It’s a sign of the times that, for many shoppers, finding a biodegradable soap for household use is no longer a bigger chore than doing the dishes. A soap’s biodegradability is often boasted right on the label, alongside safe, nontoxic and gentle.
Although the products are prevalent, they’re not created equal. Some of the following dish-cleaning options elevate the earth-friendly quotient by meeting additional standards, such as not testing on animals, and joining EPA initiatives. Plus, they’re all rated as nonirritating and nontoxic.
Method Dish Pump: We all know people who are anti-dirt and pro-environment, and their standard dish soap is a shining star in both categories. The list of surfactants, which is what to watch for in the biodegradable soap arena, includes coconut oil-derived sodium lauryl sulfate, alkyl polyglucoside derived from corn sugars and coconut oil and coconut oil-derived lauramine oxide. In addition to being biodegradable, the cucumber-scented version has earned an 8.5 product rating on goodguide.com, with a formidable 10 in the health category and 8.6 on the environment. Method is also part of the EPA’s Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative.
Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid: This well-recognized player in earth-friendly cleaning packs its detergents with all-natural scents, such as lavender and mint, lemongrass and clementine, and citrus and ginger, all of which include fragrance from the actual plant, not just its cheaper brethren. In addition to sodium lauryl sulfate and lauramine oxide, Seventh Generation’s plant-based surfactants include decyl glucoside and lauryl polyglucose, both of which are plant-based. Additionally, the product is Leaping Bunny certified (i.e., no new animal testing).
Ecover Dishwashing Liquid: Ecover’s line of plant-based dishwashing liquids work well enough to have impressed the persnickety judges over at Consumer Reports, and though there are a couple of fragrance options, the green tea extract in the grapefruit and green tea scent adds deodorizing properties to the product. This version, according to the company, also is safe for septic tanks and has minimal impact on aquatic life. And though it does contain sodium laureth sulfate, the plant-based origin combined with the lower level of health concerns surrounding this ubiquitous ingredient doesn’t raise alarms.
Clorox Green Works Dishwashing Liquid: Readily available on grocery and big-box store shelves across the country, this product boasts a similar roster of surfactants to those in Method and Seventh Generation’s dishwashing detergents: coconut-based alkyl polyglucoside and lauramine oxide, as well as plant-derived sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s a sign of how consumer spending has changed, indeed, when a brand inextricably entwined with bleach also produces a line dedicated to natural, earth-friendly ingredients (though one has to wonder what it means that its Canadian site boasts biodegradable ingredients whereas the U.S. version does not). Additionally, the product received an overall 7.5 on goodguide.com, with a 10 in health, though some of its resource use and policies led it to a 6.5 in the environmental rating.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap: Sure, it’s hard to find an all-natural dish soap that doesn’t smell really good, but it’s hard to beat the scents of Mrs. Meyer’s line of biodegradable dish soap. From basil to rosemary, honeysuckle to pine, lemon to orange and even the seasonal gingerbread, the brand has hankerings for spicy, floral, fruity and sweets covered. Like all the others, these soaps boast plant-derived surfactants, but they also contain, of all things, soap bark extract. This South American evergreen can be ground down to a powder that lathers when added to water, serving as a gentle and friendly substitute for traditional soap.
Know of other biodegradable soap? Leave us a note in the comments below.