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Best Plastic-Free Dishwasher Detergent & Tablets in 2022

plastic-free dishwasher detergent

Hello!  In an ongoing quest to try and reduce my plastic usage let’s talk plastic-free dishwasher detergent and tablets.

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, 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.

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 simply not worth the very real threat of getting listed as a suspected terrorist!

The Best Plastic-Free Dishwasher 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. 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.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets

plastic free dishwasher detergent UK

Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets (£13.49 for 70*; or £5.45 for 25*) 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.  However, as in all aspects of ethical living, it is practically impossible to find a product that is 100% perfect in every way.

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 towards microplastic.  The good news is Grist says no.  It breaks down to carbon dioxide and water.

The 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.

Smol Dishwasher Tablets

Want plastic-free dishwasher tablets without the fuss? With Smol, you can set up a subscription whereby a box of dishwasher tablets will arrive at your home at a frequency that suits you.

Try Smol out for free* (just pay £1 postage) and then 30 tablets cost £4.60.

Smol dishwasher tablets come packaged in a cardboard box that fits through your letterbox. As Smol’s pink and white tablets look like sweets, Smol have considerately made their cardboard box childproof. This means, if your child gets to the post first, they can’t get into the box, which is great. The only problem I’ve found is that as well as being childproof, the box is also adult-proof too. Between us, my partner and I have three university and college degrees, and we have been completely unable to open the box beyond tearing it to shreds. If you have mobility problems you may well struggle with Smol.

Smol’s dishwasher tablets are cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny approved, and 100% free of any animal-derived ingredients. In terms of what they are made of, it’s a bit opaque. Beyond that, Smol doesn’t tout their tablets as being chemically environmentally friendly. All that Smol says is that “using Smol technology we have found a way to use lower levels of added chemicals per wash when compared to the other tablets brands“.  So although they use fewer harsh chemicals this means their ingredients don’t have particular sustainability or eco-friendly credentials. I’d really like to see Smol move towards more ecologically sound ingredients.

Ecozone

Looking for a plastic-free dishwasher detergent that’s allergy-friendly? Ecozone dishwasher tablets* (£5.29 for 25) are both plastic-free and 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 and suitable for vegans.

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. I have to agree with this – I’ve not had any problem cleaning my dishes with Ecozone.

Fill Dishwasher Powder

fill dishwasher powder refillable plastic-free

Fill dishwasher powder* (£7.36 for 500g) 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 10kg bulk refill bag* (£33) to reduce waste.  This comes in a plastic-free cotton stitched brown paper bag, so there’s no sneaky plastic in your dishwasher detergent here either.

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!

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Where to Buy White Vinegar in Bulk For All Your Cleaning Needs

where to buy white vinegar in bulk uk

Hello!  Let’s talk vinegar – specifically, where to buy white vinegar in bulk for all your cleaning needs.  You see, I go through a lot of white vinegar in our house. If I’m not cleaning with it, I’m pickling and preserving the bounty from our allotment.

where to buy white vinegar in bulk uk

Given that scientists have warned that conventional cleaning products could be as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, I’m really big on making my own natural cleaning products with simple yet effective ingredients.  

Vinegar is a key component in my natural cleaning arsenal, so I do buy a lot of it.  

Glass bottles of white vinegar can be picked up relatively cheaply from the supermarket or corner shop.  Here it’s around 80p for just shy of 500 ml.  And what I love is that the glass vinegar bottles are very useful.  Simply pop a spray nozzle on the bottle once you’re done and you’ve got an instant eco-friendly cleaning bottle.

The thing is, when you’re using vinegar in relatively higher quantities, the price soon adds up.  Shop assistants also give you funny looks when you start buying five bottles of vinegar in one transaction.  Voice of experience here.

Some supermarkets (cough, Sainsburys) have also started packaging their small bottles of vinegar in plastic bottles, instead of glass.  Buying vinegar in bulk helps save plastic, as less plastic goes into making a bulk bottle than the equivalent amount of small bottles.  Let alone having a smaller carbon footprint in terms of transport.  

To save money, plastic, and to save blushes, instead, I buy my white vinegar in bulk online and get it delivered to my door.

Where to Buy White Vinegar in Bulk

Looking to buy vinegar in bulk too?  I have found the cheapest place to purchase white vinegar in bulk,  Let me share my secrets with you.

eBay is by far the cheapest place I’ve found to buy vinegar in bulk sizes.  Early in the New Year, I picked up 20 litres of Golden Swan vinegar.  This cost me a mere £7.94 with free postage. That’s around 40p per litre.  Compared to the £1.60 a litre when buying the glass bottles, that’s a whopping saving of £1.20 per litre.

Do note that the price of vinegar tends to fluctuate on eBay.  At the time of writing the average price is around £15 with free postage.  This still works out cheaper than buying from the supermarket, as this works out at 75p a litre.  Do check here* to see the current going rate.  Alternatively, Amazon* is another place to check.

Worried about storing 20 litres of vinegar?  Worry not, the vinegar arrives in four 5 litre cartons.  These are a lot more manageable to handle and store than one 20 litre container.  To make life easier I decant the vinegar into a glass bottle (an empty gin bottle!) to make it even easier to pour.

What’s the Shelf Life?

Unopened bottles of bulk vinegar will last for around 2 years.  Once opened, the vinegar will last for around 6 months.  I’ve never had a problem using up vinegar within 6 months, as I have a ton of uses around the house for vinegar.  I’ve listed some of my favourite uses below – from cleaning to laundry, to even in the garden – to help you avoid waste. If your vinegar hasn’t been used up in 6 months then as with any best before dates then do exercise common sense. If it looks off or smells off, then it’s probably off. And if not, it’s probably safe to use, particularly if you are just using vinegar for cleaning with.

What About British Made Vinegar in Bulk?

I get the occasional email asking me why I’m not promoting British-made vinegar.  Golden Swan vinegar is actually produced in the UK, and so it’s a great choice for supporting British-made produce.  

Can I Buy Bulk Vinegar Without the Plastic?

It is frustrating not being able to buy white vinegar in bulk without the plastic.  The thing is that it’s simply not practical to transport vinegar in large glass bottles.  Doing so would prohibitively push the price up of this cheap and eco-friendly staple.  And vinegar can’t be stored in metal, as vinegar is corrosive, so plastic it is.  

However, if you’re looking to cut down on your plastic waste, then the other option would be to visit your local zero-waste shop if you have one nearby.  Here you’ll be able to fill up on vinegar, using your own container.  

What Can You Use White Vinegar For?

white vinegar in bulk

White vinegar has a myriad of uses around the home and in the garden.  Here are some of my favourite white vinegar uses:

There are also more ideas for using white vinegar to clean your home in my new book, Fresh Clean Home.  This is packed full of green cleaning recipes for every corner of your home.  It’s out now, so do check it out.  Of course, it’s not all about vinegar – there are lots of other great ways to clean your home naturally without vinegar which I cover in the book too.

Have you found white vinegar cheaper anywhere else?  Do let me know – I love a good deal on vinegar!  Some people get excited by sales on clothes or TVs.  Not me, no, I get excited by sales on vinegar…!

Please note – don’t use vinegar on granite, stone, marble, quartz, or similar surfaces, as it can damage the stone.  This DIY cleaning spray is better suited for those types of surfaces.