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.
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Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets
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.
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* (£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!