Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No More...Dish Soap

I'm nearly out of dish soap. The dreaded day when I finally run out is almost here.

I've been scared of this day for many moons and have been wondering over and over, "What, oh what, am I going to do without dishwashing liquid?" and "Where, oh where, will I ever find plastic free dish soap?"

But no fear. Dr. B's is here.

I've discovered, as many others surely have, that Dr. Bronner's bar soap does a fine job at getting the grime off my plates and flatware.

Here's how I wash dishes:
  • For a large batch, I fill up the sink part way with hot water and swoosh my lemon-scented bar of soap around in it when it's done filling. Then I proceed as normal.
  • For a smaller batch, I just dab the sponge on the soap now and again and wash like I normally would
And that's it. My dishes come out sparkling clean. Yep, you gotta love Dr. B's!

(BTW, Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish uses Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, which comes in a bottle made of 100% post-consumer recycled platic. Definitely a decent option for those not into bar soap)

40 comments:

Grant said...

Do you have a local source for Dr. Bronnar's soap? If not, how do you reconcile the cost in shipping (environmental cost) versus something not quite as good (environmentally) but locally available. I know your blog is about plastic waste and not necessarily petroleum/energy usage, but I'm just curious.

I've been trying to find plastic-free and environmentally friendly items at my local grocery stores without much luck. So, now I'm weighing my options of buying something not-so-good which is nearby and already available vs. something a bit better, but which requires a drive vs. something plastic free and environmentally friendly, but which requires a lot of fuel to be delivered directly to my door.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

I love this idea. It actually didn't occur to me to use the bar soap to wash dishes without melting it and making it into liquid soap. When the Bronner's is gone, I'm trying it your way.

LifeLessPlastic said...

Hehe. Very cool!

Abigail said...

I am almost out of liquid soap too, luckly I don't use the sink much to wash dishes. With the 6 of us I tend to use the dishwasher and the Seventh Generation detergent. But this is a great suggestion, like Beth i would have never thought to use bar soap for the job!

Shannon Hodgins said...

Oh that's awesome! MyShell over at Color Your World Pink also just sent me some Maggie's Soap Nuts to try. She uses them for laundry, dishes, etc. and and makes soap nut juice with them. Shannon

LifeLessPlastic said...

Grant,

Interesting question and good points. I buy my Dr. Bronner's from Whole Foods, which means it has to be shipped from the California before I can get my hands on it.

I'll have to look around for a soap similar to Dr. B's that's made in the midwest. There's a possibility that I might be able to find something, although it's a lot more difficult to find eco-friendly products in Chicago than it is on the West coast. I guess you could say people just aren't as environmentally aware here.

The good thing is, even though my soap is being shipped quite a ways, by spending my money on a product like this one, I am at least showing interest in a "green" product. By buying products like Dr. B's, we can show the market that there is demand and money to be made from such products, which I think is a really important thing right now. After all, sometimes that's the best or only way change gets made.

Amanda said...

if you are looking for local soaps, check out localharvest.org: it's an amazing site for small-scale farmers and producers all over the country- you're sure to find someone close to you. there are soapmakers everywhere! you'll offset some of the effects of shipping by supporting people trying to make a living off their farms/land/skills, instead of large-scale industry. also a great source for personal care products, honey, jam and tons more...

abigail said...

try just plain old baking soda and hot water, about 4tbs for a regular sinkfull. rinse well so you don't get powder spots. we've been using it for a while now and we're stoked not to be chained to the plastic bottle anymore.

Leyna Faye said...

I am obsessed with Dr. Bronnar's soap! I fill my sink w/ water, a splash of soap, and a splash of vinegar and go to town. The vinegar does a great job of cutting through grease!

Baking soda can be used to make a paste that is a great scouring agent, as another poster mentioned. In fact, I can clean everything in my house (myself included) with Dr. Bronner's, Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Water. Amazing!

LifeLessPlastic said...

Thanks for the tips, Abigail and Leyna. I really like using Dr. B's and have found it sufficient for everything, but I can see how using baking soda and/or vinegar might help with something like butter every once in a while.

Julia said...

There are lots of recipes to make your own liquid dish soap on the internet. Buy a bottle of wine, drink it, and fill the empty bottle with the soap you made, put a spout on it (buy it at the kitchen supply store) and there you have it. Liquid soap. However, it sounds like you are having fun with the bar.

Audrey said...

Trader Joe's carries this Dr. Bronners bar soap, at least here in Portland, OR.
I use plain old washing soda to wash my dishes in a dishpan!

Pelicano said...

You could also try checking out local/outlying farmers' markets for handmade soaps; there are always a few hanging around the ones I visit.

Also, the "elder" generations know a thing or two about the "days before". I like talking to the mother of a friend of mine about these things: she used to make her own soap from saved animal fats and lye made from ashes. Soap for personal cleaning is a different story- vegetable oils are usually used; check out this recipe. She would also grate her bars of soap- whether home-made or store-bought- for ease of use for laundry or dishes.

Carynne said...

I love this idea! I've just moved into a new apartment and am trying as many of your plastic-free suggestions as I can. My roommate and I have been using Dr B's. For the most part, it's perfect. But occasionally, the glasses seem to be a little greasy and we've gotten some soapy-looking spots on the dishes. Have you had this problem? Any suggestions ?--I'm determined to make it work!

Also, do you have any idea whether dishwashers potentially save water (as compared to doing the dishes in the sink)? My roommate thinks they do, but I'm skeptical...

Great blog!! You are really inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Several years ago while traveling for work, I used to take a gasp, plastic bowl with me so I could eat in my hotel room. I had made oatmeal in my plastic bowl and the next day I went to clean it and the only thing I had was the hotel bar soap. So that's what I used. It dissolved that dried on oatmeal better than any dish soap I had ever tried.

The Peters Family Band is... said...

Is there something special about Dr. Bronner's, or would any bar soap work to wash dishes?

Anonymous said...

Modern dish soaps were created mostly in an attempt to be gentler on the hands, since doing dishes in the sink for long periods with a harsh detergent soap can murder your hands. Also, they're designed so a little goes a long ways. (If you've tried washing your hands with dish soap, you realize just how freaking hard it is to get the stuff totally rinsed off.) Dr. Bronner's soaps tend to be castille, which can be more drying, but wash off easier. Granted, they don't stay suddsed up as long, but who cares...soapy water is soapy water. (Dish soap afficianados may argue that you scrub your dishes with the suds, then rinse them in the water. But really, that's splitting hairs). For small loads, it doesn't really matter if you're using castille soap. For large loads, you should just use some rubber gloves. Or, you could try doing a sink of vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. It'll "suds" a little as the vinegar and baking soda react, but should make an interesting wash formula that's not too harsh on the hands.

Crystal said...

Has anyone ever thought of using bar soap in a crocheted "soap saver" to wash dishes?

I'm curious how this would work.

Brit said...

In regards to soap. You can also take your favorite soap, shave some off and put it in a soap dispenser (non-plastic). Once it "melts", you just use the soap pump as usual. Depending how much you dilute it, it goes a long way.

John said...

I have been using Kirk's bar soap for dishes. It is available here in the midwest at many large grocery stores though usually buried on the bottom shelf. 3 bar pack for about $3.

http://www.kirksnatural.com/barsoap.html

meganiph said...

Hi i make my own goats milk soap we now use it for cleaning us, our dishes, the toilets, as well as general cleaning and even our laundry. Its great for everything! We are also No Pooers {no shampoo}. We use baking soda and then a vinegar rinse for conditioner.

wildberries said...

can you use this in the dishwasher too?

RRobin said...

Grant said...
Do you have a local source for Dr. Bronnar's soap? If not, how do you reconcile the cost in shipping (environmental cost) versus something not quite as good (environmentally) but locally available.

**

Grant, what is your point?

Are you suggesting that liquid soap in plastic bottles is not shipped long distances? That seems like a pretty far-fetched assertion.

What proof do you have that bar soap is less "local" than liquid soap in plastic bottles? I'm sure they are both trucked cross-country, and the bottles are initially shipped to the liquid soap factory from who-knows-where before the full bottles are shipped to the the store. Then after the soap is consumed, there are the trucks that take the empty plastic bottles to the dump -- or the recycling center, where additional power is expended to turn the plastic into some other product (if we are so lucky).

Bars of soap take up less room and last longer than liquid soap in bottles -- they are therefore more efficient to ship -- so even if a bar of soap must travel cross-country before someone buys it, there is still a lot less energy consumed in the total process.

RR

Stephanie T. said...

Thanks. I too am trying to have a life of less plastic and I've been researching how I'm going to get by without the soap in a plastic bottle. Of course..bar soap! Hello. Works just as well. You could even just grate a little bit in the water...kind of make your own soap flakes. I'm excited about this. Thanks for the confirmation that it does work!

squiddy said...

We are going to try this! We've already switch to bar soap and shampoo (Chagrin Valley), as well as powder detergent (Nellie's) so this is the natural progression... We got them at Trader Joe's and WF. Sweet.

Anonymous said...

dr bronners, bath and body works BOTH use SLS!! its a cancer causing agent thats a cheap way to produce a nice lather, albeit a toxic one. i ran out of dish soap and started using my organic bar soap from vermontsoap.com, botaniesoap.com, and chagrinvalleysoapandcraft.com, for my dishes and will NEVER go back. the creamy, luxurious lather comes from palm kernel or coconut oil, no chemical fragrances, only essential oils (which cuts grease) to scent, and natural herbs and spices to color. i use a thin handy wipe, rub the soap all over it, and my dishes come out sparkling everytime, never a water mark, my hands come out soft, then i continue to scrub out my sink with it,the essential oil is a natural antibacterial, not a chemical one like in other commercial prod.the soap is good for your body, the environment, and it makes me happy that i'm not adding to the problem of chemical pollution. just be sure and hold onto your glasses and dishes, this is real, glycerine soap, and its slippery, your dishes will be squeaky clean, your hands will be soft...guaranteed. happy soaping! nora in mi

Downtown Foodie of Richmond said...

I actually really like the almond liquid soap by Dr. Bronner's. It has a great multipurpose scent. I use it for dishes, handwash, and occasionally mopping. It leaves a slight residue for mopping, so it should be followed with water, but besides that, it's fine. FYI, for whatever use, it must be diluted significantly as it is concentrated.

You can find it at the local health store. You can generally find the lavender or unscented at CVS, Walmart, and Target.

Jessica said...

We have a plain soap bar made with coconut oil that is great for doing dishes! No plastic in the packaging either! Just lye and coconut oil :)

http://gardenoffrancis.com (search for "bar soap for dishes")

Dans ta bulle said...

While you're at it I suggest you get rid of the plastic sponge as well. I have switched to bar soap and loofah sponge a few years ago and I never want to go back. the loofah is actually a vegetable so totally biodegradable, very resistant, lasts longer than a synthetic sponge and doesn't accumulate bacteria. It lathers very well also.

Ma ~ said...

I've been using bar soap (dove..I know, not the best, but it's a start) and baking soda.

I may try straight up baking soda.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bronner's does not contain SLS or any sulfates for that matter. Just look at the website and you will see how the sources are sustainable.

One molecule makes the difference whether the soap is liquid based or a bar soap:

"Soap is made by saponifying a fat or oil with an alkali." (Dr. Bronner's is a castille soap that is vegetable based) "The alkali is either sodium (for bars) or potassium (for liquids) hydroxide, made by running electricity through salt water..."

go to the site for more info.

What alternative would be good for plastic. Yes, it's 100% post consumer recycled, but what alternatives are appealing to consumers at this point? Would like to know for research... Thanks

Anonymous said...

The only Dr. Bronner's product that has SLS is the Sal-Suds. None of their soaps or other products include SLS as an ingredient.

Anonymous said...

In response to Nora, directly from the Dr. Bronner's website:

"Do your soaps contain any foaming agents/detergents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

Absolutely not. Our soaps are 100% true pure-castile soaps. The high foaming lather of our soaps is from their high coconut oil content, which makes a more luxurious and rich lather than any detergent can ever create. "

Don't mis-represent, yo!

Megan said...

The comment about making your own soap made me wonder if rancid oil can be used to make soap. Turns out that's a yes! Makes sense right? I've hated not knowing what do with used frying oil and other rancid oils, when it takes so many resources to manufacture. Here's an e-How article on making castile (vegetable-fat-based) soap from rancid oil: http://www.ehow.com/how_6862730_use-rancid-oil-soap.html

Wendi Weisenburger Brandon said...

You can find Castile soap at most grocery stores. I have seen many local-made varieties of Castile/lye soap at farm stores, too. Doesn't have to be Dr. Bonner.

Robert said...

Is this soap organic? Using organic products is really important to me; I even use organic pet shampoo! If it is organic, I would be over the moon. I love the idea of using bar soap for my dishes - it tends to last longer than liquid, and cost less.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bronner's IS NOT SLS, its Saponified Coconut Oil.

Anonymous said...

Okay I know this is an old thread but I have to praise the use of Dr. Bronners for cleaning dishes. I ran out of dish soap and had an old bronners bar in my bathroom stuff. So I filled the sink with water, ran the bar through, rubbed the bar in the wash cloth and washed. HOLY MOLY! It is fabulous!!!!!!!! Im SOLD! and will keep reading for other spectacular ideas on natural living. THANKS everyone!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous- mixing vinegar and baking soda together causes a chemical reaction that leaves you with nothing more than water and salt. the acetic acid in vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate in the baking soda to form carbonic acid, which is unstable. carbonic acid breaks down and carbon dioxide is released as gas into the air. you're left with water and sodium acetate which don't clean very well. better off to use vinegar and baking soda separately.

Anonymous said...

Grant, at drbronner.com, there's free shipping.