Zero waste dishwashing can seem so foreign to us when we are used to plastic brushes and unnatural coloured liquids in big plastic bottles, but it doesn't have to be complicated, in fact the solution can be quite simple.
When we were in France we passed a savon de marseille store and since I'd seen so many people recommend the olive oil one for dishwashing we thought we'd buy a couple and give it a try. For anyone that doesn't know this is a square bar soap, sold unpackaged where we were. Previously we were diluting, with water, the plastic packaged soap my parents were used to buying. This meant we were using less of the product which would therefore last longer, in turn using less plastic as we'd need less bottles. But of course it was still using plastic so I wanted to find another solution.
We kept the bar soap in a container we happened on hand though you could use any container, I think these ethique containers which are biodegradable would be a good idea just by their size and the fact that they are closed in. Though the savon de marseille soaps were good, they are pretty pricey in Hong Kong so when we ran out we figured that any bar soap would probably do the job. We chose a bar soap from seed which is made from recycled kitchen oils and was pretty cheap, so far that's been working great! As far as I understand any bar soap will do the job though oil based ones are the best option, and olive oil is the best choice out of that (remember to avoid palm oil!).
You can also buy dishwashing liquid in bulk though it's usually expensive and I think in many ways a bar soap is just as good. My parents decided to try live zero's dishwashing liquid bought in bulk for the wine glasses as they found the bar soap didn't clean them as well and have been happy so far. To make up for the cost they diluted it with white vinegar and water.
Once we had a solution to soap, we wanted to try and find one for all of the plastic sponges and brushes we use. The wonderful Biome eco stores, an Australian online brand that focuses on zero waste, sustainable, and vegan products sent us over one of their vegan redecker pot brushes pictured above. I'd heard of the brand, in fact it's quite popular amongst zero wasters especially for dishwashing, but hadn't found any that were vegan so was so grateful to find a company with them! Alex wasn't a huge fan at first and preferred the plastic sponge but I really liked it and found it was great for scrubbing pots and pans (in comparison to plates and glasses which was a bit harder). We have a dishwasher which does most of our dishwashing so I thought it worked well for the things we needed to wash by hand and will definitely bring it with us to Australia. The bristles were extremely hard when it first arrived but they got softer after a couple uses and Alex found it better after that. These brushes from the brand would also be great for dishwashing but we are still using up our plastic ones that are similar.
On the spongey side of things, our last plastic sponge was coming to the end of it's life so at first we tried the now no waste sponges but they just didn't work well, the fabric side was too soft and the side which I was hoping would best replace the scrubbing function of the scrub simply absorbed water and didn't create much friction. Since that didn't work we tried out the soap bag from coconut matter. Because of the texture we figured it would scrub well, and you could also put the soap INSIDE it which would avoid having to scrub the sponge onto the bar soap (something my family found tedious). Lo and behold it does the job perfectly and is a great plastic free alternative to those nasty plastic sponges. This was also bought at seed for pretty cheap. If you are good at crocheting I think this would be a pretty easy thing to make and would do the job equally as well. I will say however once it gets used a lot it stays quite wet and can become a bit gooey with the soap inside. We have also tried sqwishful, which livezero kindly gave us to try out and I think this is the best swap for your traditional plastic dishwashing sponges. The company is fantastic and they are only $30 dollars - this will be what I will be purchasing in the future.