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Homemade laundry soap vs. Charlies Soap?

16 years ago

Wondering if anyone can chime in and tell me if they have experience using homemade laundry detergents in both powder and liquid form, using Castille soaps and their opinion in the long run?

Also for those users who've switched to using Charlies Soap, please give your opinions vs. the homemade detergent in the long run.

Any idea regarding cost per load for each?

I like Dr. Bronners soaps and wonder how well they would work in the homemade versions?

I'm on septic, and have hard well water, although I do have a filter on the water heater.

Thanks much!

Comments (41)

  • 16 years ago

    Charlie's is $13.99 for 80 loads which makes it $0.174875 per load. The bucket is $121.00 for 1280 loads = $0.09453125 per load.

    Homemade really depends on how you make it and the cost of the ingredients will vary. You're going to hear all kinds of claims on costs but what really matters is what it costs you. Pick the recipe, since ingredients vary too, then figure out the cost of the materials and how many loads it will do. Some people save soap slivers and grind up to use, while some buy soap flakes.

    I had intended to try making some but when I started looking at rough costs, it still was at least 10¢/load or more even and I buy laundry detergent far cheaper than that retail.

    One other comment, water makes a big difference in results so you'll need to experiment a bit to find a detergent and amount that works right for your loads. Also the loads can vary too. Heavily soiled needs more detergent, etc.

    Good luck!

  • 16 years ago

    I really think this is one of those things you give a try for yourself to know how it does in your particular situation.

    After using homemade laundry soap off and on for years, I became a big fan of Charlie's - purchased the bucket last fall, which should last us 3.5 years. One thing I don't miss about homemade soap is the smell. I originally made it with Fels Naptha and there is a somewhat acid smell - especially off-season clothing that had been packed away. Then I switched to ZOTE and it has a pleasant (to me anyway) citronella smell. You can also use a bar of Kirks Hardwater Castile.

    I started making a dry version and adding some additional laundry boosters like Cascade Automatic Dishwasher Detergent (for the enzymes) or Oxy-Clean, so that quickly added to the cost.

    1/2 bar of Zote (grated)
    2 c. borax
    2 c. washing soda
    (add-ins: 1 c. Cascade and 1 c. Oxy-Clean)

    If you like Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, then you may like this liquid. It works in the laundry or as an all-purpose cleaner.

    Liquid Natural Detergent

    1 c. of Castile Soap
    1/3 c. salt
    1 c. of baking soda
    1 c. vinegar
    40 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract
    Essential oil (optional)

    To half a gallon of water, add the salt and baking soda which as been melted down over low heat and just enough water to help it dissolve. Add Castile soap and vinegar and place mixture in your gallon container. Fill your gallon jug up the rest of the way with water, and then add Essential oils and Grapefruit Extract.

    Be sure to shake this mixture each time you use it. It tends to settle.

    I used 1/4-1/2 c. depending on how dirty the clothing was and the size of the load.


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    I made one posted by liz ga back in a thread from 2009, here it is(you can easily cut this down to 1/2 this): The Recipe 1/3 bar Fels Naptha 1/2 cup washing soda 1/2 cup borax powder ~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~ Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use 1/2 cup per load.
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    I was going through all my old emails that accumulated while we were away on vacation and came across the following in a CS email. Of COURSE these come to my inbox about 2 weeks after I replaced my huge bucket of CS. Oh well, it's nice to share! _____________________________________________________ Order from, and enter any one of the following Coupon Codes in the Coupon field during checkout. 1) Tired of paying Shipping and Handling when you just wanted a small order? If you said "yes", then use the Coupon Code "freeship" after you purchase at least one (1) bag of Laundry Powder ( a new, non-clumping bag) and one (1) 16 oz Sprayer of All Purpose Cleaner (11201) and get an Instant $5 Coupon to counteract the shipping charge. 2) Cheap is good, but Free is better. Stock up on at least three (3) Laundry Liquid gallons (21401), use the Coupon Code "freespray" and get a Free 16 oz Sprayer of All Purpose Cleaner. 3) We still havenÂt come up with a medium sized Laundry Powder, but nowÂs your chance to stock up and save! Purchase five (5) bags of Laundry Powder (41601), use the Coupon Code "freebag" and get a 6th bag Absolutely Free! These are the NEW bags that do not clump up in your pantry. 4) If you just have to have one more shirt to get dirty, spread the love with a CharlieÂs Soap T-shirt. Purchase Any Bucket (11505, 21505, or 41505) of CharlieÂs Soap products AND an Adult T-shirt; use the Coupon Code "freeshirt"; and receive an Instant Credit to bring your invoice back to regular, non-discounted bucket priceÂjust like you bought the bucket alone. 5) And last but not least, get $35 worth of CharlieÂs Soap, enter the Coupon Code "freetote" and get a Free non-woven grocery tote free with your order.
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  • 16 years ago

    Question about adding extras. I bought pure oxyclean thru the Chemistry Store last year, forget the scientific name, so that's good and I already use washing soda since it helps tons with my hard well water! So... do you need to add any extras to Charlie's Soap? Like oxyclean, or enzymes?

    I have a few white all cotton king duvets that have muddy artwork from my friends doggie on them. I've tried soaking them in cold water with washing soda and no luck! Don't use real bleach, but don't want to set the stains. Any suggestions!!! It's pretty bad!
    Also what led you to switch to Charlies? Results or saving time in making your own detergent?
    BTW I have an Oasis no agitator (similar to F&P) that I really like, so little water usage, although I trick it by using different cycles when I want more water, etc..
    Oh and what temp. does the Charlies and homemade powder and liquid soaps do best in? I usually always wash everything in warm even delicates, but I'm open to suggestion.
    I've become a laundry addict, DKW, but it's a quest to use more non-toxic stuff that works well if not better than the norm (which gives me rashes and drives my nose crazy!)
    Sorry for the rambling.... can't help my self when it comes to laundry!

    Oh last question! I need a laundry spotter that works!! I've tried many and can't use most commercial brands as they smell bad and don't rinse out! Homemade is fine or have you used Charlies too?
    I'd get a large amt. since it's more cost effective for me and I tend to buy in bulk to save on fuel costs!!! SOCAL is outrageously high! Beautiful 80 degree weather today though! =)

    Thanks to all and feel free to chime in, I'm pretty open to suggestion!!!
    Great day to all!

  • 16 years ago

    bookert -

    Personally, I'd have the duvet professionally cleaned - especially if you haven't laundered it before. Cotton fabric can be tricky if it's polished cotton or it's not mercerized cotton.

    Why I switched to Charlie's? I read a lot of positive things about it on this message board. It sounded great for those of us who line-dry our clothes (no stiff soap residue in clothes). I was already using less toxic products, so Charlie's was a good non-toxic, biodegradable, choice. It was only a little more expensive than making homemade soap. I sometimes have trouble getting the ingredients locally for the homemade soap (I live out in the middle of Kansas, right next to nothing). I don't need to "save" time, I'm 'tired and do anything I want these days. I'm also a freak-of-nature and actually LIKES to do laundry so I take particularly good care of our clothing.

    I don't have a lot of "fussy" or delicate laundry to do - mostly cotton and cotton blends. I use Charlie's in any temperature needed. I never have a problem with it not dissolving, even in our hard water. When I got my first bag I took half a scoop and dissolved it in a small amount of cold water (1/3-1/2 c.) and it quickly dissolved just by stirring it with my finger a few times (being cheap, I then used the dissolved powder in a load of laundry).

    I've added Oxy-Clean to a few loads, but probably really didn't need it. I'm just trying to use some of these things up. In fact, add-ins can make your clothing a little stiff if you line-dry them like I do, so I make sure I use a double rinse.

    I use white vinegar in the rinse - although I've even cut that back a bit. I usually use vinegar in the kitchen and bath towels just in case there is any soap residue from use. I don't seem to need it in the clothing unless I need it for another task that vinegar in the rinse performs.

    For a pre-spotter I've been using the Charlie's Soap All-Purpose Cleaner in the spritz bottle. Works great!


  • 16 years ago

    Sorry I meant to thank you for your math wisdom and opinion!
    I like the challenge of doing things outside my comfort zone, so I just might try this homemade stuff!

  • 16 years ago

    bookert -

    No dog named TOTO. In Kansas, we also tend to avoid ruby slippers and yellow brick roads. I guess there are worse stereotypes to live down... (LOL)

    Before we got our laundry courtyard done (new house) with the umbrella clothes line, I used the dryer and loved how the dryer balls reduced drying time by 25-50%.

    There's some controversy using Tea Tree Oil and lavender if you have young boys. "A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported three cases in which young boys aged 4-7 began to grow breasts after using skin care products containing lavender oil and tea tree oil. The doctor in the case contacted a governing agency which tested the oils on in vitro cells and found that they acted as estrogen. The oils appear to be endocrine disruptors."

    I'd suggest Grapefruit Seed Extract instead of Tea Tree Oil if you are making your own mixtures. Grapefruit Seed Extract is a little "miracle" in a bottle. Just give it a Google and read some information about it. I think you'll be impressed.

    The homemade detergent/all-purpose cleaner recipe I posted above that uses Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, I've often made it with Lavender Dr. Bronner's. I also add a few drops of essential oil or a combination of oils. I used this homemade soap on my sheets and bath towels to make them smell nice. (I meant to point out that there is BAKING soda in that recipe, NOT washing soda.)

    I have a friend who has a Lavender Farm just outside of town in the tall-grass country and he distills a wonderful lavender oil that I like to use.

    You can also make a lavender sachet and add it to the dryer to add scent to your clothes. I used to put a cup of dried lavender in an old sock and tie a knot in the top. Not pretty, but it did the trick. You can use the same sachet several times. Add some lavender oil to renew the scent.

    I have some dried lavender steeping in vinegar - another idea I read on the Internet. I haven't used it yet. It won't be "ready" until April 21.

    I consistantly do 7 loads of laundry per week. I don't miss the days where we had two kids involved in all kinds of stinky-sweaty sports and we went to the YMCA 5-days a week. Gym bag SURPRISE!

    Liquid Hand Soap - I've only made a homemade version with saved soap pieces melted in enough water to make "liquid" soap.


  • 16 years ago

    I've been using Charlie's for about 5 years now and was the first one on this site to try it. When several of us were first asking questions about it, one thing we were told was not to use Oxyclean with it, that it made the Charlie's not work.
    I ran out of Charlie's a week or so ago and decided to try the Sears detergents that some people like so much. After just a week of using the Sear's detergent, I started getting an odor in my washer. Needless to say I've ordered more CS.

  • 16 years ago

    Thanks for the great info!
    So your recipe calls for baking and not washing soda? Could I use washing soda too? Oh and with the liquid recipe, do I grate the soap?
    I take it the dryer balls don't give off gasses that disrupt boys' systems?
    Where can I buy the grapefruit oil online? There are so many who sell it, but I'd like a place that has good stuff.

    Wow, you've been using Charlie's for awhile! Can you give me some tips on using it? Why do you suppose you can't use oxyclean with it to work right? What if you need to do whites? What version do you like best or do you use both? How about the pre-spotter, do you use it too? Please tell me your experiences with it, if of course you have time! Oh could I add lavender oil to it for fragrance?

    Thanks so much and have a blessed Easter!!!

  • 16 years ago

    If you buy 3 buckets of Charlie's Soap, they're $99 each versus $121, and the shipping is free.

  • 16 years ago

    Wow, if I purchased 3 buckets it would go bad before I used it! I do alot of laundry mind you, but $300 for detergent is a bit over budget! ha!

  • 16 years ago

    bookert -

    Q - "So your recipe calls for baking and not washing soda? Could I use washing soda too?"
    A - You probably could, I don't know WHY you would. A large box of baking soda is pretty cheap and is what the author (who wasn't me) of the recipe calls for.

    Q - "Oh and with the liquid recipe, do I grate the soap?"
    A - In the Liquid Natural Detergent recipe -- the 1 c. of Castile Soap I use is liquid Dr. Bronner's - fregrance of choice. I included that recipe because you mentioned you liked to use Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap.

    Q - "I take it the dryer balls don't give off gasses that disrupt boys' systems?"
    A - I don't believe I mentioned anything about that - only about the connection with boys and Tea Tree Oil and Lavender (see link below - which doesn't mention Dryer Balls, which are non-toxic and hypoallergenic). If you find out something negative about Dryer Balls, please post it.

    Q - "Where can I buy the grapefruit oil online?"
    A - As you discovered, there were many on-line sources for the product. If you have a health food store handy, you will probably find some there - that's where I got mine. A small 2-fl. oz. bottle will last you a very long time. But I'd choose on-line by lowest price - from a reputable company.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Endocrine Disruptors and Tea Tree Oil & Lavender

  • 16 years ago

    I've never heard of any medical controvery concerning the dryer balls. There is, however, some controversy on the effectiveness of them. Some claim they cut drying time in half or more while some say they do nothing but make noise. My experience has been positive. There's not a 25%-50% savings in my dryer, but 10%-15% is probably realistic on some loads. I think it makes a difference on how big a load and the type of fabrics. I've noticed towels don't bunch up as much with them, which will help them dry. Air flow is the key to effective and efficient drying so if it keeps the items from becoming a lump it's bound to help.

    Some have used tennis balls but some also say there's a smell from them, which I find believable. I would think a plastic ball of some sort would be a better choice than tennis balls if you want to use a substitute but then again the cost if you buy them on ebay or something isn't outrageous.

    I did notice one thing. I have a pair of the Dryer Max dryer balls and then bought 4 of a generic type off ebay. The generics are slightly smaller, maybe 1/4" diameter smaller and the Dryer Max have a give to them, similar to pressing in on a tennis ball while the generic ones are a harder plastic with the same knob things on them. Whether that makes a difference remains to be seen. I have a large (7.4 cubic ft) dryer and a large washer so when I do large loads I thought it might help to add some more since I seemed to notice an improvement with the first pair.

    So, as the usual caveat, YMMV.

  • 16 years ago


    When I first got my front loader I tried every available detergent and pretreater that I could find to take out what I call my "what I had for dinner spots" on the front of MY tops. I don't know if it was the washer or the water but for some reason NOTHING was working for me. I happen to see the Charlie's ad on the Laundry forum and asked if anyone had tried it. No one had so I became the guinea pig. Charlie's was the only reason I didn't send my washer back to the store.

    I use the powder and their general cleaner as my pretreater. I do add vinegar and fabric softener to SO's work clothes but only because he can throw a static spark three inches long and works with electric motors. Nothing I wash needs fabric softener but figure it can't hurt to try to help him out with his work clothes.

    I don't know why the oxyclean shouldn't be used with the Charlies. You might want to call Taylor to verify it and let the rest of us know if things have changed or my memory is bad.....LOL.

    As for washing whites, I may add a little bleach from time to time but that's usually if one of us has been sick or maybe once a month to make sure no mold is growing in my washer. Normally I use nothing but the CS for everything that goes in my washer and that's it. It's WONDERFUL for the dog bedding with NO SCENT left in the bedding at all. I can't say that for the Sear's detergent. I know the dogs don't care, but I do.

    I don't know why you couldn't add the lavender oil for scent, but I've found I LOVE not having a scent in my clothes.

    If you get the general cleaner to use as a pretreater be sure and use it for other things. It's one of the best over all cleaners I've ever used. I spray down the bathtub and surround, clean the rest of the bathroom then finish by just wiping down the tub area. You spray it on, let it sit and work then just wipe down whatever you're cleaning. I had to clean a black stainless steel kitchen sink and couldn't understand why I was scrubbing so hard but it wasn't coming clean. I finally remembered it doesn't power through like a lot of the smelly cleaners, so I resprayed the sink, did another job and came back to just wipe all the black off the sink.

    I hope I've answered you questions. If you haven't tried the CS it is worth trying. I know some people haven't had good luck with it, but then again I didn't have any luck with Tide, Gain, Cheer, Wisk, etc. and now the Sears. Your water plays a big factor in what detergents will work for you and what ones won't. For the ones that tried the CS and don't like the results on their clothes, keep it handy and use it every week or so just to clean out any detergent/softener build up in your washer.

  • 16 years ago

    I'm pretty certain that I read about the caution of using the dryer balls on the Debra Lynn Dadd site. I don't know how to add a link, sorry. Great site if you're into non-toxic living or it's a must because of allergies etc.. My opinion of course! I know there are TONS of things I use on an everyday basis that are probably cause for concern, but I'm trying to make better choices now.

    My dryer balls are the cheapo generics, but I wanted to try them out before I spent more on some better built ones. Who knows they're probably both made in China! Anyone make them in the USA?

    I'm so glad I'm not the only one who tries lots of different products in the quest to find the ideal detergent/cleaners for their needs!! Whewww! what a relief I'm not alone! =) I try to curb my desire, but it drives me nuts when I try to squelch it! ha! No, I'm not on meds, just obsessive. Compare me to someone who loves doing crossword puzzles or something, and my thing is cleaning products! Boy, do I sound weird or what!!!??

    Anyhow, enough about me!
    I do appreciate all of the replies and thank you all for being so nice!
    Have a blessed day!
    I'll post when I either make a homemade batch or bite the bullet and purchase the Charlies!

  • 16 years ago

    I have been using homemade powder for years. I like the results I get from a soap based product. It cleans my clothes nicely, and is kind to my skin. I find that detergent based products make me itchy. Here is the formula I have been using for about three years.

    1 large bar Zote
    1 1/2 cups borax
    1 1/2 cups washing soda

    If you can, grate the Zote, and then put it each bar into a plastic bag. Let is sit for a week or more. I grate a bunch of bars at a time and then put them on top of my hot water tank. It's just warm enough to age the soap. After it sits you can scrunch the bag up and the soap will crumble up. Then I add the rest of the ingredients. You can use any bar soap for the recipe. I find that Zote performs about the best of all, since it is a superfatted laundry soap. About 3 tablespoons is enough for a regular load in my front loader. I use a generic oxyclean with my whites. It performs for me in any temperature wash. Sometimes I use old fashioned bluing to brighten up the whites. As for adding Cascade, I would not use any chemicals not designed for cleaning laundry. If you really feel the need to add phosphates to you wash, buy a bucket of sodium tripolyphosphate from the Chemistry Store. You'll be adding something safer than Cascade to get your phosphate fix. You will only need a tablespoon in a load. Here's the link.

    As for Charlie's Soap I choose not to use it. It is a detergent based product, not a soap. This is a quote from their web site: "Is CharlieÂs Soap a "soap", or is it a "detergent"? CharlieÂs Soap is really a blend of natural-based surfactants (detergents) derived from coconut oil, treated with a product of natural gas (real soaps are treated with caustic soda or pot ash), and salts in water (Laundry Liquid) or pure Green Mountain washing soda (Laundry Powder). There is a good reason that it is called CharlieÂs Soap and not Charlie's Detergent. Thirty years ago, the product was first created for the textile industry. It worked so well that workers in the plants started stealing it. And, they eventually found their way over to our office asking for it. Everyone in the textile plants knew Charlie Sutherland, Sr., and so they started asking for some of CharlieÂs "soap", not knowing the chemical difference between soaps and detergents. Charlie Sutherland, Jr. actually created the product, but itÂs not his name on the bottle. After years of trying to name the product everything under the sun, the name "CharlieÂs Soap" just stuck. ". There is a link below for the FAQ for Charlie's Soap

    Charlie's soap is a wonderful product judging from all of the good comments I have seen, I just prefer soap myself.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Charlie's Soap Frequently Asked Questions

  • 16 years ago

    I purchased the extract, wow the stuff is expensive! You did mention it lasts a long time, bottle looks small, so hopefully the bottle will make a batch or so of homemade detergent.
    I'm excited to make it and hope to this weekend. I think I will be making both the liquid and powder versions!

    Can you fill me in on the great properties of the extract? The saleslady said it's great stuff, but didn't elaborate.
    How is it good in laundry? Is it also used in the BioKleen laundry products?

    I also purchased a number of bars of Fels Naptha and Kirk's Castile Soap to try them both out. I haven't been able to find any pure olive oil castile soap, so hopefully the use of other oils won't clog anything up! ha! =)

    As far as the Charlies is concerned, besides it containing washing soda, what else is in it? I used to use Simple Green for many uses and found it really bothers me when I use it! It says it's non-toxic, but I'd beg to differ! So just wondering if there are any added chemicals that pass for ok in it? I know I don't use any detergent w/ optical brighteners in them anymore as they leach into your skin! Yuck!

    Well again, thank you, I appreciate your opinions and the time you give to help!

    Blessings and have a great weekend!
    Anyone else have a comment? Feel free to chime in!

  • 16 years ago

    I must have been posting and didn't see your posting!
    Thank you for the info. I just had a feeling there was something I was missing about the Charlie's Soap.
    I can find ZOTE soap everywhere, but since I already have the other soaps, including Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap I will try these out first.
    I actually purchased the tripolyphosphate last year and have tons left, so that will serve the recipe well!!
    What do you store your laundry soap in? I purchased some plastic containers from Smart and Final that are semi-clear and have nice easy off-on lids to use, so hopefully these will do! The lids are air tight too.
    Thanks again for chiming in!

  • 16 years ago

    The Liquid Natural Detergent recipe uses 40 DROPS Grapefruit Seed Extract per gallon. There are approximately 24 drops in 1/4 teaspoon, so 40 drops is just less than 1/2 teaspoon. There should be about 12 teaspoons in a 2 fl. oz (59ml) bottle of Grapefruit Seed Extract, or enough for 24 gallons of Liquid Natural Detergent. Remember, the Liquid Natural Detergent can also be used as an all-purpose cleaner.

    Grapefruit Seed Extract is a natural, non-toxic disinfectant - germ killer.

    All Purpose Cleaner/Disinfectant-
    Add 15-30 drops of extract to any 32 oz pump sprayer filled with your favorite cleanser or this can be added just to water. Use on all surfaces of the house.

    For more uses, check the link below. I purchased a quart of Grapefruit Seed Extract (lots cheaper per ounce than the small 2-fl. oz. bottle) and it should last me for YEARS.

    I use it regularly for washing fruit/veggies, cleaning tooth brushes, in a quart spray bottle with water to spritz on kitchen counters, cutting boards and appliances to disinfect them. I add it to drinking water in restaurants, especially after I learned how much bacteria is found on lemon slices in restaurants.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Uses for Grapefruit Seed Extract

  • 16 years ago

    Hi Bookert,

    Any air tight container is good to use. You may want to also store your borax and washing soda in air tight containers after opening them, so they don's get hard and lumpy.

    I just recently finished up a batch of soap. What I do is grate the soap, and bag each individual shredded bar in a baggie. I have these standing up in an plastic shoebox from the dollar store. When I need a batch of soap, i mix it all up in an empty Oxy Wash tub, a bag of soap, then the 1 1/2 cups of borax and washing soda. Shake to mix it the tub is big enough. Or use a gloved hand. I buy the bags of 100 plastic gloves at the dollar store for soap powder making. The thin gloves are made out of plastic like a plastic bag. I use an attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer to grate the soap. If you are doing it by hand, grate the soap while it is fresh and soft from the store. If you have a machine to do it, so much the better. You could also look for an old food processor at a garage sale or thrift store to use. Add your tripolyphospahte as needed.

    As to what is in Charlie's Soap powder, they don't say specifically what the chemical is. Their safety sheet says to avoid skin contact and to rinse with cold water for 15 minutes in case of eye contact, as it is a strong alkali powder with a pH of 10.5.

  • 16 years ago

    Wow, where did you find the quart sized bottle of GSE? That would be much more cost effective in the long haul and I'd be able to use it for cleaning as well!! =)

    I purchased a few bars of Kiss My Face olive oil soap and wonder if they would be good to use? There is only olive oil, water and sodium chloride in it.

    Thanks again for your wonderful info and for being so kind in sharing it!

    Great info on storing my supplies. I'm sure they will keep much longer when properly stored!
    Tell me your likes about using your homemade laundry soap compared to traditional or natural brands bought in health food type stores? I've used several and wonder what your results have been if it pertains to you. Besides the itching if that doesn't discredit that issue! Any dislikes using your homemade version?

    I plan on grating the old fashioned way since I don't have a food processor. Will be good to give my arm muscles a much needed workout! =) Since it's warm here, do you think if I place the baggy out in the sun it will dry faster? It's not warm enough yet to melt! Bad idea? Do you do that to cure it?
    What is ZOTE made from by the way?

    Well again thank you for taking your time to help me in my quest to step outside my box!!

    Blessings to you both!

  • 16 years ago

    The natural brands I have seen in the past few years have been detergent based products, which I prefer not to use. At one time my local Wally World sold a liquid soap based laundry product, which was discontinued. I like my homemade powder. It's almost what I used to use years ago. I always used Ivory Flakes, then Ivory Snow (both soap powders) until P&G stopped making them. Ivory Snow now is a detergent. I used the natural brands until soap based products were unavailable. Really like using soap, as it washes well, and leaves the laundry nice and soft without needing any fabric softeners. I find that when we are on vacation and I have to use a regular detergent, my clothes seem stiff compared to washing in soap. I think my results with the homemade powder have been excellent, comparable to the commercial products I have used.

    Zote is soap made from coconut oil, which is saponofied with caustic soda. It contains salt (sodium chloride), glycerin, citronella oil, optical brightener and dye, in the case of pink ZOTE and blue ZOTE. (This is from the web site)

    I never tried setting my bags of soap in the sun. I would try just one, in case it does anything funny to your bag of soap. I let my bags sit for at least a week or two if I can, because it dries out some of the moisture. Then I can just crumble the soap up. Makes it easier to mix with the other ingredients evenly.

    Since you are hand grating, don't let your bars of soap sit around a long time. They will get harder the longer they sit, and be hard to grate.

  • 16 years ago


    I think I'm going to use both fels naptha and castile soap in my batch. Think that will be ok?
    I actually found them both at some local stores and got a bargain to boot! That's hard to come by today! Only 2 of my local stores carry the Kirk's Castile Soap, so I may want to stock up just in case!
    How do I know how long the soap has been at the store? The bars might be hard already!

    I'm using Bio-Kleen Premium powder detergent now and Wintree liquid I get from Costco which I love! I get great results, but still want to make my own to save $.

    I remember my grandma using Ivory Snow when I was little. Loved the smell! Too bad they changed the recipe!

    Thanks again for the info!

  • 16 years ago

    You can use just about any bar soap that you like, I've tried lots of them. I use Zote because it's inexpensive, a big bar at the Dollar General for a buck, and I like the scent. I would be hesitant to use Kirk's Castile if you have a front loader. Kirk's is really sudsy, which is not good for front loaders, they require a low sudsing product. I love Kirk's in the bath because it does produce lots of suds. It makes a great base for a shampoo bar that I make. Fels is a laundry soap, and lots of folks just love it for their homemade soap powders. Have fun!

  • 16 years ago

    brysanda: We've changed our position on the sodium percarbonate (oxy cleaners) with Charlie's Soap. We thought the hydrogen peroxide would turn off the Charlie's, but at the levels contained in the sodium percarbonate, the good of the bleaching and disinfecting and water softening outweighed the risk of the bad.

    everyone else: Sorry... can't give out the super secret formula! :) But feel free to ask any questions you might want to.

    Here is a link that might be useful: CharlieSoap

  • 16 years ago

    Okay, Taylor, I'll bite!

    I am tired so I may not have understood your comment about rethinking using oxy cleaners. Is it that you now think they may be helpful, to add, in certain cases or are you going to add that to Charlie's Soap and have it be an optional offering?

    The reason I ask if you are creating a new product is because you stated that you can't give out the super secret formula however we may ask questions.

    So, fess up. LOL!


  • 16 years ago

    I'm not sure if the last post will show up, but just in case it doesn't, here it is again. We're not after coming up with a new product. I think we'll just keep on trucking with what we got now. :) But what I was saying is that it's okay to use sodium percarbonate with the Charlie's. The washing soda it releases soften the water and lets the detergent work better, and the peroxide kills germs and very slightly bleaches things when you need that. We thought that the peroxide would hurt our formula but the levels just aren't high enough to do that, even with higher strength percarbonate.

  • 16 years ago

    Taylor ~

    Thanks for clearing that up. I have some oxyclean but have only used it a few times. Good to know that it won't hurt to use it with your detergent.

    Did you get the other question (on some other Charlie's Soap topic) about coming out with packaging larger than the 80 loads but smaller than the huge bucket? What do you think?


  • 16 years ago

    How would I go about adding enzymes to Charlie's? That's the only thing holding me back from trying this product. A lot of my stains are protein based, and it would be nice to know if there's a natural enzyme "additive" product I can use with the Charlie's that won't affect it's otherwise miraculous qualities! :)

    Taylor, any recommendations on what I can use?

  • 16 years ago

    Nearly any laundry spot treatment contains enzymes. If you want more enzymes, try one of those products designed for pet spots (odor/stain removers). They work better than the laundry products, I think. I have looked for a powdered enzyme product unsuccessfully.

    sshrivastava - Are you no longer using Bi-O-Kleen?

  • 16 years ago

    Nature Bright by Shaklee is a great laundry boost and stain fighter. it works wonderful hand and hand with Charlies soap... I am not sure if you ever read any of my posts about it, but I have removed red ink, strawberry 'juice', & chocolate with it as a stain remover. I also add a scoop in my laundry when needed. Charlies is a wonderful product .. doesn't hurt to give it a try, so go ahead..take the plunge! :)

  • 16 years ago

    Oh I am still using Bi-O-Kleen Premium and am having no issues with it -- it's a wonder product as far as I'm concerned. However, with all these raves about Charlie's Soap, I'm willing to give it a try. The lack of enzymes will limit the range of stains Charlie's can effectively clean.

    Using the Petzyme-type products is a good idea, I never thought of putting some of that into the wash.

  • 16 years ago

    Where's the best deal ($$$) on Charlie's Soap?

  • 15 years ago

    I am so excited to try homemade laundry soap!!!
    My 17 year old hates every detergent from the store. We have gone through every kind and he hates them all.
    So we will try this.
    I am going to do washing soda, borax and Fels. Those are the only things I can find in our little town. I hope the combo works.
    Should I add oxy clean to this? Would it hurt?

  • 15 years ago

    Hi myclementine

    Fels Naptha soap will work just fine. I like the formula of 2 cups grated soap, 1 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda. You can ad Oxy Clean to any wash you think needs it. I always use it on my whites. Try other soaps and see how well they work. I used Ivory for years before switching to Zote soap. Have fun!

  • 15 years ago

    I wanted to try to make homemade laundry soap but however I have not able to locate wash soda close in Southern California

  • 15 years ago

    This wash is fantastic!!! DS loved the scent. It just smells clean. I will be using this for a long time.
    I have been using about 2 T in my FL for a medium sized load and it seems to work just great.

  • 15 years ago

    That's about the same dose I use for a wash, and for really dirty loads (like husband's work clothes) I will increase the amount. Feel free to add an Oxy Clean product as needed. I always use it for whites. I like Sun Oxy Wash, a big bucket at Dollar General for $5.

  • 15 years ago

    Follow up on Super Washing Soda sold by Winco Foods in Pomona, CA USA. It was 2.50 for one box 3IBS. I look at look supermarkets didn't carry it but Winco Food did which was great to find after going to like 10 more stores to locate it.

  • 15 years ago

    For my homemade laundry soap

    I boiled 1 quart of water
    I add 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
    I grated 1 bar of Purex & Nautral until melted after finish melting it I put in a container which looks like white gell.

    I use about 1 spoon full of it to my wash machine which does not sud up compare to regular brands of laundry detergrents

  • 13 years ago

    To those of you who have been using these "home made" detergents, are you experiencing any odor, mold or mildew issues? The reason I ask is because castile soap builds up into a gooopy, gel-like gunk if not properly rinsed. This could potentially cause problems in washers. Every home-made product I've tried - from detergent to fabric softener - has proven unsatisfactory. Either the products don't clean well, they risk building up in my machine or on my clothes or they just don't work.

    Price is not the only consideration, which is what appears to be driving this homemade laundry movement.

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