Washing-up liquid

Ethical shopping guide to washing-up liquid, from Ethical Consumer

Ethical shopping guide to washing-up liquid, from Ethical Consumer

This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.


This product guide to Washing-up Liquid includes:

  • Ethical and environmental ratings for 23 washing-up liquids
  • Best Buy Recommendations
  • Organic and fairtrade brands
  • Problem with Palm Oil



Customise your scorecard ratings

How important to you?
Click the + icon to expand categories

To save your personal score settings and use them elsewhere around the site, please  Log In.



Score Ratings

Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings


Score table

The score table shows simple numerical ratings out of 20 for each product. The higher the score, the more ethical the company.

Move the sliders to customise these scores. 

Click on a product name to see the stories behind the score (subscribers only). 


Full Scorecard

The Full Scorecard shows the 'black marks' for each product, by each of the 17 negative categories. The bigger the mark, the worse the score. So for example a big black circle under 'Worker Rights' shows that the company making this product has been severely criticised for worker abuses.

Scores start at 14.  A small circle means that half a mark is deducted, a large circle means that a full mark is deducted.

Marks are added in the positive categories of Company Ethos and the five Product Sustainability columns (O,F,E,S,A).  A small circle  means that half a mark is added, a large circle means that a full mark is added.

The Full Scorecard is only available to subscribers. Click on the More Detail link at the top of the score table to access it.


Customising Rating Scores

Move the sliders to change the weighting given to each category. You can open up each of the 5 main categories by clicking on the + sign. This way you can compare products according to what's ethically important to YOU.  


Saving Your Customised Weightings

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 


Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 


Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

How the Sliders work
Move the sliders to see how different issues affect the score table
Refine each category by clicking the + icons
Save your settings (you need to be signed in first)
Key to expanded Score table

Best Buys

as of April 2017

As our ratings are constantly updated, it is possible that these companies may not always come out top of the score table.

Certified organic or Fairtrade and/or received a best Ethical Consumer rating for Animal Testing: 

Greenscents and Traidcraft Clean & Fair

These are followed by:

  • Bentley Organics
  • Sodasan
  • Bio-D
  • Faith in Nature
  • Earth Friendly Products
  • ecoleaf
  • Lilly’s Eco Clean


Earth Friendly Products is a palm oil free company. Sodasan and Bentley organics products are organic certified.

Dri Pak score well on the table if you want to make your own.


Ecover and Method are best of the widely available brands although since their takeover they have a boycott call against them for being owned by a non cruelty-free company, SC Johnson.

to buy

Image: Ecozone


Image: Ecover


Ethical Consumer makes a small amount of money from your purchase. This goes to fund our research and campaigning. We ethically screen all the sites we link to.







 Related Content

Read our Special Report into Cleaning Products

Last updated: April 2017



Hands that do dishes ...


Most of us in the UK do our washing up by hand with only about 44% of us owning a dishwasher. Far and away the leading brand in washing up liquid is Procter & Gamble’s Fairy brand, with 41% of the market.

Supermarket own brands (likely to have been manufactured by McBride plc) make up just under a third of the market. McBride also manufactures a washing up liquid under its own label, Surcare which you will find on the score table above.

Conventional brands do contain petrochemical surfactants and synthetic fragrances, not to mention the increasing number that claim to be antibacterial.

According to the Ecologist in 2009, “using a dish detergent in hot water also creates another health hazard- chemical vapours. In hot water the chemicals vaporise and are inhaled as steam; and some ingredients can produce vapours that cause severe irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract.”


Image: Dishwashers



Organic and Fairtrade brands

Three companies in this guide, Greenscents, Bentley Organic, Sodasan, are certified as organic. Greenscents and Bentley Organic are certified by the UK’s Soil Association and Sodasan by EcoCert, a French organic label originally applied to food products but more recently certifying the ingredients of household products. 

There is only one Fairtrade certified brand – Traidcraft’s Clean & Fair.


Toxic chemicals


We have rated all the skincare companies for their toxic chemicals policies. The companies which received a best rating had a policy because they had banned the use of parabens, phthalates and triclosan (see our feature on toxic chemicals for why we have chosen these chemicals) were:

  • Greenscents
  • Bentley Organic
  • Bio-D
  • Faith in Nature
  • Earth Friendly
  • Ecozone
  • Lilly’s Eco Clean.


Make your own

To avoid the long list of toxic chemicals that goes into many off-the-shelf detergents, you could make your own. See our feature on DIY cleaning kits for recipes for a whole range of household cleaning products. Dri Pak sell ingredients like washing soda and borax substitute if you want to make your own.


Animal testing

Although the testing of cosmetics on animals has been banned in the EU, this is not the case everywhere else in the world. The EU’s REACH legislation has also complicated the issue. 

Ethical Consumer rates all companies selling cosmetics on their animal testing policy. Companies will score a best rating if they have a policy not to test on animals, have a fixed cut-off date (a date after which none of their products or ingredients will have been tested on animals), and are not selling to markets, such as China, where animal testing of products is required by law.

Greenscents, Bio-D, Faith in Nature, Earth Friendly, Ecozone, Ecoleaf, Traidcraft Clean & Fair, Lilly’s Eco Clean, Astonish, Method and Ecover all received our best rating for animal testing.


Palm oil

Palm oil and palm oil derivatives have become an important component in many personal care products.

The new ‘PO’ column on our scoretables shows how all the companies rank on their palm oil policy and practice. You can see the expanded score table if you are a logged in subscriber by clicking on the orange ‘More Detail’ box. 

The only company which was palm oil free across all its products was Earth Friendly Products. Bentley Organics, Sodasan, Sonett, Traidcraft and Ecoleaf got our best rating for using sustainable palm oil.


Vegan washing-up liquid

All the following brands of washing-up liquid are vegan:  

  • Traidcraft
  • Greenscents
  • Bentley Organic
  • Sodasan
  • Bio-D
  • Faith in Nature
  • Earth Friendly
  • Ecozone
  • Sonett
  • Ecoleaf
  • Attitude
  • Astonish




Company Profile


Procter & Gamble (P&G) is the focus of several consumer campaigns including one over its sourcing of palm oil from Felda Global Ventures, a Malaysian company that was said to be the world’s largest palm oil plantation operator.

Campaign organisation SumOfUs stated in March 2017: "Felda deals in the human trafficking of its plantation workers, confiscating close to 30,000 passports, and still works with labour contractors and recruiters who charge enormous fees to trafficked foreign workers. Plantation workers are trapped in modern-day slavery, all to produce palm oil that ends up in P&G products. The multinational consumer goods company is well aware of the problem, and yet still buys conflict palm oil from its joint venture partner Felda.”

P&G’s products have also been named and shamed in campaigns against the use of microbeads. The International Campaign Against Microbeads in Cosmetics lists Gillette on the orange list for containing polyethylene (PE).

P&G has stated, perhaps as a result of consumer pressure, that it will remove polyethylene microbeads from all toothpaste and cleansing products by 2017. However, in 2016, when Greenpeace East Asia (GEA) ranked companies on their commitment to tackling the issue of microbeads in their products, P&G’s commitment was found inadequate as it only applied to one type of plastic (polyethylene) in certain products (personal cleansing and oral care) rather than to all forms and in all products. It also only applied to microbeads used for specific purposes (scrubbing agents, colour, chewing gum base), rather than for all functions.


Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table. 

This information is reserved for subscribers only. Don't miss out, become a subscriber today.



Navigate To:


Ethical made easy

Detailed ethical ratings for over 40,000 companies, brands and products, plus Ethical Consumer magazine.

30 day trial subscription - find out more