The Best Dish Soaps Aren’t Just Grease Cutters—They Sit Pretty and Smell Good, Too
Say hello to chic containers and spa-inspired scents.
Published Aug 24, 2022 1:00 AM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
After living in more than one New York City apartment without a dishwasher, you learn a thing or two about the difference between subpar and above-average dish soap. Not only do you want something that works—a small squirt is all you need to suds away everything from grease to baked-on crumbs—but it shouldn’t irritate your hands by the time the chore is done. Bottle design is a fast second; if it’s out on your counter, shouldn’t it be good-looking and easy to use?
Refreshing scents are another bonus. How does citrus with ginger and fruity hints of yuzu or an herbaceous take on cedarwood sound? Yep, like a luxe spa at home. These don’t linger either, especially not by the next time you dine. That’s why our list is a balance of everything you could want out of the best dish soaps: budget-friendly price tags to chic vessels that you’ll never have to think twice about leaving out near the sink.
- Best value: Method Yuzu Dish Soap
- Best splurge: Jenni Kayne x Murchison Home Dish Soap
- Best scent: Homecourt Dish Soap
- Best design: Attirecare Dish Wash
- Best spray: Dropps Dish Spray
Best Value: Method Yuzu Dish Soap
Amount: 18 fluid ounces | Pump: No | Refillable: No
What we like:
- Incredibly affordable
- Perfect consistency
- The likeliest to be available at your local grocer
- Typical squirt bottle design (can get messy or pool on the sides)
Why we chose it: A staple in the kitchens of many a Domino editor—and it shouldn’t run you more than $5.
You can still enjoy a luxurious dish soap without the hefty price tag. Several of our editors put Method’s through its paces at home, and all testers reported back that their stack of dirties was left with a squeaky-clean feel, and no residue was left behind on silverware and dinnerware when air-dried. Thanks to its thick and sudsy consistency, you truly only need a little to take on a whole pot, so it should last for months. And the luxury doesn’t stop there—choose among Yuzu (this fruity scent also offers notes of lemongrass, ginger, and kumquat); Rosemary (herbaceous and aromatic); and Citrus Grove (mandarin paired with a blend of lemon, lime, and lily) scents. The only caveat? It doesn’t exactly have an ergonomic feel; one reviewer found the bottle’s neck too high, which made it awkward to hold, though it wasn’t a deal breaker—she still wouldn’t trade it in for any of the other soaps that appear on this list.
Best Splurge: Jenni Kayne x Murchison Home Dish Soap
Amount: 32 fluid ounces | Pump: Yes | Refillable: No
What we like:
- Big volume
- Gentle yet tough formula
- Good-looking enough to give as a gift
- Only comes in 1 scent
- May not fit on slim kitchen sinks
Why we chose it: A little actually goes a long way with this massive bottle that has an equally big price tag.
Shocked by just how voluminous this filled-to-the-brim glass amber container was, our tester said it dwarfed the hand soap next to it in her kitchen, and she anticipates it will last for months after the others on this list run out (seriously, one reviewer revealed it hung around for an entire year). This soap bubbles up well enough, though it’s a bit more runny than we would have wanted. And with a well-balanced and non-perfumy compilation of clean aromas—cedarwood, mandarin, and lavender—it’s a match for all preferences. Plus our tester had zero issues when scrubbing off everything from oil to crust, as it rinsed clean every time.
Best Scent: Homecourt Dish Soap
Amount: 16 fluid ounces | Pump: Yes | Refillable: No
What we like:
- Aesthetically pleasing, recycled exterior
- 100 percent vegan
- Ships in post-consumer recycled paper box with nontoxic ink
- Fragrances can be irritating to more sensitive washers
Why we chose it: Channel your inner Monica Geller with a soap that smells as good as it cleans.
When our editors took actor Courteney Cox’s new Homecourt line for a spin, it felt like the quest for soaps and home cleaners reminiscent of a very fancy candle was complete. While doubling down on evening dishes, our tester loved CeCe—the line’s signature scent—but you can’t go wrong with any of the others, such as Cipres Mint (think: sugary green herbs), which Cox is currently loving in the bathroom. But while fancy smells are great and all, it was the built-in aromatherapy that sold us. And, of course, all you have to do is pair this bottle with a hand soap to take your counter from drab to chic.
As far as the soap itself goes, we were pleasantly surprised by the consistency being on the thicker side, despite its plant-derived formula. It lathers and rinses well (though it did need just a few more seconds under the faucet compared to others we tested to prevent leftover residue).
Best Design: Attirecare Dish Wash
Amount: 17 fluid ounces | Pump: Yes | Refillable: No
What we like:
- Antibacterial essential oils
- Chic, luxurious bottle
- The perfect pump
- Based in the U.K.
Why we chose it: As luxe-looking as Aesop.
This one never dried or irritated our hands, and smells just as good (if not better) than the same indulgent brands that dot boutique hotels and the bathroom shelves of beauty gurus. One pump and your kitchen is quickly graced with the wafting scent of oakmoss, (that is, hints of rosemary, lemon, and mandarin wrapped up in one). While $20-plus, it’s still a large bottle, and it honestly looks like it would run you a lot more. A bit more watery than the other formulas on this list (but not in a bad way), this dispenses the ideal amount of soap per pump to quickly get to scrubbing every single time.
Best Spray: Dropps Power Dish Spray
Amount: 8 fluid ounces | Pump: No | Refillable: Yes
What we like:
- Reusable and recyclable bottle
- Stain remover thanks to micellar surfactants
- 30-day trial, then subscribe to save
- No hard scrubbing necessary, just spray and wipe
- Up-front cost is pricey
Why we chose it: For those lazy moments when you rationalize just leaving your dishes to soak overnight.
Instead of a pump or squirt, this bottle functions just like any other dish soap on this list—you just have to apply a stream jet or spritz. Add a sponge to the equation, and it’ll suds up like usual and rinse clean. But we found it to be particularly handy for “soaking” caked-over kitchenware—except you don’t need any water, just the formula in this bottle. In fact, after less than an hour, our tester was able to completely wipe away dried bacon grease from her oven’s baking tray. And since it comes in spray form, it’ll tackle hard-to-reach crevices in water bottles and blender blades, as well as simple everyday dinnerware.
Despite its diminutive appearance, it lasts. The starter kit comes with six refills’ worth of concentrate. Setup is easy; all you do is add room-temperature tap water to the water line and then the formula (with a complimentary stainless steel funnel) to its specified line, so you won’t waste a single drop. We liked the unscented option, though there’s also a lemon verbena.
We Also Like
- We’re big fans of Blueland, but when it came to its eco-friendly dish soap, we found the powder to be messy to work with and it barely sudsed. If lathering your sponge isn’t a concern, however, this product checked all of our other boxes: a supersafe ingredient list (no artificial dyes or fragrances); a chic, refillable system; and a decently powerful grease cutter.
- After finishing up the aloe and juniper hand soap—gentle on skin, and a new, all-time favorite scent—from Pottery Barn’s Homekeeping line (spoiler alert: obsessed), we had high expectations for the 20-ounce bottle of dish soap. Compared to all the other options we tried, this fell a hair short in every aspect (spout design, size, performance, etc.). Though, don’t get us wrong—it’s still a solid soap.
- L’Avant impressed us with its luxurious, spray-on-anything all-purpose cleaner, but the high-performing dish soap was a bit too goopy and took a lot of water and extra wiping to fully wash away. The reusable glass container and scent, however? 10/10.
- For less than $6, you can score a simplified ingredient list in a just-as-simple, refillable squirt bottle—Public Goods’s dish soap is a pared-back option for those who just want to get things done.
- While there was nothing inherently wrong with Cleancult’s dish soap per se, the process of adding it to the refillable glass bottle was a bit messy (no easy “fill to here” lines or a handy funnel) and we lost quite a bit of soap in the transfer process from the recyclable carton to the refillable dispenser. Less than enamored with the strong scent (the lemongrass was overwhelming and strangely floral), it’s also super thick, so you don’t need a lot, but still try to use it as soon as possible—our carton quickly started to discolor and leak around the bottom corners.
- We haven’t gotten a chance to get our hands on it yet, but all eyes are on Diptyque’s new Ecocert-certified dishwashing liquid. But $40 for about 16 fluid ounces? Oof. Stay tuned for the verdict.
How We Chose These Products
To narrow down our list of the best dish soaps, we took to the list on the back of the bottle first. This meant cutting out contenders if they listed any artificial additions. Fragrances, however, were handled with a grain of salt: Was this something that left a floral or herby scent behind once it’s been rinsed? Or did it just add a little extra something to the overall washing experience? We then took to scrubbing, analyzing how each cut through grease, especially on pots, pans, and plates covered in food gunk and a similar amount of vegetable oil for testing. We worked with a general sponge, and took note of how soiled it was left afterward. Any film or residue left behind was also important, and some did need extra rinsing. From there, it was all about good vessel design. Our favorites arrived in plastic-alternative, reusable, and undeniably chic vessels, such as a goes-with-anything amber glass, to earn a permanent place on our countertops, as opposed to something stowed away in the cabinet beneath your sink.
Our Shopping Checklist
Similar to any type of cleaner, there could be naturally derived ingredients you may or may not recognize on a label list—sodium bicarbonate (baking soda); sodium citrate (a pH adjuster and water softener commonly found in produce); and lauryl glucoside (a coconut-based de-greaser), to name a few. You’ll want to avoid anything finished off with the word phthalate, parabens, formaldehyde, dyes, and artificial foaming agents.
Personally, we love a perfumy dish soap, no matter if it’s crisp and clean or light and floral, but no one wants to eat on a plate that smells like perfume long after. The addition of essential oils typically provide a natural scent that won’t linger too long. If you happen to have sensitive skin, and don’t want to don a pair of gloves, steer clear of ingredient labels that list artificial fragrances.
We try to avoid single-use plastics as much as possible, and that includes the best dish soaps. That’s part of the allure of an eco-friendly product—our favorite soaps are stored in glass, tin, or robust plastic that can be refilled and reused. And for those that aren’t, we made sure they were either recyclable or made from repurposed, post-consumer materials.
Q: How much dish soap do I need to make sure everything is clean?
This really depends, but the beauty of our top dish soap choices is that nearly all arrive in a container with a pump that provides the right, dime- to quarter-size amount every time. Just press and go—or add more soap as needed if you’re washing down a number of plates from a dinner party.
Q: Do I have to keep my dish soap in its original container, or can I funnel it into my own?
Of course not (although we’d argue if you go with one of our selects, they don’t need to be). You can find something that exactly matches your kitchen by buying a separate soap dispenser. Might we recommend this entire matching set?
Q: Can I use dish soap to wash my hands?
While you may be tempted to tap this soap for a do-it-all wash, we encourage using hand soap over dish soap on a regular basis. While our favorite formulas are gentle, they’re still designed to really help rub off grease and grime.
The Last Word
If you’re looking to up your overall dish-washing experience from a classic grocery store buy (like Dawn), choose from our list of the best dish soaps, which are sure to deliver on everything from satisfying sudsing to scents. We made certain our picks could hold their own as a permanent piece on your kitchen counter—and beyond an elevated exterior, that what’s inside is a consistency not too thick and not too thin and strong enough to power through all sorts of stuck-on bits from last night’s meal.