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With a chore as frequent and necessary as washing dishes, it’s important to use a safe and effective dish soap. Since you're going to spend time cleaning dishes, it would also be nice if the formula had a pleasant smell and was gentle on your skin. "Ideally, dish soap would contain no perfumes, parabens, SLS (which can strip vital moisturizers from skin), and would rinse away quickly to avoid long-term exposure of hands in the water," says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD. Instead, she says to look for pH-balanced formulas and nourishing ingredients like aloe and vitamin E. We've extensively researched the best dish soaps for your household by scrutinizing the effectiveness, affordability, and ingredients of each option.
Our top choice is ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap with Natural Grapefruit because it's a strong cleaning product free of harmful ingredients. It's also EPA-certified and affordable.
Here are the best dish soaps you can buy.
Best Overall: ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap, Natural Grapefruit
Made in the USA
Fresh, natural scent
Safe for sensitive skin
Some felt it didn’t create enough suds to clean well
Who else recommends it? The Strategist also picked ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap.
What do buyers say? 79% of 8,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Cut through grease and grime without harmful chemicals with this ECOS strong-yet-gentle dish soap. With natural, dirt-busting citrus ingredients, ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap is incredibly effective at cleaning dishes and doesn't contain any ingredients that give us pause. It's free of parabens, phosphates, and dyes, so we are confident in awarding ECOS dish soap our top overall pick.
An affordable, top-quality choice, ECOS dish soap is a plant-based and eco-friendly product. Both vegan and kosher, the soap contains ingredients like coconut to ensure effective yet safe cleaning of your dishware. This product is also pH-balanced and dermatologist-tested hypoallergenic, so it's safe for those with sensitive skin.
ECOS products are all sustainably produced, and the company is water neutral, carbon neutral, and Platinum Zero Waste certified. It also created a 100 percent Climate Positive factory in 2021, so it's really earning brownie points with us. ECOS is also a majority woman-owned company that does no animal testing.
All of that sounds great, but if you can't back that up with a stellar product, it's not worth much. But this dish soap is a stellar product, so we can get behind the ECOS mission and their dish soap, too.
Price at time of publish: $9
Best Budget: Palmolive Ultra Strength Dish Soap
Easily rinses clean for a residue-free result
Some didn’t like the new bottle cap or new formula scent
If you’re looking for a great dishwashing soap for a low price, Palmolive Ultra Strength Dish Soap is our favorite pick. A great grease-cutter (and still gentle on the hands), Palmolive is a trustworthy pick. It's also free of phosphates and parabens. On top of that, the formula is concentrated, so you won’t need much to get your dishes sparkly clean.
While it costs slightly more than other budget brands, keep in mind that dish soap is often wasted with some of the bargain options in an attempt to get dishes thoroughly clean. Palmolive will save you more than a few bucks in the long run. It’s also 100 percent biodegradable and made with recycled plastic packaging for environmentally conscious consumers.
Price at time of publish: $15
Best Natural: Puracy Natural Dish Soap
Never tested on animals
Safe for septic systems
Each bottle has enough soap for 160 sinks full of dishes
Some reported it doesn’t work well on extra greasy items
Known for their safe, skin-nourishing formulas, Puracy brings us our best natural option for dishwashing soap. Puracy Natural Dish Soap is scented with a light, invigorating green tea and lime scent, so this soap gets your sink full of dishes clean without any overwhelming fragrance.
Containing no sulfates, parabens, phosphates, dyes, or other toxic ingredients, Puracy dish soap is a favorite among parents and eco-friendly shoppers alike. The formula was even developed by doctors and is hypoallergenic and vegetable-based. Plus, while you can opt for the single bottle, the three-pack of dish soap lets you stock up a bit, so you don’t have to worry about running out soon. The only downside reported is that it sometimes struggles to clean extra-greasy dishes.
Price at time of publish: $23
Best Bar: Meliora Cleaning Products Plastic-Free Dish Soap
100 percent plastic-free
Some disliked that the packages were mailed in plastic Amazon packaging
Some reported a residue left on dishes
For those interested in zero-waste, plastic-free bar soaps for their dishes, look no further than Meliora Cleaning Products Dish Washing Bar Soap. With a formula that is palm oil-free, preservative-free, dye-free, and low waste, Meliora offers you a high-quality, responsibly made soap. We love that this is a more sustainable option than plastic bottles or other common types of packaging. Meliora’s dishwashing bar soaps come in paperboard boxes free of plastic. However, if you order from Amazon, your delivery may include plastic bubble packaging, as most of their delivery boxes do.
To use this dish soap bar, wet a washcloth or sponge and massage it into the soap before cleaning your dishes. For soaking in the sink, just hold the bar under running water for a few minutes. You can feel good about using Meliora’s earth-friendly dish soaps, as they’re all graded A by the Environmental Working Group. Their light lemon scent is also free of synthetics, and the formula is both cruelty-free and vegan.
Price at time of publish: $15
Best Eco-Friendly: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Liquid Dish Soap
EPA Safer Choice product
Some reported the bottle size decreased over time
With a biodegradable, plant-based formula and zero fragrance, Seventh Generation Free & Clear dishwashing liquid steals our top eco-friendly spot. It’s hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested for those with sensitive skin, yet strong enough to remove food and other dried-on crud from your dishware. It’s also an EPA Safer Choice product, so it promises to only make a positive earth-friendly impact.
Having served the earth well for 25 years, Seventh Generation has perfected eco-friendly, effective cleaning products. Their packaging even consists of 100 percent recycled bottles, and they proudly list all their ingredients. No animal testing is done or needed, and they are a Certified B Corporation to boot.
Price at time of publish: $21
Best for Grease: Dawn Platinum Power Wash Dish Spray
Can be used in laundry
Easy-to-use spray bottle
Some did not like the scent
Our top grease-cutting choice today goes to an everyday favorite: Dawn Platinum Liquid Dish Soap. With four times the grease-cleaning power of competitor brands, this choice works well for all dishes, including pots and pans that have been left in the sink for a day too long. It is super powerful, biodegradable, and gentle on your hands.
This soap is also remarkably versatile: It can be used on grilling surfaces, automobiles, and more. It’s available in three different sizes and two scents, so you can choose the right one for your household. On top of that, the spray bottle container makes it so convenient to use.
Price at time of publish: $14
Best Smelling: Public Goods Mandarin Basil Dish Soap
Only available on Public Goods
You won’t find a much better scent in a dish soap than Public Goods Mandarin Basil. Created with gentle essential oils in a coconut extract base, this product is a win for kitchens of all types. It's a concentrated formula that powers away grease, food, and residue from your dishes. A small squirt of this soap will go a long way. It’s also free of parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances.
Using nothing derived from formaldehyde nor any preservatives, dyes, or phthalates, this soap’s power lies in its natural bacteria-fighting ingredients. It’s also biodegradable, gentle on hands, and made in the USA.
Price at time of publish: $6
Best for Sensitive Skin: Safely Dish Soap, Calm Scent, 16 fl oz
No sulfates, dyes, bleach, or parabens
Contains vitamin E and aloe vera
No unscented option
If you're worried about harsh chemicals damaging your skin, we hear you. Finding a product that cleans well and is gentle on your hands can be tough, but Safely dish soap rises to the challenge. It's made of plant-derived ingredients and doesn't contain any sulfates, parabens, dyes, or bleach. But it does contain vitamin E and aloe vera, so it not only avoids damaging your skin, it might even nourish your hard-working hands while you clean.
Kris Jenner and Emma Grede launched Safely in 2021, and we thought their cleaning products looked beautiful and might make the chore a little more fun. In 2022, they added a new calming scent to their products and expanded retail availability to Walmart stores across the nation. This product is affordable, gentle on your hands, and smells like a vanilla-lavender candle in dish soap form.
If you are extra worried about sensitive skin issues, Dr. Nazarian recommends that anyone with sensitive skin, eczema, or atopic dermatitis consider wearing gloves while washing dishes, as exposure to water can remove necessary moisturizers and flare up underlying skin conditions.
Price at time of publish: $5
Best for Baby Bottles: Babyganics Dish Dazzler Foaming Dish and Bottle Soap with Refill Kit
Gently removes all leftover milk or food
Comes with handy refill kit
Some reported the container leaked
Our top choice for baby bottle dish soap is Babyganics Foaming Dish and Bottle Soap. This formula dissolves leftover milk residue and food, and it rinses off thoroughly, so your baby bottles and dishes remain squeaky clean. Since it's formulated with safe ingredients for kids, this soap is gentle on the hands as well. Plus, with Babyganics' cutting-edge foaming technology, you’ll use less water overall.
Word to the wise: Dr. Nazarian says that while washing baby bottles, extra water should be used to dilute dish soap. This ensures that only a small amount of product reaches the dishes, so it reduces the risk of leaving residue behind. A bottle brush should also be used to avoid as much direct exposure to the cleaner as possible.
Price at time of publish: $26
Best with Dish Brush: Grove Co. Dish Soap + Bubble Up Dish Brush
Company is a Certified B Corporation
Ergonomically designed brush
Only available on Grove Co.
Add a lush look to your kitchen with this lovely 100 percent naturally scented dish soap and "bubble up" dish brush from Grove Co. Choose between two delightful fragrances (peony/freesia or mango/tangerine), and get to work. With a recycled plastic spring that helps make lots of suds, this set creates a sink full of bubbles with ease.
You’ll get your whole place setting clean with this Grove Co. set without drying out your hands in the process. When you’re done washing, just tuck the bamboo brush into its ceramic base for storage. Delivered in plastic-free packaging, this product is in line with Grove Co.’s commitment to sustainability.
Price at time of publish: $12
Best for Hard Water: Lemi Shine Natural Liquid Dish Soap
Contains antibacterial lactic acid
Safe for septic systems
Contains vitamin E and aloe
Some felt the fragrance was too strong
Lemi Shine guarantees that this product will get your dishes optimally clean even in hard water, making it our top selection for hard water dish soap. Formulated with citric acid, aloe vera gel, and vitamin E, this soap cuts through grease to get your dishware squeaky clean while removing hard water stains and protecting your hands. It’s also created in a concentrated form for a great value.
Free of parabens, phosphates, dyes, and phthalates, this soap is a win for both the environment and household safety. Certified by the EPA Safer Choice plan, it’s biodegradable and pH-balanced as well. Its lemon scent is refreshing and brisk to boot.
Price at time of publish: $17
ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap with Natural Grapefruit is our top pick overall for best dish soap because it’s strong enough to clean dishes well without any parabens, phosphates, or dyes, and it's also EPA-certified. If you're looking for a more economical choice, check out Palmolive Ultra Strength Dishwashing Liquid. It’s gentle on the hands and rinses clean for residue-free results.
What to Look for in a Dish Soap
Some dish soaps come in a concentrated formula, so you can get more uses out of your bottle. Follow the brand's specific guidance on the amount of dish soap necessary for optimal use. Depending on the type of dish soap you choose, you may need to dilute it (this is common with baby-specific dish soaps) or only use a tiny amount if it's heavily concentrated. If you're unsure, start with a dime-sized amount and increase from there.
Many dish soaps come with a built-in scent that can be synthetically engineered or naturally made. Scents are a matter of preference, so while some may love washing dishes with a light lavender scent in the air, others may prefer a fragrance-free option. Keep in mind not all fragrances are safe since the chemical industry is not required to label them as anything other than “fragrance.” Additionally, nationally recognized cleaning expert and The Spruce Review Board member Melissa Homer says it’s important to find dish soaps that rinse all fragrance and soap away without residue, leaving your dishes thoroughly clean.
Ingredients vary substantially by dish soap formula, but it's important that your dish soap strikes a balance between powerful cleaning agents and ingredients that won't harm your hands. “The hands are incredibly sensitive. They lack the high density of oil glands that exist in other parts of the body, which makes them likely to dry out—especially when they're exposed to strong cleansers such as those found in dish soap meant to rinse away greasy, high-oil-content dirty dishware," says Dr. Nazarian.
Dr. Nazarian recommends looking for dish soaps that don't contain perfumes, parabens, or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Instead, look for pH-balanced formulas and calming ingredients such as aloe or vitamin E.
How much dish soap should you use?
What is dish soap made of?
The main ingredient in most dish soap products is water, and the main active ingredient is some form of detergent. Dishwashing soaps are typically mixtures of surfactants with low skin irritation. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is an example of a commonly used surfactant with cleaning power.
How does dish soap work?
When activated with warm water and agitation from your dish brush, the molecules in dish soap lift dirt, bacteria, and grease off of dishes. Scrubbing and subsequent rinsing of the dish soap completely removes the debris and leaves dishes clean.
What else can dish soap be used for?
Why Trust The Spruce?
This guide was written and researched by KJ Callihan. She has been writing for The Spruce since 2021. She enjoys spending hours researching products to ensure readers make the right choices for their homes. You may have also seen her writing on sites such as CNET, AAA Northeast magazine, Bob Vila, Outward On, Oh My Veggies, and more. For guidance on this story, Callihan consulted dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, and Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro, and member of The Spruce Cleaning Review Board.