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Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap Powder

March 16th, 2012

Since the non-toxic cleaning series is coming up soon, I figured I’d start listing a few of the products I actually purchase instead of making myself for Friday Favorites. First off we’ll start with Charlie’s Soap Powder. For the last couple years I’ve been making my own laundry detergent, grating soap, mixing it with borax and washing soda to make a powdered laundry detergent. Depending on the variety of soap I used it was great or not so great.

My biggest problem with making my own laundry detergent is finding local sources of washing soda and borax. For a while I was using lye soap bars made my a local family for my laundry detergent, but something just wasn’t right. I felt like it left the clothes slightly oily as my towels stopped being absorbent. I also found that it didn’t keep the whites white as well. I didn’t want to buy Fels Naptha soap that so many people use because of the SLS in it, so I finally decided to try a small 80 load container of Charlie’s.

It averages out to about 20 cents per load for the small container, you can buy a larger 1000 load bucket of Charlie’s which cuts the price in half. I’ll buy a bucket next, with only two of us in the house it will take a LONG time to use up such a large container.

Being very sensitive to dyes, fragrances and harsh detergents, I was wondering how my skin would react to Charlie’s soap. They claim that the soap is: Here are just a few of the benefits of using Charlie’s Soap “Contains no clays, dyes, phosphates, ultraviolet brighteners or perfumes.” I also appreciate that the detergent is safe for wool, which makes up the majority of our clothing. Since we have hard water at Chiot’s Run I’m going to order a container of Laundry Booster and Hard Water Treatment. It’s supposed to help clean clothes better by softening the water.

So far I’m very impressed with Charlie’s Soap and will be purchasing a 1000 load bucket when I use up the 80 load container I have. As much as I’d like to make my own detergent, I have found it simply doesn’t work as well with the soaps I’m using. Charlie’s makes liquid detergent as well (which I haven’t tried), I’m a dry laundry detergent kind of gal. Isn’t it funny how that’s one of those things we choose and usually don’t waver from.

Do you use powder or liquid laundry detergent?

Stocking Your Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
Learning to Love Castile Soap
Make Your Own: Foaming Soap
Make Your Own: Infused Vinegar
Make Your Own: Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Make Your Own: Color Safe Oxygen Bleach
Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap
Friday Favorite: Twist Sponges
and more to come

21 Comments to “Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap Powder”
  1. daisy on March 16, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I’ve used Charlie’s and liked it quite well! I’ve also used the soap nuts, but now I am planning on making my own powder. I haven’t heard anyone who wasn’t happy with their own detergent, so I appreciate you sharing your experience. I’ve just gotta try it, ya know?

    Reply to daisy's comment

    • Susy on March 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

      I agree, it’s fun to try. I do have a very difficult time finding washing soda closeby as well. And since I wasn’t keen on using Fels Naptha I decided it was best to just purchase soap.

      I tried soap nuts as well and the smell was too much for me (being a person that’s highly sensitive to smells). That’s one think I like about Charlies – no scent!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Sherri on March 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I’m a powder girl, too! I don’t like the goopy mess that liquid soap makes and generally, powdered takes up less space :)

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  3. Peggy on March 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

    For years I was a liquid kind of gal due to our front load washing machine. The dispenser didn’t dispense powder properly. But then recently I had an ah ha moment…put the powder directly into the machine prior to adding the clothes. Duh… it worked! So now I am back to powder. As for detergent… well I used to make my own but we had such issues with our water in Alaska I had to stop. The only fragrance I can tolerate is a bit of citrus or lavender so we add a couple of drops of essential oil to the mix. Thanks for passing this on! I will have to give it a try. With 3 teenage boys we are always looking the really cleans!

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  4. DebbieB on March 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I just ordered the small container to try. Sounds good! I’ve been a liquid girl myself because the powders are messy and the boxes get damaged so easily. The jar negates that objection. Plus even the small size is a savings over the liquid I usually buy. I have scent allergies, so the unscented aspect is appealing.

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  5. Darlene on March 16, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I use liquid because of my hard water.Powder doesn’t always dissolve.I have some recipes to try for homemade liquid laundry soap.I haven’t got all the supplies yet,got to get on that! Right now I am using Ecos. Were you as warm as we were yesterday? It was close to 80! Darlene

    Reply to Darlene's comment

    • Susy on March 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Actually we had a rainy cloudy day yesterday so it was fairly cool. Today in the low 70’s.

      Vinegar really helps with the hard water, especially for washing/rinsing & fabric softening!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. KimH on March 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Im a powdered soap kinda girl myself. I have a lot of liquid on hand (freebies from coupons) and I know my son uses it, maybe my daughter as well.

    My mom used powdered, so I guess thats why I do too..

    I havent tried any of the home made laundry detergents but I figure one of these years I may try.. or maybe not. ;) Charlies sounds like a great product.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  7. Mrs. Mac on March 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I’ve been making a powder laundry soap and just made a large batch of liquid. I like the liquid better and made a five gallon bucket (with a snap on lid) .. it doesn’t need stirring once it sets up in the bucket .. I just scoop out a 1/4 or 1/2 cup .. and find it to work better than the powder. My problem with the powder is that it sometimes gets added on top of the fabric by family members and would discolor/fade my towels in spots. For brightening whites, I add an extra 1/4 cup of washing soda and soak them for a longer period. We have hard water too.

    Reply to Mrs. Mac's comment

    • Rhonda on March 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

      That’s the way I make my detergent as well. I’ll never go back to Tide again. :-)

      Reply to Rhonda's comment

  8. tj on March 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    …This is something I need to start doing. I currently use Tide *now ducking* but would like to change. And soon. :o)

    …What do you do for your hard water. When we bought our house almost 19 years ago there was a water softener installed then years later we had a new one installed and we use the water softener salt pellets but I would like to know if you use anything to soften your water or do you have a water purifier for drinking water? Any assistance you can give would be appreciated as I would like to change all of this.

    …Thank you for the detergent referral! :o)

    …Enjoy your day!


    Reply to tj's comment

    • Susy on March 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      We use a Big Berkey Black Berkey Filters for filtering our drinking/cooking water. We’re considering a whole house filter and arsenic/fluoride filter as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Liz J on March 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap for over a year, but my whites are dingy, I have been using Zote in my mixture, and previosly Ivory. I had saved a bottle of Tide for “really dirty” laundry, and washed a jacket belonging to my husband about a month ago ~ I COULDN’T STAND THE PERFUME!!! I hung the jacket outside for 4-5 days, and just couldn’t get rid of the perfume aroma. I used to use that detergent all the time and it never bothered me. I just made up a batch of laundry soap this morning, but will give this one a try. Thanks for the information.

    Reply to Liz J's comment

  10. judym on March 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    This sounds like something I would like to try. Been thinking about making my own detergent because I’ve become very sensitive to detergents both powered and liquid. Stopped using powder when the kids were small, A couple of them would break out – discovered it was the detergent. Just did loads of clothes a few days ago and the deteregent we bought gies me the itcheys. So will be considering Charlies. Also have extremely hard water, so hopefully this will save a lot of mineral build up in appliances aa well as on the clothes. Thanks Suz.

    Reply to judym's comment

  11. AGinPA on March 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I’m a huge fan if Charlie’s soap. Recently my son and I both started reacting to our regular detergent, despite it being “Free and Clear.” Charlie’s did a great job of getting out the residue from our sheets and clothes so we could keep using them without itching all the time.

    Reply to AGinPA's comment

  12. Christine on March 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Definitely powdered. After we uses up the giant bucket of Charlie’s, we moved to County Save. It’s very similar to Charlie’s, good for cloth diapers, and worked a little better for us.

    Reply to Christine's comment

  13. Deb on March 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve been using Charlie’s for years. It does a great job and is very economical and I like that I never have to use fabric softener and the clothes are still quite soft and the towels are much more absorbent!

    Reply to Deb's comment

  14. Maybelline on March 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm


    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  15. Josie on March 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I have tried making my own soap, with fels naptha and Dr Bronners it did work well, but Dr Bronners sorta defeats the economy of doing it myself. Also things seem to become dingey over time.
    Right now I am using 7th generation liquid in the paper container that composts and the inner plastic can be recyceld. I am very happy with it for 95% of our laundry (and I have two happy grubby boys) however I still spot treat with Dr. Bronners (whch is frankly amazing) and also add Dr. Bronners to heavy soil loads. I am usng white vinegar instead of fabric softener and that works for me!
    I think I will check out charlies though, the being safe for wool is lovely.
    Surprisingly I don’t have a liquid/powder preference. I just like clean clothes without smell/perfume please.

    Reply to Josie's comment

  16. Nita on March 20, 2012 at 10:49 am

    We like powdered, and Bio-Kleen is our favorite. It cleans well, and is very economical, especially when it is on sale. I like to stock up at sale time.

    I haven’t had good luck with the homemade laundry soap either :(

    Reply to Nita's comment

  17. Daria on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I use liquid to wash my laundry but keep experimenting with different natural cleaning and washing substances – just because it’s fun.

    Reply to Daria's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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