Want to reduce your plastic usage? With these clever plastic-free bathroom products and tips, you can zero-waste the smallest room in the house in no time.
The bathroom can be a sea of plastic. Between shampoo and conditioner bottles, shower gel, toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and cleaning product bottles, it’s no wonder that the bathroom is one of the most plastic-heavy rooms in our homes.
Yet plastic is not fantastic. According to UNEP, globally, we produce about 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. And of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10% has been recycled.
If you are looking to reduce your plastic usage in the bathroom, then I’ve got heaps of clever tips and plastic-free product recommendations to help.
It’s quite a big post, and it would be easy to feel overwhelmed. But I am all about progress over perfection. There’s absolutely no need to bin all the plastic in your bathroom all at once. Consider it a journey. Use up what you have, and when you need to replace something check here for an alternative. And remember, if you can’t find an alternative that suits you, there’s zero shame involved.
The Best Plastic-Free Bathroom Products
Try these products to help you go plastic-free and green your hygiene routine:
- Solid Soap Bars
- Solid Shampoo Bars
- Plastic-Free Conditioner
- Plastic-Free Liquid Refills
- Plastic-Free Bubble Bath
- Zero-Waste Toothpaste
- Plastic-Free Toothbrushes
- Zero-Waste Dental Floss
- Zero-Waste Mouthwash
- Plastic-Free Toilet Roll
- Planet-Friendly Moisturiser
- Zero-Waste Razors
- Plastic-Free Shaving Foam
- Eco-Friendly Bathroom Cleaning Products
1. Switch To Soap Bars
One of the easiest plastic-free bathroom swaps to make is to switch from liquid hand wash and liquid shower gel to bar soap. It also can work out cheaper, as bar soap doesn’t contain as much water as shower gels or liquid soaps. This means they tend to last longer, saving you money as well as plastic.
However, not all bar soaps are equal. Palm oil, animal-derived ingredients, plastic, and toxic chemicals can all creep into our soap.
My top tips are to:
- Shop for vegan brands. Plant-based ingredients are just as effective as animal-derived ones. Yet some manufacturers use animal-derived substances like sodium tallowate and stearic acid. Glycerine may also be animal-derived. However, there are loads of vegan soaps out there. Look out for the Leaping Bunny label endorsing cruelty-free soaps.
- Consider palm oil-free soap. The mass production of palm oil has led to the destruction of rainforests, which has a knock-on effect on the climate, biodiversity and human rights. Although many companies source palm oil sustainably, with many members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the RSPO has been criticised for not doing enough to break links with deforestation.
- Opt for plastic-free soap. Although bars of soap can be sold unwrapped, or in paper or cardboard, many brands still wrap their soap in plastic wrap.
- Opt for natural soap. We’ve been using soap for thousands of years, and it is very effective in the fight against germs. Soap doesn’t need complex synthetic chemicals to be effective, yet some of the soaps available now are far from natural. Opt for soaps that don’t contain Triclosan – an antibacterial agent – as use over time may give rise to antibacterial resistance.
One of the best eco-friendly brands to try is Friendly Soap, an all-natural soap brand available at Ethical Superstore that packages its soap in cardboard. All of its soap is palm oil-free and vegan-certified. As well as being vegan, all soaps are cruelty-free, as Friendly Soap does not test its soaps or ingredients on animals.
For more recommendations check out my guide to sustainable soap brands.
2. Switch To A Plastic-Free Shampoo Bar
Just like soap bars, shampoo bars are fantastic plastic-free swaps for those bulky plastic shampoo bottles that clog up your bathroom. Some shampoo bars can replace anywhere between 2 and 4 bottles of shampoo, adding up to a whole lot of plastic savings.
However, It can be tricky to find the perfect bar. My top tips are:
- Look for pH-balanced bars. This ensures you’re buying a shampoo bar specially formulated for your hair, and not just a standard bar of soap repackaged as a shampoo bar. Using a soap bar is a fast track to greasy and waxy hair. Ingredients to avoid include Sodium Olivate (from olive oil), Sodium Cocoate (from coconut), and Sodium Castorate (from castor oil).
- Avoid plastic packaging. Like soap, some brands package their shampoo bars in plastic.
- Consider palm oil-free shampoo. To help minimise your impact on the environment.
One of my top recommendations is Kind2. This sustainable brand packages its pH-balanced shampoo bar in cardboard, and doesn’t use any palm oil or palm oil derivatives. I also love that my hair feels clean and fresh after every wash – with no greasy or waxy feeling.
Check out my guide to the best shampoo bars for every hair type – as recommended by Moral Fibres readers to help you find the right bar for your hair type.
3. Plastic-Free Conditioner
Plastic-free conditioner is a product I’ve personally found a bit tricky to swap to. I’ve not been too impressed by any conditioner bars that I’ve tried. Most have left my hair feeling really rough and dry. Not exactly the qualities that I look for in a conditioner.
I’ve had the most success switching to hair oil instead of conditioner. My favourite is Evolve’s weightless hair serum, which comes in a glass bottle. I add a few drops to freshly washed, damp hair and then let my hair dry. My hair feels really soft, smooth, and tangle-free, plus it smells like a chocolate orange (not a bad thing!). It also lasts for absolutely ages.
Otherwise, I consider this an area that is still a work in progress!
4. Swap to Liquid Refills
If you’re not ready to make the switch to solid soap and shampoo bars, or hair oil isn’t for you, then don’t worry. You can still opt for plastic-free bathroom products simply by switching to liquid refills.
Many brands, like Miniml and Faith In Nature, have refill stations in zero-waste shops up and down the country, where you can refill shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand soap. There’s no need to buy a new bottle – just use any bottle you have to reduce waste and cut costs.
If you don’t have access to a local refill shop, then again, don’t worry. Many brands make it easy to refill and repeat at home – and let you send back the packaging to be reused again and again. Some of my zero-waste favourites include:
- Miniml. For sustainably made personal care products, Minimil is a great choice. Buy a 5-litre liquid refill carton, and once done, send it back to Miniml, who will wash and reuse the carton again and again.
- Faith In Nature. At Faith In Nature (available at Big Green Smile), you can buy 5-litre cartons of all its beauty products to refill your own bottles at home. These can then be returned to Faith In Nature for recycling when empty.
- Bower Collective. If you lack storage space, or can’t afford to buy in bulk 5-litre sizes then Bower Collective is for you. Here you can buy sustainable refills in 1-litre pouches. When you refill your bottles, pop the pouches back in the post to Bower Collective, who will reuse them.
5. Plastic-Free Bubble Bath
If you love a good bubble bath, then there are still plastic-free products available. I mainly use a squirt of liquid shampoo or body wash as my bubble bath, but if you are looking for something more specific I’ve got heaps of suggestions.
My kids love bath bombs – when they were younger, they certainly made it easier to coax them into the bath. However, bath bombs don’t come cheap and finding the balance between getting my kids to enjoy bathtime, and a low cost per bath was a tricky one to find.
In the end, the best balance I found was to use mini bath bombs, like these mini bath bombs from Etsy that come in a cardboard box. At £6.99 for a box of 21, this works out at 33p per bath bomb. With all the fun of standard-sized bath bombs, these mini ones are perfect for shallower baths that kids have.
Plastic-Free Bubble Bath & Salts
For an indulgent plastic-free bathroom treat, I’ve used Humble products (available from Sephora). The bath honey (although not vegan-friendly) smells delicious and creates a luxurious foam. Meanwhile, the bath salts (vegan-friendly) smell divine. The pretty glass jars are also completely reusable.
6. Zero-Waste Toothpaste
This would be no guide without reference to that absolute essential – toothpaste.
Sourcing plastic-free toothpaste for your bathroom can be tricky as many zero-waste products don’t contain fluoride.
Some of the best brands that do include:
- Ben & Anna. For fluoride toothpaste in a glass jar, then Ben & Anna is the brand to try. Available at Ethical Superstore, it provides all the benefits of regular toothpaste without the plastic.
- Parla. Looking for a no-mess way to clean your teeth? Parla’s very minty toothpaste tablets with fluoride are for you. Simply chew the tablet to activate the foam and then brush. Find Parla at Bower Collective.
- Happier. If dental tablets are not your thing, then check out Happier toothpaste – available at Bower Collective. This vegan-friendly and plastic-free fluoride toothpaste comes in an old-school aluminium tube that can be fully recycled when done.
7. Plastic-Free Toothbrushes
It’s estimated that, in the UK alone, we collectively bin 200 million toothbrushes each year. That’s a whole lot of plastic heading straight to landfill.
If you’re looking to green your dental routine, then consider switching to a plastic-free toothbrush. Bamboo or wooden toothbrushes can picked up from heaps of shops, such as &Keep, and make for a good low-waste alternative.
Do note that most eco-friendly toothbrushes have nylon (plastic) bristles so aren’t entirely plastic-free. This means you have to remove the bristles before composting the handle when your toothbrush needs to be replaced.
If you want a completely plastic-free solution, Battle Green – available on Etsy – sells a bamboo toothbrush with plant-based bristles derived from castor oil. Pictured above, this offers an effective way to clean your teeth without the nylon.
8. Zero-Waste Dental Floss
Don’t forget to floss! Personally, I have struggled to find a good plastic-free floss. I have tightly packed teeth, and nothing I’ve tried so far works as well as conventional satin tape. It’s an area that’s definitely a work in progress in my own plastic-free bathroom journey.
If you have better tooth alignment than mine, try these plastic-free dental floss suggestions.
9. Zero-Waste Mouthwash
Thankfully, effective zero-waste mouthwash is much easier to find. Whether you prefer metal bottles or dissolvable tablets, heaps of brands have made it easy to ditch unwanted plastic in the bathroom.
I’ve rounded up my favourite sustainable mouthwash brands right here.
10. Plastic-Free Toilet Roll
Another easy way to go zero-waste in the bathroom is to switch to plastic-free toilet paper. Once quite a complex picture, there are heaps of accessible options in 2023.
In terms of value and accessibility, I’m a big fan of Sainsbury’s recycled toilet paper. The toilet paper is made in the UK from FSC-certified recycled paper. The pack is then wrapped in paper – no plastic here. It costs just £3.30 for 9 rolls, you can pick it up at your local supermarket, and there’s no need to find a place to store heaps rolls of loo rolls at a time!
Other options I like include Ecoleaf, which is also made in the UK from recycled paper and comes in a compostable wrapper. It does cost almost double though – it’s currently £7.35 for 9 rolls at Ethical Superstore.
I also really like Serious Tissues (get 10% off with my link). I have a recurring subscription for a box of 36 toilet rolls, which costs £31.05 – with free delivery. These are all plastic-free and are made in the UK from recycled paper. I also love that they aren’t individually wrapped (I hate individually wrapped toilet rolls – it seems like such a waste of resources). Plus Serious Tissues plant trees with every order.
You can also check out my guide to the best plastic-free toilet paper for a comprehensive look at what the best options are out there. I’ve also got an updated eco-friendly toilet paper guide, that comes complete with a spreadsheet. I know some people like that sort of thing!
11. Planet-Friendly Moisturiser
Many moisturisers come in plastic tubes, but it doesn’t have to be that way. UpCircle makes a wonderful plastic-free moisturiser that avoids palm oil and uses organic ingredients.
That’s not all there is to love about UpCircle. This British brand specialises in upcycling food waste ingredients into effective skincare products. All of its products are vegan and cruelty-free. Meanwhile, UpCircle never uses any SLS, SLEs, parabens, mineral oil, perfume or sulfates in its products.
Looking for more recommendations? Try my guide to the best zero-waste moisturisers.
12. Zero-Waste Razors
For fuss-free shaving that’s kind to the environment, consider switching over to a safety razor. Once you get over the initial fear factor it’s an easy zero-waste way to shave. Simply glide it along your skin without putting pressure down and I promise no cuts!
Jungle Culture sells beautiful men’s and women’s razors for £18.99 that are precision-engineered to provide a smooth and comfortable zero-waste shaving experience. Each has a textured grip and extra long chrome metal handle, to help shave hard-to-reach areas.
13. Plastic-Free Shaving Foam
For a shaving foam alternative, Suma’s Shaving Soap (£3.25 from Ethical Superstore) is a great zero-waste choice. It comes packaged in recyclable cardboard packaging, so is very low waste.
Suitable for vegans and vegetarians, this made-in-the-UK coffee and cedarwood shaving soap is free from palm oil, parabens, SLS/SLES, phthalates, and triclosan. It’s also certified cruelty-free with no animal testing.
You can also check out my dedicated guide to eco-friendly shaving for more recommendations.
14. Eco-Friendly Cleaning
Finally, as well as keeping you clean, there’s no getting around the fact that we need to keep our bathrooms clean too.
To cut down on plastic waste, I’m a huge fan of making my own planet-friendly cleaning products. Things like my homemade bathroom cleaning wipes, pictured above, help make plastic-free cleaning a breeze.