If you’re someone who lets dishes pile up because it’s a chore that you try to avoid, finding an effective dish soap can significantly cut down the time that it takes. While there are many tips and tricks to use to wash dishes effectively, having the right dish soap is at the top of that list.
“You need something that will clean quickly but also not dry out your hands,” says Krissia Garcia, CEO of KrissClean. In addition to dish soap, Garcia keeps gloves and sponges in her cleaning kit. “You can use them in so many ways when cleaning.”
ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap
Eco-friendly manufacturing process
Works on tough food messes
Doesn’t suds up a lot
For great cleaning power, ingredients that won’t irritate your skin, and pleasant scents, the ECOS hypoallergenic dish soap is a top buy. It doesn’t contain any dyes, parabens, or phthalates. The formula also leaves out 1,4-dioxane, which can cause irritation of the eyes and nose as well as more serious health problems over time. ECOS uses plant-derived cleaning and foaming agents, as well as plant-based chemicals to ensure it is pH balanced. Even still, it cuts through grease and baked on food on your dirty dishes. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t suds up as dramatically as some other options.
There are multiple scents as well as a free and clear option available. While they are all pleasant, the natural almond should get special attention because it is one of the mildest. If you want just a hint of scent that isn’t overpowering, the ECOS natural almond is one of our favorites from any brand.
This is also an eco-friendly dish soap. Not only does it use plant-based ingredients, but also the manufacturing processes and plastic bottle are environmentally-friendly. The bottle is made of recycled materials and the factory uses 100% renewable energy. It is certified by the EPA as a Safer Choice.
Price at time of publish: $5 for 2-pack
Type: Liquid | Amount: 25 fl.oz. | Scent: Natural almond, grapefruit, apricot, natural pear, free and clear
Ajax Ultra Liquid Dish Soap 90oz
Very strong on grease and food
Can use for other cleaning and experiments
May irritate hands
This ultra-concentrated dish soap is budget-friendly and a little bit goes a long way. It also comes in a large quantity so you won’t need to worry about buying dish soap for quite some time. Plus, it's antibacterial and eliminates contaminants on your hands, as well as grease and food on your dishes. If you do a lot of cleaning, you may want to wear gloves because the formula is strong.
It has a citrus scent that is nice for the kitchen, but can be overpowering for those with sensitivities. It also comes in lemon, lime, and grapefruit that has a bleach alternative agent. Because the formula suds up well, you can also use this dishwashing liquid for everything from cleaning sports gear to trying out fun bubble-based science experiments.
Price at time of publish: $6
Type: Liquid | Amount: 90 fl.oz. | Scent: Citrus
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Liquid Dish Soap
Free of many harmful chemicals
Certified B Corps company
A bit expensive
Like the name suggests, Seventh Generation products are meant to protect the earth for the numerous generations to follow. The dish soap is free of fragrances, dyes, phosphates, and triclosan, an antibacterial agent that may have negative impacts on health and the environment. It is certified by the EPA as a Safer Choice. As a company, Seventh Generation is a Certified B Corps. This means that they take additional steps to ensure the welfare of their workers and communities.
You can get refills, which reduces the plastic packaging used. Seventh Generation also sells their dish soap in packs of four smaller containers, ideal for keeping in multiple places. It is a bit pricier than some other dish soaps but still a great value when you consider the extra steps that the company takes to protect the environment and the great cleaning power of the dish soap itself.
Price at time of publish: $21 for 6-pack
Type: Liquid | Amount: 19 fl. oz. | Scent: Free and clear
Best for Grease
Dawn Platinum Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap
Works on burnt-on food
Cuts through tough grease
Transparent ingredients list
Strong chemical formula
Scent may be strong for some
There’s a reason that Dawn is a household name when it comes to cleaning greasy messes, from stuck-on food on pots and pans to greasy car parts and stains on clothing. This concentrated formula has four times the cleaning power of other soaps and is especially powerful on dissolving grease. It is also surprisingly gentle on your hands, although you may want to wear gloves if you are tackling a large mess.
The scent can be strong for people with sensitivities, but it is still pleasant and fresh. All of the ingredients are listed on the back of the bottle, along with their purpose in the formula. If you know that you are sensitive to chemicals or experience irritation with stronger products, you may want to look through the list to make sure there aren’t any ingredients that will cause issues.
Price at time of publish: $18/3-pack + 2 sponges
Type: Liquid | Amount: 24 fl.oz. | Scent: Refreshing rain
Best for Hands
Palmolive Ultra Soft Touch Liquid Dish Soap
Won’t dry out hands
Good for grease and messes
Doesn’t leave a film
No unscented option
Palmolive Soft Hands includes ingredients that keep your hands soft instead of irritated, even if you are washing a lot of dishes. The Ultra formula is also very strong and can handle grease, burnt-on food, and even dishes that have been left for 24 hours. Plus, it won’t leave any residue or film on your dishes, a noticeable benefit compared to some other formulas meant to leave your hands extra soft. We think the aloe and citrus scent is nice, but there also several other scents to choose from.
Price at time of publish: $3
Type: Liquid | Amount: 20 fl.oz. | Scent: Aloe and citrus
Best for Sensitive Skin
Safely Dish Soap, Calm Scent, 16 fl oz
Added Vitamin E and aloe
Scents can be hard to predict
Low foam formula
This plant-based formula from Safely is gentle on your skin as well as your plumbing and the earth. It is biodegradable and has Vitamin E and aloe to nourish your skin as you wash. It uses mineral salts and plant-based cleaning agents to get at tough messes and grease.
It's scented, but it's mild and pleasant. There are multiple fragrance options, although they are named for the emotion that they try to evoke. Calm and Rise are both popular, but you’ll have to try it out for yourself to see which you like the best. This formula is also less sudsy than some other options. But it is still concentrated, so don’t be tempted to add soap just because you don’t see a lot of bubbles.
Price at time of publish: $5
Type: Liquid | Amount: 16 fl.oz. | Scent: Calm
Best for Baby Bottles
Dapple Baby Bottle & Dish Soap
Free of harsh ingredients
No dyes or fragrances
Tested by experts
Can clean toys and teethers
Babies have very sensitive systems, which is why most parents try to find a mild soap that is safe to use on baby bottles. The Dapple dish soap is made for babies and free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, synthetic dyes and fragrances. It is tested by pediatricians and dermatologists, who recommend the soap for both formula and milk bottles. You can also use it to clean your baby’s plastic toys and teethers.
Just know it is a bit pricey, which is why most parents stop using specialty dish soap as a baby gets older. If you want to keep thing budget-conscious, you can keep a bottle of Dapple for baby items and use a less expensive dish soap for your other household dishes.
Price at time of publish: $6
Type: Liquid | Amount: 16.9 fl.oz. | Scent: Unscented
Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap Lavender
Great scent variety
Effective at cleaning
Part of cleaning line
This dish soap smells heavenly, with fragrances often based on botanical ingredients or seasonal scents. Mrs. Meyer’s also has a line of cleaning products with complementary scents so that you can choose a signature scent for your home. The formula is also effective at fighting grease and stuck-on food, leaving your dishes sparkling clean.
Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products tend to be on the expensive side. You can get a larger refill container, which can save money and create less plastic waste. Signing up for a subscription service that automatically sends new shipments periodically can also result in special savings.
Price at time of publish: $15 for 3-pack
Type: Liquid | Amount: 16 fl.oz. | Scent: Lavender
Kills 99.9% of bacteria
Can be used on dishes and countertops
Can be harsh on skin
Palmolive is known for its great cleaning power. The Ultra antibacterial formula takes care of food messes as well as most bacteria. It kills 99.9% of bacteria, including staph, salmonella, and E.coli. You can use it on your kitchen counters, although you may need a separate spray bottle and water to dilute the concentrated formula to make it easier to use.
Because it is so strong, it may be harsh on your skin. Wearing gloves can be an easy fix to protect your skin as you clean. This dish soap is also very affordable, making the extra gloves purchase easier to fit into your budget.
Price at time of publish: $4
Type: Liquid | Amount: 32.5 fl. oz. | Scent: Orange
Method Gel Dish Soap Refill
Refill container is easy to pour
Method is a great cleaner with pleasant scents and numerous complimentary cleaning products in their line. They are also some of the easiest to refill, which cuts down on plastic waste and can save you money and time on replacements. It has a pour spout that fits into the neck of the dish soap bottle. After you refill the bottle, just screw the cap back on. Method is also available at a variety of retailers, making is even easier to find a refill when you need one.
Method is a bit pricey compared to more budget-friendly options. But it has great cleaning power and uses a plant-based formula that is biodegradable and easy on your skin. It's also free of parabens and phthalates.
Price at time of publish: $42 for 6-pack
Type: Liquid | Amount: 36 fl.oz. | Scent: Sea minerals
Puracy Natural Dish Soap
Contains extra skin softening ingredients
Free from irritants
Natural and plant-based ingredients
Puracy dish soap is coconut oil-based and has additional plant-based moisturizers to keep your hands soft as your wash dishes. The formula also includes beneficial ingredients like aloe, Himalayan sea salt, and natural fragrances. Puracy makes sure that their dish soap comes from nature, with over 99% of the ingredients from natural sources, such as coconuts and other plants, as well as natural salts.
The formula is free from ingredients that can cause irritation to your skin or the environment. These include sulfates (SLS, SLES, SCS), triclosan, parabens, petrochemicals, animal by-products, and perfumes. It is a bit expensive, but worth it if you want to be sure that your soap won’t irritate your skin.
Price at time of publish: $23 for 3-pack
Type: Liquid | Amount: 16 fl.oz. | Scent: Organic lemongrass
Our top pick, ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap, Natural Almond, tackles tough messes, smells great, and won’t irritate your skin. For a more budget-friendly option, consider Ajax Ultra Liquid Dish Soap, which comes in a large quantity, concentrated formula that can be used for cleaning all around the house.
What to Look for in a Dish Soap
Many dish soaps use plant-based ingredients that are mild on your skin but still clean effectively. ECOS Hypoallergenic Dish Soap, Natural Almond and Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap both include plant-based cleaning agents and naturally occurring fragrances. Stronger ingredients, like those found in Ajax Ultra Liquid Dish Soap, are often needed for burnt-on food, grease, or dishes that have been sitting for awhile.
Look for a formula that suits your needs. Some, such as Dawn Platinum Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, are formulated to dissolve grease. Others, like Palmolive Ultra Antibacterial Liquid Dish Soap, have antibacterial agents. Many, including Palmolive Ultra Soft Touch Liquid Dish Soap, have extra ingredients to protect or soften your hands as you clean. Whatever your needs, look for a formula that is made to tackle your type of cleaning.
Citrus and herbal scents are popular for kitchen cleaning products, which is why they so often appear in our lineup of top dish soaps. Some, such as Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap and Method Gel Dish Soap Refill, Sea Minerals, are part of an entire cleaning product line with complementary scents. If you are sensitive to scents, you may want to opt for a free and clear option instead.
Can you put dish soap in the dishwasher?
Dish soap and dishwasher liquid or pods are different formulas so you should not put dish soap in the dishwasher. Dish soap usually creates more bubbles and suds, which can cause problems in your dishwasher. Instead, look for a dishwasher liquid or pod with the same cleaning purpose or from the same company.
How much soap should I use to wash my dishes by hand?
You probably need less dish soap than you think, usually between a few drops for concentrated formulas to a teaspoon for standard formulas. Krissia Garcia, CEO of KrissClean, recommends using a sponge or brush to work the soap into the messes on your dish and lift them up. “You should apply the soap to the sponge or brush instead of to the dish,” she says.
Can I use dish soap for more than just dishes?
Yes, you can use dish soap for everything from wiping down countertops to dissolving grease on tools and car parts. Just be sure to dilute the formula if needed and rinse the surface thoroughly after it is clean.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Melynn, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Melynn has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. To compile this list, she considered the many dish soaps she has tried in her own home, as well as user reviews. She also talked to Krissia Garcia, CEO of KrissClean, about the tips and tricks that she uses every day.