Jars of white powder
Image by Dish Dust

Dish Dust: environmentally friendly dish detergent

This week we hear from Timothy Griffin about Dish Dust, the environmentally friendly dish detergent he created to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen. The idea was to limit plastic waste in the kitchen, as well as getting dishes really clean.

Timothy Griffin created Dish Dust to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen

It’s likely that there’s a bottle of washing up liquid in your kitchen. A quotidian feature of your kitchen landscape, a daily life staple, it sits there unremarked upon. You don’t give it a second thought. Maybe you make use of the dishwasher, only occasionally using the washing up liquid to quickly rinse a few dishes. Or perhaps you grab the bottle a few times a day as you fill your sink to scrub your family’s dishes after each meal.

It’s probably a well-known brand, the liquid in your kitchen. It might be a festive colour; red, green or yellow. And it probably has a mouth-watering fragrance of berry, lemon or grapefruit. But if you’ve given some thought to the product you’re using you might have chosen a brand with a clear liquid in a recycled or ‘recyclable’ plastic bottle from a leading eco brand aggressively marketing its eco credentials.

Just take a moment to think how many plastic bottles of washing liquid are sitting adjacent to people’s sinks around the world. Hundreds of millions! Clean dishes—yes, but clean oceans—not so much.

Washing up liquid bottles containing some plastic materials are often not recyclable. As such, discarded washing up liquid bottles end up on landfill sites. And as they start to break down they travel through waterways to oceans, contributing to the mass of micro-plastics that are damaging our sea life. It’s not even possible to guarantee that those bottles that are recyclable will be kept out of landfill or that they won’t end up polluting the earth for years to come.

Making the change

In recent years I’ve made changes to help me live in a more mindful way. I’ve embraced a vegan diet and avoided single-use plastic. I’ve shopped at refill stores and sought out alternatives to the plastic products I use in my home.

During the early Covid lockdown, sat in my kitchen, my eyes settled on my own washing up liquid bottle. I began to wonder how the product could be packaged in a way that didn’t require plastic. The fact that washing up liquid is, um … liquid, limited the options. An obvious solution was glass bottles. But their weight and transit packaging requirements make them commercially unsustainable.

So, I sought out alternative ways to get my dishes clean. I tried multiple brands of washing up bars but found them lacking in the cleaning and foaming qualities of regular washing up liquid.  Plus, after a few uses the soap bar would break up and become a liquid mush in the soap dish with the soap brush floating in the middle. Soap soup.

Then it occurred to me: Washing up ‘liquid’ could be in powder form! So, I set about creating a liquid-free dish washing product that could be packaged in more sustainable materials such as paper, or even sold loose. The powered nature of the product would eliminate the need for plastic containers to wrap, transport and store the product. And this would avoid the associated environmental damage potential of plastic containers.

Weeks of research and testing followed until we settled on a recipe that satisfied our checklist of requirements. We knew it had to be exceptionally good at cleaning. And we knew it also needed to smell great, create lots of bubbles and have as few simple, clean ingredients as possible.

The final product

Dish Dust contains just five naturally derived ingredients. Not only is a great product for washing up but it’s also excellent for other cleaning uses around the home. It’s more concentrated than washing up liquid, as it’s not bulked out with water. And that means it goes about three times further than traditional washing up liquid.

After patenting the product, we started selling Dish Dust in North London’s zero waste shop, Kilo. And following its success, several other refill stores now carry it it.

We’re on a mission to help reduce plastic in our homes. And we know that by making small behavioural changes to everyday tasks, such as trading in our plastic-wrapped washing up liquid for Dish Dust, we can make a big difference to how much plastic is on our planet.

Right now you can buy environmentally friendly dish detergent Dish Dust from several London refill stores.