Homemade Laundry Detergent, Charlies & Soap Nuts

washer-machineI have been exploring the world of various natural laundry detergents in my home after choosing to avoid borax in my cleaning, which is a common ingredient in homemade varieties. Most commercial detergents are filled with harsh chemicals and the natural alternatives often contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other ingredients that are now being debated over their safety. Most commerical detergents leave perfumes (cover scents), brighteners, and/or fabric softeners on your clothes to cover up the fact that the detergent really didn’t clean anything. These additives can easily cause skin irritations. I have found some frugal natural alternatives!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Recipe adapted from Green Clean by Linda Hunter

1 cup castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or Mountain Rose Herbs are good choices as they are organic and main ingredients are coconut oil & olive oil) OR Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
2 cups water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup baking soda or washing soda

Warm the salt and baking soda in water until mostly dissolved. Transfer to a one gallon container. Add your soap fill the rest of the jar with water, this giving you 1 gallon of detergent. Use 1/4 -1/2 cup per load, depending upon how dirty the load is. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to your wash during the rinse cycle. This works as an effective  fabric softener and disinfectant. Depending upon the hardness of your water, you may want to decrease the water quantity or increase the soap quantity.

Please note: do not add essential oils to your detergent. These oils will break down the fiber in your clothing. If you want a particular fragrance, try putting a few drops of essential oils on a rag and throwing it in the dryer. This will add fragrance but not transfer to your clothing.

Review: This recipe does clean very well, although I was not impressed by the cleaning job it did on my cloth diapers. Hard to give an exact price calculation on this one, but I figured this recipe makes enough detergent for 64 loads (at 1/4 cup per load) and with the ingredients costing no more than $4.00 (on the generous side), your total cost is most likely less than $0.06 per load.

charlies-soapCharlies Soap

Charlies Soap is an non-toxic, biodegradable soap that works effectively on tough cleaning jobs. It is highly concentrated so you only have to use 1 Tbsp per load. It is made with a unique blend of biodegradable coconut-based detergents and high-grade, completely soluble, Green River washing soda. Made in the USA.

Review: I love how Charlies Soap dissolves so well in all water temperatures and you only have to use 1 Tbsp per load. It is non-suding, but cleans remarkably well. We have found this detergent helps us avoid diaper rashes, although other reviews say some have experienced reactions to it. This costs about $0.11 per load if you purchase the 5 gallon bucket, which is a large up front purchase of $144. Otherwise, it costs approximately $0.17 per load. If you go in with friends on a bucket purchase, it is definitely a reasonable price.

picture-5Soap Nuts

Soap Nuts are the only laundry soap that grows on trees, thus giving us the most sustainable and natural option out there. It is 100% safe and natural for the most sensitive skin. Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree. They contain saponin, a natural cleaner. They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun. Great for hard water and high efficiency machines. It is biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, brightens colors, low sudsing, and contains a natural fabric softener. You can reuse a handful of nuts for 5 or more loads (depending upon water temperature, etc), and then they can be added to your compost! Most soap nut orders come with a reusable cotton bag which you use to place the nuts in and then throw in the washer, keeping them contained. The best price I have found is the NaturOli Soap Nuts. If you buy it in larger quantities ($50 for 800 loads), you are looking at around $0.07 per load! You can also purchase them in smaller quantities, which will be no more than $0.12 per load. Plus you will save additional money as there is no need for dryer sheets or fabric softeners.

By simply boiling soap nuts in water you can use it for: all household cleaning, liquid hand soap, plant cleaner, jewelry cleaner, produce wash, toothpaste, and even shampoo! It has also been found to be effective for skin allergies. For all the how-to’s, try the Soapnut Soak. You can even use some of this liquid in your dishwasher! I am in the process of experimenting further with soap nuts for these uses. I will let you know how it goes!

Review: When I first used soap nuts, I was a little turned off by the fact that they are rather sticky to touch, they reminded me of dried prunes. Otherwise getting over the sticky feeling, they cleaned our clothes perfectly fine. No strong smell of detergent, just nice and clean! Again, perfectly safe for all cloth diapers and cleaned them well. By the way, if you are washing in cold water, it is best to place your bag of nuts in a bowl of hot water to soak for 5-10 minutes. This makes them more effective in their cleaning power.

UPDATE: The first brand I tried was Maggie’s Soap Nuts (as described above). NaturOli’s were quite the opposite – no stickiness whatsoever and carefully inspected for quality nuts. No chipped nuts and not packaged in plastic wrap as Maggie’s came to me.

All these recipes or products above are non-sudsing, But don’t be afraid or think that your clothes will not be clean because of this. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the additive that brings the suds. Suds are not necessary for clean clothes – trust me! All recipes work equally well work in hard and soft water and high efficiency compatible.

UPDATE: Please note that after extended use of soap nuts with my cloth diapers (Bum Genius pocket diapers), they started to repel and leak profusely. Once I switched back to Charlies Soap for my dipes, they began working properly. So I can unfortunately no longer recommend their use for cloth diapers. But I continue to still highly recommend their use for all your clothing, towels, sheets, and other household needs.

Price Comparison

Let’s conclude with a little price comparison to some standard brands on the market (as originally published here):

The following are various commercial detergents in typical sizes and pricing. The numbers of loads are as per the manufacturers’ instructions.

- Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear Natural Laundry Detergent 2x Ultra: $11.99 for 50 loads. ($0.239 per load)

-BioKleen Liquid Laundry Detergent: $14.39 for 64 loads. ($0.224 per load)

- All’s Small and Mighty 3x Concentrate for HE washers: $8.49 for 32 loads. ($0.265 per load)

- ECOS Laundry Detergent, Ultra Concentrated with Soy Fabric Softener: $9.49 for 26 loads ($0.367 per load)

- Tide’s 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $14.99 for 32 loads ($0.468 per load!)

- Dreft’s 2x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $31.99 for 110 loads ($0.290 per load)

As soap nuts are very frugal, can accomplish so many different purposes in one product, and is completely sustainable…that seems to be the way to go!

Stay tuned for a Soap Nut giveaway and further details on how to use it for multi-purposing around your home!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

254 Responses to Homemade Laundry Detergent, Charlies & Soap Nuts

  1. christin September 28, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    How do you know what is in Charlies and if it’s safe if it’s a trademarked secret recipe? Do you know if it contains ANY corn? That would be a Big issue at our house (I avoid Gmos!)
    Can you throw soap nuts in the bath tub when taking a bath?


    • Lindsay October 1, 2010 at 6:28 am #

      It is pretty common for companies to keep their recipes secret. Charlies is a combination of washing soda and coconut based detergents, so is completely natural and safe. I have never considered throwing soap nuts in the bath, but I would imagine it would be wonderful. Great idea! They have now created shampoo and soap bars from soap nuts, so using in the bath would certainly be workable.

  2. mama26 August 5, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    I have researched dr bronner’s and have found SLS in his sals suds. also Tocopherol in his baby soaps. i know sls is not good and have read that Tocopherol is not either…. any ideas??

    • Linda August 31, 2010 at 5:52 am #

      Tocopherol is vitamin E.

      • christin September 28, 2010 at 9:44 am #

        usually Gmo from soy!

  3. Stephanie P August 1, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    Just a quick question. I’ve stumbled across your blog and absolutely love it! I too have been using my own homemade laundry detergent for about a year but am not sure about the whole borax issue.

    I’ve been considering soap nuts but am a bit confused by your review. Did both brands of soap nuts not work with the cloth diapers or was it just Charlie’s?

    Thanks so much :-)

    • Lindsay August 1, 2010 at 5:32 am #

      Soap nuts did not work with my pocket diapers but I have heard they work great with prefolds. For some reason they caused pockets to repel. Other than that, they work great for everything else!

      • ~M September 25, 2010 at 5:07 am #

        Hi Lindsay,

        Can you explain the steps you take to wash your cloth diapers with the Charlie’s soap (for example, cold/hot, when to add detergent, etc.)? I can’t seem to find this on your site.


        • Lindsay September 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

          I use the same instructions as with all my washing and detergents – one cold cycle with 1 Tbsp charlies followed by another hot cycle with an extra rinse.

  4. Debra Worth July 11, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    Where do you get your nuts for $0.07/load

    • Lindsay July 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

      Through the links provided up: NaturOli. If you buy in bulk, you can save significantly.

      • Debra Worth August 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

        Thanks. I found them for $0.04 a load. The cost of the homemade, but MUCH healthier/sustainable. I got a trial box from a local store to try them.

  5. Heather July 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    I came across your blog a few weeks ago and I think it’s great! Thank you for all of the great information! I was wondering if you have tried Pink Solution? It’s an “all natural, enzyme cleaner”. I’ve used it for laundry, carpet cleaning, scrubbing floors, and general cleaning.

  6. Kirsten June 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    I have been using Ecos and I buy it at Sam’s Club for $13.68 for 210 HE loads, which is about $0.07 a load. The Biokleen I also buy is $7.45 for 64 HE loads at a local health food store, and I add the oxygen powder as well. I hope to try the soapnuts and have a friend who swears by them. I always worry about the (VERY) sweaty summer laundry here in southeast Texas though.

  7. Sunday Labady June 5, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    I can’t figure out why alexa sent me to your site but I should probably I am now pretty entertained by the site conent you have patched together. How many week did it take to begin to get this many users showing up to your pages? I am pretty new to this web site stuff.

  8. Jayme June 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    What is the purpose of the salt in the home made laundry soap?

    • anna June 6, 2010 at 4:02 am #


      I am not the person you are asking but I am a former Home Ec teacher. The salt keeps your colors from bleeding out of the fabric and onto other clothing. Even if you do not make your own laundry soap you can add a 1/2 cup salt to your wash and it will help keep colors bright.

      God Bless,


  9. Sally June 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Love your website! I discovered it a couple of days ago and have been searching it ever since. Was wondering with your first recipe, what kind of old container do you use? Should I use an old liquid landry soap container? Thanks!

    • Lindsay June 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

      I just use a glass gallon jar or smaller jar depending upon the size of the batch I prepare for storing the laundry soap recipe.

      • Sally June 2, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

        Thank you!!!

    • Tiffany July 5, 2010 at 9:38 am #

      I use a cleaned out plastic gallon milk jug. It works great!

  10. Grace May 30, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    Thank you for mentioning the bit about essential oils. I have used your towel in the drier with a fragrant lotion before. It was out of desperation …lack of anything else. It really worked! And my clothes smelled so devine. the lotion I happenned to have on hand (where I was) was Light Blue , Dolce and Gobanna. I know it is not a natural lotion…but in a fix it worked! I used about a quarter size squirt on the hand towel.

  11. Debra Worth May 30, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    Wow! This is great! I’ve made homemade laundry soap three times. It was a different recipe that called for bar soaps. If you used a more natural soap it didn’t work very well, the recipe only seemed to work with Fels Naptha. Which would keep the soap frugal but not at all natural. It also called for Borax, which I can’t seem to figure out what that is.
    Anyway, I was going to ask about the soap nuts. Did you ever try the rinsing the prefolds with vinegar after washing the with the soap nuts? Did that help?

    • Debra Worth May 30, 2010 at 4:42 am #

      Oh dear. I missed what you said about the borax. Scratch that part.

    • Lindsay May 30, 2010 at 5:25 am #

      I don’t use prefolds. From others I understand that they don’t experience the same problems as pocket diapers when using soap nuts.

  12. Sheila Streicher May 28, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    Do you have any suggestions for natural stain removers — like an equivalent to Shout — or something like that? Thanks.

  13. Rebekah May 22, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    I have been using your homemade laundry soap for awhile now and I have recently been noticing that my towels especially my dish towels have been repelling water. They had been really absorbent before, I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this problem and what it could be caused from?

    • Sheila Streicher May 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

      Rebekah, maybe it’s the same thing that she mentions happens when using soap nuts… see this note she included above…UPDATE: Please note that after extended use of soap nuts with my cloth diapers (Bum Genius pocket diapers), they started to repel and leak profusely. Once I switched back to Charlies Soap for my dipes, they began working properly. So I can unfortunately no longer recommend their use for cloth diapers. But I continue to still highly recommend their use for all your clothing, towels, sheets, and other household needs.

  14. Amy F May 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    perfect timing! I have been trying to sit down and price natural laundry “detergents” and looks like you did the work for me. Thanks!!!!! I’ll be back to check out the site more soon:)

  15. Megan May 8, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    I came across a great deal on Dr. Bronner’s. I look forward to making this when my store-bought detergent is gone. Thanks!

  16. mary April 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    With Dr. Bronners soaps coming in at $6. a bar, it seems that regular Ivory or a glycerin soap would be much less expensive. Also, Amway makes a line of green cleaners including laundry detergent that is very good.

    • Lindsay April 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

      Dr Bronners is no more than $2.90 from all my sources, and it’s more about the natural ingredients than anything.

  17. Kristi April 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Hi everyone- this is my first time visiting this site, and I am wondering what the use of the washing powder is? I have been using castille soap with a vinegar rinse for some time, as my son has skin issues, and it works great, just wondering if I am missing something, like the use of the baking soda and washing powder. Thanks for all the interesting ideas!

  18. Dianne April 9, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    Hi, I have made this recipe and have been very happy with the results. I used Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap, All-One Unscented Baby-Mild, but I was wondering if you can use one of the scented versions. You recipe says not to add essential oils so I wasn't sure if I should stay away from using a scented version of Dr. Bronner's since they have essential oils in them. I found your site a few months ago and I have enjoyed all of your informative and inspirational blogs! Thank you!

    • Lindsay April 9, 2010 at 8:56 am #

      Yes, it would be best to avoid the scented kinds for the sake of your clothes. If you really want a scent, you can put a dab of essential oil on a cloth and throw in with laundry, but still not ideal.

  19. Angela February 12, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Love this liquid soap recipe!! I used it to wash my husbands clothes in the oilfeild and it worked great!!! I pretreteated by adding the Dr. Bonners just a touch on the really bad spots and my husband said he has never seen it look so good. thanks for posting this.

  20. Theresa Huck December 2, 2009 at 7:57 pm #

    should it separate? The recipe for laundry detergent above???

    • Lindsay December 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

      Yes, it normally separates a bit. Just give it a good shake before each use.

  21. Mandi November 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    I have been using your homemade laundry detergant recipe for a few months now. I make it with Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap, and it works wonderfully! It gets pretty thick and grainy, so I have to make sure I shake it up really good before I use it, but overall I am quite happy with it. My question is, I am getting a new front load washer and dryer, and I am wondering how much detergant I will need to use. Should I still use about 1/4 cup? Also, I have been using vinegar (in a downy ball) in the washer, can I now just put vinegar into the fabric softener section of my washer?

    On a side note, I also use Dr. Bronner’s lavender castile to clean so many things in my home! If I put a little bit on a loofah, it cleans the hard water and soap scum in my shower really well!

    • Lindsay December 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm #

      I do not think you need to do anything differently with a front loader. It works the same for both machines.

    • Janine May 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

      I use Dr. Bronners Peppermint to clean my shower and my toilets, it works wonderfully! I am going to try the laundry soap recipe as soon as my grocery store brand is gone!

  22. Amanda O November 22, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    I have been making this a lot, and I have a tip: Do NOT use sea salt, but instead use regular salt. The sea salt makes it extremely lumpy, whereas the regular salt dissolves very well.

    It helps, too, if the water is warm when you put the salt and washing soda into the pot.

  23. Sarah November 20, 2009 at 10:53 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,
    Thank you for your wonderful blog! I have 2 questions to ask.
    In the Homemade Laundry Detergent recipe above by green clean she says not to add any essential oils to the detergent but all of the Dr.Bronner’s castile soaps have essential oils in them. Is this going to cause a problem? I don’t like the sal suds ingredients. Also, Is it the coconut and olive oilS that has the cleaning effects? Couldn’t I just use olive oil soap? Kiss my face has an olive oil soap without essential oils I wondered if I could just use it. What do you think?
    Thank you so much and God bless you and your wonderful family!

  24. Emily October 30, 2009 at 7:06 am #

    I am going to have to try soap nuts. I was wondering: Does anyone have a good natural solution for removing rust from laundry and bathroom fixtures? I would love to get rid of all the chemicals from our cleaning supplies, but I can’t seem to get rust out of clothes without Whink, or avoid chemicals on the tub and toilet to keep them from being orange!

  25. Dara October 21, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    I’ve been making the homemade recipe for laundry detergent off and on for about a year and a half. Love the stuff. As far as the borax and washing soda being toxic to the environment-I believe it says on the box that they are natural products, I believe the borax even more so. You can use the borax for all sorts of things. Don’t understand the concerns about it.

  26. jennsquared October 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    I was looking for some baby safe laundry recipe and found your site! Love it! I just want to mention that Mountain Rose Herb also sell organic soap nuts for $6.00/lb! Not sure if that will reduce your cost!

    • Lindsay October 5, 2009 at 8:13 am #

      I definitely do not recommend MRH’s soap nuts. Please check out my Soap Nuts FAQ for the reason.

  27. Lisa @ Me and My House September 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    Hi Lindsay, I just found your blog – from a FB link I think, to your laundry detergent page. Thanks for the tip on dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. I think that will save big time. And, when dishes aren’t going straight into the dishwasher, we can just spray them. I would bet this would work as a laundry pre-treat also. I am a bit concerned about the SLS in the Sal Suds, and may experiment with other liquid castile – or homemade castile, if I get the time again. We also are Azure Standard customers. When our local buying club through a midwest coop collapsed, I found Azure and I love it!

    Lisa @ Me and My House

  28. Cindy Wilson September 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm #


    I found your website a couple of months ago and am throughly enjoying it!! Thank you SO much for researching and posting everything! I just bought an 8 oz bottle of soapnuts laundry detergent and have used it for a couple of days. It said that I don’t need dryer sheets, so I tried drying with out them. However, my clothes come out static-clingy. Have you had this problem, if so what do you recommend?

    I also made your recipe for Dishwasher detergent using Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (I have been using Sal Suds for about 10 years and never knew I could use it in the dishwasher!!), I just love it!! Thank you for your recipes!!

    • Lindsay September 21, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

      I have not had a problem with static, but then again, I hang dry most of my laundry. I would recommend you contact NaturOli directly with that question. They may have some suggestions for you.

  29. Alicia Taylor September 13, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    Hi! Just found your blog and I am really enjoying it. I have been making the homemade laundry soap with Borax. I too did not know it was toxic. The recipe calls for making this in a pan on the stove. Yikes! My question is, a friend found Kirk’s Original Coco Castile soap on clearance, I want to know how to use it. It is in solid soap form. Should I melt it down and then proceed with the recipe for the liquid laundry detergent that you gave?

    • Lindsay September 15, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

      I do not have any experience with that variety of castile soap, but I would imagine it would work if you melted it down…but then again, I am not sure if it would return to its solid state after you mix it with the other ingredients. It would be worth a try!

  30. Heather September 12, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    I was just on the Happy Heiny site and they said not to use Charlie’s with their diapers because it could cause burns. Have you had any problems? Does the Castile soap recipe work for the diapers or would the soap nuts work? I am so new to all of this I am feeling a bit overwhelmed!! By the Way I love your blog…I have been trying to get my family on a healthier path and your blog is helping in so many ways. Thanks!

    • Lindsay September 13, 2009 at 11:03 am #

      I did read that as well so I definitely wouldn’t use it on those dipes to protect your warranty. I have not had any rash problems from using it myself though. I have used the homemade version (with Sal Suds because it is more effective) and the soap nuts liquid on my diapers. I love using the soap nuts liquid the best and use it for everything now! Learn how to make the soap nuts into liquid detergent here.

  31. Annie September 3, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    When you wash your diapers in charlie’s soap, do you still have to wash them twice as the directions say, or do they get clean in one wash?

    • Lindsay September 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

      No, you need to wash them twice to make sure all the detergent is washed out. The cold wash removes the stink and the hot wash makes sure they are thoroughly sanitized.

  32. Sarah August 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you, Thank you! I have been looking for a recipe that does not use borax (it would be opposite to my goals to bring something in the house that could harm by pet and child1)

  33. Erin August 22, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    Are you getting kickbacks from all of these recommendations?

    • Lindsay August 23, 2009 at 9:52 am #

      No, I am only an affiliate for NaturOli, which means I receive a small percentage of each sale through my blog.

  34. Amanda O July 29, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    I made the liquid detergent, and mine is quite lumpy (looks like undissolved washing soda). Has anyone had this issue? Did I not dissolve it long enough – and if so, how long should it be in the warm water?

    Finally, do you have separate pots and utensils for making this, or do you feel comfortable making it with the things you cook with?


    • Lindsay July 29, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

      It will not dissolve completely. I just shake my jar up before using. The ingredients are all completely natural (when using baking soda), so I just use my standard pot for this recipe. It’s just like soap!

  35. Eva June 30, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    Thanks so much for all the great info! I saw a very similar recipe to this homemade laundry detergent on another site – except that they add 40 drops grapefruit seed extract to the gallon container to help preserve it. I was concerned about using the grapefruit seed extract but I ordered some from Mountain Rose Herbs since I really trust the quality of their products…I havent’s yet tried the recipe but I am planning to soon…Just wondering how long the liquid laundry soap seems to last for you, and if you think it needs a preservative at all? Thanks!!

    • Lindsay July 1, 2009 at 6:22 am #

      I actually understand that salt is a natural preservative. You could add a bit of grapefruit seed extract as desired as well, but I have found it far too expensive to really save on this recipe. I have not noticed this recipe having any problems preserving, but then again, I have only been using it for about a month now.

  36. Tiffany June 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    I made a batch of the laundry detergent and I love it. But of course my 1 year old tends to get a little bit more messy than me. If I wanted to make the soap stronger, do I add more washing soap or castile soap, or both (with less water)?

    • Lindsay June 23, 2009 at 6:31 am #

      I would recommend pre-treating the clothing then with just the full strength soap. Just put a dab of soap and scrub it in and allow to sit for 5 minutes before throwing it in the washer.

  37. Amber Ramsey June 17, 2009 at 4:51 am #

    maybe you have already answered this question and i just missed it…Are all of these home recipes for laundry detergent safe for HE washers??


    • Lindsay June 17, 2009 at 5:54 am #

      Most definitely! That is what I have as well.

  38. Tiffany June 16, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    I really want to try the soap nuts, which brand would you recommend? Each recipe seems to link to a different brand.

  39. Victoria June 12, 2009 at 6:40 pm #

    I buy organic lavender from a local herb store (which has the famous ‘wall of herbs’) and put about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in a reusable teabag (though you could make your own, I’m sure) and use it for the dryer. It lasts quite a while. Trader Joe’s makes them for a much higher price but the lavender doesn’t last as long (different source, maybe?), only 10 loads at MOST. Anyway, if you’re not allergic, it makes your stuff smell nice (like the towels and sheets–I don’t use it on the clothes much and certainly never with diapers!). I don’t see why you couldn’t use rose petals or peppermint or whatever else you want in there….

  40. Becky June 11, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    I just made a batch of my own detergent and it worked great! I haven’t tried it with diapers because of your review but I’m interested in knowing how it specifically worked with the diapers. Is it a problem with them not getting clean or an issue with how the diaper functions after being washed? I use bumgenius AIO.

  41. Nicole June 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    I have a quick question. We live in an apartment and share laundry units. After reading through some of the QA’s on the Charlies Soap website I’m concerned my attempts to be more natural may do more harm than good. Does anyone have any recommendations or experience with this scenario?

  42. Gail June 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    I purchased soap nuts from this store and found them to do wonders for my clothes. The towels are so soft. I have a pretty bad case of psoraisis and I find this product overwhelmingly solves that problem.

  43. Heather June 3, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Do you know anything about Country Save detergent and how it compares?
    Can’t wait to see your new dishwasher detergent recipe! I HATE buying name brand yucky detergent but it is all that works in our hard water. We tried safer kinds to no avail…


    • Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 8:44 am #

      I have not tried Country Save, but I did notice that it contains borax, if that is any concern to you. We have very hard water and our dishwasher recipe is working well thus far.

  44. Gigi June 1, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    These soapnuts look interesting, There is even a variety that will grow well in my zone. However, I would NOT use them in the kitchen on food or dishes as it appears to have anti-fertility affects, see link: http://www.asiaandro.com/1008-682X/4/233.htm

    • Megan Reed June 2, 2009 at 10:21 am #

      Wow, thanks for posting this comment! I am currently looking for a natural alternative to laundry soap and fabric softener due to infertility. I will not be trying soap nuts!

      Thanks for this blog! Kim from NE referred me here. She is a good friend of mine. Seeking to find ways to reduce xenoestrogens in our home in hopes we will be able to conceive another child. Do you think the Charlie’s Soap softens well or do you use softener too?

      • Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 8:41 am #

        Please read my response to Gigi’s comment about the infertility side affects. There is no founded evidence to this claim.

    • Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 8:40 am #

      I submitted your concern to Chris, the founder of NaturOli, as linked to above, and here was his response:
      Actual use of saponin as a contraceptive dates back to ancient Ayurvedic treatments. A few studies have been done. Here’s the BIG thing to note about any study like this: Look at the dosages. HUGE! It is the type of study that is specifically looking for results one way or another…I would never suggest soap nuts for use as a contraceptive either. Imagine what would happen if we were to ingest 50mg of SLS everyday. We probably be dead in a short period, right? Well, SLS is one of the leading ingredients in commercial detergents. It’s a matter of perspective and things should be kept so IMO. There are few and very inconclusive studies about saponin for biological treatments for this or that. Most are old and of Asian origins. Soap nuts are a natural detergent alternative. That’s it. It’s much healthier than continued exposure to the multitude of well studied known carcinogens out there.When so obscure, and so out of context (nobody is being injected themselves with high doses of saponin or eat them for birth control – surely you’d get pretty sick first) they really don’t have much genuine relevance to how they are actually being used.

      Does that make sense? You will never be ingesting soap nuts in such huge quantities that might cause these affects. It just is not possible unless you consumed the liquid in such proportions, and who is going to do that?

  45. Leslie June 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    What type of cloth diapers do you use? I’m having the hardest time finding a detergent that doesn’t leave residue on my PUL covers (which I only have a handful of, for overnight use) and PUL bags, with my frontloader. I have used about every combination of cleaner suggested, and still have residue. Currently I’m having to handwash the PUL items. I’m going to try soap nuts next, but am curious about your experiences.

    Thanks for your blog, by the way! Stumbled upon it when researching making my own yogurt. Gonna try that tomorrow! You are a blessing to all us mommies.

    • Lindsay June 2, 2009 at 7:18 am #

      We use combination of prefolds and BumGenius diapers. We have had the best success thus far with Charlies Soap. It strips away all residue!

  46. Michelle June 1, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    Hi, I love your site! I discovered it awhile ago, but that was before the days of google reader and blogging. I am glad you shared about the harmful side of borax as I use it regularly for cleaning. I will try your laundry soap recipe without it. Thank you!

  47. Kathy Eller May 30, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    You are SUCH a blessing to me! I have a minor dilemma and wish I had a mom to ask and then BAM Lindsay posts a thoroughly thought out and researched reply that goes one step (atleast) beyond what I would have on my own. THANK YOU!!!

  48. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship May 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    I can’t say how thrilled I am to have some choices for natural laundry detergents (that will be less expensive than those I’ve looked at so far!). That’s one of the few cleaning areas in our house that’s not “green” at all. Thank you!

  49. Rachel R. May 30, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    I *never* pay more than $4 for All. It goes on sale quite regularly. I know it isn’t nearly as healthy as most of the other options on the list, but it’s hard to beat the price with anything that works well.

  50. Melissa May 30, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Can you use a grated bar of Dr.Bronner’s similar to your previous recipe? I just made two batches with the old recipe and I am pregnant and afraid that the Borax will be harmful to the baby. Do you think I should just throw it away?

    • Lindsay June 2, 2009 at 7:23 am #

      I found that the grated soap does not dissolve well at all, especially as I use only cold water in my wash. It left residue on my clothes and thus the reason I have chose to change the recipe to using liquid soap. You could try it with grated soap and see how it goes for you. I would not be concerned too much about throwing out your borax. It just should be used with caution.

    • Danielle June 23, 2010 at 1:32 am #

      There are more harmful chemicals in your carpeting, mattress, and furniture and probably even in the air we breathe. I wouldn’t worry about the small amount in Borax.