Let’s Dish: Sustainable Soap

When I gave up Facebook for Lent (I’m keeping my Facebook account because I use it to log into other accounts but am hardly on it now), I was more present. I began to pay attention to waste in our house and wondered how we could become more kind in our consumption…and cleaning. I was no longer OK with buying bottled dish soap (we do ours by hand) and hand soap due to the plastic waste. I had read online that some people were using Dr. Bronner’s Castile bar soap for both their dishes and hands, but Dr. Bronner’s contains palm oil. Palm oil and its derivatives are in almost everything including and especially soap which isn’t always clearly labelled. Why is that of concern? The cultivation of palm oil is destroying rainforests and killing orangutans and other wildlife. I’m also not sure I trust “sustainably sourced” palm claims. So what would be the best choice?

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Just like I have for so many other modern-life issues I went back into the past for a solution. I thought about vintage soap solutions, literally. Then I remembered that Kirk’s, an antique brand, still sells Castile soap! But it probably contained palm, I thought, since formulas and ingredients usually change over the years. I looked on their website and checked the ingredients, one of which is glycerine which could be a palm derivative. The others seemingly checked out as not being palm derivatives, but I wanted to be sure so I sent them an email and received the following response: “Kirk’s is a 100% Coconut Castile bar soap and does not contain any palm oil.”

Great!!! But would it clean our dishes?

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I went to the local grocery, bought a three pack of Kirk’s fragrance-free soap and then stopped at Target where I bought a really attractive soap dish made in Spain from recycled glass. It was only $7.99!

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I tested the soap after lunch and again after dinner. The verdict??? It got the dishes cleaner than the liquid dish soaps I had been using! All I did was rub the bar onto a wet sponge which created a nice lather and repeated as needed. It rinsed off very easily. Pots and plates are squeaky clean. Wayne tested it out this morning after breakfast and also got great results.

But what about residue? Surely a bar soap would leave some kind of film?

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All clear!

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As for bathroom hand soap, I repurposed my late grandmother’s orphaned tea saucer into a soap dish. I have her tea cups on display in my living room but this was hidden in the curio cabinet until now.

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I have been using vintage bar soap in the bath for years. After having skin reactions or sneezing when I used modern-day soap bars I tried a still-wrapped vintage bar from the 1950s. I loved it, including the remnants of the vintage scent which didn’t make me sneeze. So like any rational person (right?!) I amassed a lifetime supply (not all soap shown) of unused wrapped bars I acquired over the years while out picking. Although great for skin, I wouldn’t want to use these scented moisturizing bars on dishes.

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It’s nice to know that making some minor, affordable changes can result in a cleaner conscience and less destruction moving forward!

6 thoughts on “Let’s Dish: Sustainable Soap

  1. Wow! I’m looking forward to trying Kirk’s for the first time. I also loved your vintage soap collection. Which one do you think is the prettiest? (This is a big selling point for me for some reason. 😆)

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    1. Excellent, Andrea! Reading this makes me realize again how easy it is to be swayed by greenwashing marketing on product packaging. Prior to this we had been using the same ubiquitous pricier “natural” liquid soaps as you.

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      1. here’s my question about the Kirk’s soap: do you soak your dirty dishes before hand washing? I usually run 1/2 a sink of warm, soapy (a couple of pumps of liquid dish soap) water and drop in dirty dishes & utensils/ cutting boards as I’m preparing a meal, then after we eat and put away leftovers, everything that has been soaking is super easy to hand wash.

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        1. Good question. We’ve never filled a sink with water for soaking. The only thing that we soak are the insides of pots and pans, so with Kirk’s I found that if I hold the soap over the pot or pan with the hot water running (I always wear gloves while dish washing) it does create soapy water. As for flatware I usually place it in a glass that’s already in the sink filled with water to soak them. We still have a bottle left of liquid soap so we’ll keep it on hand if we need it. If we end up using one bottle a year that’s a vast improvement! 🙂

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