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. LoadsofLove March 19, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Regarding Update: I’ve never heard of soap nuts repelling or leaking water on diapers. Moms with kids in diapers are some of the biggest fans of soap nuts.

    • CHRISTINA LANDRY December 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      I have been using soapnuts on my diapers for a couple of months and dont have that problem, maybe it takes longer but my diapers are not even repelling a little. Hmmm now Im curious. I love love love my soapnuts for my diapers, I handwash them with it and hang them to dry and they are clean and nice and soft too, even after hanging inside in my window.

  2. Blake Morgan February 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I am a college student and am working with my mom to get our all 100% natural pure essential oil laundry detergent off the ground. Check out our blog and come learn more! pure laundry.blogspot.com

  3. Kelsi October 4, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    Hi Lindsay, I’ve been using your homemade laundry soap recipe and love it. I’m wanting to look more into the reasons for/against using Borax, and you’re one of the few who don’t. I clicked on the link in your post, but the page is gone and I wondered if you had any other thoughts/posts/research on the pros/cons of Borax? thanks!

  4. Anna July 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    I just made this, and the baking soda fizzed when I added the water. Did that just totally null any benefit it would have had? Do the salt and soda ever completely dissolve? I’m gonna try washing my sheets with this tomorrow.

  5. Melissa Boggs June 12, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I realize this post is long outdated, but I had a question in regard to your use of soap nuts for cloth diapers. Did you ever strip your diapers and try to keep using soap nuts, or just automatically switch? I find that I occasionally have to strip my diapers (with some blue Dawn or bleach for any microfiber (BG actually recommends this, and Fuzzibunz recommends it once monthly for their microfiber inserts. I try to avoid the bleach, but do strip occasionally, as it seems a concern no matter how they are laundered) no matter what detergent I’m using. I really liked how my homemade soap nuts liquid worked on my diapers while I was waiting to receive my Charlie’s soap. Unfortunately, we seem to be some of the ones who experience rashes with Charlie’s, so I’m trying to sort out for sure what I want to do, and LOVE the multiple uses of soap nuts. Streamlining would be wonderful in this area! Do you remember how long you used soap nuts before noticing buildup problems?

    • Lindsay June 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Yes, I actively strip my diapers before switching detergents as it is essential. I personally just didn’t feel like they cleaned them thoroughly enough but you may have a different experience. It worked fine with prefolds in my experience but not with my pocket diapers.

  6. Shea May 25, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Okay, so I’ve been doing a little research on soap nuts and cloth diapering. We have hard well water and are on a tight budget so that’s what I’m trying to work with. After researching I found that the people who most liked soap nuts for cloth diapering were those who used Econuts, Naturoli nuts, and Yorganics (sp?). However many of these people also mentioned that after a couple months they had the need to strip their diapers. Now, the most effective way to do that, again after much research, was to use RLR Laundry Treatment. This has been raved about by many different CD moms who all use completely different detergents from eachother.
    I also found this to be the most cost effective way to launder your cloth diapers and other cloths.
    I am going to try NaturOli soap nuts purchased from Amazon ( around $.12/load) and RLR Laundry Treatment also purchased from Amazon ($1.60/month supply, if I strip diapers once a month).
    Another note, my parents have been using soap nuts for all 10 of them for about 7 months now and they do an average of 15 loads per week and they are just getting down to the bottom of a 1lb. bag! That’s over 420 loads for a 1lb. bag! That’s like 3x what they advertise it will do!

  7. Shea May 25, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    This is a very interesting and helpful article pertaining to using soap nuts with you cloth diapers. CHeck it out!


  8. Sophia May 24, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    I am so glad i found this site. i have been making my own laundry detergent using Borax for a few weeks and just realized I may be having a reaction to it, becoming very itchy whenver clothes touch me such as when i go to bed etc. Breaking out in firy hives then it goes away…my husband says it does the same for him. i posted a recipe for DIY detergent on my own webpage and I have been looking for another recipe to update it for those readers who may have a reaction to it as well, I love your idea of using castille soap. I am going to try that and give it my own spin. thank you for the laundry boost.

  9. Clarissa April 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I know this is an old post, but I was wondering why you didn’t like the homemade soap for cloth diapers?

  10. Sam March 27, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Awesome post friend. I must share it with the friend which use homemade detergent but sorry I use only Berry Soap

  11. Shelly February 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I just wanted to mention that this laundry soap recipe works phenomenally well on makeup brushes, as well! The vinegar/ warm water trick did nothing for my foundation brushes, and face soap has never worked very well for me, either. I had some older brushes that I had not washed as I should, and had, for some time, been using them with Estee Lauder’s Double Wear foundation (one of the heaviest, longest-lasting foundations available). Needless to say, they were in bad shape and probably should have been thrown away. They now look like new! I cleaned them in a small bowl using the castile laundry soap recipe, and once all the makeup was gone, I swished them in a vinegar/water rinse with a few drops of tea tree and lavender essential oils to sanitize. Works beautifully!

  12. Nikki February 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Is there anything wrong with using Oxyclean for your cloth diapers? I believe it is environmentally friendly. Another idea is to use a hand-cranked Wonder Clean Wonder Washer. It uses steam to blast through tough stains. My friend told me that her clothes have never been cleaner.

    • Lindsay February 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

      It is best to check with the manufacturer on that one.

    • Rachael March 5, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Just commenting on the OxyClean comment here: I would suggest 2 things, 1) the main ingredient with Oxyclean is peroxide, so you can substitute direct peroxide. A friend of mine chooses to use it in all kinds of cleaning situations including carpet cleaning and in her laundry. 2) I choose to buy the OxyClean FREE which has less chemicals.

  13. Andrea Jardon January 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Have you every heard of or tried Country Save? http://www.countrysave.com/prods.php

  14. Shaina January 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    I just ran out of my usual homemade laundry detergent so perfect timing to try one of these! I think I’ll start with your homemade recipe since I fortunately have all those items on hand! I’ve been wanting to try soap nuts as well so maybe I’ll try those next. Thanks for sharing…and by the way I absolutely love your blog! :)

  15. Charlotte December 13, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Hi! I was wondering how you figure you get 64 loads out of the first recipe? I think at 1/4 cup per load you should only get 16 loads. At 1/2 cup per load you would only get 8 loads out of a batch. Thanks!

    • Kitty December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      you’re not counting the gallon of water that you add after it’s all mixed. a gallon of water is 128 oz.

  16. Mindi October 24, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    I really do like this liquid detergent recipe! Even my husband likes it and he would really prefer for me to use a name brand detergent. I would like to know if anyone has used vinegar, instead of water, to make up the gallon of detergent after the salt, water, soap and the washing soda mixture?

    • Kitty December 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      Soap is a base, remember science class? similar to baking soda. Vinegar removes soap, counteracts it. I don’t think they will do much to help you if they’re mixed together. try using the vinegar in the rinse to remove the soap residues for best results.

      • kathy March 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

        you can put the vinegar in a downy ball

  17. Amanda October 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm #


    I was wondering how you sanitized your diapers when you use Charlie’s Soap. I’ve been reading that it doesn’t disinfect really well and I love the idea of hanging diapers outside, but during the winter that will not work here.

    Do you use anything with the Charlie’s soap to sanitize? Also do you use your dispenser or just put it on top of the clothes?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Lindsay October 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      No, I don’t find there is need for anything else besides Charlie’s soap powder. I put it in first allowing it to dissolve a bit before adding the diapers in the washer.

    • Cathy November 14, 2011 at 10:10 am #

      In response to sanitizing diapers (or any clothing) with a natural soap product, the temperature in the dryer is high enough that it does the sanitizing. It doesn’t whiten and brighten tho, for that you need another agent. If you don’t use a dryer, you would need another agent (like vinegar) in your wash to do the job. However, natural soap, by its very nature, is disinfectant. Adding borax, a natural chemical, helps break down the chemicals in water so that the positive natural soap chemicals, or surface active agents, can attach to the negative dirt chemicals and take them out of your clothing (or off your skin or other surface). Don’t be afraid of “chemicals”. Everything is a chemical! We, ourselves, are made up of thousands of chemicals. By the way, water is a chemical…It sustains life but it can also kill!

  18. Brittany September 1, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Has anyone tried soap nuts or the homemade laundry detergent on sweaty, running clothes? Does it get rid of the stink?
    Thanks :)

  19. Nicole August 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Hello –

    I’m wondering if someone can give me some advice. I tried Charlies and my son has developed a diaper rash that will not go away. Whether or not the detergent caused this is unknown though I’m suspicious since nothing else has changed (same cloth diapers, wipes) and no new foods have been introduced.

    Any good advice on diaper rashes?

    Has anyone else had any problems with Charlies?

    We cannot use soap nuts so I’m also curious about Rock’in Green?

    Sorry for all the questions.


    • Christine August 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

      I decided not to try Charlie’s after hearing numerous stories like yours. My guess is it most likely is that particular soap. Have you tried switching to a different brand to see if that clears it up?

      • Nicole August 30, 2011 at 6:44 am #

        Hi Christine – I’m in the process of stripping the diapers and then may try Rock’in Green. I really liked the way the diapers felt after using Charlies so I’m bummed that it didn’t work for us. One thing I have heard is that different soaps can react differently depending upon the water being used.

        His diaper rash is finally getting better (yeah!).


    • Lindsay August 29, 2011 at 6:05 am #

      You probably just need to strip your diapers. I found every time I changed diaper detergents things would get weird – diapers leaking or causing rashes. Try washing with one teaspoon of dawn dishwashing soap and then run through several hot washes to strip. I use Charlies all the time for my diapers without any issues. For diaper rashes, try my homemade recipe for diaper cream. It works great! Rock’in Green is another good detergent, it is just more expensive.

      • Nicole August 30, 2011 at 6:48 am #

        Hi Lindsay-

        Thank you for directing me to your diaper cream recipe. It looks great!

        I started stripping the diapers after reading your post and am going to give the Rock’In Green detergent a try. I really liked the way Charlies felt and your right the cost is much cheaper.

        Thanks again :-)


      • kris August 20, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

        Leave the diaper rash exposed to the sun or a light bulb had some persistent rash on one of my girls so when she was a new born i would have to lie her in her crib with a light bulb pointed at her bum later on when she moved more i found if i gave her an hour or so a day with no diaper the rash would not come back

    • Rebecca December 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      Hi, I have never used any of the products before. I simply came across this webpage in search of a homemade laundry “recipe” and noticed your comment. Is your son allergic to tree nuts (especially coconut)??? I see that Charlie’s contains coconut. I know that any soaps with coconut in it bother my daughters skin and make her itchy. After taking her to an allergist, I discovered she has a very small allergy to tree nuts. It’s not life threatening – just uncomfortable.

      Just wanted to put in my “2 cents” in hopes that it may help! =)
      Good luck!

    • Sadie February 14, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Hi, I had a diaper rash problem with my daughter…after a year of using the same diapers, same detergent (store bought), she got a rash that wouldn’t go away. After going to the doctor 2x, and trying various different creams, the only thing that got rid of her rash (almost immediately) was to use disposable diapers. My daughter has sensitive skin, and the only thing I could think of regarding the cloth diapers is that after using them for years (she is my 2nd child), that there must have been a build-up of something in the diapers that irritated her skin.

      • Felicia July 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

        Hello! The rash could also be caused by the skin being wet. We went through this with DS and he was red and his diaper area peeled when I wiped him. I tried lanolin, CJ’s ect… nothing worked. Then I read somewhere that a liner (wool or fleece) wicked away the moisture. His rash was gone within a couple of diaper changes. Hope this help’s cause rashes on little one’s is no fun!

    • Emily August 8, 2012 at 7:46 am #

      A buildup of ammonia in cloth diapers will burn the skin in short order, making it susceptible to staph infections. Staph is something we all carry on our skin but don’t normally contract. A staph infection in the diaper area looks like a red bump or bumps with an oozy center and it doesn’t heal well in the cloth diapering environment. Putting the child in disposables for a few days and treating the infection will clear it up but unless you thoroughly strip those cloth diapers you’ll have the same problem when you use them again.

  20. Andrea Bartholomew August 11, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Love, love, love this blog!!:) I’ve gotten so many great ideas here, and this one I will definitely be trying out. It’s so amazing how dependent we all have become on big corporations for EVERYTHING! I dont begrudge these companies, I just want to be able to do for myself as much as i can. This blog has helped me so much in these efforts! God bless all the great contributors here!! Thanks for the awesome content!!

  21. Ronnie Turpiano June 25, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    Wow! There are no words…

  22. jenny poe June 19, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    I bought the Naturoli soap nuts a few months ago and have been using them religiously.. however- i’ve noticed that my clothes have not been getting clean, and they now have a sour smell to them like i haven’t washed my clothes in months. A girl at my work told me that my clothes smelled like “fried food” haha
    SO – I am retiring the soap nuts, as they’re not a good fit for me.. or maybe it’s our water type too.

    My husband is on his way to the store right now to find a different option, and a healthier one to tide or gain. :)

    Thought Id throw in my two cents.

  23. Sarah June 14, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Wondering what water type you have? (used with soap nuts). I felt conned into buying some while at a natural store, haven’t tried them yet but wanted to until I read your update about cloth diapers. Was the diaper repelling or the inserts?

  24. Heather June 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Looking for alternatives to laundry soap. Will the above recipe work on my HE machine? Thanks.

    • Lindsay June 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

      Yes. I’ve used it in my HE machine.

      • Lindsay Meadows February 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

        I am interested in trying this recipe, however, I’m not sure how to add the vinegar to the rinse cycle. Do I have to time it, or stand and watch it to know when the rinse cycle is?

        I love your website!

        Thank you,
        Lindsay Meadows

  25. Misty June 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Has anyone tried using this recipe with a bar soap melted instead of the Dr. Bronner’s liquid? How did it turn out and how much did you use? 1/3 of a bar for the 1 gallon? I’ve seen a similar recipe but it uses a full bar but it’s for a lot more detergent. Thanks!

    • Kate September 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

      I just made this soap for a second time with some bar soap I made myself a while back. I use 1/2 bar; it is a smaller recipe, but you only use 1/4 cup per load so I think it event out :)

  26. Dan Martin June 2, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    This is a great article, you would think more people would avoid harsh chemicals for cleaning our clothes. Clothes are directly against your skill all day, this is probably where everyone should be most careful. Thanks for sharing this info.

  27. deanna h April 29, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    The Dr. Bronners Sal Suds does contain SLS in it. Is that bad for just laundry detergent? I have been making my laundry detergent for about 9 months now using Borax and really love it. But I want to try with Dr. Bronners since there is questions now concerning Borax.

  28. Jennie April 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Hi Lindsay-
    I have heard that you shouldn’t use baking soda in the washing machine as it does something to the pipes. I really want to try to make my own detergent, especially because my clothe and especially the dish rags always seem to carry a smell with them. Tide seems to be the only thing that gets them really clean but it is so expensive and I am looking for a more frugal alternative. I have never hear of using castile soap like Dr. Bronners, it make me wonder. Have you ever tried the Dugger’s recipe?

    • Lindsay April 17, 2011 at 5:50 am #

      No sure about the baking soda issue, but I am sure it is something you could just remove from the recipe, as the Dr. Bronners is quite effective on its own. I have never tried the Duggar recipe.

  29. Jewel April 7, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    *Very thick, not very think. lol

  30. Jewel April 7, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    What consistency is your homemade detergent supposed to be? After sitting over night, mine turned very think.. like slightly more hard than Jello. Is that supposed to happen, or is it supposed to stay soupy? Thanks!

    • Lindsay April 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      I have not experienced this, but I don’t think it will make any difference in the final run. Just use it the same way as if it was liquidy.

  31. Joyce Frankel March 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    I stumbled onto the website by accident and have found a gold mine!! Lindsey thank you so much for creating all of this. I’m telling all my friends about it and can’t wait to start trying out your ideas and recipes.

  32. IJBM March 4, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Do you think I could use one of Dr. Bronner’s scented Castile varieties?

    • Lindsay March 4, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      Yes, but essential oils are not really recommended for your clothes as it break down the fiber.

  33. Julie March 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    An honest question for you… once you guys are overseas, what are you going to do about getting all these all natural products you like to use (like in deodorant, detergent, etc.)? Just wondering, because I’m not able to get lots of the ingredients these recipes call for (well, I could have them shipped for large amounts of $$$).

    • Julie H September 22, 2011 at 2:16 am #

      Julie, I understand your frustration.

      I too am overseas and cannot buy many of these natural ingredients either, but I think that it is great that Lindsay is doing what she can to live simply and use natural products with the resources she has in America and if God calls her overseas, I’m sure she will adjust and do her best with what she has there.

      Just because I can’t find a lot of natural products, doesn’t mean I don’t try to make do with what I have. I don’t know where you are or how primitive of an environment you are in, it may be truly impossible to get certain things, which is just part of life abroad.

      I live in China and after reading this blog I wanted to try to use more a natural and frugal laundry detergent, so I started researching. It turns out soap nuts are grown in China and I was able to order them online for a fraction of the price.

      One tip that has helped me find things in China is translating the scientific name. For example, translating “washing soda” could bring about a variety of results so try Sodium Carbonate or Na2CO3. Chinese are quite good at chemistry and this trick has helped me find everything from baking soda to borax (sodium borate decahydrate).

      I am not good at chemistry… so I use wolfram alpha to help me :-)


      I am still trying to find a local source for something similar to Dr. Bronner’s soap. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas about how to make it yourself?

      • Shelly January 25, 2012 at 8:33 am #

        Yes! There is actually a tutorial on youtube called how to make liquid castile soap from scratch that is super helpful.

      • Judy March 21, 2012 at 3:45 am #

        I just noticed your post and I’m in China, too. WHERE did you find borax? I’ve been trying for a year with no luck. Any help would be most appreciated.

  34. Anianna February 24, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    The salt+baking soda+vinegar mix is also good for cleaning drains. The salt acts as an abrasive with the baking soda/vinegar action. Just put equal parts salt and baking soda at the drain and then pour vinegar on it. We do this regularly in the kitchen sink to keep the drain clean and we have used it to clear slow drains in bathrooms, as well.

    I use the NaturOli soapnuts for my laundry. Perfumes irritate me and when I switched to non-perfumed detergents, our laundry stunk. I’m convinced that the soapnuts are far superior to grocery store detergents because it gets the source of the smells out instead of simply covering it up with perfume. I also love that my clothes come out soft without softeners, even when we dry them on the line. This stuff is fantastic.

    We do get a little static without dryer sheets using the soapnuts in the wash, but a bit of fabric with some olive oil on it seems to reduce most static on almost everything. A load of only fleece comes out a little zappy, but not nearly as much as without the olive oil. I’m told that wool dryer balls will work, but I haven’t had a chance to try those yet.

  35. Jamie February 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Have you done a review of Rockin’ Green detergent?

    • Lindsay February 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      I have never personally tried it.

      • Jamie March 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

        My friend posted your blog on Facebook, and I love it! I actually work for Rockin’ Green if you ever want to try out some samples, let me know. We would love for you to do review. :)

  36. Jennifer January 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Lindsay!

    I’ve been following your Passionate Homemaking site for close to two years, and I cannot thank you enough for all of your advice, tips, and stories! When I first started reading, my husband was in the middle of his master’s degree and I was working full-time. We didn’t have any children, since we wanted me to stay at home (which wasn’t an option at that point), and I loved reading through all of your articles and dreaming of the day when I could put a lot of your “Mommy advice” into practice.

    My husband graduated from his program this past April and we moved from Oregon to Washington where he is now a pastor or family ministries…we love it! And the Lord has blessed us even more, as we are now expecting our first child, due in June!! We just discovered that we are having a little girl, and we are thrilled!

    All this to say…living on a pastor’s salary and having me stay home means that budgeting is an absolutely “must.” Though it will be difficult at times, I am honestly very thankful because we will be forced to keep a more heavenly perpective on material things and what really matters. We’ve decided to use cloth diapers for our little one, both to save on the cost and because it seems to be better for the health of our baby. I had a quick question for you: I know that you often make your own laundry soap (I do too…such a money saver!), but do you still use Charlie’s Soap for your diapers? I want to make mine last as long as possible (we’re going with BumGenius 4.0 one-size pocket diapers…they’re supposed to have better elastic than the 3.0, but we’ll see. If not, I know you have a blog about how to repair them!). I’m just trying to figure out what is the BEST way to wash the diapers and keep them going strong! :-)

    I love how passionate you are about the phenomenal call of being a wife and mother…it has been a huge blessing to me! I think you are a year or two younger than I am (I just turned 26), which means we’re about the same age. I feel like our generation hasn’t had near the exposure to what true womanhood is (in comparison to generations past), and it’s so encouraging to read your blog and know that there are other young women out in the world who desire to worship Christ in their daily lives of wifehood and motherhood, and raise up children in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. So, thank you for being such a wonderful encouragement and witness to all of us who desire to follow Him this way!!

    Blessings on you, Aaron, Karis, Titus and your new little one!!


    • Lindsay January 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Dear Jennifer,
      Thanks for sharing! It’s a joy to hear from you and hear about your new blessing! How exciting! Yes, I still use Charlies Soap for my cloth diapers. I found that anything else causes them to start leaking, smell, or repel after a few washes. Never have this issue with Charlies. God bless!

  37. Jess December 21, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    I halved the recipe and made a half gallon. I love this stuff! I’m using Dr.Bronner’s almond soap, so it smells yummy but doesn’t really leave a smell on the clothing. I am going to buy Rockin Green detergent for my cloth diapers, but using this on my clothes will be perfect! Thanks for the recipe. I have tried many homemade detergents and this is the only one I like.

  38. Day December 18, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Recently, I stumbled upon your site and am enjoying reading your posts.

    I have made and used the Duggar family recipe for soap for almost two years. About six months ago some of my clothing starting smelling bad. After a little research the possible answer to this problem is the high content of polyester in some of our clothes. Polyester fibers are odoriferous and have to be treated so they won’t smell so bad. Supposedly, modern detergents take this into account and have additives that target this problem. Our little family tends to wear our clothing until they fall apart, so maybe families that have a higher clothing turnover would never experience this problem.

    Since I enjoyed the cost savings and the convenience of having materials on hand to make soap whenever I needed it (one vehicle), the search was on for a new recipe. I found one over at one of my favorite blogs: down—to—earth.blogspot.com. It is a dry recipe that has worked well for me for the past month or two, but is loaded with borax.

    I was intrigued by your post about the use of soap nuts. So I Googled for more info and found this at Wikipedia.

    “Most saponins, which readily dissolve in water, are poisonous to fish.[8]Therefore, in ethnobotany, saponins are primarily known for their use by indigenous people in obtaining aquatic food sources.”

    Are they tipping spears with this? Or just floating a few hundred on the surface of a pond, stream, etc? Gee…if we all start washing with this will fish start floating belly up downstream from our homes?

    I love the idea of something I could possibly grow in my own backyard and then use for washing, but I don’t want to do more harm than good.

    Another interesting side note according to Wikipedia, soapnuts are poisonous to cold blooded animals. Living in Oklahoma the land of poisonous snakes, I think I like this side effect. Just kidding (not) I know they serve their purpose. YIKES!

    I am very interested in any information that you or your readers have on this subject. Thank you very much!

    Blessings from the middle of the U.S.

    • Anianna February 24, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      You piqued my interest with your reference to the Wikipedia article on saponins and their use to poison fish. I checked out the articles referenced in the Wiki and the ones I have access to do not mention soy at all. The ones I don’t have access to don’t mention soy in the abstract. Regardless, that wasn’t enough for me.

      I am in school and currently have access to an extensive library of articles and peer reviewed materials. There are several articles regarding the use of plants to poison fish, including in the U.S. Midwest, and many of them refer to saponins, but not a one of them mentions soy. Several of these articles list the plants used by specific tribes and still soy is not included.

      I cannot definitively say that soy is not harmful to the environment, but I can find not evidence that it is.

    • Adica March 12, 2011 at 10:31 am #

      Since soap nuts/saponin are natural products, they fully biodegrades in the environment. So high concentrations would probably kill fish (or other cold-blooded animals), they’ll probably be fine with regular use because the bacteria, etc. will break them down until they’re not harmful any more. (Not so for unnatural harmful products!) :)

    • Kitty November 12, 2011 at 8:50 am #

      the saponins used to obtain fish as food are concentrated at the point of use, but dissipate rapidly and should not bother fish downstream. there’s much to much water in the streams and in the processing plant that clean out water before it goes into the waterways.

  39. Kevin November 14, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Can you use this homemade soap in high-efficiency washers? We’ve read a lot about HE soap and most sites say HE soaps are low-sudding, which this soap is – so we assume it will work. Any feedback – please email.
    Kevin (and the fam)

    • Jess December 6, 2010 at 10:40 am #

      I’m using this homemade soap in my HE washer. I use 1/4 cup per load and it works great!

  40. Susanna November 3, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks so much for the great information! Do you think the Soap Nuts would work on 100% cotton pre-folds? Or am I better off not using them at all for cloth diapers?

    • Lindsay November 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      Yes! They work great on prefolds. Just not on pockets.

      • Laura May 2, 2011 at 9:28 am #

        I know this is an old post, but I just got some Soap Nuts and a had a question with cloth diapers. Were the pockets that didn’t work made out of microfiber/polyester? I have all cotton prefolds, but a few microfiber inserts so I was wondering if that was where the problem is when Soap nuts didn’t work. If that’s the case, would the soap nuts cause problems for microfiber cleaning cloths also? I use these all the time for cleaning.

        • Lindsay May 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

          No, is was just the suedecloth/fleece that I had issues with using soap nuts. They worked fine on the microfiber inserts.

  41. Fletcher Prattis October 23, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    This is probably one of the better articles I have located on this subject. Have you considered the other side of the topic of natural health? Personally, I think a decent argument could be made either way, but let me know if you have any more articles or sources on the Web that back up what you are proposing.

  42. CP October 21, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    I used to use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for my laundry, but over time I had terrible buildup issues, causing smells and mildew problems on all my clothing. Soon after switching back to commercial laundry detergents, the buildup problems went away. I do not recommend using castile soap on clothes.

    Here are some recipes I plan to try:
    1 part ground bar soap and 1 part washing soda (or 2 parts baking soda) as a basic laundry detergent. (Basically the same as Charlie’s Soap)
    2 parts washing soda, 1 part salt, and 1 part ground bar soap as a detergent good for diapers.

    • leanne January 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      i just wanted to say that i use the castile soap with vinegar, and have had no build up problems at all… i use 1 part castile soap, 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar and that’s it!
      i don’t really get the salt thing…i see how it would soften the water. well, maybe i’ll add it to the mix and see.
      oh, ya..for the softener., i use a mixture of water, vinegar and baking soda.I put the baking soda and warm water in a BIG container (like 1 cup soda and 2 cups water) , mix them up well, and then SLOWLY add 1 cup of vinegar. this mixture will foam up a LOT at first, which is why u make it in a big container with a lid lol. works great
      gl with everything!
      happy 2011

  43. Cristin October 15, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Hi, I need your help. I’ve been attempting to make the homemade laundry detergent 3 times this week and can’t get it right. I have been making a half batch from what you put on here b/c I have a half gallon container. Once I put the baking soda and salt into the container I add 1/2 cup of soap and then water and all it does it bubble and separate so there are bubbles on top and water in the middle and then the undissolved bs on the bottom. I’ve let it sit and shook it up but it still comes out super watery into the washing machine.

    Do you have any idea what I could be doing wrong.


    • Lindsay October 17, 2010 at 6:27 am #

      Yes, this recipe does not gel up as you might expect. It is watery but still just as effective. Simply shake up before use.

    • Cheryl August 30, 2011 at 5:30 am #

      You have to warm the salt and soda with some water first – to disolve. Then add the soap and the rest of the water.
      See if that helps

  44. Charmaine October 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Hello! I want to thank you for the genuine inspiration that you have given me, to find purpose in my homemaking as well as trying your recipes. I have made this detergent recipe twice now, and the baking soda really does not dissolve. I just stir it up before putting it in the wash, but I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.

    • Lindsay October 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

      No, I should clarify that it doesn’t really dissolve completely. I always would shake it up as well.

  45. 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.

  46. 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!

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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,


  53. 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!

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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:)

  59. 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!

  60. 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.

  61. 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!

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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!

  66. 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.

  67. 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!

  68. 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!

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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

  72. 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.

  73. 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!

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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)

  77. 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.

  78. 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!

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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….

  84. 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.

  85. 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?

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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?

  89. 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!

  90. 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!

  91. 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!!!

  92. 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!

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. Angela Coffman May 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    How fun to find your blog! I’m having fun poking around. The salt ingredient in your laundry soap surprised me. It is a great degreaser, but it also sets stains. I use it in my dishwasher, but would be scared to use it on my clothes.

  96. jenn May 28, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Lindsay, do you use a vinegar rinse with the Charlie’s soap? Thank you!

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 8:58 am #

      No, I very rarely add vinegar to any of my washing. I find that Charlies works perfectly fine on its own. I would only add vinegar on occasion while using the homemade version.

  97. Emily May 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm #

    Did you purchase your soap nuts at a store or did you order yours online? I live in the general area of you and if I can pick them up in store I’d love to do that vs. ordering them online. Thanks!

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 8:58 am #

      I have yet to really look for them locally, and have only purchased them online. They are pretty new in the green circle, so thus I would imagine in the next while we will see them in local natural stores.

  98. Linda May 28, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    I’m so happy for this information. I couldn’t find washing soda and wasn’t sure I wanted to mess with making my own, your information gives me some choices. Thankyou for all your research.

  99. Lynnette May 28, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    I just tried making the Homemade Laundry Detergent. I warmed the soda, salt and 2 cups water for about 10 min. and they never “mostly dissolved”. There is a layer of soda on the bottom of the container after adding the rest of the water. Does that mean it’s best to stir each time before using or should I have taken longer to dissolve it? Also, congratulations on your new adorable son. You have a beautiful family.

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 8:59 am #

      Yes, when using baking soda it will not dissolve completely. I simply shake the gallon jar up before using.

  100. jessica May 28, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    question about the vinegar: I have often heard vinegar recommended as a natural fabric softener. On the contrary I have heard that it can dammage the rubber seals/belts on washing machines. Also one seller of cloth diapers said it would destroy the velcros on cloth diapers if used regularly. Does anyone know if there is legitimacy in these concerns??

  101. Rachel May 28, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    I think I would nhandle the soap nuts with some tweezers or tongs…hahhaa…I’ve never heard of soap nuts…these are so neat! The Good Lord thinks of everything doesn’t He?!

  102. Erin May 28, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Normally for my cloth diapers, I wash once in cold water, once in hot, then add a final rinse. Is this the same when using soap nuts? I read on the website they won’t last as long in hot water. I’m just curious if this is still how I would wash.

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 9:01 am #

      I have found that those washing instructions are for the purpose of really rinsing out the detergent so as to make sure no detergent remains on the diapers, causing issues. When using soap nuts, you are not dealing with a normal detergent. You can get away very well with a cold wash and then a hot wash. No need for the extra rinse. This method is working well for me.

      • Erin May 29, 2009 at 10:30 am #

        Thank you!

  103. Sarah Smith May 28, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    Lindsay- may I just say- thank you for your website! You are such a blessing to so many! Thank you for all of the research you do and for sharing your findings with us. May the Lord bless your efforts abundantly.

  104. Cindy May 28, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    Do you know what soap nuts are botanically related to? My son is severely allergic to all tree nuts and as well as juniper, maple, and birch pollen so far (and many other foods). We had to avoid local honey and maple syrup for a few years even though he shouldn’t have reacted to them. I have safely switched to Charlie’s for baby, diaper, and other parts of our laundry at this point watching for reaction to coconut. I love how little space it takes. Thanks.
    p.s. Do you boost with oxy-clean type stuff and if so how often?

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 9:02 am #

      No, I do not know what soap nuts are botanically related to. I would check out the links above and inquire there. I rarely use oxy clean in my laundry, only for pre-treating stains. I have not found it necessary.

      • Cindy May 30, 2009 at 10:50 am #

        I finally found it on Wikipedia–they are a member of the maple family. It also says they are NOT related to any edible (allergy-causing)nuts. We may just avoid them for now and try down the road. I don’t want to try too much too fast. Thanks.

  105. Susan May 27, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

    I know you have a lot of posts to respond to, but I wanted to know your thoughts about Dr. Bronners philosophy. After having Dr. Bronners in my home and liking it, one day we got to reading all that’s on the labels. We have Christ at the center of our hearts and home as it sounds like you do too, and we had a hard time thinking of buying their products again because of the whole “one god” concept (where we know there is only One living God) and other strange ideas on their bottles. If you’re comfortable sharing your thoughts, please do, I wish I didn’t have to feel like I was supporting their philosophy when I buy their good soaps.

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 9:14 am #

      Funny that you should ask. I just had another reader ask that very same question earlier this week. Here was my reply:
      I have read some of the comments on the Dr. Bronners containers. I have found that the majority of natural/green items available on the market are made by companies that are more New Agey (worshiping the earth and the like) in their belief system. It is unfortunate and I look forward to the day when more Christians will step forward and start companies that would seek to provide more natural solutions. Until then, I feel the most important thing for us as believers is to take the lead in being good stewards. I think it is a matter of conscience and a liberty issue. If your conscience leads you not to support this company, by all means, follow what the Lord is convicting you to do. You can always use another variety of castile liquid soap. I know Mountain Rose Herbs sells an excellent quality edition as well (as linked to above). I myself will be trying this brand in the near future, but then again, I do not know the philosophy of this company.

      • jessica May 29, 2009 at 11:22 am #

        I always think an important question to ask (to put things in perspective) is what are the other/ competitive companies supporting/promoting/funding??? It may not be a much better alternative. It’s not because they aren’t preaching a new age philosophy on their labels that they actually are “neutral” spiritually. There are concerns like human rights, advertising, investing, exploiting etc. And God never commands us to only buy from Christian merchants. (though if given a direct choice I would choose to support a brother/sister in business)

  106. Deadra May 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    I am a Charlie’s fan. I love it. But we do have the dreaded ammonia diaper. Do you get that? How have you stripped your diapers? Has changing laundry soaps often caused any issues for you?

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 9:05 am #

      When I first starting using Charlies, I found it took a few washes to really clean off all the detergent remains from my previous homemade recipe. I had some serious rash issues during this transition, but now we are using Charlies for diapers without any issues. I think this was somewhat of a stripping process. I have stripped them before with a tsp of dawn’s liquid soap (as recommended by Cotton Babies) and several hot washes if I was having persistent diaper issues, but now they are working fine. I don’t have any issues with ammonia smells.

  107. Cori May 27, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Hi! I stumbled on your blog looking up other homemaking-focused blogs. I’m very intrigued by these soap options and will try a couple myself. Thanks for reviewing them!

  108. Felicia May 27, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    Thank you for researching and writing about this. I just switched from a Trader Joe’s detergent to a Biokleen 3x concentrate. The price was more favorable and the scent preferred. I still seem to be in a loosing battle our whites – can’t seem to keep the family from stomping through the mud in white socks! I probably can’t blame the cleansers on that issue though. I’m not convinced that we should be overly concerned about the borax. Most chemicals (naturally occuring or man-made) will be toxic at the right concentration. I wouldn’t advise letting the kids drink castile soap from the bottle or consume a cup of baking soda! To put things in perspective we should also ask about the extraction and production process for all of these green products. Where are the soap nuts grown? Who harvests them? Are they paid a fair wage? Are pesticides and fertilizers used? Is the process sustainable if all of us used them? Regarding castile soaps the same questions apply with a few more. What has to happen to coconut to get it to the liquid soap form. Is this energy intensive? Does it require unsustainable amounts of water? Are other chemicals needed to extract the desired components of the coconut? The list can go on. Nevertheless, the more we can divorce ourselves from petroleum based products, the better for our health and that of the planet. Again, thank you for doing so much of the footwork and research! I’m so glad that we have options!

    • Lynnette May 28, 2009 at 11:48 am #

      Thank you for your thought provoking questions. In trying to be responsible there are a lot of things to consider.

  109. Ruth White May 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    Thanks for the post Lindsay.

    I was wondering what you do for cake frosting for Birthdays and so on.
    I thoght maybe you had a more naturel recipe then using all that whites suger!

    Thank-you and God Bless

  110. Sarah May 27, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    I just purchased a trial order of soap nuts and I am so excited to try them!! Thanks Lindsay for all of this research…so helpful! :)

  111. Meggan May 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    We’ve also been through the laundry soap merry-go-round. I’ve heard, although I can’t quote the source (maybe diaperswappers?) that Dr. Bronner’s shouldn’t be used on diapers because it will cause them to repel. I’ve never used Charlie’s soap, but have a sample to try. I have a huge bag of soap nuts I got through a co-op for something like $14.00- I use these on all regular clothes, but we developed stink issues with the diapers (we use bumgenius, fuzzibunz and prefolds). Every time I try to go back to the soap nuts with the CDs, the stink returns after about 3 weeks and I have to go through the entire boil water, soak over night, soak in vinegar, etc… So I’ve reverted to liquid tide for the CDs, which is the only thing I’ve found that keeps the stinkies away. I’ve also heard soap nuts can work in the dishwasher, but I haven’t tried it yet…

    • jessica May 28, 2009 at 11:10 am #

      I too, have a cloth diapering guide that explains the necessity of cleaning cloth diapers in a vinegar solution every so often to get rid of build-up from castille soap (either used for stain removing or as detergent). I live in france where castille soap is a lot more popular and apparently it is an issue, I personally didn’t notice it on my own diapers wich are just simple pre-folds.

      I find that for any natural detergent if there are “stink issues” it becomes necessary to wash on a hot cycle and I always use a natural whitener (sodium percarbonate,…not sure what it’s commonly called in english)

      I have used the soap nuts, and never heard that they could be reused…I like my clothes to smell nice though , so I do choose natural detergents with essential oils (don’t know if they damage fabiric, but i don’t use a dryer either)

      • suzanne May 29, 2009 at 4:43 pm #

        This is slightly off topic but: I recently moved to France (I’m American) and am having a hard time finding things like borax and washing soda (sodium carbonate…not sure what the difference is between that and sodium percarbonate, but I wouldn’t mind having that either). I made my laundry detergent in the states and was hoping to continue that here, or switch to soap nuts. Can you tell me where you find your natural cleaning stuff in France? Or could I perhaps email you about it?

  112. Jennifer May 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post!! Can you find soap nuts at the grocery stores or dept. stores?

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

      I do not believe so, although I have not done extensive searching. The online prices as linked to above are very reasonable even with the cost of shipping, I calculated that in when sharing about soap nuts.

  113. Colleen May 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    I saw you used these for your cloth diapers, so I assume your new laundry soap recipes are safe for washing all of baby’s things as well? Or do you modify anything?

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

      Yes, it is perfectly safe for cloth diapers and all baby items. Can’t get more natural than practically all edible ingredients!

  114. Bridgett May 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm #

    Thanks so much for these recipes. Funny enough my MNL just left today b4 I read this and we bought her two boxes of washing soda b/c she couldn’t find any in TN! I’m going to mail her a copy of these recipes to try. She’s not into natural, sometimes almost even against it lol, but she is sold on the $ saved!
    My husband is a mechanic and has lots of oils & grease on his clothes. I have to wash his clothes separately w/the borax laundry recipe or it’ll run onto my clothes (somehow not his though). I’m looking forward to trying some of these alternatives to wash our clothes together again. :)

  115. Staci May 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Love your blog! This post was very helpful. I recently switched my families laundry detergent to Charlie’s Soap, and I love it!!


  116. Jenney May 27, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    I will definately have to try soap nuts! Another thing on Charlie’s (yup, I love it) is that we don’t ever ever ever have to use fabric softener. Of course we didn’t use it on our diapers…but it works great for nice towels and everything too…another money saver not to buy softner or dryer sheets.

  117. Alison May 27, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Thanks for posting this! I’m going to look into the various options. I’ll be interested to know what your new dishwasher detergent will be!

  118. christen May 27, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    I’ve used Twave capsules for a couple of years now and they’ve worked great. I got them for $60, including shipping, and are supposed to last for 500-700 loads. Check them out here: http://twavetrio.com/

  119. Jill May 27, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    I had heard of soap nuts, but had forgotten about them until now! Thanks for sharing all the information.

    Do you know if it is better to buy organic soap nuts? I have no idea if there is a lot of pesticide/herbicide/chemical use in growing soap nuts…

    There is this great site, Bubble & Bee Organics (www.bubbleandbee.com) that sells organic soap nuts, among other products, (http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-104/Organic-Soap-Nuts/Detail). There is great customer service with her products!


    • Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 6:30 am #

      Dear Jill, I submitted your question to Chris @ NaturOli (the soap nut company) and here was his response:
      Virtually all soap nuts (particularly of the higher quality mukorossi variety are wild-crafted. They grow throughout the Himalayan foothills at relatively high elevations. The range is primarily from Southern China through Nepal and Northern India. Hence, the VAST majority are growing in lands virtually untouched by humans hands. Most of the land is not even private land.
      That said, being wild-crafted mukorossi trees don’t even have much of an opportunity to be treated even if one wanted to. Now the VERY interesting part: Insects don’t like saponin. It is actually used as a natural insecticide by many people. It repels insects as most common soaps do. Also interesting: Saponin is naturally anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. It reminds me a lot of the olive tree. They are extremely hardy and rarely get sick or even develop pest problems. The life span of a mukorossi tree is around 90 years! Again, very similar to olive trees. They are very prolific fruit producers for 80 out of those 90 years.

      So you see, not only do they grow in the wild, and thus not subject to various sprays and chemicals, but they also are not even needed as insects don’t like them!

  120. Courtney May 27, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    I recently started buying Ecos Free and Clear detergent for HE washers, at $10.09 for 100 loads. That’s $0.10 a load.
    Just curious where you are getting your prices?
    I love the detergent. It works VERY well and is completely natural.

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

      I received that price here. It is hard to get an exact price for any of these detergents because it depends upon your source, but I was trying to go with the average cost. I use to use Ecos myself as they sell it cheaply at costco, but then we had major rash issues on our cloth diapers as a result. I think it must be the built in soy fabric softener.

  121. Lisa May 27, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    I use ECOS free & clear and it’s $10ish for 100 loads where I get it.

  122. Annalea May 27, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    The secret to cleaning is pH. So, whether you use straight vinegar or a baking/washing soda solution for washing clothes, if you swing the pH of the water far enough away from the pH of the dirt/stains on your clothes, they come clean. I’ve washed cloth diapers with only vinegar in the wash, and they’ve come beautifully clean.

    I would personally leave the vinegar out of the detergent recipe, since it will neutralize the mixture’s alkalinity, really reducing the cleaning power. Vinegar really makes a great rinse, and it helps keep clothing clean. Shifting the pH to the acidic side helps keep stains from setting, and makes clothing easier to clean. (Try mopping your floors with vinegar and water one time, then use Murphy’s Oil Soap or soap and water the next. It’s amazing how much cleaner the floor looks a few days after mopping with vinegar.)

    Thanks so much for the great info!

  123. Alicia Johnson May 27, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    Thanks for sharing these recipes. I have been on the lookout for something like this for awhile, so this was perfect!

  124. Arlie May 27, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    So glad you have posted about soap nuts!!!

  125. Teresa May 27, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    What about the dishwasher? Any safe alternative recipes? Thanks!!

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

      Yes! The recipe is to come soon!

    • Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 6:25 am #

      I just posted my natural dishwasher detergent recipe here.

  126. Gillian May 27, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    Thank-you for such a well done review of several options!!

  127. Allyson May 27, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    We reviewed soap nuts sold by an Etsy shop awhile back. We’ve been using them ever since and love how well they clean our clothes. You can read our review HERE.

    We can’t wait for your giveaway! Thanks for all of the work you put in to keep us informed about natural and frugal options for everyday life.

    God Bless!

  128. Edwena May 27, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    You’ve caused me to read up a little on soapnuts. Just wondering if it’s true that you have to use them up in all one day. Do the four loads have to be done all in the same day? It sounded like from what I’ve read that it does or they’ll begin to mold. Do you have any experience with this? Thanks so much.

    • Lindsay May 29, 2009 at 9:07 am #

      I have not read that before nor have I had experience with that, but then again, I wash all my clothes in one day. Try a sample and see what happens!

    • Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 6:24 am #

      I submitted this question to Chris (the Founder of NaturOli, the soap nut company I recommend) and this was his response:
      No. You can use the same wash bag of soap nuts for an indefinite period of time as long as it is allowed dry between usage. If left in water (or kept wet somehow) for an extended period they most certainly would develop mold or other fungus. It’s a dried fruit and that would happen naturally. That’s all you need to remember. Once hydrated again, it will be just like any other fruit or vegetable.

  129. Nicole May 27, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    Hi Everyone-

    I have been following this website for just about a month now and am so excited to see all of the great tips and comments. As a new mom I’m rethinking many of my cleaning habits and one of those includes laundry detergents. I have one question that is probably silly but I haven’t been able to locate the answer yet. Do dryer sheets protect your clothes against static electricy? Anyone know what causes this and what can be done to prevent it(without the use of dryer sheets)?

    I look forward to hearing more one this subject.

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 8:33 am #

      Vinegar! Vinegar is a natural alternative to dryer sheets. I honestly never need them with any of these laundry methods!

      • Nicole May 27, 2009 at 8:44 am #


        Perfect, thank you for letting me know. I can’t wait to try these methods out.

      • Laura May 27, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

        You can buy dryer balls (I actually saw they at WalMart the other day) They look like little plastic porcupines. They bounce around in your dryer and get rid of static.

        • Christina Taylor May 27, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

          I stopped using dryer sheets when a fireman friend told me dryer fires were caused by the film they build up in the lint container. He said they would be out of a job if everyone stopped using them. You should wash your lint catcher with soap and water regularly if you use dryer sheets. I use a touch of vinegar in the rinse cycle with no problem.

          I also buy my 7th generation soap at Walgreens, it is 7.99 for 32 loads (50 HE loads). I usually get a $1-$2 coupon each time I buy a jug, so it ends up 5.99 – 6.99 for 50 loads.

        • Becky May 29, 2009 at 7:04 am #

          We use dryer balls and they are wonderful. Because of them, the only wash I add vinegar to is my diapers. Our dryer balls lasted 2 1/2 years before 1 of them fell apart. -it got a small crack in it and my 2 year old tore it open- One thing though, they don’t seem to take all the static out of synthetic materials. This has been to our advantage though, b/c it makes us pay better attention to the fibers we are wearing and has helped with exima(sp?) too. -my kiddos have my husbands sensitive skin-

          Thanks for the soap recipe. I’m going to give it a try when my Bio-Kleen runs out.

  130. Michele @ Frugal Granola May 27, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    This recipe sounds great! :) Thanks!

  131. Leah May 27, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    Have you heard of Shaklee products? I use there cleaning products…including laundry detergent and have been very happy with the results. It lasts a long time and is a pretty good deal. I recommend it.

  132. Angela May 27, 2009 at 7:49 am #

    Thanks! I have been wanting to start making my own laundry detergent, but this makes me more excited to try the soap nuts. I love that you have the review part with each one!

  133. Meg May 27, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    Are you using a top loading washer or a front loader? Would the soap nuts work for a front loader? With 11 people using our laundry facilities, we MUST have a front loader to ease the load on our septic system.

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 8:35 am #

      Soap nuts work effectively in both front or top loaders according to the corespondent that I talked to at NaturOli. I personally have a top loader. He recommended that you just make sure not to fill your loads to full, so that the nuts can get mixed well with the laundry.

  134. Katie Rose May 27, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    I use Charlie’s soap and love it! Clothes and sheets smell so clean and fresh.
    We haven’t had any skin reactions. I do wash my Greta’s new and new-to-us diapers and clothes a few times to get all of the chemicals out before she wears them generally.

  135. Jill May 27, 2009 at 6:34 am #

    Just to let you know, Amazon.com has the 5 gallon bucket of Charlie’s soap for $97.39 plus $4.25 for shipping. This would only cost about $.07 or $.08 per load. I love Charlie’s soap since I started using it a few months ago!

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 8:38 am #

      Actually, that is just the Charlies Soap all-purpose cleaner, which I understand is different from their laundry detergent as described on the Charlies Soap website. I checked myself previous to putting this post together.

  136. Mindy May 27, 2009 at 6:30 am #

    This is a great post! Would you wash cloth diapers in this way, too?

    • Lindsay May 27, 2009 at 8:39 am #

      Did I forget to mention that? Yes, I washed my cloth diapers in all three of these methods and they worked equally well.

  137. Kimberly May 27, 2009 at 6:16 am #

    Just an update about Borax…I just spoke with the Dial Corporation, makers of 20 Mules Team, and was informed that Borax contains NO Boric Acid, however, if you mix it with an acid (I do not use any acid in my house, then it becomes Boric Acid. I told her my ratios of Borax in my laundry detergent and she said that was a very safe limit and to thoroughly rinse when using it with dishes. She, of course, recommended that it be stored out of reach of pets and children, which I do prior to her request. Even though I will continue to use Borax, I think I will try the Soap Nuts also!!! Thank you for all of your knowledge.

  138. Rosemary May 27, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    Wow, I had never heard of soap nuts before. Thanks for letting us know about them.

    Right now, our family uses Charlie’s Soap for washing our clothes. We purchase it at our local Whole Foods Market and it is somewhat cheaper there than purchasing it online. Charlie’s Soap is great! A little secret: I use Charlie’s Soap in my steam cleaner. Just dissolve one scoop in a large bowl of hot water. Put the liquid in the soap dispenser of your steam cleaner- voila- an instant and very safe steam cleaner solution! It does a great job. I’ve been using it for over a year now and it does a better job than the chemical ladden cleaners made specifically for steam cleaners.

  139. Kelly May 27, 2009 at 4:35 am #

    I have been using Charlie’s Soap for a while now and love it. I know some people say that it can cause rashes, and admittedly my daughter does get some pretty bad rashes, but I am pretty sure they are more diet related than a result of the detergent, as she doesn’t always have them. I love how clean my cloth diapers come and my clothes are always clean and fresh and don’t have any perfumey smell that I sometimes find even with “free and clear” or :dye and perfume free” detergents.

  140. Mary Ann May 27, 2009 at 4:31 am #

    Thanks for this! I’ve been wanting to make my own detergent and haven’t been able to find washing soda anywhere around here. I’m planning to try the first recipe you listed since I have all those ingredients on hand. Imagine that!

    I’m also very interested in the soap nuts!

  141. Shannon Hazleton May 27, 2009 at 4:09 am #

    I just followed the link and saw that you can purchase a sample of soap nuts (5 loads) for $2.19. So if anyone is already making an order from Amazon, you can order these too without paying more in shipping than you’d be paying for your purchase! :)

  142. Shannon Hazleton May 27, 2009 at 4:04 am #

    Wow, I’ve never heard of soap nuts but they look like fun; I want to try them. Thanks again, Lindsay for all the research. Bless you!
    Shannon in Texas

  143. Kathleen May 27, 2009 at 3:54 am #

    I just wanted to leave a comment regarding those who have had issues with Charlie’s soap. The instructions for Charlie’s soap actually state that washing your clothing that was previously washed in normal or other detergents will cause those chemicals to come out on the surface of your clothing and that you may initially need to wash things two to three times to remove all of the harsh chemicals. We did this and have had no issue since and we also use it on our cloth diapers and have had great success!
    Just thought that bit was worth mentioning. Have a wonderful day.

  144. Kate May 27, 2009 at 3:02 am #

    I recently switched back to powder tide, because I was using the 2x concentrate, and didn’t feel like it was cleaning our clothes. After switching back, i’ve noticed a huge difference, our clothes are clean! I have ultra-sensitive skin and have never had a problem w/Tide. Now if I’d use a cheap alternative, I have problems.