Let’s talk about washing up. Whether yours feels like a never-ending mountain of pots and pans or more of a foothill, most days there’s no escaping it.
Luckily, for all of us, there’s an ever growing number of natural plastic-free washing up swaps out there to try. In a previous post, I told you about the wondrous LoofCo coconut scraper. Now I’d like to tell you about my search for the scraper’s equally green cousins. This is tricky and in many cases still ongoing so if you’ve any ideas, I’d love to hear!
Finding a decent eco-friendly, compostable sponge has been a bit of a mission. The cotton ones filled with cotton offcuts look lovely but they didn’t impress. They aren’t absorbant enough. Or flexible enough. And they take ages to dry after use. Not the best for germ control.
Loofah sponges are a bit better. Flexible and easy to get into all those annoying nooks and crannies. Effective for sure. A great plastic-free sponge alternative for many reasons. But loads of tiny food bits get stuck in them. Unless you fancy picking out these little remnants constantly, this might not be the sponge for you.
Next, is a cotton knitted cloth (by Toockies). This performs well, is durable, ethical, sustainable and, unlike the loofah, isn’t a gross food particle magnet. A good plastic-free sponge alternative which lasts. If you’re happy to wash up with a more durable cloth, this might be the one.
Washing up liquid
So many eco-friendly liquids don’t produce enough suds. A few minutes in and it’s like washing up in a small, filthy, greasy pond. If that’s your experience so far with greener washing-up liquid, please don’t give up! There are some options out there that aren’t sud-free.
I’ve found the best mainstream performer which produces a decent level of froth (think old-school 90s Ibiza foam party) is Waitrose ECOlogical washing up liquid. As mentioned before on the blog this brand does fab recycled loo roll too. If you’re looking for a planet-friendlier swap that’s easy to find and also reliable, check it out.
But, of course, re-using and refilling washing-up liquid empties is key to eliminating ongoing plastic waste in this zone.
If you have a zero waste shop nearby, it’s worth seeing if they stock a washing-up liquid refill option called SESI. I’ve been using the ginger scented one for a few months now and it’s great. And if you’re a sud-fan too, there’s plenty of gloriously frothy, foam-partyesque bubbles to go round. Hooray!
SESI is an Oxfordshire-based social enterprise that supplies sustainable detergents to farmers markets, zero waste shops, cooperatives and charities. All products are vegan, cruelty-free and biodegradable.
If you’re after an even greener option that’s very long lasting but a little less sud-tastic, Authentic House’s washing up bar is worth trying. This is made of coconut oil, lemon oil, citric acid and washing soda. It’s very long-lasting and great for scrubbing things that need more attention, like chopping boards.
Washing up brush
The hard-working wooden washing-up brush in the picture is by EcoLiving. Produced by hand in Germany by a small family company, it’s made of FSC-certified beech wood. There’s a metal fastener to secure the head and a metal hook on the tail end. The bristles on the brush head are made of plant-based Tampico fibre. Tampico comes from the agave cactus. Being completely natural, this material doesn’t shed micro-fibres.
The brush is sturdy but do beware that the bristles are a bit softer than the plastic ones and bend easily with force so there’s no need to press too hard.
When the brush head eventually becomes worn out, it can be composted. The handle should be kept and fitted with another brush head. Once you’ve tried this brush, I am sure you’ll never go back to using those horrid plastic dish brushes.
Washing up remains an area where new eco-friendly options are popping up all the time. As well as sponges, I’m still searching for good greener plastic-free dishwasher tablets, non-toxic rinse aid (ideally refillable) and dishwasher salt that doesn’t come in a plastic bag.
If you have any recommendations or ideas for the above or anything else to do with eco-friendly washing up, I’d love to hear in the comments below.
ECO-logical washing up liquid, £1.75 from Waitrose and Ocado, SESI refillable washing up liquid, around £1.00 for 500ml in many zero waste shops, dishwashing bar soap, £5.50 online from Authentic House at www.authentichouse.co.uk