One of the first questions that came to mind when we started living without plastic was how to replace cleaning products, which almost always come packaged in plastic bottles. Although it may seem like a world at first, almost anything can be easily replaced.
Alternatives to sponges (scourers)
Conventional scourers, in addition to being made of plastic and being packaged in plastic, with use release microfibers that leak through the sink drain, pass through water filtration systems and end up in the sea. Like microparticles, they absorb toxins and can become very polluting. Once in the sea, the fish mistake them for food or get into the gills. When you have the worn out scouring pad, think that all the green that is missing, it is very likely that it has gone down the drain. Unfortunately, plastic is in many more products than you can imagine.
There are some so-called ecological scourers that are vegetable cellulose sponges and the abrasive part is usually recycled PET plastics. As usual, recycling is fine, but these scouring pads don't prevent microfibers from ending up in rivers and seas, so we don't consider them a good alternative.
There are some wooden brushes to replace them (which are made of natural and compostable fibers). But they are a bit orthopedic and are more useful for plates and trays, for cutlery they don't work at all well. The best result is vegetable sponges: luffa. Luffa is the fruit of plants of the Cucurbitaceae family (such as zucchini) so they are 100% vegetable and biodegradable. The only bad thing is that many times they sell them wrapped in plastic but they are also in cardboard boxes. After each use, they must be rinsed and left to dry well so that bacteria do not accumulate. The good thing is that you can grow your own plant and always have these sponges available.
Another alternative is the traditional esparto scourers, which clean very well, the only bad thing is that they can scratch delicate surfaces.
Alternative to dishwasher
You can buy large bars of ready-made homemade soap and rub the brush over the bar or make it liquid soap that is then used like conventional dishwasher.
To make liquid soap, the first step is to grate the bar of soap. The measurements are not exact because they depend on the recipe with which the soap was made and how concentrated it is. But more or less it is a grated soap for 3 parts of water.
To start, we put the soap in the water bath with a little hot water. When it has completely dissolved, we add hot water again and stir. With this you have to have a little patience because it takes a little bit. You just have to wait for it to be a homogeneous mixture before continuing to add water. Keep in mind that it has to be much more liquid than what will remain at the end, because when it cools it will thicken a lot.
When we finish, we have to let it rest for a few hours with a cloth covering the container. If when it cools we see that it has become too thick, we can reheat it and add a little more water.
At the end, we can add essential oils to help fight bacteria and give it a good smell. I specifically add a few drops of tea tree oil and lemon.
Also keep in mind that it does not foam as much as commercial dishwashers, so do not start pouring soap as if there were no tomorrow because, even if it does not have as much foam, it cleans just as well (and also, it does not dry out the hands).
And you just put it in the container that you are going to use as a dispenser.
There are also other liquid soap recipes like the one you will find here based on orange.