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Should You Switch to Solid Dish ‘Soap’?

Being plastic free in the bathroom is something many of us are very used to by now, but what about the kitchen? Maybe it is time to move on to another room.

One thing that bothered me was empty dishwash liquid bottles. It’s a rough calculation, but if every household in New Zealand (about 1.8million) discards 8 dish liquid bottles a year, that’s over 14 million bottles. Just for that one item. Scary, isn’t it? Obviously, the other option is refilling, but honestly, if I can find an effective zero waste dish soap that doesn’t involve driving empty bottles around town to refill them, I would wayyy rather take it. Let’s face it, recycling is not the ideal solution, reducing our consumption is far more effective.

Plastic-free dish ‘soap’ that actually cleans.

I’m not the first person to think about using a plastic free dish soap. But Kiwis want a solid dish soap that works. What we currently get in a bottle is actually a detergent - not a soap - and detergents are much more effective for washing dishes.

I started to think about this during New Zealand’s first lockdown last year. I’ve been making shampoo and conditioner bars for about three years now and they are detergents. So, I figured I should be able to make a solid detergent for dishwashing and then I could bring back granny’s soap shaker cage. Most people over the age of about 45 will remember these - a hinged stainless steel basket with two handles that fold together and are secured by a sliding ring. Until plastic came along, the only way to wash dishes was one to put a bar of Sunlight soap inside one of these and swish it around in the sink to raise a few lacklustre suds. It wasn’t particularly effective and if you had hard water you ended up with soap scum. But I knew if I could put a detergent bar in a cage, it would be a whole different story.

So, I got in the workshop and started formulating and came up with the Soap Kitchen dish detergent bar after a couple of iterations. It is a winner. It is sudsy, lasts well and is a great grease cutter. I’ve had more than one customer tell me they think it is more effective than liquid. My zero waste dish soap is actually a detergent and that’s why my customers love it.

Now, I’m also having the soap shaker cages made for me, so the Soap Kitchen is a one stop shop to buy your soap shaker and bar. Even better, my combo deal gives you a chance to try the bar and the soap cage at a reasonable price - you get one of each for $35. Customers who then try a different bar usually come back to me, saying the Soap Kitchen dish detergent bar is far better.

How long do our dish detergent bars last?

It depends on how much hand washing you do, but a bar seems to last most people about three weeks which works out to about $2 a week. I’m not sure about you, but I’m happy to pay $2 a week to potentially remove 14 million plastic bottles from our waste system. The cage is solid stainless and should last pretty much forever. And, importantly, hubbies seem to find the swishing rather satisfying!

Can you wash just one dish with a dish detergent bar?

The question I am asked the most is how to wash just one dish using the bar and cage. The answer is simple. You keep your cage in a dish that it will drain into and you end up with concentrated detergent in the bottom of it.

So, when you want to wash just one item, you either dip your brush into the dish, or just tip a little of it onto the dirty item, and away you go.


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