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6 Best Dish Soaps without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Looking for a natural and effective dish soap that is also gentle on your skin? Look no further with this list of top-rated dish soaps free from sodium lauryl sulfate.
6 Best Dish Soaps without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

This Article is 100% Organic: Written and Researched by Real Humans.

As conscientious consumers, we probably think more about what we eat than the trace amounts of home care products that end up being absorbed by our skin and flushed down our sinks into the environment.

The first place to start transforming your home cleaning routine? The kitchen sink! Luckily, there are a plethora of non-toxic dish soaps on the market. However, one ingredient has a controversial place in sustainable ingredients: the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Next up, we present a curated list of dish soaps without SLS to guide you through our top picks.

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What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate, is more than just a difficult-to-pronounce compound found in your everyday cleaning products. It’s a controversial additive to produce the foam that, for some reason, gives us that accomplished feeling that things are getting clean! 

SLS is often used as a foaming agent, made of coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or petroleum oil, to create a satisfying lather in everything from face wash to dish soaps. If you’ve ever experienced the foamy bliss of a rich, bubbly lather while washing your hair, you’ve probably come into contact with SLS. 

While SLS is a widely used surfactant in cleaning products, cosmetics, and personal care products and has been evaluated and determined to be safe for consumers and the environment by organizations like the American Cleaning Institute and Personal Care Products Council, many have raised issue over its impact on human and environmental health. 

What is a Surfactant?

Have you ever wondered why dish soap is able to cut through grease and grime so easily? It’s all thanks to a little compound called a surfactant. Surfactants are able to reduce the surface tension of liquids, allowing them to spread more easily. 

In dish soap, surfactants like SLS are responsible for breaking down and detaching dirt and oils from dishes and cutlery. Without surfactants, any dish soap would struggle to do its job effectively.

Are there SLS Plant Based Surfactants?

Yes! Surfactants derived from plants are made from oil and fat-rich plant materials. These triglycerides serve as the basis for creating surfactants, providing the hydrophobic element in the final surfactant molecule.

Why Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Commonly Used In Dish Soaps?

Why is this ingredient so commonly employed in our dish soaps? This foaming agent is highly effective at removing grease and grime from dirty dishes while creating a satisfying lather. Plus, SLS is readily available and affordable, making it an attractive option for manufacturers looking to produce cost-effective dish soaps – great for the bottom line but not always for human health and the environment. 

Why Choose SLS-Free Dish Soaps?

Despite being used safely and successfully since the 1930s, SLS has recently garnered a not so clean reputation. While most industry experts agree that it is safe and effective because it only comes in contact briefly with human skin, it is an ingredient not without issues. 

Sourcing

While SLS can have origins in plant-based ingredients and is biodegradable when flushed down the drain, the sourcing of palm oil for its products has been known to wreak havoc on the environment. Palm oil has become a popular ingredient due to its versatility and low cost, but the downside is the environmental disruption caused by its production. 

Palm oil plantations have led to deforestation, habitat destruction, and the extinction of numerous animal species. 

Skin Sensitivity

The skin, being the body’s largest organ alongside the brain, liver, heart, and kidneys, has a distinct role. It serves as a protective barrier against external elements, such as chemicals and bacteria. SLS has been known to irritate the skin’s barrier and strip the skin of its natural oils which causes dry skin, irritation, and these side effects: 

  • Skin and eye irritations
  • Dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis
  • Skin rashes
  • Hormonal disruptions
  • Dizziness and headaches

Petroleum Based SLS

One more reason behind the concerns regarding SLS or SLES is their potential contamination with the carcinogen, 1,4 dioxane. Petroleum-based ethoxylated surfactants, such as SLES, are frequently found to be contaminated with this chemical.

Animal Testing

Many products containing sulfates undergo testing on animals to assess their potential for skin, lung, and eye irritation in humans. Consequently, unless a product that has SLS or SLES listed says otherwise, you can assume it has undergone this testing. Avoiding the ingredient altogether is the best way to avoid animal cruelty. 

Full List Of Dish Soaps Without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

1
Mightynest Dish Washing Bar Soap
Product image by MightyNest
Best dish soap bar
Best zero waste packaging

MightyNest Dish Washing Bar Soap

Highlights: Package-free, SLS-free soap that’s both eco-friendly and versatile, ideal for kitchen and camping use.

We love this bar for multiple reasons. Yes, it comes in a delightful cube that is free of SLS, and of course, its funky shape makes a great conversation starter about ‘better for the earth’ products, but what we really love is that while it works perfectly well at the kitchen sink, it’s also a great camping companion! 

The MightyNest Dish Washing Bar is package-free, lightweight, and fits right in with all the camping gear. This concentrated formula outlasts liquids, effectively reducing plastic waste in landfills.

Scientific studies have revealed that SLS present in common household cleaners can permeate local waterways, profoundly impacting the delicate balance of the environment. ‘Leave No Trace’ camping principles have never looked better than a soap with a biodegradable formula based on vegetable, coconut, and sunflower seed oils. 

About MightyNest

MightyNest is a company created out of the genuine desire of two parents-to-be to create a sustainable and healthier home for their future family. In 2009, this couple embarked on a journey to share their endless research and knowledge of sustainable products with others, hoping to make better choices for their own families. 

The company has pledged to full transparency regarding the products they offer, having conducted extensive research on sustainable alternatives for over a decade. They diligently collaborate with over a dozen regulatory authorities and advocacy groups to ensure the thorough evaluation of new items.

2
Babyganics Foaming Dish &Amp; Bottle Soap
Product image by Babyganics
Best for baby

Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap

Highlights: Plant-derived, eco-friendly cleaning that’s free of SLS, phosphates, and dyes, making it safe for babies and effective against grease.

This exceptional SLS-free dish soap formula defies the odds when it comes to achieving a luxuriously frothy experience. Foam is made possible by swapping SLS with cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine (an eco-friendly foaming agent derived from plants), ranked as one of the safest ingredients on an Environmental Working Group assessment of consumer products.

The Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap also forgoes phosphates, phthalates, fragrances, or dyes, making it great for your little ones and the planet. Its remarkable bubble action effortlessly banishes grease and stubborn residue, leaving your sippy cups, bottles, and breast pump accessories gleaming.

About Babyganics

Babyganics, founded by two dedicated dads, is a USDA Certified Biobased product line specifically crafted for babies. Their product range refrains from testing on animals and excludes sulfates, phthalates, parabens, or synthetic fragrances that are harmful to people and the planet. With plant-derived and organic ingredients, they have some of the most sustainable cleaning products on the market.

3
9 Elements Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Lemon
Product image by 9 Elements
Best scented

9 Elements Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Lemon

Highlights: Combines vinegar and lemon essential oil for effective, eco-friendly cleaning with an ‘A rating’ from EWG and EPA’s Safer Choice certification.

Sourcing one of the world’s oldest cleaning tricks, 9 Elements liquid soap uses vinegar as a core ingredient to sanitize, cut grease, and empty your dish sink without relying on compounds like SLS. This popular dish soap has been given an ‘A rating’ from EWG and certification from EPA’s Safer Choice program based on its simple “never more than nine ingredients.”

While we worried about a potentially pungent vinegar smell remaining after washing (no thanks!), 9 Elements was one step ahead, neutralizing any potential smell with the delightful addition of lemon essential oil. What is it about fresh lemon that makes us feel like a job well done when cleaning? We don’t know, but we’ll take it with this genius SLS-free dish soap option!

About 9 Elements

9 Elements was founded by scientists Sunny and Sarah, who sought to develop eco-friendly, gentle cleaning products. Motivated by Sunny’s chronic health condition and Sarah’s newborn’s severe rashes, they were compelled to explore limited ingredient and plant-based formulas.

Determined to revolutionize cleanliness, they pioneered a groundbreaking range of laundry and home care cleaning products, harnessing the power of vinegar and supercharging it through scientific innovation.

4
Molly’s Suds Dishwasher Pods
Product image by Molly's Suds
Best dishwasher pods
Best biodegradable

Molly’s Suds Dishwasher Pods

Highlights: Biodegradable, plant-based formula that’s Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free and free from SLS.

Big dinner party? Long day at work? Have your hands full with the family? Sometimes, you just need to go straight to the dishwasher. We love a convenient cleaning solution that doesn’t cut corners with sustainable ingredients. 

When selecting a pod we wanted to make sure the outer packaging was biodegradable, had a plant-based formula, and omitted SLS from the ingredient list. We were already using the brand’s baking soda-based laundry powder, so trying Molly’s Suds Dishwasher Pods was a no-brainer! 

These little life-saving pods are wrapped in a water-soluble outer, are scented using essential oils, and nix the process called ethoxylation, which produces ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane as bi-products. They are also Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free! 

About Molly’s Suds

Molly’s Suds, founded in 2008 by an inspired mother, emerged to address the need for products that prioritize the well-being of our children and the environment. This conscientious company is dedicated to utilizing the purest ingredients in formulating products that are free from carcinogens and known human toxins. The outcome is an exceptional range of home care products, all free from SLS.

5
Better Life Dishwasher Detergent Gel
Product image by Better Life
Best for soft hands

Better Life Dishwasher Detergent Gel

Highlights: Plant-based formula free from sulfates, dyes, and synthetic scents, produced using solar energy and recyclable materials.

Better Life is a brand that doesn’t want you to have to think too hard when looking for products that are better for you and the earth – whether you’re doing just the dishes or cleaning the entire kitchen! We love their wide selection of plant-based dish soaps and concentrated dishwasher gels – all free of sulfates, alcohol, dyes, and synthetic scents! 

Best of all? They really work! Tried and tested on many a leftover lasagna dish, their Dishwasher Detergent Gel does not mess around. This is honestly one of the best grease-cutting, plant-based formulas on the market. Just one tablespoon in your dishwasher does the work, all without petroleum solvents, chlorine or bleach, alcohols, parabens, SLS or SLES additives. 

About Better Life

Better Life is the product of two concerned dads who had a classic lightbulb moment. They dreamt of natural cleaning products with more plant-powered formulas and fewer warnings on the label. They also go the extra mile with solar energy powered production, recyclable materials, and formulas that biodegrade.

6
Puracy Dish Soap
Product image by Puracy
Best for hard water

Puracy Dish Soap

Highlights: EWG A-rated, featuring a spa-like scent and moisturizers, while being free from SLS, SLES, and other irritants.

As a recipient of an EWG A Rating on many of its products, including its dish soap, Puracy is no stranger to clean ingredients. The Green Tea and Lime Puracy Dish Soap not only smells like a spa but also adds moisturizers that will make your hands feel like you’ve been to one. 

The formula is not only  SLS-free and SLES-free, but also omits triclosan, parabens, petrochemicals, animal by-products, perfumes, and other caustic ingredients that are notorious for drying out and irritating skin.

About Puracy

Puracy is the product of two best friends who wanted to make better home care products safe enough to come in contact with their young families. The brand works with chemists, doctors, and experts to make high-quality natural ingredients and has emerged to have one of the biggest offerings of SLS-free products on the market. 

Comparing Dish Soaps Without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

ProductPriceHighlightsOur Pick For
Mightynest Dish Washing Bar Soap
MightyNest Dish Washing Bar Soap
$Package-free, SLS-free soap that’s both eco-friendly and versatile, ideal for kitchen and camping use.Best dish soap bar, Best zero waste packaging
Babyganics Foaming Dish &Amp; Bottle Soap
Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap
$Plant-derived, eco-friendly cleaning that’s free of SLS, phosphates, and dyes, making it safe for babies and effective against grease.Best for baby
9 Elements Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Lemon
9 Elements Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Lemon
$$Combines vinegar and lemon essential oil for effective, eco-friendly cleaning with an ‘A rating’ from EWG and EPA’s Safer Choice certification.Best scented
Molly’s Suds Dishwasher Pods
Molly’s Suds Dishwasher Pods
$$Biodegradable, plant-based formula that’s Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free and free from SLS.Best scented, Best biodegradable
Better Life Dishwasher Detergent Gel
Better Life Dishwasher Detergent Gel
$$Plant-based formula free from sulfates, dyes, and synthetic scents, produced using solar energy and recyclable materials.Best for soft hands
Puracy Dish Soap
Puracy Dish Soap
$$EWG A-rated, featuring a spa-like scent and moisturizers, while being free from SLS, SLES, and other irritants.Best for hard water

FAQs About SLS-Free Dish Soaps

Does SLS Cause Cancer?

Despite a common misbelief, SLS is not a known carcinogen (cancer-causing) ingredient. 

What is the difference between SLS and SLES?

There is a notable distinction between the two sulfates. Both function as foaming and cleansing agents, but SLS has a higher tendency to cause irritation compared to SLES. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) has a stronger affinity for skin surface proteins than sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which can lead to more pronounced allergic reactions depending on an individual’s sensitivity.

While SLS/SLES can result in skin irritations, skincare products contain a range of ingredients that may cause dryness, discomfort, and irritation. The recommended approach is to understand these ingredients and seek skincare products that do not contain them.

How do you verify a dish soap is truly SLS-free?

So how do you avoid SLS in your dish soap? Check the label for any of its variants, take a look at the brand’s product page, and refer to this list for go-to options! 

Alyson Lundstrom

Alyson Lundstrom

Born in the Pacific Northwest, Alyson is a recovering nomad with a degree in Environmental Science. She has had professional lives as a marine biologist, eco-entrepreneur, and community sustainability leader in the Caribbean, China, Mexico, and currently the less exotic, but always green, Washington State. She currently covers movements, brands, and humans as they pursue the elusive quadruple bottom line of people, profit, planet, and purpose.
Alyson Lundstrom

Alyson Lundstrom

Born in the Pacific Northwest, Alyson is a recovering nomad with a degree in Environmental Science. She has had professional lives as a marine biologist, eco-entrepreneur, and community sustainability leader in the Caribbean, China, Mexico, and currently the less exotic, but always green, Washington State. She currently covers movements, brands, and humans as they pursue the elusive quadruple bottom line of people, profit, planet, and purpose.

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