too! Between us, my partner and I have been completely unable to open the box beyond tearing it to shreds!

Beyond their cruelty-free status and plastic-free packaging, let’s just say that Smol doesn’t use the most environmentally friendly ingredients. I’d say Smol is more akin to conventional brands, just without the plastic packaging.

Smol says that “we have found a way to use lower levels of added chemicals per wash when compared to the other tablet brands“.  So although Smol uses fewer harsh chemicals this means its ingredients don’t have any particular sustainability or eco-friendly credentials.

smol microplastic ingredients

In fact, Smol’s dishwasher tablet ingredients include acrylic copolymer, which Beat The Bead – a campaign against microplastic – says is a microplastic. This means these dishwasher tablets aren’t exactly plastic-free. I’d like to see Smol move towards more ecologically sound ingredients.

Ecozone

Person holding ecozone dishwasher tablets

Ecozone dishwasher tablets* (£5.29 for 25 / 21.2p per load) at first sound good. They carry proof of Allergy UK certification. This ensures that these tablets won’t cause any adverse allergic reactions. What’s more, their tablets are cruelty-free, suitable for vegans and palm oil-free.

Ecozone’s mission is to ‘make your home an Ecozone’ to reduce the number of toxic chemicals in your home. They believe that homes should be safe and clean environments for all families and that the fight to keep germs at bay should come without compromise or toxicity.

ecozone microplastic ingredients

I agree with this to a point. Unfortunately, Ecozone dishwasher tablets contain an ingredient called sodium polyacrylate. Beat The Bead say that sodium polyacrylate is a microplastic and should be avoided. I’d like to see Ecozone move away from the use of plastic-based polymers in their ingredients.

Any Other Recommendations?

Have you found any other plastic-free dishwasher detergents?  Or have you been able to make your own dishwasher detergent successfully, without the horrible white and/or greasy films?  If so, you have my eternal respect!  Let me know in the comments below!

Garden, Home and Garden

All Year Round Bird Feeding Guide | AD

bird feeding guide

This bird feeding guide is paid-for content.

This winter has been a really harsh one for the poor little garden birds that frequent our garden.  We’ve been feeding the birds throughout the winter, and have seen all sorts of surprise visitors lately.  During the Beast from the East we even saw a group of long-tailed tits, at our feeder. This is something we’ve never seen in our garden before, so were giddy with excitement!

What I’ve found is that feeding the birds is such a rewarding feeling.  Knowing that you are doing something positive for wildlife who are so threatened by a double whammy of both habit loss and climate change gives you a huge feel-good factor.

That being said, feeding the birds isn’t quite as straightforward as putting kitchen scraps on a bird table. Nor is it as simple as putting a load of peanuts in a birdfeeder.  Certain foods can be harmful at certain times of the year. Therefore, it’s good to do a bit of research before you start feeding the birds.  Even if you’ve been feeding the birds for years, it’s also never too late to learn something new and make a positive difference.

The 12-Month Bird Feeding Guide

Luckily, the experts at Kennedy Wild Bird Foods have put together a handy 12-month bird feeding guide. This will help you know what the best foods are to feed garden birds and when:

all year round bird feeding guide

Pretty handy stuff!

It’s also really important to regularly clean your garden bird feeder. This helps to minimise the spread of disease among wild birds.  Scientists say garden bird feeders are contributing to the spread of serious diseases among wild birds, causing previously rare illnesses to become epidemics in some populations.

The RSPB has offered useful advice on how to keep your bird feeders clean and healthy. From cleaning and washing your bird table and hanging feeders regularly using a 5% disinfectant solution. They also suggest moving feeding stations to a new area every month to prevent droppings from accumulating underneath. There is a lot of solid advice that’s well worth a read.