You’ve probably spent a lot of time in the kitchen sink cleaning dishes that have been splattered with the remnants of last night’s lasagna or hours-old egg yolk (yuck). Let’s face it: life happens, and getting to the dishes as quickly as you would want isn’t always possible. If you don’t have a powerful dish soap on hand, you’ll need a dish scrubber to get rid of stubborn food stains.
To find the best dish soaps, we scoured the market for everything from low-cost options to soaps that are good for your skin to dish soap bars (yes, they exist) and soaps that will remove even the toughest grease stains. What we think are the best dishwashing formulas on the market are listed below.
How we test dish soap
Our typical “greasy” soil mix, which includes canned spinach and green beans, mayonnaise, and solid shortening, is used to evaluate liquid dish cleansers in the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. We don our rubber gloves and begin washing once the smear has dried for two hours. It is our responsibility to control the temperature and volume of water and dish soap that we add to the basin.
The number of dishes each tester can wash before the suds “break” or flatten out — or the water becomes too unclean to do any more cleaning — is recorded along with the volume of suds when the test begins. It is also important for us to take into account the soap’s thickness, how well each detergent disperses the oil, how easy it is to disburse it, the components and the labeling. Our final step is to provide unlabeled bottles of product to consumers for them to test at home and report back. When we test cookware and dishwashers, we also use the dish soaps to clean up the lab.
Best Overall: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Liquid Dish Soap
The Free & Clear dish soap from Seventh Generation is our pick for the toughest-working dish soap on the market. This plant-based product is also EPA Safer Choice-certified, which confirms that “green” cleaning works. Hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and never tested on animals, the product comes in a biodegradable bottle with a cap made of post-consumer recycled plastic.
Seventh Generation is a great soap for removing grease and leaving behind no residues when used with a moderate amount of soap. Buying it is as simple as going to your local supermarket or ordering it from an online retailer like Amazon for a reasonable price. This soap, in our opinion, is a winner on every level.
Best Budget: Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Soap
While it’s tempting to criticize cheap products just on the basis of their price, we discovered that the finest budget dish soap is a combination of price and quality. As much as 2.5 times as much product is needed per wash with less expensive solutions, so you end up spending more money. One of the reasons Dawn is so well-known is that their goods function as advertised and are of high quality.
This is a good Dawn Ultra. A little bit of product may go a long way, so even if the 19.4-ounce bottle costs more up front, it actually costs less in the long term. As a result, you may get more cleaning done with less soap and less effort thanks to Dawn Ultra’s promise that their concentrated formula requires half the scrubbing. If you do a lot of dish-washing, you’ll appreciate the fact that this detergent is soft on your skin.
Best Natural: ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap Free & Clear
A lack of ingredient labeling by the FDA means that most customers have no idea what chemicals they’re exposing themselves and their family to. Environmentally-friendly cleaning products may sound like a good idea, but natural cleaners have a reputation for being less effective than their synthetic counterparts. There has been a lot of advancement in natural products, and we’re here to inform you about it.
The coconut-based surfactants in Ecos Dish Soap Free & Clear conform with the EPA Safer Choice criteria, making it safe to use around pets, in the workplace, and in the environment. There are no scents, no animal testing and no irritants in the ECOS solution. When compared to other dish soaps, this concentrated composition does not produce the same amount of foam, but it is quite effective at getting rid of grease and filth.
Best Bar: Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Bar Soap
Is there something you’ve always wanted to know, but haven’t yet discovered? Liquid dish soap can be replaced by bar soap produced with olive oil. Bar soap can last up to twice as long as liquid soap when used with the proper scrub brush. Instead of a plastic bottle, this bar soap is packaged in a 100 percent post-consumer recycled wrapper, making it both more affordable and nearly waste-free.
This dish soap from Dr. Bronner’s has a rich lather and is ideal for washing dishes. Even though it can’t handle severe messes as well as a dishwasher, you can still use it to clean up after yourself, especially when using non-dishwasher-safe items. So it’s a terrific multi-purpose cleaner because it’s all-natural and manufactured with vegan ingredients and organic oils, without dyes or synthetic fragrances. Use it on your face, body, and hair and it will leave your skin feeling hydrated and smooth. Eco-friendly, compact, and versatile, it’s an excellent choice for camping and travel.
Best for Grease: Dawn Platinum Power Wash Dish Spray
Dawn Platinum Power Wash Dish Spray is our recommendation for tackling stubborn grease. There is little doubt that Dawn’s formula removes grease five times faster than other brands’. The cleaning strength of Dawn soap means that a small amount will go a long way, so you will get your money’s worth. If you’re looking for a dish soap with a twist, go no further than this spray bottle version. A “spray-activated” function purports to break down and remove dirt without the use of water, Dawn claims.
When it comes to cleaning large pots, we found the spray feature to be just as effective as the original solution in the squeeze bottle, and it was a lot more convenient to use than the squeeze bottle. There are synthetic smell and dyes in Dawn Platinum that some people can find irritating. However, Dawn Platinum has been chosen to clean birds after oil spills since it is soft on the skin and tough on grease.
Best for Hard Water: Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena No-Rinse Cleaner
Flowing through layers of rocks, hard water picks up calcium and magnesium minerals. Even after washing, the white residue it typically left on the dishes gives the impression that they are still dirty. Natural soaps with water softeners are the greatest options for people with hard water problems.
Essential oils are included in this cruelty-free formulation of Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena Dish Soap, which is designed to remove even the toughest hard water stains the first time. Hands feel soft and moisturized after using this solution, which contains essential oils.
Best for Hands: Palmolive Soft Touch Concentrated Dish Washing Liquid
Dish soap, on the whole, is abrasive in nature but hand soap isn’t. Having dry, itchy, or even chapped skin is a common side effect of doing a lot of dishes all at once. For people with sensitive skin, Palmolive Ultra Soft Touch Liquid Dish Soap is an excellent choice.
Considering how well-known the company is for its hand soaps, it should come as no surprise that they include hydrating elements like aloe in their formulations to keep hands smooth even when doing a lot of dishes. Despite the fact that Palmolive’s Ultra Soft Touch soap is gentle on hands, it nonetheless has a strong lathering action. The dishes come out sparkling clean without the need for two rounds of hand-washing thanks to this recipe. This thick lather is equally as effective at removing filth as other dish soaps, so you won’t have to worry about getting your hands dry in the process.
Best Multipurpose: Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Liquid Soap
We tend to be dubious of claims that a single product has 18 different applications. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, on the other hand, lives up to its claim and more. You’ll want to stock up on this soap for everything from cleaning the house to lathering your hair and body. It’s prepared using organic, fair-trade ingredients. Because of this, it is possible to choose between eight various smells, which is convenient for those who have specific tastes.
Because you can adjust the dilution to suit the task at hand, this soap is an excellent all-purpose cleanser. Additionally, the product will last longer as a result of this method. Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap is available in a number of sizes and bottles, but we favor the squirt bottle for use on the counter and the larger bottles for storage and refilling.
Platinum Dishwashing Liquid
GH Cleaning Lab compares all other cleaning products against Dawn since it is so effective at cutting oil and dirt out of surfaces. Our GH Test Kitchen and Kitchen Appliances Lab are no exception, with bottles of the stuff stashed under every sink there. Suds are long-lasting, and grease is held in suspension so it doesn’t return to dishes after being cleaned. If you’re looking for an easy way to remove burnt-on messes from your kitchen, this is the product for you.
This Seventh Generation Dish Liquid illustrates that “green” products can clean, and they’re growing better and better. A winner in our test of plant-based dish solutions, this mix is EPA Safer Choice certified and biodegradable, and the bottle—including the cap—is produced from recycled plastic.
Concentrated Liquid Dish Soap
Even the bottle and the counter will be clear of messes thanks to Lemi Shine. The soap comes out of the bottom via a no-drip valve. Squeeze the tab after flipping it back into place. Leaving it open on your counter will not cause it to leak. Every drop counts! Citric extracts improve cleaning power in this EPA Safer Choice certified and biodegradable solution.
Dishwashing doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive task, right? In our comparison of the finest pampering dishwashing liquids, Caldrea came out on top because of its wonderful aroma and superior cleaning abilities. During our tests, a little bit went a long way, and the essential oils in the eight scents are so indulgent and, dare we say, “sweet,” you may never want to stop washing again!
Simple Pleasures Scented Dish Soap
Simple Pleasures Dish Soap, a Good Housekeeping Seal winner, is free of parabens and phthalates, two common chemicals in competing goods. Because it is perfumed with essential oils of mint, rosemary, lavender and lemon, this basic composition is pleasant to use as well as effective at removing grease. As long as you’re satisfied with your purchase, we’ll happily reimburse you the entire purchase price if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
Hand Renewal Dishwashing Liquid
If you don’t like washing dishes with rubber gloves, use this Dawn dishwashing liquid solution. It works just as well and is much kinder to your hands. At the same time, it cleaned better than other products in our tests since it was less drying. A little goes a long way with this Dawn dish soap, as it does with all Dawn dish soaps.
Limited Edition Dish Soap
Method dish soap comes in a beautiful bottle, but you don’t have to sacrifice performance for style. Method’s famous pump dispenser makes it easy to use exactly the proper amount of its top-performing formula so there’s no waste, and the pyramid-shaped bottle is comfortable to grip. This label will have all eyes on your dish soap if you like to leave it on your counter top to be seen.
Colorful, whimsical, and seasonal limited-edition labels are produced by Method in collaboration with textile designers, artists, and others. You won’t be able to choose just one!
What to Look for in Dish Soap
Dish soaps are available in a variety of pricing ranges. Each month, take into account the amount of dish soap you’ll use to clean dishes. Determine a price range for dish soap by narrowing down the many options and focusing on those that are within your budget. Afterwards, you’ll be able to choose the ideal soap for your needs and your money.
It is possible to get dish soap compositions that are completely different from one another. While some are environmentally friendly, others are packed with potent chemicals meant to remove as much fat as possible.. If you have sensitive skin, stay away from cosmetics that include harsh chemicals or overpowering smells. But if abrasives are what you’re looking for, you’ll need to get your hands on them.
While some dish soaps are developed to kill microorganisms and leave your dishes brilliant and white, others are designed to keep them clean. When it comes to dishwashing, there’s a product for everyone. To make the most informed purchase, examine the package and read customer reviews for each product.
How much dish soap should you use?
Fill your sink with warm water and add a tablespoon of dish soap to get the job done quickly. Too much dish soap might make it tough to clean your dishes.
What is dish soap made of?
Most dish soaps contain water as their primary ingredient and a detergent as their primary active ingredient. Surfactants with minimal skin irritability are commonly used in dishwashing detergents. The surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is an example of a popular surfactant with cleaning power.
How does dish soap work?
Dish soap molecules remove dirt, bacteria, and grease from dishes when activated with warm water and agitation from a dish brush. Scrubbing and rinsing the dishes with dish soap removes all of the dirt and leaving the dishes sparkling clean.
What else can dish soap be used for?
Dish soap can be used for more than just hand-washing dishes. You may use it to unclog your bathroom drain, make a homemade fruit fly trap, or even remove stains from clothes.
How well does the dish soap cut grease and baked on food bits?
Dish soap should be able to simply and quickly remove grease from pots and pan. The importance of keeping this in mind as I went through my roster was clear to me as I went through the many contenders.
How quickly and cleanly does it rinse?
When it comes to residue-free rinsing, not all dish soaps are made equal (even a little residue on plates can leave a soapy taste). After a warm water rinse, dish soaps that left no residue on the dishes received bonus points.
How simple is it to use and how often do you need to reload?
Hand-washing dishes with dish soap can be done in one of two ways. You can use a sponge to clean by putting dish soap on it and scrubbing the area you want to clean. Squirt a little amount of dishwashing liquid into a plastic tub or basin of warm water and agitate. Rinse the dishes once you’ve washed them in the mixture.
The majority of dish soaps may be used both ways. Some are only good in one manner. For the latter group, it’s common practice to include detailed instructions on the package label. This seemed a little restrictive to me.
When using a sponge to clean dishes, dish soaps lost points if the product had to be added repeatedly. In certain cases, items went further than others, and were rewarded for it with higher scores.
Does it come in a variety of scents that are pleasing yet not overpowering? And is there an unscented option for scent-sensitive dish-doers?
It’s not hard to find perfumed soaps that appeal to dishwashing aficionados. Personal tastes are, of course, subjective, and we took this in mind while conducting our research. It wasn’t possible for us to sample the scents from every company, but those that received good marks for their pleasant perfumes and unusual scents did well in our evaluation. If a company offers both perfumes and fragrance-free options, it gets an extra point (for dish-doers who have sensitive schnozzes).
Is it easy to find and well priced?
Extra points were awarded to products that were widely available and at a reasonable price.
Is it eco-friendly?
Environmentally conscious companies that also produce high-quality products for our kitchens have seen an increase in sales.
Other Soaps We Tested
My winning Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day recommendations were narrowly beaten by three other competitors. They all did a fantastic job of breaking down grease and getting the most out of my dish-cleaning money. Until recently, Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid (aka “Original Dawn” or “Blue Dawn”) has been my go-to dishwashing liquid, and its loyal following of dishwashers is extensive.
A little goes a long way, and its pleasant and light aroma makes it the finest grease-fighter in our group. Furthermore, it is a good sign that International Bird Rescue Research Center only uses Dawn to clean oil-spill birds because it is both an effective and light degreaser. Aside from a few exceptions, this brand is the only one of my conventional contenders to list what appears to be most of its ingredients, but it does contain both synthetic fragrance (synthetic dye) and product testing on animals, even though the company says it is working toward eliminating the practice.
Biodegradable Cleaner Dr. Bonner’s Sal Suds Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner gained traction as an amazing grease fighter with an exceptionally clean rinse. Dishwashing, on the other hand, didn’t go over well with its strong fir and spruce scents. With this multi-purpose cleaner, I’ll enjoy cleaning all other areas of my home, especially during the colder months, when its aroma will help to keep our Maine home cozy.
Biodegradable soap based on coconut oil that is tough on dishes and appropriate for use as a fruit and vegetable wash and pet shampoo, Planet Ultra, has won our hearts (and the hearts of many others on Amazon) with its incredibly delicate formula. When used with a sponge, it is less effective, even though it is an excellent choice for dishtub/soak cleaning.
A couple of the less-effective brands were Puracy, one of the few sulfate-free dish soap options (which can be good for people with allergies or sensitive skin). We docked this product one point since it isn’t as effective as our top-tier options, which are made by an Austin, Texas-based company that takes environmental and community responsibility seriously. (Also: it’s expensive.) Pink Geranium Liquid Dish Soap from Ecover smells great, is biodegradable, and non-toxic. But this dish soap is less effective (requiring frequent sponge reloads) and typically costs more than double the amount of our winner.
My eyes were drawn to the ECOS Dishmate Dish Liquid’s “carrot top” scent because I love using carrot tops in dishes. However, the scent was a letdown and the formula, which claimed to be biodegradable, hypoallergenic, dye-, paraben-, phosphate and phthalate-free, was gloppy and failed to live up to its “a little goes a long way” promise. I was disappointed. To get the job done, you’ll need to use a lot of elbow grease with this dish soap, which is pricier than our top option and doesn’t do a great job of getting rid of stubborn grease. Method Dish Soap (French Lavender smell) was too fragrant for our taste, and the pump-style dispenser was too difficult and prone to leaks. For conventional dish soaps, just two brands—Dawn Ultra and Clorox Ultra Concentrated—list their contents on the packaging.
Clorox specifies only inactive substances, and Dawn’s label isn’t clear as to whether the ingredients it mentions are all there are. Dawn Ultra was the best grease-cutter and had the mildest smell of all of our conventional competitors, including Ajax Ultra Super Degreaser (Lemon), Joy Ultra (Lemon), Palmolive Ultra Strength Liquid Dish Soap, and Gain Ultra. We were horrified by the chemical aroma of Palmolive, Gain, and Clorox products.
You can use any dish soap to clean dishes. The real question is whether or not they make sifting through greasy, filthy dishes a pleasurable experience. Seventh Generation is a great choice if you’re looking for an environmentally responsible product that performs the job well, has a non-scented, hypoallergenic fragrance, is reasonably priced, and goes the extra mile on ethical problems. Mrs. Meyers is another environmentally friendly dish soap with a garden-fresh scent. If you’re looking for a coconut oil-based, restricted ingredient, fragrance-free formula, Planet Ultra is the product for you. Dawn Ultra is a good choice if you prefer a more traditional dish soap.