Surprise, here's a dish-washing hack you probably haven't heard before. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated February 19, 2019
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Between testing out the best dish soaps and writing the book on how to load a dishwasher the right way, Real Simple editors consider themselves dish-washing aficionados. So when we spotted a dish washing tip we've never heard before, we immediately took notice. Have you ever considered ditching the liquid dish soap and washing your dishes with bar soap instead? Neither had we, until we saw a game-changing Instagram post by Julia of Simply Living Well.

An Instagram account devoted to slow living, sustainability, gardening, and home, Simply Living Well is a treasure trove of inspiration for ways to reduce waste as well as homemade alternatives to store-bought products (check out Julia's DIY toothpaste). Then, the post above stopped me in my tracks. "I just finished a month of using bar soap for dishwashing, and I must say I'm sold," Julia writes. Wait, what? You can use bar soap to wash dishes? Most of us are so used to adding liquid dish soap to our shopping carts that we've never even considered an alternative. But, according to Simply Living Well, an olive oil-based bar soap makes a great replacement for dish soap.

What to Buy

To be clear, we don't recommend grabbing any old bar of soap from your shower and attempting to scrub your dishes with it. In the Instagram post, Simply Living Well specifically suggests an olive oil-based soap, such as the French version Savon de Marseille ($8 per bar) or classic Castile soap ($26 for 6 bars, amazon.com). To make sure you're getting the right bar, it's a good idea to double check the ingredients list. "The greenish blocks are made of olive oil; the white ones are sometimes made of palm oil. So if that’s important to you, be sure to peep at the ingredients," Julia suggests.

How to Wash Dishes With Bar Soap

How do you use bar soap without the convenience of a pump? Julia recommends getting a scrub brush ($17 for 2, amazon.com), which makes it easy to clean and scour pots and pans without having to load up a brush with liquid dish soap. Leave the brush right on top of the block of soap next to your kitchen sink so you're always ready to scrub a few dishes.

Why Choose Bar Soap Over Dish Soap?

"It’s sudsy, non-toxic, easy to use, gentle on the skin, and comes plastic-package free," Julia explains. While liquid dish soap tends to come in bulky plastic bottles, bar soaps are typically wrapped in recyclable paper or are available in some stores without any packaging at all. Plus, olive oil-based soaps have a long history and are often trusted by those with sensitive skin. In fact, one of the brands Julia recommends, Savon de Marseille, has been producing 72-percent olive oil soap since 1688. Bonus: If you currently have two types of soap beside your kitchen sink—one for washing dishes, another for washing hands—bar soap could help declutter your countertop.

And as one commenter on the post, Kathryn Seibel, writes: "LOVE LOVE LOVE using Savon de Marseille for dishes! Cuts through coffee stains and tomato-based stains like CRAZY!" Gentle on the environment and tough on stains? We can see why some converts are ditching the liquid dish soap altogether.