Sunday, June 4, 2023

7 Biodegradable Soaps: Why It’s Better to Lather Up With Sustainable Suds


From liquid to bar soap, lather up with these biodegradable soaps that are better for your body and the planet.

Soap has a dirty little secret. That’s right, lathering up with your favorite, sweet-smelling suds may leave you clean, but it could be having the opposite effect on the environment. Some soaps contain ingredients, such as antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, that aren’t biodegradable. Worry not, you can still get your scrub on. We’ve got tips on how to shop for biodegradable soaps, plus the best brands to shop.

What is biodegradable soap?

Biodegradable soaps are cleaning agents that have the ability to naturally decompose over time. 

According to ASTM International, an international standards organization, in order for a soap to be deemed biodegradable, it must be able to break down into organic materials within a span of six months. (It’s important to note that biodegradable soaps are made to break down in soil, not in water.)

For those looking to shop for biodegradable suds, opting for soaps that are made with natural and organic ingredients is best. And that’s what you’re most likely to find as minimally treated and processed ingredients are biodegradable. 

You’ll also want to be sure to look for plant-based ingredients. Many naturally have antibacterial properties include aloe vera, lemon, and tea tree oil. For extra hydration, look for ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil—which offer a good-smelling, chemical-free scent, in addition to providing extra moisture to your skin.

And whenever possible, look for fair trade certified ingredients as well. This helps ensure the workers harvesting and producing your soap ingredients are paid a fair wage.

Consumers should also take into account the packaging that soap is contained in. Shop for plastic-free soaps that are either packaging-free, such as bar soaps, or housed in eco-friendly containers that are either biodegradable or recyclable.

Best biodegradable soaps to shop

From liquid to bar soaps, lather up with these sustainable suds for a clean that’s gentler on your skin and the planet.

kirk's soap

1. Kirk’s Original Bar Soap

Lather up! Suitable for sensitive skin, this biodegradable bar soap is made with moisturizing and antioxidant-rich coconut oil. Available in three varieties—original fresh scent, fragrance free, and aloe vera—the vegan soaps are free from phthalates, sulfates, parabens, and artificial colorants.

Are Soaps and Detergents Making Us Dirtier? Plus: 3 Sustainable and Nontoxic Options

2. Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap

The OG of sustainable suds, Dr. Bronner’s pure-castile soaps are natural, fair trade, vegan, and biodegradable. Packaged in 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles with recycled paper labels, the liquid soap can be used 18 different ways, including as a face cleanser, body wash, shampoo, laundry detergent, window cleaner, and more. The company also carries bar soaps, organic sugar soaps, and organic shaving soaps.

Are Soaps and Detergents Making Us Dirtier? Plus: 3 Sustainable and Nontoxic Options

3. Ethique Shampoo and Body Soap Bars

This sustainable New Zealand-based brand’s solid bars feature biodegradable, plant-based ingredients, which are contained in compostable packaging. The company carries shampoo, conditioner, and body soap bars in a variety of scents, such as lime, orange, and neem.  

meliora soap

4. Meliora Plastic-Free Soap

Say goodbye to dish soap contained in plastic bottles. Tackle dirty dishes with this plastic-free dish washing soap, available in a zesty lemon scent or unscented. The 100 percent biodegradable soap is dye-, palm oil-,  fragrance-, and preservative-free. 

mrs meyers soap

5. Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap

“Rooted in goodness,” this brand makes an array of soap products—including dish soap, laundry detergent, and hand soap—using a cruelty-free, biodegradable formula, plant-derived ingredients and essential oils, and garden-inspired scents. For a clean, floral scent, shop the Fresh Cut Grass Hand Soap. Or grab a bar of the brand’s vegetable-based hand and body soap, Rain Water Daily Bar Soap. 

public goods soap

6. Public Goods Castile Soap

For an eco-friendly clean, head to Public Goods. This biodegradable liquid castile soap is made with organic and vegetable-based ingredients like olive and jojoba oils, rosemary extract, aloe vera, and organic coconut.

faith in nature soap

7. Faith in Nature Soap

With a mission to harness nature, not harm it, this Manchester-based company truly believes that less is more. It uses minimal ingredients to create its soap products and carries a range of plastic-free soaps (the company uses packaging made from post-consumer plastic waste for its other products). For an aromatic ylang ylang scent, shop the Faith In Nature Natural Wrapped Soap, which features aloe vera blended with aromatherapy oils of ylang ylang and patchouli.

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