Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

A Disappointed Update on Charlie’s Soap and Butylcelosolv (or Butoxyethanol)

March 22nd, 2011 · 104 Comments · Cleaning

I do not like when the wool is pulled over my eyes.

I really don’t like being lied to or feeling like someone kind of sort of told a lie, but tried to make it look honorable.

And when I share that untruth or half-truth with the world before finding out that I’m wrong, too? Then I start smoking from the top of my head.

charlie's soap and butylcelosolv butoxyethanolI was feeling that way last week when an astute reader did what I should have when I reviewed Charlie’s Soap last year. I was even questioned at the time because instead of doing thorough research into butylcelosolv, the active ingredient the company told me was in their all-purpose cleaner, I accepted their explanation of its safety. I still didn’t look into it further. Big mistake.

Luckily, a reader named Michelle popped in with a new comment and some much better Google searches. She shared the following:

I found this when I googled “charlies soap ingredients”
http://www.charliesoap.com/pdf/Charlie%27s%20Soap%20All%20Purpose%20MSDS.pdf [The document is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that the federal government requires for all chemicals. It lists one of two active ingredients as "2-BUTOXYETHANOL".]

I have yet to find any blog or lettter from the president stating anything about that ingredient.

I love their soap, but after reading this I no longer trust Charlie Soap.

Now I Finally Research

A year too late, here are my findings on this new name, since the one given me by the company was very difficult to Google search for:

Their active ingredient that they called butylcelosolv is Czech for 2-Butoxyethanol acetate, also known as Butyl Cellosolve. According to the Skin Deep Database, which rates it a 6 (moderate hazard), butoxyethanol has ties to cancer, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and more. (source) It’s used in hundreds of cleaning products, even as an oil spill dispersant, and “provides cleaning power and the characteristic odor of Windex and other glass cleaners. It is the main ingredient of many home, commercial and industrial cleaning solutions.” (source) It may not be a major environmental contaminant, but it certainly doesn’t sound safe!

Here’s a must-read from the Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project:

2-Butoxy Ethanol is one of the most toxic of the glycol ethers.

You should use products containing butoxyethanol with extreme care. It is a poison that can easily absorb through your skin to harm you. When working with it, always wear gloves and goggles and be sure the you have enough ventilation.

Check out that site for more scary stuff. The Australian Government also seems skeptical about butoxyethanol, recommending quite a number of labeling requirements for it.

The New Jersey Department of Health prepared this helpful hazardous substance fact sheet, including:

2-Butoxy Ethanol may be a CARCINOGEN in humans.
There may be no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen, so
all contact should be reduced to the lowest possible level.

What do You Think? Can We Trust Charlie’s Soap?

I’m glad I didn’t use this stuff often or for long. It should be labeled as toxic AND disclose the active ingredient on the packaging, as well as make it very, very clear that the spray bottle is a concentrate!

I’m very upset that I feel like the company was not straightforward in their claims, and the company tagline “safe, non-toxic, biodegradable soap” seems like an awful stretch after reading all this.

I am not yet sure what is in their laundry soap, which so many people trust and love for cloth diapers in particular. When I mentioned the updates to the old post last week on Facebook and Twitter, people were quick to ask about the laundry soap. UPDATE: Readers in the comments inquired, “What do we use for laundry then?” My personal recommendation, which I tested at the same time as Charlie’s and liked it better then, too, is soap nuts. They are truly natural, hands down. Here’s my soap nuts review and where I purchase mine.

My thinking? If a company fibs their way through one product and uses Czech so it’s harder to research the active ingredient, I simply can’t trust anything they make. What do you think?

A Response from the Company

Without any contact from me to him, I received an email from the president of the company a week or so after I publicized the update to the original post:

“I’m really sorry you had the issue with the biodegradable solvent.  You might like our new Kitchen & Bath cleaner, though.  That’s coming out tomorrow.  We cut the amount of solvent in half and made it ready for spray-on/wipe-off application for daily use.  With less of the solvent, it’s even that much safer and biodegradable, and better still, it doesn’t smell as much like a cleaner.”

Did he miss the point entirely? I’m pretty sure I’m pointedly upset about the ingredient itself, period, being used, not the quantity in which it’s measured out.

SafER is not what I’m looking for. Give me SAFE.

I think I’m sticking with my vinegar.

What do you think? Should I respond to the president of the company? Has anyone discovered anything about the laundry soap?

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate with NaturOli soap nuts, for good reason. I like to work with companies that make good products. I’m so glad Charlie’s Soap never ended up advertising with me; I’d feel even worse about all this! See my full disclosure statement here.

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104 Comments so far ↓

  • Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    That’s just horrible! I can’t believe they would be allowed to list the ingredient in another language. What the heck? And, you’re right – that response was clearly just to avoid commenting on what you found.

    I would be steaming too! :(

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jenna

    Ughhh… very disappointed. I JUST ordered two containers of CS… I just started using cloth diapers and was ready to start tomorrow after I received my shipment. My heart sank after reading your post. I will follow this and see what others say. For me, I’d say its out.

    [Reply to this comment]

    cathy Reply:

    Jenna:
    You may want to refuse the delivery and call the company to explain your actions… Also something to look into is… if purchased with a Mastercard or Visa, these two cards have insurance for your purchases that many people are not aware of. Depending on the card you may have insurance that provides price matching, coverage for loss, or costs to return product due to false claims/ advertising by the company. It may be worth the hassle of calling your credit card’s service department and sitting through a couple of transfers until you get to someone who can review the insurance policies with you and let you know if you are entitled to a refund or stop payment. Good luck!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Krista

    whoa….I had my suspicion about their all-purpose cleaner, but never got around to investigating it. Everytime I used their cleaner, I would hack and cough…the ‘cleaner’ smell stung my nose everytime. But did I do anything about it? No, I actually trusted what they were saying about their products being safe and natural! Ugh. Thankfully, I haven’t used it too much during this pregnancy (I’ve used just in the kitchen, because it cleans off the food-caked counters so well!), but now I’m really second guessing whether I should hold on to the TWO gallons I have still. I’m interested to hear about their laundry soap, because I really like their soap and was really looking forward to using is for our cloth diapers when baby comes. This makes me mad!! Thanks for posting this!

    [Reply to this comment]

    KristinaD Reply:

    I had the same problem with their cleaner!! I stopped using it. I also found out I am allergic to corn so I thought it was corn-y. When I stopped using their cleaner, I stopped using their soap and switched to soap nuts.

    When I did cloth diapers I used it and had NO problems with my very sensitive children. That was a few years ago, so take it with a grain of salt. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Georgia

    i only use vinegar anymore, and sprinkle some baking soda if needed. works wonderfully!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Esra Reply:

    I add some soap nut consentrate that i make to my vinegar. Works awesome. I make the consentrate and freeze them in ice cubes like i boiled 5 soapnuts and made 13-14 ice cubes of solution. I use half bottle of water so i can get throug quick before soap nut liquid goes bad, 1 cube frozen soap nut liquid and couple table spoons of vinegar. It works for granit , stainless steel, oven for almost everything . Strongly suggest :) I smile when i see bublles in the bottle each time.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Esra,
    I love soap nuts but haven’t yet made my own concentrate. That’s awesome! This is my source: http://store.naturoli.com/home.php?cat=285&partner=kitchenstew (affiliate link). They have some already made liquids with preservatives so you don’t have to do the whole freezing thing, too. Thanks! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Teresa Reply:

    Katie,
    Have you tried the shampoo and personal care items? I was wondering how these work?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Teresa,
    I have the shampoo bar that I bought before the liquid version came out. I don’t use it often because I do the “no ‘poo” thing most of the time, but it did work. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sort of anise scent they had going on. From what I hear, the liquid is awesome. I have pined for some of the personal care items, but just haven’t been in need yet. Hope that helps! I’d watch for some of their sales or free trial size dealies for a good chance to test something out – I try to mention those on the blog when they pop into my email. ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Teresa Reply:

    Thank You Katie! Now help me out here, “no poo” as in no shampoo right? how do you wash your hair? hope this does’t sound like a dumb question.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Teresa,
    My no-shampoo post is right here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/11/11/how-to-wash-your-hair-without-shampoo/
    Not a dumb Q at all! Someone just asked me in person tonight, while staring at my hair. ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Natalie

    I, generally, only use vinegar or homemade all-purpose cleaning products. I would, therefore, be very interested in finding out more about the laundry detergent. I currently live in Germany where I have very hard water – so, I use Rockin’ Green – Hard Rock detergent with great success. But, I have many friends who use Charlie’s Soap as their detergent and this review concerns me.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • hobby baker

    The fact that they are watching and listening is a good thing. When the consumer voice has enough impact to make a change, it’s a good thing, even if it is not all the way, it is in the direction we want. Look at how many food manufacturers have finally gotten the hint and removed high fructose corn syrup from their products. Despite the corn industry’s heavy advertising and underhanded relabeling ideas. So in your case, the President Of the Company! stood up and took notice. I would say a letter to the effect of, wow, thanks for paying attention to your consumers. You haven’t gone far enough away from the ingredient for my liking but I appreciate the attempt. If you ever ditch it entirely I will wholeheartedly consider your product again… blah blah blah. Nice letters work better. I write lots of letters especially to companies that have made a leap in the right direction. And I usually receive grateful replies for the feedback. It may take years for the results to trickle around, but it feels pretty good when it finally does. And yes, I like my baking soda and vinegar for now. ☺

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Esther

    Wow… I am using their laundry soap and want to switch, now. But what do you recommend for hard water and fluff??? :(
    That is so sad and takes all trust away!!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Esther,
    I do have hard water, and soap nuts work great for me. I’m not sure what your fluff is though! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    sara Reply:

    Fluff usually means cloth diapers :)
    Ester-if that is what you mean, what kind of diapers do you have? I make my own laundry detergent and used it fine with my flats, pre-folds, and Thirsties covers.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Alysha C Reply:

    I used to use Allen’s Naturally for my fluff but now I use Rockin Green, which i LOVE!

    Here is the link to the ingredients: http://rockingreensoap.3dcartstores.com/FAQ_ep_42-1.html#f5

    [Reply to this comment]

    Esther Reply:

    Yes, thats what I mean lol. I have BGs, BBs and a bunch of fitteds I made from bamboo velour and cotton hemp fleece for under wool covers. I thought the home made doesn’t rinse clean? But then, I heard CS leaves residue as well… ?How often did you strip, if at all?

    [Reply to this comment]

    sara Reply:

    I never stripped my diapers, but flats and prefolds are as simple as you can get, and they’re very easy to care for :) I don’t know if homemade would work with your diapers, since they’re made from different materials (flats and prefolds are just plain cotton).

    [Reply to this comment]

    Alysha C Reply:

    I used to strip my diapers every 2-3 months but now that I’m using the Rockin Green I’ve not had to strip at all.

    [Reply to this comment]

    christina Reply:

    Friend of mine does her cloth diapers with soap nuts. They come out clean.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cristy

    Here is a blog post I found that lists the ingredients in the laundry soap.
    http://consciousshopper.blogspot.com/2010/01/more-on-my-charlies-soap-internal.html

    It is from a letter written to her by Charlie’s Soap trying to justify the safeness of the ingredients.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Diana

    I’d definitely respond, honestly and politely. (Speaking the truth in love, ya know ;)) Not sure exactly what I’d say though. Good luck with it!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Brooke

    I only have used Charlies soap twice, and so I have a bag sitting on the laundry shelf never being used because after I received it I was bothered by the fact that I wasted a HUGE amount of water in my top loader to “clean” it out, and then washed items only to have them come out with the problems they went in with. Any garment washed 10 times is probably going to have less stains etc than a garment washed only once, so I am not sure I buy that whole keep washing it line. Also, it disturbed me that they used it to clean up oil from the floor of the factory and on the machines. and when the line from the company is “It cleans everything from false teeth to diesel engines.” I don’t know I have been skeptical of CS since before I purchased it, but wanted to believe in it, however, I never have been convinced, and your research, and information only further confirm my previous concerns.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • KJ

    I went to the charliesoap.com site since I use these products too! I discovered they have downloadable (.pdf) data sheets for the products — (click on “Products” and then the link for “data sheets” under each product). The all-purpose cleaner DOES show a hazardous ingredient of 2-BUTOXYETHANOL at less than 4%. The data sheets for both the powder and liquid laundry soaps do NOT list any hazardous ingredients. Hope this helps!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Milehimama

    Is Charlie’s Soap manufactured in the Czech Republic? If not, then listing the ingredient in a foreign language so it’s hard for consumers to search for it is shady and unethical, IMO.

    And this is why I am SO skeptical of other “natural” cleansers, like Shaklee, that make finding out the ingredients SO hard. A lot of “green, natural” cleaning products contain the exact chemicals most are trying to avoid. They are charging a premium for being “natural” when they aren’t- in my mind, that borders on fraud!

    BTW- I thought ammonia was the characteristic smell of windex?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Not sure on the manufacturing country. I know Windex usually does have ammonia, but this smell from the Charlie’s Soap is seriously strong. Maybe Windex uses it in smaller amounts. I don’t know, but I just Googled it with “windex” quickly and even without clicking on links I saw 3-5 sites that listed it in windex. ??? Tangled webs…
    Katie

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    Mrs. Graham Gardens Reply:

    Milehimama,

    We should all be very skeptical of “natural” products and their ingredient listings.

    There are so many ways to “hide” questionable ingredients, or create “natural” workarounds that sound better but still contain the same questionable components, or simply not divulge *all* the ingredients . . .

    I have a healthy skepticism of any natural product from a larger company that moves to the forefront of general good opinion. Particularly in the area of detergents. If a “natural” cleanser seems “to good to be true” than it probably is.

    Frankly, the “bad” components work beautifully at removing stains/cleansing/overall great performance. That’s why companies use them.

    There’s my 2 cents.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sarah @ Mum In Bloom

    Oh, I just ordered more laundry soap today and just checked my liquid Charlie’s Soap Laundry bottle but there’s no ingredients listed. I don’t know what to do now :( I think I’ll cancel the order & replace it with BioKleen instead.

    Here’s what listed as the BioKleen ingredients…
    INGREDIENTS: Surfactants and Conditioners from Coconut and/or Corn, Orange Peel Extract, Grapefruit Seed and Pulp Extract, Linear Sulfonate, Enzymes, Filtered Water.

    BioKleen Sounds much safer to me. I order from Azure Standard.

    Thank you for your honesty and hard work with this. We appreciate you letting us know :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Sarah,
    I like a lot of Biokleen stuff too, but their dishwasher detergent, my ultimate favorite, just stopped working for me. I am looking into it…but my working theory does not look positive for the company’s ethics, either. I can’t even BELIEVE it. I will keep you updated as soon as I hear back on my emails to the company!
    Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Cristy Reply:

    I bought Biokleen dishwasher soap based on your glowing review. I was so excited to use it but was quickly disappointed. It left white powder on all of our dishes, no matter how little I used. It didn’t clean any food off of the dishes (and we rinse big stuff off beforehand) and it started building up on all the stainless steel sides of our dishwasher. My husband made me promise to never buy it again. :)
    Cristy

    [Reply to this comment]

    Alysha C Reply:

    I now use Melaleuca products but when I used to use BioKleen’s dishwasher detergent I would put it in the cup with some water. It would disolve and work much better.

    Hope that helps!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Cristy,
    I must know – when did you buy your Biokleen? I have a theory that they may have changed their formula, because I’m telling you, it was when we opened a new tub bought last fall that all heck broke loose in our DW. Thank you! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Cristy Reply:

    It was just before Thanksgiving last year. I remember because we had a house full of guests and I only had the Biokleen to use in the DW. Bad mistake.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kate from Kinda Crunchy Kate blog Reply:

    I also bought BioKleen based on your reviews, although one of my friends just bought a bottle (based on my recommendation) and didn’t like it at all. I’ll be interested to see what you discover!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kate,
    So it was okay for you, say, before last fall, and now it’s not going well? Hmph. Thank you! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    does anyone use ecover?? we have used them for years for our dishwasher and dish soap and i am in love with them (we buy it through frontier). i know they are a european company that has been around for a while. i hate to say it, but i kind of trust the europeans a little more than the american businesses with this stuff…. although i will admit i never did really extensive research on the ingredients in there products, so who knows??? i almost would rather be in the dark.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Esther Reply:

    I am from Europe and have to admit I never had any issues with clean as I do here in the states. Phosphates are a no go there because of the environment and charlie’s told me to use their phosphate hard water booster because the detergent did not get my clothes clean saying their chemists have no evidence that it is enviromentally damaging. I am not a chemist but if a whole country bans it I assume they do it for a reason?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Esther, I feel that way, too! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    A lot of people on my dishwasher posts don’t like Ecover, so I never tried it. ??? :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Natalie Reply:

    Just jumping in here: I love the Ecover dishwashing tablets. They work wonderfully! The powder for some reason, did not work well for me though..? I love Ecover’s hand dishwashing soap as well.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • sara

    A great homemade option is orange cleaner! I started making it, after reading about it on Penniless Parenting-
    http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2010/11/homemade-orange-cleaner.html
    All’s you need is orange peels, vinegar, and water!

    I no longer buy any pre-made cleaners. For me it’s just cheaper to make my own-and it’s keeping all those weird chemicals out of my house!

    [Reply to this comment]

    sara Reply:

    oops-need to clarify-I make all my cleaners EXCEPT dishwasher detergent and dish soap. Those two are ones that I’ve tried unsuccessfully to make myself, so I use Costco’s brands of these for now.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • shannon

    I have become jaded Katie in that, I’m not even surprised they would call it natural and tell you the name in Czech. Isn’t that awful? I miss the naive me, the one who thinks the best of people and companies….

    I use Charlies Soap for cloth diapers and have wondered aloud a few times about what is in it. I think I’m ready for a change.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Alysha C Reply:

    Try Rockin Green for cloth. Here is a link to their ingredients: http://rockingreensoap.3dcartstores.com/FAQ_ep_42-1.html#f5

    [Reply to this comment]

  • BoulderMom

    I have had similar run-in’s with the owner of Charlie’s Soap. After doing tons of research for its use with cloth diapers, I have been in touch with him a few times. Disappointing interactions each time. I’m so sorry you had this experience, but a little relieved I’m not the only one with red flags going up! :|

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    Shared on FB, both personal and business. I don’t use it, haven’t tried it, and now won’t. I also love soap nuts and use baking soda or vinegar for most other things. I don’t feel the need to try all these “natural” products out there because I suspect, honestly, that almost ALL of them fall into this category. Potentially a bit “safer” but really, not that safe. Unless I recognize and can pronounce ALL the ingredients, I don’t buy it. Shampoo has this issue too, even the “natural” ones contain SLES. Good thing I went ‘no poo. :)

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised. I hope everyone sees this.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Esther Reply:

    I use chagrinvalleysoap with baking soda n vinegar as poo. Have you heard of them? As far as I know they’re all natural and their squalane (face/eye mousse) has done wonders for me…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Teresa Reply:

    what do you use for shampoo? I am curious!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama Reply:

    I use baking soda + water, and add some lemon or grapefruit essential oil to it. The EO was really critical for me to have success with it (I tend towards oily hair and I’m pregnant too). I’ve been doing this for…six months? And I really like it.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Elizabeth

    when i started cloth diapering two years ago, i came across charlie’s soap constantly as a recommended option for cleaning diapers. i did a little digging around on it, but not much….what i heard were a lot of moms complaining that their kids had bad skin reactions to it. while others sang its praises, i still felt that hearing about the bad reactions was enough of a reason to bypass it as an option in my house. since then i’ve been part of co-ops that have bought it in bulk and i have to admit i have been tempted once or twice. but now i am so glad i listened to my gut and never decided to try it!! although, i have to say, i still have never found a chemical-free laundry soap that i am happy with. i’ve used the make-your-own recipes and soap nuts without much success. isn’t there SOMETHING out there that is truly natural and works well???

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sarah Reply:

    Elizabeth-
    I first bought soap nuts after I wasn’t that impressed with Rockin’ Green. I started using them for my cloth diapers and now use them for all my laundry. We LOVE them. Easy to travel with, and all natural (they are berries, after all!). You should definitely look into them if you are really wanting a chemical-free laundry solution. Good luck!

    I also get mine where Katie recommends them:
    http://www.naturoli.com/

    [Reply to this comment]

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Sarah–Thank you so much for the recommendation. I actually have a HUGE bag of the Naturoli soap nuts that I have tried and tried to use-without success. I even tried boiling them in water and using the concentrated solution. They seem to work fine for a week or so. But its always after using them for a week that I start to see issues. I’m thinking it must have something to do with the hardness of our water. I know they work better if you use them in warm water instead of cold, which I always tried to do. Do you mind sharing what your routine is??

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    We have pretty hard water too. If I’m washing in cold, I soak in hot water in a cup for at least 3 minutes first. I use 5 nuts in the bag, and I toss them if I run them under water, squeezing, and don’t get suds. Usually goes 6-7 washes, I’m guessing, in cold water mostly. Are you saying one bag of nuts doesn’t work after a week or soap nuts in general, even fresh ones, stop working? :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    John Reply:

    Here is a link to some thing that is natural. I have used this website more to find out about other products though. I like how they break down the items that are in other products and why they are bad for you. It is hard to find any thing natural with out SLS or SLES in it. I have not tried this myself but do like the information listed about what is bad and the reason why. They do not list what is in their product as at the moment they do not want others copying it which I find hard for a company to do since they talk about other products and how certain items do not have to even be listed on the label.

    http://products.mercola.com/laundry-detergent/

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jill

    All I can say is that I am so glad that I/We went to Vinegar and Baking Soda for cleaning over 6 years ago and love it. I have never used this product and now am glad. Thanks for the heads up

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Annie

    Before I began using cloth diapers I researched a lot of detergents and after reading about how many babies were getting “chemical burns” from Charlie’s Soap I decided to steer clear. We use Country Save for our CD stash and it has been great! Plus its the least expensive that I could find. Amazon sells it in bulk and you can get 15% off by making regular orders.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    I’ve had similar run-arounds but in other arenas. I called Magic Bullet and asked if they had BPA in their container and got a complete NO ANSWER.
    No matter how I worded the question.

    I guess one way to avoid all of these problems is just to save time and….not clean :-).

    But seriously, this is quite disconcerting information. I had never even heard of Charlie’s soap but I will for sure not be using it. And I do think that our obsession w/ cleanliness can get us into trouble. A lot of cleaning around the home can be done w/ very simple ingredients…or none at all. Thanks, Katie.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rene @ Budget Saving Mom

    I love how honest and upfront you are Katie. Thanks so much for the info. That is very good to know!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • liz

    Well that’s a bummer, I have been recommending Charlie’s for over a year now. Good think I didn’t place the order I have on hold at amazon! Thanks for the info. Better late than never!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sonia

    I haven’t used any of their product but I have hear about they’re laundry detergent giving babies bad rashes when used on cloth diapers. I don’t know anymore beyond that though.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Camille Reply:

    I just started using Charlies… and my son has a rash. I never even thought the Charlies was causing it! Thanks! Back to soap nuts for us.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jennifer

    I think that this post is an overreaction. First of all, the ingredient in question – 2-BUTOXYETHANOL – is ONLY in the Charlie’s Soap Cleaner (clearly listed on their website in the easy-to-find fact sheet). It is not in the Laundry Detergent. Furthermore, it is not HARD to find information about it. One quick google search yielded a Wikipedia article, and that article contains several references including the CDC fact sheet (which does differentiate between 2-Butoxyethanol and 2-Butoxyethanol acetate as two separate products even though the article linked here lumps them together as one). It appears that OSHA does not classify 2-Butoxyethanol as toxic, and that the only way it has been shown to become carcinogenic is when ANIMALS are exposed to LARGE QUANTITIES over a LONG PERIOD OF TIME.

    In short, I will continue to give Charlie’s Soap my laundry business, as I always have. I don’t think they’ve been hiding anything, nor do I think they were misleading in using “2-Butoxyethanol” as the listed ingredient.

    For those with diaper troubles w/Charlies, we DID find them to be correct that the residue from previous detergents was causing the rash. We completely stripped all the diapers AND cleaned the washer out using Charlie’s guidelines and have had ZERO cases of diaper rash reappear w/multiple babies.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jennifer,
    I definitely appreciate your perspective, but I was just so disappointed that CS told me it was “butylcellosolv” in their product, and THAT was difficult to find information on. Again, I’d rather stick with vinegar, which I could drink, than something that is toxic in large quantities and I have it in small quantities. Thanks for the info about the diapers for everyone else! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Anastasia B

    Ugh, great. I reviewed them too and had no idea about this. I thought it was safe. I will not be using that cleaner again. I do use the powder soap and have been with great success though. I wonder how bad it is. It never gives us rashes and cleans so well.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tami Lewis

    i am sickened that they lied to us like this! thank you so much for informing us.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • sara p-c

    for mamas looking for another cloth diaper detergent, i’ve had nothing but success with crunchy clean, a wahm company with a very bare-bones ingredient list and very dedicated customer service.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Ellen

    Please don’t be too hasty in judging this. I know we all want the best for our families, but keep in mind that all chemicals (even salt!) have an MSDS and everything is a poison in the right dose. According to the MSDS for Charlie’s Soap, the amount 2-butoxyethanol is not significant enough to be considered a toxicological hazard. The reports you have been reviewing would be for 2-butoxyethanol on its own.
    From the MSDS:
    “* At 4%, Charlie’s Soap All-Purpose Cleaner does not possess the occupational health risk associated with exposure to undiluted 2-butoxyethanol. Charlie’s Soap All-Purpose Cleaner contains no known EPA priority pollutants, heavy metals, or chemicals listed under RCRA, CERCLA, or CWA. None of the ingredients in Charlie’s Soap All-Purpose Cleaner are regulated or listed as potential cancer agents by Federal OSHA, NTP, or IARC.”

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Ellen,
    I’m just disconcerted that in large doses, it causes cancer, but in small doses, not? How about exposure over a decade of small doses? I’m probably over careful, but I was upset to feel “duped”. I do know everything has an MSDS, but not all ingredients rate so poorly at EWG.

    Thank you for the reminder of temperance, though… :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Ellen Reply:

    I understand your feelings of being duped – the company, when asked, should have been upfront with you about the actual name of the chemical rather than the brand name. My husband is an environmental scientist with a background in chemistry, conducts safety and environmental training for many different industries, and works with these sorts of issues day in and day out. He stresses that dose makes the poison (of any substance!). You would have to find out if the the small doses of butoxyethanol accumulate in a persons body in order to determine if a lifetime of small doses leads to the same effect as a large dose. To use salt as an example again, a large dose can have mutagenic effects, but no one would dispute that small doses (i.e. what you sprinkle on your eggs in the morning) daily will not have the same effect. I don’t know that that’s true of the butoxyethanol, but it would be easily discovered by looking at it’s MSDS (as opposed to the Charlie’s Soap MSDS) and extrapolating that information to the amount that is found in Charlie’s Soap.

    I agree that it’s frustrating to try and use green or halthy products only to find that they are just as irritating to the body, if not more so. I appreciate your blog and your openness to comments. It helps everyone when we can hash these things out together! Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Mrs. Graham Gardens Reply:

    So true, Ellen!

    Another misconception is that if something is natural it is automatically “safe”. Which, of course, is insupportable.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Camille

    Jenna, the soap nuts work WONDERFULLY with cloth diapers!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erin from Long Island

    typical example of greenwashing! Be VERY careful with what you buy, many companies are trying to ride the eco-train by not disclosing all the nasties in their products!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jen Reply:

    I agree. This is very interesting on top of the Franklin Goose fiasco. “green” and “natural” do not necessarily imply “moral”

    [Reply to this comment]

  • hollie moyer

    all I know is that Charlie’s gave my baby a chemical burn when I used it on his cloth diapers… that’s enough to keep me away from the stuff.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Heidi

    My husband is an auto mechanic. We have an HE washer. Would you recommend Biokleen Bac-out for pretreating and oxygen bleach (like Seventh Generation??) for soaking before the Extreme 18x soap nuts product? Do you have any other suggestions? Honestly that seems like a lot to do for each load of his clothes. I currently use Shaklee laundry products with a vinegar rinse, but was thinking of trying something else. Any thoughts on Shaklee laundry products?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Heidi,
    If oil stains are the issue, I prefer dish soap and hot water myself for the pretreat! I have never found a laundry detergent that gets out oil stains, but maybe it’s b/c I wash in cold water a lot. Shaklee is a decent company, but I think they may do a little “greenwashing” (making products sound better than they are) themselves. It’s tough to nail down exact ingredients, which is a red flag. But if it’s the only thing that works that you want to deal with, it’s way better than conventional. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin from Long Island Reply:

    for everyday il stains, I use baking soda and it really sucks out the oil (leave it overnight). I’m not sure how it would do on hard-core auto stains though ;)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Donna C Reply:

    I just found a pinterest pin about using white chalk to remove oil from laundry. Perhaps you could try that?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Heidi Reply:

    Interesting! I just may have to try it. Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Beth @ Living Simply

    I’ve been using Charlie’s Soap for diapers and all our laundry for almost 3 years now…have had no troubles with diaper rash. We have really hard water and a HE machine. Tried soap nuts and Rockin’ Green, neither worked as well as Charlie’s…but when we move in a month I’ll be switching.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Hanna

    I’m not a supporter of Charlie’s Soap necessarily, but from an totally detached point of view, I’d say that the over-the-top negative reaction toward them happening here is due to your perception of ‘being duped’. This really wouldn’t be an issue if you had discovered this last year when you originally tested this. No, it’s not as ‘green’ as we’d like, but nothing is hardly as it seems these days. That’s why we must all do our homework and pray for wisdom.

    The product does a good job for what it is.

    I would suggest being very respectful (as a representative of Christ this is a must) and simply tell the company that the ingredient included in their product prohibits you because of your convictions to either use or endorse their product.

    And then I’d be careful how you speak of them on your blog that touts Christ’s name.

    Just a personal opinion from one who’s been down this road before.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jamie

    I make my own laundry soap, have for years. It is super easy & very economical. :)

    http://homemadelaundrysoap.net/homemade_liquid_laundry_detergent_recipe.php

    [Reply to this comment]

  • John

    Here is one I have ordered but just ordered it the other day. They also sell other products as well. I have not looked into any of the other products other then the laundry detergent. They do not list every thing on the label though as like the Dr. Mercola site they are allowed to not list every ingredient. They did tell me they used SLES and why they used it so seem to be open on that front. Below is a link to the product so you can check it out to see if it meet’s your needs. Like I said I just ordered it and it has not shipped out yet. I also hate how products that say they are natural are any thing but.

    http://www.boulderlaundry.com/

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Vicki Booth

    I just found you while searching for negative things about Charlie’s Soap. I just washed a brand new load of towels in it and several of them came out looking like I’d dumped bleach on them. Needless to say I’m very upset about it and I have e-mailed the company to see if they will do anything about it. Just be warned: you can ruin items with this product.

    [Reply to this comment]

    John Reply:

    I look forward to what they have to say. I bought it as I thought it would be good for my mom to use as she gets rashes and think it is from the laundry detergent she uses. I washed an old bathroom floor mat in it and it came out softer then any thing else I have washed it in. I have not washed any thing else in it though but plan on doing that this weekend. I know what y0u mean by it looking like bleach though as I had used oxyclean in the wash one time and it washed out the color of one of my shirt. I do not use that any more. One thing that would be nice to know if where did you get the soap from as that might be an issue. Maybe the company had another product and it got in the wrong container. Maybe it was the towels themselves. I have not used this soap on any thing new so have no idea what it would do on them.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Vicki Booth Reply:

    E-mailed the company, never got a reply. I’d forgotten to report back, but I guess I have nothing to report!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Robin via Facebook

    I have Charlie’s laundry soap is that bad?? Off to read your article…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Robin via Facebook

    I see others wondered abt the laundry soap too. Hmmm… I have a lg bottle that will prob last 6mo. and then… maybe I’ll check out the soap nuts.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jayme

    I’m so glad I didn’t buy CS and went with Rockin’ Green instead…but I’m off to look at the label! Have you reviewed the Rockin’ Green detergent?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jayme,
    I am using Rockin’ Green right now – the CS laundry soap doesn’t have this weird ingredient, btw, just the all-purpose spray.
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jayme via Facebook

    Ugh, glad I chose Rockin’ Green…have you reviewed that product? Off to check my label and read your article.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kristina via Facebook

    I knew charlie’s soap cleaner was bad! Had a horrible reaction to it the first time I used it… glad I wasn’t totally crazy. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Eat via Facebook

    Charilie’s Laundry Soap stained my washer where you put it in the fluid container part :o( After reading your first post on why you stopped using it I gave it up completely. I wash with Soap Nuts liquid soap now.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Joy via Facebook

    Oh this makes me mad! I just finished a bottle of it

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Angela via Facebook

    Thank goodness…homemade laundry soap to the rescue.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • via Facebook

    It’s the All-purpose spray that has the junk in it, not the laundry soap, but the whole veiled ingredients made me question the brand entirely. I wil be talking about what I’ve tried on cloth diapers sometime next month, hopefully!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Laura via Facebook

    Can’t wait to hear your adventures with cloth diapers. I am on #2 with cloth and for some reason with both there has been a period around age 2 months where they leak through everything … multiple brands of cloth and disposables!

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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