6 Top Biodegradable Soap Picks + Uses and Where to Buy

Updated on June 16, 2023
Lauren Long By Lauren Long
Lauren Long

Creative Writer, Lifestyle Blogger, and Skincare and Wellness Enthusiast

Table Of Contents

    Biodegradable SoapPIN

    6 Top Biodegradable Soap Picks + Uses and Where to Buy

    Gotta protect Mother Earth.

    Climate change is real, pollution is a problem, and with plastic straws and shopping bags becoming commodities of the past, more of us feel we need to do what we can to leave a soft environmental footprint.

    The year 2020 became the year of hand-washing, soap, and anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, but as we emerge from the pandemic, environmentalists are becoming more vocal about just how damaging ordinary soap can be to our environment. Studies have shown that many household cleaning and bathing products contain chemical detergents or surfactants that are not easily digestible by the environment.

    Fortunately, we live in an era where green-friendly companies make highly effective cleaning and bathing products that are easily digested and not harmful to the environment. Hello biodegradable soap!

    What is Biodegradable Soap?

    Biodegradable soap is any cleansing or washing product made from ingredients that can be broken down and digested by bacteria and organisms.

    The ingredients in biodegradable soap are effectively decomposed to negligible amounts by organic soil compared to non-biodegradable products. Biodegradable soap, by definition, contains a formula that completely returns to nature within one year after disposal.

    Traditional soaps and cleaning products contain synthetic chemicals harmful to organisms that try to digest them, and traces of their chemical composition can be found in the environment decades after they’re disposed of.

    Biodegradable soaps feature several benefits:

    1. Biodegradable formula
    2. Free of synthetic fragrances
    3. Free of skin irritants
    4. Eco-friendly packaging
    5. Good for sensitive skin
    6. Not harmful to the environment or aquatic life

    The chart below provides an overview of biodegradable soaps vs. non-biodegradable soaps.

    Biodegradable Soap Non-Biodegradable Soap
    • Fewer chemical additives and synthetic compounds
    • Surfactants of natural origins (plants and animal fats)
    • Break down naturally without harming the environment
    • Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agents and preservatives
    • Synethic surfactants of petrochemical origins
    • Act as foaming agents in the water and damage aquatic life

    While the true name is biodegradable soap, you may also hear biodegradable shortened to some common slang terms around the campground.

    Biodegradable soap is also called:

    • odegradable soap
    • degradable soap
    • iodegradable soap
    • egradable soap
    • gradable soap

    So if a busy Mom with four hyperactive kids comes over to your site and says she forgot to pack the ‘egradable soap’ along with the reusable cutlery, and asks to borrow yours, you can be confident she’s just doing her part to be environmentally-friendly too!

    Top 6 Biodegradable Soap Picks

    Want to know the best biodegradable soap to buy for your next camping trip? Or are you looking for a safe and eco-friendly biodegradable dish soap to use at home?

    We’ve gathered our top six biodegradable soap picks for camping, heavy-duty cleaning, personal hygiene, and mess on the go.

    Best Multi-Purpose

    10/31/2023 11:38 am GMT

    If you’ve ever tried using eucalyptus in the shower, you’ll know the plant’s soothing effect to boost the immune system, improve symptoms of respiratory infections, and help ease fever and joint pain. The powerful eucalyptus aroma has benefits similar to an ice bath.

    Dr. Bronner Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in Eucalyptus helps with all these medical benefits and is a top-rated multipurpose biodegradable, eco-friendly soap. The miracle formula is an 18-in-1 cleansing agent for everything from washing dishes to doing laundry to bathing.

    It is free from synthetic foaming agents, detergents, and artificial fragrances. Its formula’s key ingredient, eucalyptus, has been used traditionally in Ayurveda and as an Indigenous medicine to help fight respiratory infections. Ingredients including coconut oil, hemp oil, Jojoba oil, and vitamin E were added to soothe and nourish the hair and skin.

    Add the liquid soap to your laundry, or use it as a bubble bath or a pillow spray to take advantage of its immune-boosting benefits. With so many uses for cleaning surfaces and floors to cleansing your hair and skin, Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable soap is the only cleaning product you’ll need on your camping trip and around the house.

    The key product features include:

    • 2% organic eucalyptus essential oil
    • Coconut oil, hemp oil, Jojoba oil, and vitamin E
    • Biodegradable formula
    • 100% recycled packaging
    • 18-in-1 multipurpose soap

    Best Probiotic Soap

    Most of us are familiar with probiotics, whether we think of them as a daily capsule, or an option when we purchase yogurt. Probiotics have tremendous benefits for improving intestinal health, symptoms of lactose intolerance, and reducing the risk of various other diseases. But did you know about the benefits of probiotic skincare? In soaps, lotions, and other skincare products, probiotics help replenish the good bacteria in the skin, enhancing the natural skin barrier and improving skin conditions. Some research suggests that probiotic skincare works better than salicylic acid face washes and pore strips.

    Growing Organic Lactosoapcillus Probiotic + Vegan Castile Soap is a multi-purpose, biodegradable soap infused with natural oils and probiotics to nourish the skin. Microorganisms, including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, along with a blend of natural oils, leave skin more hydrated, softer, and brighter than before.

    The all-natural, vegan formula is made from pure plant-based materials with no artificial ingredients or fragrances. Essential oils are used to create all-natural, revitalizing, refreshing scents.

    It is a multi-purpose product for hair, face, body, and many household purposes. It can be used as an effective dishwashing agent, laundry detergent, surface cleaner, and insect repellent.

    The key product features include:

    • Infused with probiotics
    • Multi-purpose cleaning product
    • Natural fragrances
    • Palm-oil free
    • Plant-based ingredients

    Best Body Wash

    Have you heard about the benefits of jojoba oil? It’s a moisturizing, antibacterial, and antioxidant ingredient that helps improve skin conditions from acne to wrinkles. Not only is this vitamin E-enriched oil great for conditioning hair and nourishing the skin, but it is also rapidly degraded in the environment.

    If you want to experience this miracle ingredient’s beauty and environmental benefits, you will want to get yourself Joshua Tree Skin Care products. When you’re eco-friendly camping but want to keep ‘glamping,’ you know the importance of a scented body wash to keep feeling fresh and clean. Fortunately, Joshua Tree has a whole line of biodegradable body washes to keep you fragrant.

    Joshua Tree Skin Care Body Wash is a biodegradable, plant-based organic soap made of Castile, olive oil, and coconut oil. We love the scent of Tea Tree and mint for a fresh smell without attracting mosquitos. Joshua Tree bath products are not only perfect for the great outdoors and places with sensitive plumbing but also for everyday use to keep your hair and skin healthy. The Jojoba oil-infused soap leaves skin feeling healthy and soft.

    It’s not just a body wash and shampoo; it’s a multi-purpose cleaner that can be diluted to clean surfaces, dishes, laundry, and all your camping needs.

    The key product features include:

    • Castile olive oil soap
    • Multi-purpose body wash
    • Infused with jojoba oil
    • Biodegradable formula
    • Plant-based ingredients

    Best for Camping

    10/31/2023 11:51 am GMT

    Are you an adventure junkie who wants to immerse yourself in the great outdoors? If so, you’ll know the importance of having camping equipment for campers, designed by campers. When it comes to biodegradable soap for camping, you can’t go wrong with Concentrates Campsuds. Also known as REI biodegradable soap, after the store where it is commonly sold, this soap was explicitly designed for use in the heart of the wilderness.

    If you don’t believe there’s an all-in-one soap capable of cleaning in hot, cold, and even salt water, Concentrated Campsuds will prove you wrong! This concentrated solution is an all-around miracle product for cleaning while camping, backpacking, and boating.

    Its formula is made from all-natural ingredients, including vegetable-based ingredients and essential oils. The solution is environmentally friendly and breaks down naturally in the environment, so you can camp without a footprint.

    It works as a body wash and shampoo to effectively cleanse while leaving your skin and hair soft and healthy. The liquid soap cuts through the dirt on surfaces, vehicles, dishes, and your laundry too. Just a few drops in water produce an effective amount of suds for all cleaning needs. The convenient travel-size bottles offer enough solutions for a weekend camping trip.

    The key product features include:

    • Biodegradable outdoor soap
    • Multi-use product
    • Highly-concentrated
    • All-natural ingredients
    • Leading outdoor soap brand

    Best Disinfecting Wipes

    10/31/2023 11:55 am GMT

    Don’t you love the convenience of antibacterial and disinfectant wipes? No mess, no water, and no rinsing out your washcloths. What could be better than wiping up germs and tossing them away? Well, disinfectant wipes are terrible for the environment, and most commercial antibacterial wipes take up to 100 years to biodegrade.

    Fortunately, eco-conscious brands have developed biodegradable cleaning products with the convenience of a disposal wipe form. Benefect Botanical Disinfectant Wipes are professional and hospital-grade disinfectant wipes for cleaning surfaces, contact points, and anywhere germs might be hiding in your home.

    The powerful botanical disinfectant formula kills 99.9% of bacteria in 30 seconds, including germs from COVID-19. Its active ingredient, thymol, derived from thyme oil essence, has been proven to be as effective at killing viruses and bacteria as bleach.

    The wipes are single-use to prevent cross-contamination and are made from durable wood pulp that is strong enough to tackle rough surfaces like wood and concrete. They are free of synthetic chemicals, readily biodegradable, and no harmful waste or chemicals are left behind.

    The key product features include:

    • Biodegradable disinfectant wipes
    • Kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses
    • Hospital-grade
    • Active ingredient thymol
    • Multi-purpose surface cleaner
    • Made of wood pulp

    Best Heavy Duty

    When it comes to sticky messes on tough surfaces, you have to be picky when choosing an effective cleaner. We tend to choose products labeled ‘heavy duty’ to help tackle dirt and muck as quickly as possible, but did you know that not only are many strong household chemicals bad for the environment but bad for health too?

    According to the American Lung Association, many household cleaning products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that contribute to chronic respiratory problems.

    Biodegradable cleaning products are free of these harsh chemicals. If you want a biodegradable soap for heavy-duty cleaning jobs, you’ll want Mr.s Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate. It’s great for use on all surfaces, including floors and countertops, laundry, and removing tough stains.

    The powerful yet gentle formula is made from plant-derived cleaning agents and essential oils and is free from parabens, phthalates, glycol solvents, and chlorine. It’s highly concentrated, requiring just a quarter-cup of solution with one gallon of water to tackle heavy-duty cleaning jobs.

    We love the basil scent, a sweet and fruity herbal aroma that leaves the home fresh and crisp.

    The key product features include:

    • Multi-purpose cleaning product
    • Tough on stains
    • Heavy duty cleaners
    • Made of plant-derived ingredients
    • Highly-concentrated formula
    • Fresh herbal scent

    Zohna Tip

    Carry a small bottle of heavy-duty biodegradable soap in the car to clean up sticky messes on the interior and exterior of your vehicle.

    Commons Uses of Biodegradable Soap

    Biodegradable soap is, without a doubt, a must-have when venturing into the great outdoors. While biodegradable soap for camping, backpacking, and hiking may be the most common uses, the multi-purpose benefits extend beyond outdoor adventures.

    There are so many amazing uses for biodegradable soap; it will have you questioning your household product and personal hygiene bill and wondering why you didn’t just buy a single biodegradable product.

    The chart below provides an overview of the common uses of biodegradable soap.

    Biodegradable Soap Use Description
    Camping
    • Body wash, shampoo, hand sanitizer
    • Non-toxic, eco-friendly ingredients
    • Dishwashing and laundry
    • Surface cleaning
    Use in the lake
    • Cleaning the exterior of boats
    • Sanitizing fishing equipment
    • Washing off water toys or equipment
    • Rinsing off in lake
    Septic tanks
    • Broken down by bacteria in tank
    • Allow efficient septic tank function
    Personal hygiene
    • Ingredients are not harsh on hair and skin
    • Body wash, shampoo, handwash
    Pets and animals
    • Ingredients are nontoxic for animals
    • Cost-effective alternative to pet shampoos
    Household cleaner
    • Multi-surface cleaner
    • Laundry detergent
    Pest control
    • Non-toxic pest control
    • Organic insecticide

    Camping

    Venturing into the wilderness is an exciting thing to do. Hiking shoes? Check. Binoculars? Check. Sleeping bags? Check. The list goes on. But the personal hygiene and cleaning products you should use make camping a much different packing experience than other types of trips.

    When you’re planning your camping trip, you may be thinking you’ll need biodegradable dish soap, biodegradable soap and shampoo, and other biodegradable soap products, but the great thing about degradable soap is that most are for multi-purpose use!

    Biodegradable soap for camping is formulated with natural ingredients which can be broken down by organisms in the great outdoors within a year after disposal.

    Biodegradable camping soap is perfect for:

    • Washing hands
    • Bringing on trails
    • Bathing
    • Disinfecting your gear
    • Dishes
    • Laundry

    You will want to make sure you dilute your camping soap with an ample amount of water, and always rinse thoroughly after use; biodegradable soaps and detergents are still harmful to the environment unless they’re watered down properly.

    In the Lake

    Biodegradable soaps are the preferred choice for use by the lake. It is safe and effective for cleaning the exterior and interior of boats, water sports equipment, and toys that go into the water. However, you should not use your biodegradable soap for bathing directly in the lake.

    According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, one ounce of biodegradable soap must be diluted in 20,000 ounces of water to be safe for aquatic plants and animals. So while using biodegradable soap is a safer choice for cleaning off toys and equipment you use in the water, lathering up or showering in bodies of water is not recommended. Biodegradable soap is a much better choice to rinse off at hoses or outdoor showers draining near the lake.

    Septic Tanks

    Homes in remote areas or out in the country often use septic tanks. Suppose the municipal sewer line does not serve the property. In that case, a septic tank must be installed to collect and decompose household waste from every drain, including the toilets, sinks, and showers. The standalone systems are designed to dispose of and treat household wastewater independently. For this reason, biodegradable soaps are a much better choice if you live on or visit a property that uses a septic tank.

    Septic means “infected with bacteria“. Before wastewater in the septic tanks can return to the ground, the bacteria must break down all the waste, including chemicals in household soaps and cleaning products.

    Allowing soap to build up in a septic tank can cause three unpleasant problems:

    1. It will stink and the smell will come back up through your drains and into your home.
    2. Water may back up into your home- including up through your shower.
    3. You will be required to get the septic tank pumped, which will be a costly addition to your annual budget if you plan on pumping it every 6 to 12 months.

    Wanna know a fun and ironic fact? Non-biodegradable antibacterial soap is the worst for septic tanks; it kills the bacteria that allow waste to decompose. Bye, hand sanitizer! We’ll take our chances.

    Personal Hygiene

    Environmentally friendly reasons aren’t the only benefits of using biodegradable soap. Biodegradable soap is free of the harsh chemicals that damage our hair, skin, and nails.

    Biodegradable body wash isn’t just effective for washing your body. It works excellently as a hand wash, cleansing balm, and shampoo. Soaps with biodegradable ingredients are from natural sources like plants and essential oils that deliver nourishment to your hair, nails, and skin. We love skin-soothing ingredients in biodegradable body wash, like coconut oil and organic shea butter.

    Pets and Animals

    Biodegradable soap isn’t just beneficial to humans. Our pups and kitties love it too! Since biodegradable soap is made from all-natural, non-toxic ingredients, it’s safe for animals who like to try and taste the bubbles, and it’s not irritating to their skin or eyes.

    Sure, you can buy pet shampoos that offer the same benefits, but with biodegradable soap, you get a multipurpose product for a lower price.

    Household Cleaner

    One of the best biodegradable household cleaners available is Castile soap. It is made of a combination of plant oils, including coconut, hemp, olive, jojoba, and sunflower seed. It’s a versatile cleaner that is gentle on people and the environment serving as an effective disinfectant.

    Biodegradable soaps and detergents also contain essential oils- concentrated liquid plant extracts- that have antibacterial, antifungal, and grease-cutting powers. Not only are they great for disinfecting, but they smell lovely too!

    Pest Control

    Looking for a safe alternative to toxic insecticides? Biodegradable soap products are wonderful natural pest control tools. If you have pets or young children around the house, spraying diluted biodegradable soap with natural antibacterial agents like castor oil will take care of ants, bees, and other unwanted pests in your home, without the hazard.

    Considerations When Choosing a Biodegradable Soap

    It’s easy to open up the Amazon app on our phone, search ‘biodegradable soap’, and pick the first ‘Amazon’s Choice’ that pops up.

    While sometimes an online shopping platform’s algorithm may suggest suitable and effective biodegradable soap products, it’s important to do your homework and know what to consider when purchasing biodegradable soap.

    Keep in mind these three top considerations when choosing a biodegradable soap:

    1. Biodegradable vs. non-biodegradable ingredients
    2. Eco-friendly packaging
    3. Value for money

    Biodegradable Ingredients vs Non-Biodegradable Ingredients

    Non-biodegradable ingredients commonly found in personal hygiene and household cleaning products are harmful to the environment and our health. Many companies have clever ways of marketing their products and calling out claims to make their ingredient lists seem 100% biodegradable when certain chemicals have very limited biodegradability.

    Our chart below has organized common biodegradable vs. non-biodegradable ingredients to look for in your household and bathroom soaps. Any ingredient with limited biodegradability falls under the ‘non-biodegradable’ category.

    Biodegradable Ingredients Non-Biodegradable Ingredients
    • Sodium benzoate/ benzoic acid
    • Sodium lauryl sulfate & sodium laureth sulfate
    • Methylparaben
    • Natural oils: coconut, plants, etc.
    • Methylisothiazolinone (MI)/ methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
    • Cocamidopropyl betaine
    • Triclosan
    • Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

    It’s essential to be aware that not all ingredients that are biodegradable are healthy for your skin, and not all ingredients that are natural or organic are biodegradable. For example, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are readily biodegradable under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. However, they are irritants to the skin when left on for extended periods, and some environmentalists, including David Suzuki, claim they are toxic to aquatic animals.

    Whenever possible, look for the Environmental Working Group, EWG VERIFIED™, mark. Products verified by the EWG are free from chemicals harmful to the environment and human health.

    Eco-Friendly Packaging

    If you choose a biodegradable soap over a regular soap or cleaning product, it only makes sense to purchase one made from eco-friendly packaging. Many green companies that produce organic products will use environmentally-friendly packaging materials, but some companies may not.

    Here are the top things to look for in eco-friendly biodegradable soap packaging:

    1. Compostable, biodegradable, or all-natural packaging
    2. Plant-based materials: peanuts, cornstarch, seaweed, or fungi
    3. Biodegradable/bio-based plastic and tape
    4. Recycled materials
    5. Reusable packaging

    Value for Money

    Evaluating a biodegradable soap product based on its value for money isn’t just about saving yourself a few bucks. The more use you get out of a product, the fewer materials there are used for packaging, and the less pollution and a smaller environmental footprint is left in the process.

    Here are the value-for-money considerations when purchasing biodegradable soap:

    • Concentration: The more concentrated a solution, the less you need to use.
    • Multi-purpose: The more purposes a product has, the less you need to buy.
    • Manufacturer: Are you supporting a business that genuinely cares about the environment and/or health or a prominent manufacturer who invests more in marketing?

    For us, a single, highly-concentrated multipurpose product from an eco-friendly business that costs $30 is a way better bang for your buck that an $8 product made by a large manufacturer with one or two purposes and is pre-diluted.

    Consider purchasing a facial cleaning brush or other manual tools to cleanse and exfoliate without soap and topical products. The less soap you use, the lighter the footprint you’ll leave on the environment!

    Best Places to Buy

    If you’re wondering where to buy biodegradable soap, you will find the most variety on online shopping platforms. You can find biodegradable soap, cleaning products, and personal hygiene items at organic health shops, camping supply stores, and department stores.

    Here is a list of places where you can buy biodegradable soap in-store:

    • REI Co-op
    • Walmart
    • Bass Pro Shops
    • Outdoor Gear Exchange
    • Walgreens
    • Backcountry Gear
    • Trader Joe’s

    FAQ

    • Is Regular Soap Biodegradable?

      Regular soap, personal hygiene items, and household cleaning products are not biodegradable. Studies have shown that many household cleaning and bathing products contain chemical detergents or surfactants that are not digestible by the environment. For a product to be considered biodegradable, it must be able to be broken down and endorsed by the environment within one year after its disposal.

    • What's the Best Way to Wash Your Body While Camping?

      National Park Service websites recommend using lakes, streams, and rivers to rinse off dirt and oil from your body without soap. If you must clean yourself with soap and water, bring extra clean water and use a biodegradable soap for bathing at least 200 feet from your campsite and 200 feet from any body of water. Biodegradable wipes are a great alternative to lugging around excess water. The less soap and bathing you can do in the wilderness, the more environmentally friendly you’ll be!

    Biodegradable Soap for Mother Earth’s Sake

    It’s our job to protect Mother Earth. Whether using soap and detergents at home or bringing them into nature, it’s our responsibility to leave the softest environmental footprint possible.

    Biodegradable soap is just one of many examples of how you can do your part to protect the environment!