How I wash dishes without plastic

zero waste dishwashing

On the first day of Plastic Free July I was asked how I wash the dishes without plastic. We don’t have a dishwasher. I wash the dishes by hand with refilled liquid dish soap and a coconut scrubby.

Most coops and bulk refill stores offer dish soap refills. The dish soap I use doesn’t strip my hands, so I don’t need gloves. If I didn’t have access to refills, I’d just use bar soap.

The coconut coir is around $4 (I don’t recall the precise amount) and lasts ages without getting smelly like cellulose dish sponges. The texture cleans everything from cast iron skillets to wine glasses with ease.

For countertops, I use square of an old cotton tea towel and a spray of diluted castile soap. If I need to sanitize, I’ll do a second pass with vinegar. At the risk of stating the obvious, soap is an excellent general purpose surface cleaner. I wash the cloths frequently with the rest of the towel laundry.

Watch out for eco-plastic

I avoid plastic based dishwashing tools since they disintegrate through use and release microfibres into waterways. Even the supposedly eco alternatives can have plastic. Really? Yes.

Full Circle advertise a scour pad made of walnut shells and only walnut shells. Have a read of the product description below and tell me what you take from it:

full circle wanut scourer


Only when I contacted the company to confirm compostability of the product, did they tell the truth – the scourers are made of plastic! This company is blatantly lying to customers.


full Circle walnut scourer


I’ve been asking them to change their packaging and website since 2016, but as of posting they haven’t. Disappointing behaviour from a B Corporation. If Full Circle was an Australian company, my next step would to make a complaint to the ACCC.

How to dispose of end of life coconut dish scrubbies

The scrubbies are made of coconut coir wrapped around a metal bar. In theory you can compost the organic portion and pull out the metal for recycling once the fibres have broken down. In practice, I’ve never composted any of mine, because they’re all still in use.  I use those retired from dish service for other tasks, like cleaning my shoes.

What’s your best tip for washing the dishes without plastic?

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