Guide to Plastic-Free Washing Up Liquid (UK)

Washing up liquid

Pretty much everyone uses washing up liquid in some shape or form and as we all know, many of these detergents come in plastic bottles.

Since plastic is proving to be a ginormous problem in the world today, what can we do to help reduce our impact when it comes to washing up liquid?

Let’s take a look at the different ways to avoid plastic and where you can find plastic-free washing up liquid in the UK.

Making Your Own Washing Up Liquid

If you’re feeling creative, you could go about making your own homemade washing up liquid. There are a few different ways to go about this, using a variety of ingredients and some methods are easier than others.

Using soap nuts

Here’s a super easy recipe for zero-waste washing up liquid that can be made using just 2 ingredients:

  • 1 cup (around 100 g) soap nuts/berries
  • 6 cups (around 1.4 L) water

Pop your soap nuts into a pot and add the water. Bring the pot to the boil for around 20 minutes or so, then take it off the heat and leave it to cool. Sieve your mixture through a muslin cloth before decanting it carefully into a reusable soap dispenser.

Using bar soap

If you don’t have soap nuts to hand, you could use natural bar soap instead and follow this recipe:

  • 10 g grated bar soap
  • 300 ml boiling water
  • 1-2 tsp baking soda

All you need to do is dissolve the grated soap fully in the boiling water before adding your baking soda. This mixture can then be decanted carefully into a reusable soap container.

Using soap, baking soda and water

If you want your washing up liquid to have a scent and maybe a couple more cleaning properties, then you could add a few drops of essential oil and try a slightly different method:

  • 1 cup liquid Castile soap
  • 4 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • 4 drops tea tree oil (antifungal)
  • 12 drops lemon oil (antibacterial & cuts through grease)
  • 1-1.5 L water (depends on the size of your container)

Add all of the ingredients to a jar or container of your choice before pouring in the water.

You can choose whichever oils you prefer, but citrus oils are great for dish soap.

Using essential oils

None of these methods to make your own washing up liquid will yield the same thick consistency you might be used to with shop bought dish soap, but they will work in the exact same way.

Refilling Your Washing Up Liquid

Not all of us want to spend time making our own detergents, so what can we do?

There are actually several places across the UK at which you can refill your washing up liquid bottles or containers to save on plastic waste. All you have to do is take your choice of container along and fill up with your chosen product.

Here is a list of some of the UK locations offering washing up liquid refills:

South-West England

South-East England



East Anglia

Yorkshire & North-East England

North-West England



It’s not just washing up liquid that can be refilled in this way, you could restock other cleaning supplies too – hand soap, fabric softener, detergent and many other items.

Foods are also another area that we can cut down on packaging too, with many places offering loose “bins” from which you select your edible produce.

How Do They Charge for the Refill?

In a lot of shops, you will be able to weigh your container before you fill it up – this weight will be deducted at the till, so that way you’re not paying for the extra weight of your jar or bottle.

Some places like you to purchase your refillable containers from them, but once you have this container, you can refill whenever you need with that container.

Washing Up Liquid in Glass Bottles

If you don’t have access to a washing up liquid refill destination, you could always opt to buy washing up liquid in a glass bottle.

There may not be many brands offering glass bottles for washing up liquid, but FILL Wash Up has the answer.

Order multiple litres at a time and receive a large cardboard box with a bladder pack of detergent as well as your refillable, screen printed glass bottle.

If not in a glass bottle, you could opt for a washing up liquid subscription of sorts – Splosh offers deliveries of concentrated detergents which fit through the letterbox, so once you purchase your initial bottles, you can just refill using the sachets.

This format actually reduces your plastic waste by about 90%!

To reduce your plastic waste by a little, you could buy your washing up liquid in bulk, in large containers, that way you aren’t throwing away plastic as regularly.

If you can get detergents in biodegradeable bottles or in bladder packs, this is an improvement on the number of plastic bottles that would normally be leaving your home if just buying your usual dish soap brands.

For some more tips on reducing your plastic footprint, see our guide to using less plastic.

2 thoughts on “Guide to Plastic-Free Washing Up Liquid (UK)”

  1. It would be brilliant to be able to buy washing up liquid in bulk and save plastic but the where do we find it!! I can find none near me.

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