I Only Wash Dishes with Bar Soap Now Because This Eco-Friendly Brand Made Me a Believer

published Apr 30, 2023
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Canary Clean dish soap bar
Credit: Su-Jit Lin

One of the first things I did when I bought my home in Atlanta was a cosmetic overhaul of my early 2000s builder-grade kitchen. The appliances were great and the cabinets were fine; I couldn’t justify a total gut renovation. Within months of moving in, I treated myself to a stunning aqua quartzite countertop with a dramatic waterfall edge. It’s *chef’s kiss.*

However, I made one terrible mistake that “sinks” my stomach with deep regret every time I see it. Not only did I foolishly choose the 60/40 double sink instead of a single massive one — resulting in one unused section that just collects pink mold, and another that isn’t big enough for my pans to soak in — but I also opted out of the built-in soap dispenser. I regretted this the minute I placed my store-bought dish soap on what could have been an immaculate countertop. 

A tall soap bottle collected soap drips around the dispenser rim in a quite literally tacky fashion; I tried hiding the unsightly bottle in the smaller sink’s basin, but its top still peeked out when it wasn’t toppling over. Then, I tried some liquid soap dispensers, hoping I could at least make it blend in. Some looked better than others, like a cute clear dispenser with a built-in sponge holder, or this squat one that pumps soap upwards (find a much nicer OXO version here) and somewhat hides the sponge. But at the end of the day, all of these options still made the faucet area look cluttered and messy, negating the luxury of my gorgeous, new countertops. Plus, all dish soap dispensers, in my humble opinion, push out way too much soap — especially for someone who lives alone (and pities our planet), it’s a total waste of soap and water to have to rinse my sponge and plates profusely of the exuberant suds that turn into dull scum. 

When I caught wind of bar dish soap as a concept, I was skeptical but excited to try it. For both storage and eco-conscious reasons, I’d already switched over to old-school bars not only for shower soap, but also for shampoo and conditioner, too (I’m obsessed with ATTITUDE’s Leaves bars). So, why not for my dishes? Enter: Sea Witch Botanicals Canary Clean Solid Dish Soap. Boy am I glad I got off the bottle.  

What’s So Great About Sea Witch Botanicals’ Canary Clean Solid Dish Soap?

First, there’s the sustainability angle — there is absolutely zero plastic involved in the making and packaging of the solid dish soap bars. It’s completely plant-based, which makes it biodegradable so I can rest assured that any run-off will safely dissolve in my pipes, keeping our water supply untainted by added chemicals. It’s also detergent-free and uses completely natural cleaners and essential oils to clean my dishes, which makes it feel somehow safer for scrubbing my eating surfaces. 

On top of that, there are no synthetic fragrances to irritate sensitive skin or noses. The natural aroma of this dish soap is a light, watered-down citrus with the slightest hint of citronella. Plus, there are no colorants to stain anything or cause a skin reaction, and no phosphates, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, or petroleum (a resource we should all cut back on).

With less packaging and more usage, obviously, there’s a cost effectiveness to switching over to the Sea Witch solid dish soap, too. According to Protea, the average family of four goes through 30 plastic bottles of dish soap a year. Yikes! That’s a lot of money to watch go down the drain, as well as a lot of plastic packaging to add to our landfills and oceans. Each bar lasts around two months for an average household, and even longer if you keep it well-drained and are living alone with a small kitchen — which brings us to the tiny kitchen storage space angle. Each bar takes up literally inches of stackable space; the boxes are roughly 2.5-by-1.5 inches, so you can stock up for, like, an entire year (free shipping and fewer emissions!) within only 9 vertical inches. In comparison, try stacking even a few bottled dish soaps this way. Spoiler: You can’t!

And finally, it works. Like really, shockingly, remarkably well. I don’t know how coconut and orange oil get my dishes so food- or soap residue-free without leaving any actual oiliness, but they do, and all without drying out my hands. The bar suds up with eager-to-lather, satisfying, light bubbles without the drama (and overkill) of some of the most popular supermarket brands. 

To use, all you have to do is give it a couple of swipes with your damp sponge, depending on how much lather you want and how dirty your dishes are. It’s lower sudsing, so I find two quick swishes on the bar is perfect for starters. You can do the same with a cleaning brush, too.

Credit: Su-Jit Lin

Using it for soaking dishes is a little trickier. Sea Witch advises you to cut off a chunk and dissolve it in water to help loosen debris, but I prefer to keep my bar intact, so I just swirl my sponge across the bar vigorously to get the lather started, then squeeze it to express the soap. I can also just pour the water from the bottom of my soap dish into the pan I need to soak. 

This cleaner isn’t just for dishes, though. You can also use it for surfaces. Just use the same damp swipe technique for a sponge or cloth. This is part of what makes Sea Witch so highly recommended for bringing on camping trips — it’ll clean most things and leaves no chemical trace, keeping our great outdoors great.

While storage really depends on your preference — whether it’s atop a good soap saver, magnetic soap holder buttons, or a bamboo floating holder — however you keep it, the most important thing is to make sure that it remains dry. Your planet, wallet, and dishes will thank you.