Are Solid Dish Soap Bars an Effective Zero-Waste Alternative: An Honest Review

If you have become more eco-conscious or simply more aware of the products you use that come in plastic packaging, you’ve probably wondered what sustainable alternatives there are to plastic liquid dish soap refill bottles.

So have you ever asked yourself “is there bar dish soap?”.

The answer is yes…but inform yourself first by reading on to decide if you actually want to make this switch to solid dish soap.

I was looking for a way to cut back on continually purchasing soap refills that came in plastic bottles. A solid dish soap block seemed like the perfect non-toxic and zero-waste alternative so I tried it out.

solid dish soap and natural dish brushes


  1. Solid dish soap: this No Tox Life solid dish soap block
  2. Zero-waste soap dish made out of biodegradable corn starch and bamboo: this zero-waste soap dish on Etsy
  3. Sturdy & natural bamboo dish brushes: this 5-pack from Amazon

Since I have been using these eco-friendly products for over 3 months I have learned a bit. Especially what I like and dislike about using solid dish soap.

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Pros & Cons

solid dish soap comparison


1. Zero-Waste –

Instead of coming in plastic packaging, solid dish soap often comes in very limited sustainable paper or cardboard packaging. Sometimes they come in metal tins that look nice at your sink and are reusable or recyclable.

2. Actually Works –

This one is going in both the pros and cons lists because yes solid dish soap does work, but it does not work as well. It is tough on grease, but not as tough on grease as your typical liquid dish soap like dawn soap.

^ The solid dish soap I used did actually create suds.


1. Harder to Use –

This is not as low-maintenance as liquid dish soap. Instead of pumping a drop of dish soap onto your dish brush, this alternative to liquid dish soap requires a little extra work.

There’s a slightly more involved process to get your dish brush sudsy compared to one pump of liquid soap. You’ll have to dunk the soap block under running water and then hold the soap in place with one hand while you scrub your brush across it several times.

ALSO it requires extra clean up to remove gunk from the bottom of the soap dish or to remove food particles from the soap block.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Looks Dirty –

As I just mentioned above, dish soap bars collect food particles. As you swipe your sponge or dish brush across the bar soap, clean your dirty dish, and then return to the solid soap bar it gathers food particles. And this looks quite disgusting.

If you are wanting a very clean look for your kitchen sink and counter, you will have to take extra care to clean off your dish soap block (which seems a little ridiculous if you ask me)!

Related: 9 Sustainable Kitchen Swaps for an Eco-Friendly House

3. Uneven Wear –

As you use the solid dish soap bar it will start to wear down in the middle of the block. As I noticed this happening to my own dish soap bar, I purposely used the edges of the soap so that it would wear evenly, but the edges were not as damp and my efforts did not pay off. The middle of the bar wore so much that it broke down into two pieces.

Now when I use the soap block, the two smaller pieces will not stay put in their soap dish so I have to pick them up by hand to lather onto the dish brush.

uneven dish soap bar

4. Does Not Work As Well

I actually mentioned this in the pros list. Solid dish soap does cut grease and cleans dishes pretty well, but just be warned that it is not quite as effective as those powerful dish soaps like dawn soap that you might be used to.

bamboo dish brush with soap

5. Dish Brush Lines –

A wet sponge may work better for solid dish soap because dish brushes don’t become “damp” the same as sponges. They, therefore, create deep brush lines in the soap that look bad and collect food particles.

brush lines on solid dish soap bar

6. Strange Smell –

This con is listed last because it is more of a complaint from my husband. I do not notice any smell from this dish soap as it is technically “unscented”. My husband, however, has a better sense of smell than me and immediately started noting the strange smell of this soap. If you have a sensitive nose, beware.

Even if you don’t notice a weird smell from solid dish soap, it is not going have the same strong and pleasant smell that many liquid dish soaps have. With most solid dish blocks you will probably have to say goodbye to those floral, lavender, and lemon scents you love.

solid dish soap vs liquid

Related: 8 Ways to Reuse Containers in Your Kitchen

Solid Dish Soap Questions:

#1. How long does bar dish soap last?

Depending on the frequency of use, a dish soap bar will last about 4 months.

To save water I only hand wash dishes that don’t go in the dishwasher, such as pots and metal water bottles.

So in my own experience, I have been using a solid dish soap bar for 3 months and it has now become two small uneven pieces. This has made sustainable dishwashing is even more difficult.

I estimate the solid dish soap block will last one more month for a total of 4 [torturous] months of using this solid dish soap in the name of “zero-waste”.

I’ll keep you in the loop as I look for a better eco-conscious dish soap alternative…

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#2. How do dish soap bars work?

Dish soap bars work similarly to liquid dish soap. If it’s a good quality bar dish soap it will still create suds but there is one key difference for solid dish soap vs liquid. In order for the solid dish soap to apply to your dish brush or sponge, you will need to briefly run the bar soap under the tap first. It also helps if your sponge or dish brush is slightly damp. After they are both damp, you can continue reapplying the soap to the brush without repeating this process.

solid dish soap and bamboo dish brush

#3. Where can I buy solid dish soap?

If you’ve read this far and still want to make the switch to this sustainable dish soap alternative, you’re obviously wondering where you can buy solid dish soap.

I purchased this solid dish soap block from Amazon. Etsy also sells the same one. Some places are starting to carry more sustainable items like these such as Walmart and drug stores like Walgreens and CVS.

half dish soap bar


In conclusion…

You can see I’m not the biggest fan of solid dish soap! But that’s just me… If you’ve read the pros and cons of this plastic-free way to wash your dishes and decided the downsides are worth it for the environment, then go for it!

Stay tuned for the best eco-friendly alternatives to plastic-bottled dish soap.

What do you think? Are you going to give solid dish soap a try? Have you discovered a better sustainable dish soap option? Let us know!

(Maybe you can tell by the absurd amount of pictures I’ve taken of my soap how long I’ve been wanting to share the truth about it!)

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