Travel laundry soap recommendation: Charlie’s Soap

One of the inevitable activities you wind up participating in when you pack lightly is washing your clothes (if nothing else, your underwear). Oh sure, you can use the hotel bar soap and wash your undergarments by hand in the bathroom sink, but what do you do when you actually want to wash most of your clothes? Find the nearest laundromat? Use the expensive hotel laundry service? Both are viable options depending on your budget and time, but I’ve come across a product recently that has become a staple in my packing list: Charlie’s Soap.

The standard sack of Charlie’s Soap come with 2.64 pounds, which cleans a whopping 80 loads. Each sack is a reusable sack with a string tie, and comes with a green plastic measuring spoon. Image by Lani Teshima.

Charlie’s Soap advertises itself as being safe, non-toxic, fragrance-free, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and most impressively, only requires a single tablespoon for a full load in the washing machine. And because it also rinses completely free without leaving a residue, it makes washing items by hand extremely easy.

When I travel, I fill up a tablespoon of Charlie’s Soap into one of those tiny ziplock baggies (the ones you can buy at hobby stores, that are only about the size of a credit card). I mark the outside of the baggies with a permanent marker to note what it is, and I find that I can easily tote a few of these in my dry toiletries bag with ease (Psst: once you’ve used up your sack of Charlie’s Soap, you can then use the sack as your dry toiletries bag! Woo hoo!). It’s considerably easier than decanting a load’s worth of liquid laundry detergent into a travel-sized bottle (or buying pre-filled bottles of laundry detergent), and it’s way cheaper than buying a small single-load box of laundry soap at the laundromat.

Fill a little reseable plastic baggie with a tablespoon of Charlie’s Soap. Mark the baggie with a marker so you can easily tell what it is, and you’re good to go. Image by Lani Teshima.

Best of all, I find that it does a great job of washing lighter and smaller items in the hotel bathroom sink with ease. I fill up the basin with water and Charlie’s Soap, and I’m actually quite impressed at how much dirt winds up in the basin water. And since it doesn’t overbubble, I find that a quick couple of rinses in plain water will get out all the soap residue really quickly. When you’re done, you’ve got squeaky clean clothes to hang, that leave no perfume or artficial fragrance.

The fact that you’d be supporting a small mom-and-pop factory out of North Carolina is just icing on the cake!

You can purchase your own sack of Charlie’s Soap at One sack (which lasts 80 loads) costs $15.49 and ships within the U.S. for $5.00. However if you’re sold on the stuff and you buy more than 2 sacks in your order, they waive the shipping fee and give you a few bucks off to boot.


  1. Chrissie — I typically use a permanent marker to write what the contents of the small bags are. For Charlie’s Soap, it will actually say “laundry soap” on the baggie. Trust me, all they have to do is open the bag and they can tell right away that it’s soap.

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