How to Naturally Clean Your Dishes

Eco-Friendly Dish Washing from Dishwasher Tips to Using Natural Dish Soap

Dishwashing can be a great drain on your time, budget and the environment, especially given the conventional chemicals used in dish soaps and automatic dishwashing liquids and powders. The debate between which is better for the planet - hand washing or using the dishwasher - rages on. Settle the debate for yourself and green-up your dishwashing routine regardless of your habits with these eco-friendly dish washing tips.


Dishwasher tips

When you’ve got an energy efficient dishwasher, like those qualified by ENERGY STAR for their minimal use of water and energy, using a dishwasher can be a time and money saver (cutting utility bills by as much as $40 annually and reducing dishwashing time by up to 230 hours every year!)(1). To make your auto dishwashing habits the greenest they can be, follow these guidelines:

  • No pre-rinsing: If you can, try to avoid pre-rinsing your dishes as this can be a waste of water and energy. Instead, use a rubber spatula or scraper to manually remove food scraps before loading them.
  • Wash full loads: With an automatic dishwasher, you can minimize water consumption by running only full loads of dishes.
  • Efficient cycle: Use the most efficient wash cycle for the type of load you’re cleaning. If not that dirty, choose a cycle that minimizes water use and heat.
  • Phosphate-free dishwashing soap: Shop for eco-friendly automatic dishwashing detergents made without phosphates and preferably free of petrochemicals.
  • Air dry: If your dishwasher has an air dry feature, choose that over a heat dry option as this will cut down on energy consumption and will cause less wear to your dishes. Without an air dry setting, just open your dishwasher door as the dry cycle begins to air dry your dishes naturally. If you live in a dry climate, this is a great way to humidify your indoor air!



Eco-friendly ways to hand wash your dishes 

If you have a less than effective dishwasher, then hand washing may be a greener dishwashing solution. With this option, you can control how much water and dish soap you use. Using man power rather than chemicals by scrubbing away the food. This is an especially eco-friendly dishwashing solution when you only have a few dishes to clean.(2)

But to make your dishwashing habits greener, follow these tips:

  • Minimize water use: Be sure to fill the sink only as far as is necessary and use rinse water sparingly. Don’t use the water to “scrub” the dishes - instead employ an actual dish cloth or scrub brush.
  • Low-flow faucet aerator: To reduce the amount of water flowing from your tap, look for low-flow faucet aerators rated for 2.5 gallons per minute or less.
  • Natural dishwashing products: Mild, plant-based cleaning products are best for you and the environment and are easier to find than ever.
  • Air dry dishes: Though you may be tempted to towel-dry your dishes, it’s actually more sanitary to let them air dry, and this method will save you time, too!
  • Eco grease cutters: Reduce dishwashing grease by sprinkling some baking soda in your soapy water to reduce the slick.


Natural dish soap

Whether you choose to hand wash or use your dishwashing machine, you have to also think of the dish soaps you use. Did you know that about 10% of all calls to poison control centers are because of exposure to household cleaners; dishwashing liquids being the chief culprit among children. Conventional dishwashing liquids can contain diethanolamine (DEA) which can combine with other substances to form carcinogenic nitrosamines. These natural dish soap brands are highly reliable for their eco-friendly reputations and will get your dishes as clean as conventional products:

Make your dishwashing routine even greener by choosing dish soaps and dishwashing detergents that are not tested on animals. To find vegan products that haven’t been tested on animals, look for the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo to be sure that you’ve got a cruelty-free product.



1 Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing Dishes. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2010, from ENERGY STAR:

2 This or That: Dishwasher vs. Hand-Washing. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2010, from Rodale Institute:

3 The Benefits of Organic Dishwashing Liquid. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2010, from Global Healing Center:

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