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Charlie's Soap

203 N First Avenue PO Box 69
Mayodan, NC 27027

I tested three Charlie's Soap products: Laundry Powder, Laundry Liquid, and All-Purpose Cleaner. Their names are perfect descriptions of what they are. The laundry powder I received came inside a plastic bag that was inside a cotton canvas bag with a drawstring. There was a 1-Tablespoon measuring spoon inside the bag. The Laundry Liquid came in a small bottle with a small lid and no means of measuring the soap. The All-Purpose cleaner came in a spray bottle.

For your first use of the laundry powder or liquid, the company recommends using a double amount of Charlie's Soap in a large empty load (or maybe with a few old rags) to cleanse the washer of chemical deposits. After that, it still may take a few washes to see the full benefit. The All-Purpose Cleaner is very concentrated and should be diluted for many applications. According to the company, Charlie's Soap "cleans everything from false teeth to diesel engines." All three products are non-toxic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and all natural. When I was testing the products, I was testing them with the standard uses. But I noticed on the website that the all-purpose cleaner was tested by an independent lab as a stain pre-treatment, which had not occurred to me to try. There are many additional tips and uses if you spend some time navigating the PDF files and information on the website. Overall, any family who is environmentally conscious, looking for a quality soap, or concerned about chemicals in their clothes for any reason could benefit from Charlie's Soap. While the powder does come with a scoop to measure, the liquid does not, so the user will need to provide a measuring tool.

I have skin allergies to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and all the derivatives. I also believe that children should use real tools to complete real tasks. As a result of these two constraints, I am always on the lookout for natural cleansers that actually work and won't poison my children as they use them. I was hopeful that Charlie's Soap would be as good as the claims on the website, and I was not disappointed. In fact, Charlie's Soap far exceeded my expectations several times. My son attended a co-op science lesson after being warned to wear clothes that I didn't mind if he ruined. He came home spattered in slimy, sticky, slippery, and colorful science experiments. I didn't believe the clothes were salvageable. I tossed them in the washer with Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder without any pretreatment of any kind. I was shocked to find them completely clean and stain free when they came out of the washer. A few weeks later, my daughter had a blowout on the first leg of our weeklong road trip. I put the clothes in the dirty clothes without treating them (since I had no means of treating them in the car). When I got home, I threw them in the washer with Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder, and they were almost completely clean when they came out of the washer. I used my regular stain routine and rewashed. The clothes were completely clean following that wash. My regular laundry soap probably would have required several treatments and then washings to come clean. After I read that the All-Purpose Cleaner could be used as a stain pretreatment, I tried that in conjunction with Charlie's Laundry Powder on a white dress my daughter had drooled carrot juice all over. As with my other tough stains, this garment too came out white and clean. As I continued to use the Laundry Powder, I noticed that I rarely needed to rewash anything due to stains or grease spots not coming out. I also used far less of my standard stain treatment routine (the diaper blowout was the only item I remember treating)!

Not only did the Laundry Powder to a fantastic job addressing stains and cleaning the clothes, but it also does an excellent job of removing odors, especially in synthetic fabrics that tend to hold the smell. The odors are not covered up by chemical smells, but truly removed, leaving the laundry fresh and clean smelling. Over the course of my testing, I had the opportunity to wash several sets of bedding from night accidents. Not only did the sheets fresh smell, but the waterproof pad that was underneath them did as well. I'd had a hard time getting the ammonia smell out of that pad, and Charlie's Soap did it in one washing. I also used Charlie's Laundry Liquid to wash a load of diapers that I was about to use with my daughter. These had been cleaned after the previous child used them, but they still had some of that notorious diaper smell that many attribute to soap build-up. I ran a full hot load with the recommended amount of Charlie's Soap, followed by a second rinse. The diapers smelled clean, but the rinse water had quite a few bubbles in it, so I knew that the old soap was still present. I washed again with Charlie's Soap, and the load came out fresh and clean. A stinky diaper problem was averted! Even now after the baby wets, the diapers don't have that ammonia stinky diaper smell.

What about static and stiffness? Many people use dryer sheets or fabric softener in their laundry. I just deal with the static in my dryer. After washing with Charlie's Soap, I found my clothes from the dryer lacked static unless the load had been restarted too many times. I also noticed that the clothes I hung dry did not become stiff as a board. In this case, Charlie's Soap lived up to its claim to leave my clothes softer.

I found the powder to be more user-friendly than the liquid because it came with a scoop whereas the liquid required a separate measuring tool from my kitchen. I did not notice any difference in performance between the two. The footprint of the powder on my dryer was about the same as that of the liquid; however, the powder washes about 80 loads whereas the small liquid size only washes 18. Therefore, given the choice, I found myself reaching for the powder more often than the liquid.

When I first began testing the All-Purpose Cleaner, I had not seen the PDF file available on the website regarding diluting it, so I used the cleaner directly from the spray bottle without diluting. Overall, I was pleased. I even used it to wash my hands a few times after reading the suggestion on the bottle. It felt much like the all-natural hand-made soap I love. My children used the All-Purpose Cleaner to clean crayon and marker off the walls; it removed the stains but left the paint intact. The All-Purpose Cleaner also works great on countertops when wiping them down with water isn't enough to get the grime off. One spray cut through the dried flour and cleaned the counters better than my normal commercial non-toxic spray. I also used the All-Purpose Cleaner on a diaper leak stain on my carpet right after I changed the baby. I followed the directions on the back of the spray bottle. With very little scrubbing, the stain lifted, leaving my carpet completely clean. The one thing the full-strength cleaner did not do well was wash mirrors, but this could have been user error. When my son washed the mirrors, they were noticeably cloudy and streaked. He usually leaves some streaks with just about anything he uses, but this was more than normal. Later, I found the recommendation on the website to use a very diluted amount of the cleaner to clean mirrors.

Charlie's Soap is competitive price-wise with other all-natural commercial cleaners, although it is more expensive than some of the more commonly used chemical cleaners and detergents. However, I think that it out-performs both overall. The biggest cons I noted with Charlie's Soap are that it is hard to find locally, you must consult the website for most of the information on how to use it, the liquid laundry soap does not have a built-in measuring lid like other laundry liquids, and you must close the powder bag properly because it does not contain any anti-caking agents and will clump if moisture gets inside. These negatives are more inconvenient than anything and don't detract from the quality of the product itself. I think I've finally found an all-natural, quality cleaner that actually works and does not cost a fortune. I look forward to using more Charlie's Soap in the future and definitely recommend these products.

Product review by Marisa Corless, MH, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April 2010

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