Eco friendly dishwasher tablets are convenient and offer a few benefits that can help reduce our environmental footprint. But they also have their downsides. But just as there are better options for everything from natural laundry detergents and eco friendly mops, not all dishwasher tablets and pods are created equal.
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It all comes down to choosing products that are made from better ingredients, using more sustainable packaging, from brands with better ethics. And that’s just what you’ll find here.
Before we get into that, let’s talk a little bit about the merits of eco dishwasher tablets and pods, and what they are made from. Are Dishwasher Tablets More eco friendly Than Pods? We will also look into that too.
Choosing the best Eco Friendly Dishwasher Tablets can be tricky - Here's what we look for:
Knowing what to look for can be a little overwhelming, especially with things like cleaning products. That’s why I created this guide on toxic ingredients to keep an eye out for but you don't need to remember every single one of these ingredients. From clean beauty products to green cleaning we have a general guide you can use to simplify the process.
It basically looks into where the products are from, what kind of ingredients are used and how they are sourced, the packaging, and whether or not the products are inclusive. So we ask:
1. Is it Local?
Since I am based in Canada, I look for products that are locally made wherever possible. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with purchases and supports the local economy. If you are based in the US, best to look for products that are made there too, wherever possible.
2. Is it made of natural ingredients?
We always favor natural or naturally-derived ingredients, because eco friendly products that disinfect do exist—hold the petroleum-based synthetics and chemicals.
3. Is it certified organic?
Wherever possible we also go for certified organic ingredients. Though some brands simply cannot afford to get their products certified, we look for certifications to avoid any greenwashing.
4. Is it vegan?
If you are vegan, we’ve got your back too, and check for any ingredients that might be derived from animals or insects.
5. Is it cruelty-free?
We definitely do not support any animal testing either and thankfully many brands are now cruelty-free certified.
6. Palm oil-free?
Palm oil is a problem because its production is responsible for grave deforestation issues so we try to avoid it where possible. Where there is palm oil, we look for brands that source it from certified suppliers, with certifications from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Reputable certifications are always a big help.
7. Are ingredients sustainably sourced?
We generally make sure ingredients are responsibly sourced under ethical conditions. That means steering clear of unsustainable production practices and abusive working conditions.
8. Does the company use environmentally-conscious packaging?
With our waste issue as it stands, packaging is a big problem. So much so that you can now find bulk organic food online and rightfully so! Generally, we look for recyclable glass, paper, and metal containers. But plastics are hard to escape so recyclable, reusable, and/or refillable options are best.
Eco Friendly Dishwasher Tablets Brands we love
One of the best options for plastic-free dishwasher detergent, Dropps’ Dishwasher Detergent pods are made using mostly plant-derived ingredients. Though they are wrapped in PVOH, they are also cruelty-free, dye-free, chlorine-free, phosphate-free, and phthalate-free. Find fragranced and non-fragranced options. Best of all, the packaging is entirely plastic-free and compostable!
All manufactured in America, Dropps has made it its mission to offer greener cleaning products. They are committed to sourcing ingredients ethically and are totally transparent about what goes in their products, why they are there, and where they come from.
All of their products are packaged in compostable packaging so absolutely no plastic containers here. To offset all of the carbon footprint associated with shipping, a solar energy project in partnership with Clearloop.
Blueland Dishwasher Tablets are free from petroleum, artificial dyes and fragrances, parabens, ammonia, and phthalates. They are also cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and plastic-free – making them one of the best options for eco friendly plastic-free dishwasher tablets. Best of all, their tablets are "naked" and free from any PVOH. And for refills, compostable paper pouches!
On a mission to make sustainable living a little easier and more affordable, Blueland is both a B Corporation and Climate Neutral certified. They focus particularly on creating products with reusable packaging to help tackle our single-use plastic problem.
Made from environmentally responsible ingredients, Blueland offers eco friendly hand soap, laundry essentials, and home cleaners. All of these products are also Cradle to Cradle Certified.
Packaged in a 100% recyclable, paper-based box, Cleancult’s Dishwasher Tablets are cruelty-free, with no bleaches, fragrances, synthetic dyes, phosphates, and phthalates. These are tablets and therefore require less PVOH. You will also find Refillable Tablet Jars and Dishwasher Tablet Bundles.
To make their formulas, Cleancult combines coconuts, essential oils, and biodegradable ingredients that are gentler for us and the planet.
What you won’t find here are single-use plastics because all of their products are packaged in paper-based materials, including their liquid detergents and soaps. They also offer a free recycling program and make sure to offset the carbon emissions associated with shipping in partnership with carbonfund.org.
4. Grove Co.
Grove Co.’s natural dishwasher pods are also cruelty-free and made from plant-based ingredients. They are naturally fragranced thanks to essential oils and plant extracts — with a Free & Clear option as well.
No harsh chemicals like parabens, phthalates, phosphates, formaldehyde, dyes, and chlorine bleach. Best of all, they offer a recycling program where packaging can be mailed in for recycling through Recyclops.
Grove Co. is a Certified B Corporation making and curating hundreds of sustainable and effective products of all kinds. Their four-point standard is designed to favor "uncompromisingly healthy, beautifully effective, ethically produced, and cruelty-free" products that meet our needs without harming the planet. Plus every order is plastic and carbon neutral.
AspenClean’s eco friendly dishwasher pods are packaged with absolutely no plastic, are EWG-Verified, and made from organic, plant-derived ingredients. No parabens, sulfates, phosphates, petroleum, synthetic fragrances, or carcinogens.
The unscented option is hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin, babies, and pets. They offer several scented options too which are also vegan and cruelty-free but the unscented option is Ecocert certified.
Committed to offering effective products that are safe for everyone in the family, AspenClean is 100% transparent about the ingredients they use and ensures that every one of its formulas is made without any toxic or potentially toxic ingredients. All of their products are also cruelty-free and 100% recyclable. They also make some of the best natural laundry detergents, and green cleaning products.
Ecover offers several dishwasher tablet options. Their Zero All-In-One Dishwasher Tablets is fragrance-free, vegan friendly, and plant-based. Using a box made from recycled cardboard that is easily recyclable in many places makes the packaging here more eco-friendly too.
There is a plastic wrapper inside the box to protect the tablets against moisture which isn’t widely recyclable. However, Ecover ensures that it is working on finding a more sustainable solution.
On a mission to lead a clean revolution, Ecover tries to source their mostly plant-based and biodegradable ingredients locally wherever possible–or as close as possible to their zero waste certified factory in Malle, Belgium.
Where palm oil is used the brand makes sure it is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as they work to find more sustainable alternatives. They are also working on closing the loop by using only recycled plastics to make their bottles. If you live in the UK you can now find over 600 Ecover refill stations. Perfect if you are looking to create a zero waste cleaning routine.
Also one of our favs for natural cleaning products, Attitude offers Dishwasher Tablets that are phosphate-free, hypoallergenic, and made from plant- and mineral-based ingredients.
Their tablets are also cruelty-free, vegan, and ECOLOGO Certified. For packaging, recyclable plastic containers are designed to be reused and refilled with their refill options.
A Canada-based company, they focus on creating natural personal care and household products. All of their products are certified by PETA and ECOLOGO, and made using hypoallergenic and EWG VERIFIED™ ingredients.
Plus, with every purchase online or in participating stores, Attitude commits to planting a tree in partnership with Eden Reforestation and One Tree Planted.
Puracy offers natural dishwasher detergent packs made from plant- and mineral-based ingredients. No SLES, parabens, perfumes, phthalates, fragrances, dyes, chlorine, phosphates, petrochemicals, or harsh chemicals here either. Their Free & Clear formulation is also vegan, hypoallergenic, gluten-free, and certified cruelty-free.
Finding the perfect, most eco friendly products can be a little bit of a struggle. But choosing eco friendly dishwashing tablets vs conventional dishwashing tablets is a no-brainer. Eco tablets and pods are safer for the environment and safer for us too.
With a commitment to offering the purest solutions, every one of Puracy’s products is at least 99.3% natural. And they ensure that everything is biodegradable, in containers that can be easily recyclable. Though their refill pouches are not easily recyclable they do reduce the amount of plastic, water, and energy used in packaging.
Their products are also made in the USA, in partnership with leading doctors, chemists, and industry experts. To give back, Puracy makes a donation to local children and families in need, with every purchase. The artwork on their packaging also helps support local artists.
Are dishwasher tablets eco friendly?
Unlike natural dishwasher detergent or conventional detergents, dishwasher tablets are made using very little water because they are concentrated. And that’s definitely a plus.
They are compact and help reduce the number of carbon emissions associated with transportation. The single-sized portions also mean less waste when it comes to measuring out the right amount of detergent.
That said, when packaged in tubs or bags (that are difficult to recycle) and made from potentially harmful, toxic, petroleum-based ingredients, the benefits of using these compact, pre-portioned options are lessened.
What are dishwasher tablets made from?
Made using plant oils like coconut oil, sugar, or the byproducts of the fossil fuel industry, surfactants are used to keep dirt suspended in water. The most common surfactant used in detergents is Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LAS) which comes from crude oil.
Generally, conventional dishwasher tablets (or pods) are pretty chemical-heavy. Along with surfactants, they often contain bleaches, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, phosphates, and phthalates which are not so great for us or for the environment.
Whether they are eco friendly or conventional, the wrapping around the tablets and pods is also usually made from polyvinyl alcohol (PVA/PVOH) which is a synthetic polymer.
PVOH can be manufactured in a number of ways for other purposes too. It is used to make fishing lines, papermaking, and textiles. It is also used in pharmaceuticals like “artificial tears” and contact lens lubricants. The FDA says it’s okay for use in dietary supplements too.
In detergent products such as Liquid Laundry Packets (LLPs) — a.k.a laundry pods — and dishwasher packets, PVOH is manufactured to be safe, water-soluble, and biodegradable.
However, there is some debate surrounding these claims. According to a preliminary study by Arizona State University, a small percentage of the PVOH film around the dishwasher tablets and pods is left undigested and ends up being discharged in treated water.
As we’ve discussed in our guide on what is biodegradable vs. compostable, products that are designed to be biodegradable need specific conditions to do so.
PVOH film is no different and needs specific conditions to biodegrade completely, where the right microbes need to be introduced to break it down into carbon dioxide and water.
This can be done at water treatment plants but when PVOH-based pods dissolve in water, they turn into a plastic solution that can easily pass through conventional water treatment systems and enter our ecosystems.
According to this study, an estimated 75% of PVOH goes untreated in the US from detergent pods alone. And researchers think it might harm aquatic ecosystems in the form of microplastics.
Are Dishwasher Tablets More Eco Friendly Than Pods?
Dishwasher tablets are usually wrapped in a significantly thinner layer of PVOH than their squishier counterparts. That means less material used which is definitely a point for the tablets.
If we were to look at that alone we could say that the tablets are more eco friendly than the pods. But we also need to know more about the manufacturing processes involved and how much or how little water, energy, and other resources are typically used to make the pods vs. the tablets.
Final thoughts on eco dishwashing tablets
There are many brands offering better products worth checking out, from eco friendly dishwasher tablets to zero waste laundry detergent. Do not despair! We even found some great zero waste living options in this case but the rule of thumb here is to focus on doing what you can do. The best eco friendly dishwasher tablets or eco friendly anything will ultimately come down to what is accessible to you! And there is no shame in that.
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