Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Molly’s Suds Natural Laundry Detergent {REVIEW}

September 7th, 2013 · 14 Comments · Cleaning, Green Living, What to Buy

natural laundry soap review

I’m probably the worst person in the world to test laundry products, but here I am, trying it again.

When I do a load of laundry, I hate to admit it, but sometimes it stays in the dryer for days. By that time, I’ve forgotten what brand of soap I was even testing! Winking smile

I made an effort to really test Molly’s Suds this past month after I received my sample from our new sponsor, and I’m sharing all the tests and results in today’s review post. (Don’t forget you have a chance to win some of your own in yesterday’s giveaway and that the code KITCHEN will give you 15% off everything except the starter pack, which is less expensive if you put all those items in the cart and use the 15% off.)

I’m writing the review post separately from the giveaway so you can be assured that all opinions are 100% my own – giveaways are paid advertising, but this is just me flapping my mouth…er…fingertips. (top photo source)

The Problem with Natural Laundry Detergent

First of all, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that "detergent" probably isn’t even the right term for Molly’s Suds. Is it soap? Or just "laundry powder?" I think the All Sport says it’s soap, so that’s probably what I should be saying.

We’ve used various natural laundry products for the past 6 years or so, and the one thing my husband notices is that the whites are pretty dingy.

Molly’s "Stain Tips and Tricks" shares a solution for that, and I do love that at least they’re addressing the problem:

Dingy whites after switching to Molly’s Suds means you were using a product that had optical whiteners in it, along with a list of other toxic ingredients. Mineral deposits in the fabric cause dingy whites and they are in hard water. Add 1 scoop of Molly’s Suds and 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide and soak on hot. About 30 minutes to an hour, then wash as you normally would. Hanging clothes to dry in the sun naturally bleaches them and it really does work!

It was on my to-do list all week, but honestly, I didn’t get time to test it out yet…but we’ve definitely done plenty of laundry in the past month otherwise!

(photo source)

Does it Clean?

The real problem with me and the laundry is that I feel like I always have some stained clothing on the other end, no matter what I do. When people ask me, "Does such-and-such laundry product get things clean?" I never know what to say.

Like I said, I worked hard to pay attention this month, and here’s what I can tell you about Molly’s Suds:

Successfully clean

  • Ground in dirt off my husband’s khaki shorts – as I was putting them in, I noticed especially the edges of his cargo-style pockets were pretty grungy. I thought, “No hope. That’s just a stain.” But when they came out, I was shocked.
  • Two grease stains that had been through the dryer already. I did dab them with blue Dawn, but it was only on there 5 minutes before washing, and that has not always worked every time for me. This time, either the Dawn worked its magic, Molly’s Suds is amazing, or Molly’s Suds and blue Dawn are a good team. (Further grease stain testing worked about 75% of the time with the same one-two punch.)
  • Stink out of armpits and such – there’s definitely no fragrance in the finished laundry.
  • Got all campfire (etc) stink out of camping load, first try! If I remember correctly, soap nuts took two washes once.
  • I asked DH to go sniff his camping load and tell me if they were as clean as expected after camping, and he was actually pleasantly surprised. “I don’t smell anything…impressive.”
  • Plenty of dirt on a bright yellow T-shirt – came out completely with no stain treating. Shocked!
  • Many stains tend to at least start to come out when pre-treated, and if they don’t, they are generally truly stains that will stay forever. My daughter had a mark on the back of her light yellow shorts – I can’t really say what it was. Marker? Food? Where does a bright pink thumbprint-sized splotch near one’s waist come from? Even the 5-year-old probably couldn’t tell me. If you’re a parent, you know about these things. Anyway – I did stain treat it with Branch Basics and it didn’t seem to even make a dent. I was totally blown away when the mark was 100% gone after washing. A dual success story!

(photo source)

Failures so far

No product is perfect. Here are the misses we’ve had with Molly’s Suds, which may have been the same with Tide or whatever the most toxic detergent you can think of is, anyway. Like I said – I stink at laundry, and I’m not sure our washer agitates as vigorously as it ought.

  • (This one is a half-and-half failure/success)
    I tried the stain tips for dark spots (grease?) on old hand-me-down clothes from the tips and tricks PDF – except of course that’s just my clothes, all the time – and I did use Dawn dishsoap, which is pretty powerful but hasn’t always worked. Results:
    • half success on a dark gray shirt that had definitely been through the dryer at least once – one spot came out, another adjacent spot didn’t. Maybe I missed when treating? I’m doing it again this week.
    • Boy’s khaki shorts, a sort of sheer fabric, slippery – nope. I don’t know what the discoloration was, and they’d definitely been through the dryer, but two times with everything I had didn’t get it out.
    • My khaki capris (regular cotton blend fabric) that I hit with a butter knife – oh yes, I am so graceful -  came out perfectly.
    • Little girl’s pink shirt that had been through the dryer and was quite a mess – came out acceptably.
  • Getting the "other detergent" nasty smell out – I had some shirts I bought at a garage sale that smelled strongly of "someone else’s" laundry. Yuck. I figured I’d give them 3 washes and hope the scent got out, and I’ve only had time for two so far, but the smell of the other detergent is definitely still there. The first wash was in the Molly’s powder, cold water, and the second was with the All Sport, warm/cool water. I’ll do it again and let you know on Facebook how it goes!
  • Super ground in dirt on my 8yo boy’s clothes, especially on his swim shirt, which is bright highlighter yellow (and a big mistake to take camping in the woods). I washed once, hung to dry. No change. I even soaked it in oxygen bleach along with some other problematic clothes, and the water turned dark brown from all the dirt, but the shirt is still quite a mess. Bummer.
  • Untreated month-old food stains I didn’t know about. Whoops. Clearly those should have been treated!

Good Laundry Habits

Natural or not, it really is true that if you catch a stain early and at least treat it, then wash as soon as possible, you have a much better chance of getting it out.

Trying not to let grease stains get through the dryer is important, and if you do, dish soap, scrubbing, and a bit of white vinegar is the way to go.

One lesson I keep having to learn over and over is the one about load size. A load needs headroom, space to agitate, in order to get clean. I tend to cram too much in there because there’s always more laundry in the dirty pile, and I figure "just one more is okay" far too often. Bah. Glad I’m reviewing natural laundry stuff so I can re-learn the habit again!!

Would I Buy Molly’s Suds?

Many of you know that we’ve used soap nuts for many years, and I still like the nuts, but there’s something to be said for a quick "scoop and dump" instead of chasing the little bag of soap nuts around.

Overall, I have to say I’m very happy with Molly’s Suds, so yes, I would buy it, and it may very well become our new standby, or at least the second option to have on hand. It’s gotten out some surprising stains, hasn’t done anything awful to our laundry, everything smells clean and fresh, and as a bonus, it’s scented with peppermint oil, which smells so happy when you open the package it actually lifts my spirits. (The peppermint really doesn’t come through on the finished laundry at all, and you can special order Molly’s Suds without it if you need to.)

I’ll share a little more about the ingredients later next week as we tackle cleaning and personal product sourcing, but you can read more about the Molly’s Suds story right here. It is really good for people with sensitive skin and babies, and it’s a laundry soap the whole family can use at once.

What kind of laundry soap do you use? How do you prioritize the natural life in the laundry room?

Are expensive gadgets and specialty foods really worth the cost? Read these super-thorough reviews to see if the item you have your eye on passed the KS tests and truly lives up to the hype.

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Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. I did receive the Molly’s Suds products for free to review, but this is not a paid post and my opinions and experiences are completely my own. See my full disclosure statement here.


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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Shirley

    I just tried to order 2 of the 128 ounce bags of Molly’s Suds using the code, KITCHEN for the 15% discount, but the code wouldn’t work for the products I ordered. Could you please tell me why that would happen? Thanks, Shirley

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Shirley,
    I’ll send a message to the company right away and get this straightened out – in the meantime, try “kitchen” and “Kitchen” just in case they’re case sensitive and I was over zealous with my caps. ;) I’ll reply again when I know the answer for sure though! :) Katie

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Shirley,
    Monica at Molly’s Suds got right back with me – they fixed the code on their end and it should work great now – not case sensitive at all. Thank you for your interest! :) Katie

  • Alexandra

    You have to try Nellie’s All-Natural. We started using it just on our cloth diapers and now we use it on everything because its so awesome and cost-effective! I think I saw on their Facebook page that they were looking for reviewers too! http://www.nelliesallnatural.com/

  • Katie

    Soapnut tip: use a Norwex magnet ball and tie the strings through the center. No more fishing.

  • Rebecca

    Along with enough room in the washer is water temp. I used to wash just about everything on cold, now we do a hot wash, cold rinse, otherwise no amount of soap and pretreating gets stuff clean.

  • Laura

    Do you have a “regular” washer or a front load HE? I want to switch to something natural, but I’m afraid to try something since my washer is HE. If anyone has had any experience with this, please let me know!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Laura,
    Mine is regular, but Molly’s Suds does have some instructions about HE washers. :) Katie

    Laura Reply:

    Thank you!

  • Christine

    We only use Celadon Road now. It is taking a few washes to get the TIDE out of my towels, especially, but it is working great. Great for cloth diapers and momma cloth, too!! The stain remover is also a miracle worker, for any real stains. I did a stain test and will be posting the results on my facebook and pinterest pages soon! :-)

  • Rebekah

    I’ve been using the soap nuts ultra concentrated liquid, which I was pleased with, but it leaves a weird scent on our clothes.
    So after your review, I ordered a sample packet of Molly’s to try and washed my towels with it. I have an HE washer so I only used half the packet – per the instructions. I thought I’d test it out so I cleaned my kitchen… including the stove, oven, and my cast irons (which got my whitish dish cloths nice and black and oily). I didn’t leave them set for days or anything, but I also didn’t rinse them out or pre-treat them in anyway, just tossed it all into the washer. Everything came out clean. There were some old stains on the rags that didn’t, but I would have been absolutely shocked if those had; everything new came out wonderfully. They smelled nice, no funky sent like the soapnuts, and were reasonably soft. Not fabric-softener-waxy soft, of course, but nice and fluffy.
    I also emailed the company and asked what the shelf life was, since they offer free shipping on orders over $100 and I’d much rather stock up and not have to think about it for a couple years. They replied and said an unsealed bad has a recommended shelf life of 5 years – though I forgot to ask what the unsealed shelf life was… eh.

    Effective and natural for ~ 14-15cents a load (with the discount, if I did my math right), yeah. works for me. ;-)

  • Dani

    I tried Molly’s Suds based on reviews. After 2 weeks of washing, I ended up with intense itching, sores, and eventually hives until I got everything rewashed. Obviously non-toxic and green do not equal hypoallergenic. I will be using my toxic hypoallergenic detergent for awhile before I attempt a change again. Night clothes and sheets were the worst. Those will be my test objects next time.

  • Janie

    I often make my own laundry soap but I am thinking of trying this for those times when I run out of supplies or just am too busy to make it…
    thanks…

  • John

    I have used Molly’s Suds and it works pretty well for me. I do not like how it handles stains but over all it is pretty good. I have found a new one that cleans very well and it is from Mineral Methods and is called Rain. My sheets have not been cleaner then when I use it.

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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