Washing the dishes seems to be a task that never ends. Even if you have a dishwasher, not everything can wait for the next load to be put through, and whether it's one mug, baby bottles or a pile of bowls and pans from a family dinner, there's almost always something sitting in or next to the sink that needs a scour and a rinse.
We're not promising we can make scrubbing the pots any more enjoyable, but what we can do is help you find a washing up liquid that will do the job well first time. We've chosen our top 10 picks of the bestselling washing up liquids to buy online from Amazon, Tesco and Asda, featuring big names such as Fairy alongside natural, sensitive skin-friendly options with great ethical credentials like Ecover.
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Table of Contents
To begin, we'll look at the different things to bear in mind when choosing a washing up liquid. In particular, given the greater importance paid to environmental considerations by many consumers, we're going to focus on ways you can be sure your liquid is as green as possible, and as good for you as it is for your dishes.
When choosing a washing up liquid that will hopefully last you several weeks or even months, it's definitely worth going for one with a smell you'll enjoy, or at the very least won't mind. A sickly-sweet or overly fragranced scent could make an often gruelling task even less enjoyable, or even put you off doing the dishes completely!
Luckily there's a lot of variety in the scents on offer, with some companies making their carefully-crafted aromas a key selling point. If you're more interested in keeping things clean and neutral, however - or you just want to keep the chemical count to a minimum - there are plenty of perfume/fragrance-free washing up liquids on the market.
One thing we should make clear from the outset – there is no evidence to suggest that any of the washing up liquids on our list are safer to humans than others. All washing up liquids sold in the UK are subject to strict regulations, and meet the same minimum standards for toxicity and biodegradability. Nor are any of the products on our list tested on animals.
However, some of you may prefer to use a washing up liquid that does not contain ingredients derived from petrochemicals. Our dependence on crude oil as a source of energy and materials is problematic for many, and a shift to more natural ingredients in cleaning products is seen as a way to move beyond this.
Petrochemical ingredients also take longer to break down, and can pose a threat to marine life. Furthermore, more natural ingredients are likely to be less aggravating to those with sensitive skin. Lots of good reasons to pay attention to what goes in to your washing up liquid!
Our use of plastics, and where they end up after we're done with them, has been the source of a great deal of consumer concern and guilt in recent years. So it's no surprise that for many washing up liquid manufacturers, the materials they use to make their bottles, and how easily they can be recycled once they're empty are touted as big selling points.
Unlike a lot of other packaging used in supermarkets, the plastic used to make most washing up liquid bottles is, thankfully, readily recycled in this country, and most of the bottles on our list can be recycled.
What differs more greatly is the use of recycled materials in the production of bottles, with some companies using 100% recycled materials, others a small percentage, and some using none. If it's important to you, it may be worth finding out which of these it is.
Some more ethically and environmentally-minded companies have gone one step further in the war on plastic waste and offer different refill options. If you're really serious about cutting down on plastic then this could be a deciding factor when choosing a washing up liquid, but it's also a great way to save money, as these refills are usually cheaper.
There are two different types of refill schemes. Under the first, you can purchase large containers of the washing up liquid yourself online and top your bottle up at home.
The second more ambitious (and even greener) scheme sees the liquid being shipped in vats direct to certain stockists, allowing shoppers to pop along and refill their bottles in store, saving even more packaging. Such schemes may not be available in your area yet, but they are slowly being rolled out to more and more locations around the country.
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Lemon & Aloe Washing Up Liquid
The Market Leader That Ticks All the Boxes
Concentrated Washing Up Liquid
A Plant-Based Washing Up Liquid in a Supersized Bottle
Coconut Water Washing Up Liquid
Get Pumped to Clean Dishes
Platinum Washing Up Liquid
The Benchmark Washing Up Liquid With Unbeaten Cleaning Power
Sensitive Washing Up Liquid｜Pack of 2
Tough on Grease, Delicate on Skin
Fresh Citrus & Ginger Fragranced Washing Up Liquid
An Eco Washing Up Liquid That Invigorates the Senses
Eco Washing Up Liquid｜Pack of 3
A Luxury Eco Washing Up Liquid
Original Washing Up Liquid
A Bargain Own-Brand that Gets the Job Done
Sensitive Washing Up Liquid
A Gentle Washing Up Liquid for Sensitive Skin
Antibacterial Washing Up Liquid
Fairy Cleaning With Added Antibacterial Peace of Mind
Ecover have been producing eco-conscious cleaning products for 40 years, and their range of washing up liquids have long been the number one choice for the ethical consumer. They use exclusively plant-based ingredients that are gentle on all skin types, and their bottles are 100% recycled and recyclable.
Ever at the forefront of innovation, they're also now the first big company to roll out a refill scheme in various locations across the country. If there's not one near you, there's also the option of buying 5 or 15 litre refills from Amazon, to keep under the sink and top up at home.
This perfume-free washing up liquid from eco brand Bio-D is concentrated to provide extra cleaning power with only a tiny squirt at a time. It comes in a huge 750ml bottle that's great for reducing plastic usage, but it can be difficult to handle due to its weight.
As you'd expect from a big eco brand, the bottle is 100% recycled and made from BPA-free plastic. 5 litre refill bottles are available to buy online from Amazon, or ask in your local wholefoods shop.
One of the main selling points of Method's range of washing up liquids is a feature so simple it's surprising it's not more common. The pump action dispenser means you don't need to pick up the bottle to apply a drop of liquid to your sponge, meaning less crusty mess forming around the top.
Whilst it is one of the more expensive washing up liquids on our list, it does try to position itself as an eco-friendly brand more than some and it lasts for weeks. It also comes in a great range of fragrances.
Fairy has been the top name in washing up liquids for generations, but has lost some of its dominance as supermarket brands get better and as more turn to greener products. However, Fairy is still the benchmark against which all others are compared, and its Platinum washing up liquid offers the best cleaning power on our list.
Being the best cleaner does mean you'll use less and get through fewer bottles. But the PET plastic used cannot be processed by all recycling centres, so you'll need check with your local authority before putting it in your recycling bin.
Ecozone sensitive washing up liquid is ideal for those who need something a little more gentle on their skin while doing the dishes. Its mild, long lasting liquid formula is fragrance and colour free yet still tough on grease as you'd like to expect.
With no skimping on performance, its powerful foaming action cuts through grime and leaves everything sparkling. We love the fact that this brand is British and approved by Allergy UK and PETA.
Made from 91% plant and mineral-based ingredients; this eco warrior is tough on grease and residue, leaving your dishes sparkling clean. The bottle and cap are made from 100% recycled plastic and are recyclable.
The formula does not contain dyes or synthetic fragrances and is Leaping Bunny certified so it's not tested on animals. It also comes in a range of scents which are made from 100% essential oils and botanical ingredients.
Wilton's range of plant-based cleaning products are packaged and marketed like the fancy toiletries you might find in an upmarket hotel. Being a luxury product, it's to be expected that it comes in at over £4 a bottle - one of the priciest on our list - but it is also British made, vegan, and cruelty-free.
In addition to looking classy, this washing up liquid also smells great, with essential oils used to craft it's unique fragrances that also excel at cleaning, like eucalyptus and grapefruit. It scores well on the eco front, too.
If saving the pennies is your number one concern but you still want your plates to come out sparkling, then you can't go wrong with this great own-brand product from Tesco. In various comparison tests, it's fared well against, or even better than, Fairy Original and costs more than half the price.
It's green in colour but not that green otherwise. The bottle is widely recyclable, but there's no information on the materials used to make it, and it contains the standard mix of petroluem-derived chemicals that some people may prefer to avoid.
With seals of approval from organisations such as Allergy UK and talkeczema, Surcare is aimed squarely at those with sensitive skin. So if you have a skin condition, or simply find many of the substances used in washing up liquids hard on your hands, then it's worth giving this brand a try.
The formula produces long lasting bubbles and cuts through grease and grime, leaving your dishes sparking every time. There's no fragrances, acids or dyes to keep things as neutral as possible, but petroleum based substances are still used which may put some shoppers off.
You won't be surprised to see two products by market leader Fairy on our list, and we start off with their antibacterial washing up liquid. The antibacterial ingredients promise to protect your sponge for up to 24 hours. Great if you're grossed out by germs or want to keep your kitchen as bacteria-free as possible.
There's still the cleaning power you expect from Fairy, with an eucalyptus fragrance that smells hygienic without being too clinical or overpowering. However, the chemicals used and overall strength could make it too harsh for extra-sensitive hands.
Washing up is one of life's menial tasks, but that's not to say that there aren't questions about the logistics of using washing up liquid that we've all felt too embarrassed to ask. So we've answered them for you.
This can largely depend on the number of dishes you need to clean. An amount the size of a 2p coin should cover your typical after dinner load; you should also keep in mind that even after those fluffy suds disappear, the liquid is still there doing its job.
Not all washing up liquids are antibacterial, but they will still kill most of the bacteria from what you are cleaning. The antibacterial aspect usually only serves to bolster the protection from germ buildup on the sponge itself. That said, you should always remember to remove excess water from the sponge once you’ve finished.
While the substances that makeup washing up liquid are considered hazardous, accidentally ingesting a small amount shouldn’t do any harm. However, if a large amount is consumed, it may result in nausea and vomiting; if this occurs, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to be on the safe side.
Now you know the things to look out for when searching for a washing up liquid, why not take a look at our other recommendations for everything your need to whip your home into shape.
Thanks for joining us for a look through the top 10 best washing up liquids in the UK. Whether it's eco credentials, raw brute cleaning power, or cost-effectiveness that's most important to you, we trust you've found something on our list that will find a place in your kitchen. The only thing left to decide is whose turn it is to do the dishes!
No. 1: Ecover｜Lemon & Aloe Washing Up Liquid
No. 2: Bio-D｜Concentrated Washing Up Liquid
No. 3: Method｜Coconut Water Washing Up Liquid
No. 4: Fairy｜Platinum Washing Up Liquid
No. 5: Ecozone｜Sensitive Washing Up Liquid｜Pack of 2
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