Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Soap Nuts?!

I read about an interesting product and decided to buy it and try it out. What is the product? Soap nuts! Looking for a new laundry detergent? A cheap detergent. Take a look into soap nuts/berries.

     I have never hear of it, is it new? What is it? Soap nuts are the fruit (not for consumption) that grow on the soap tree, Sapindus Mukorossi ( "The generic name is derived from the Latin words saponis, meaning "soap", and indicus, meaning 'of India'.") and have been used for thousands of years by native peoples in Southeast Asia, Nepal also they have been used for decades already by Europeans for washing laundry and even as shampoo. Sapindus is a genus of about 5-12 species of shrubs and small trees of the Lychee family. Soap nuts leave clothing soft and with an odourless scent. For those who enjoy a scent in their laundry vanilla or other oils can be used. Hence this option is eco-friendly, toxin free, relatively cheap and easy to use.

     How do they work? Well you need to read the instructions because there are different types of soap nuts but all instructions are very similar and only vary in how long the same soap nut shells may be re-used and how many must be used. With your purchase of soap nuts you receive one or several cotton satchels  You take the (or the equivalent of) 4-7 soap nut shells and place them in the satchel and tie it tightly. If you want your laundry to have a scent you can add a drop or two of vanilla oil, coconut oil or the like into the satchel before closing it off. You throw it in your wash and put your washing machine on hot/cold or at least warm/cold. When the hot water hits the shells they begin to release saponin, which is a cleaner that is hypoallergenic, organic and biodegradable (great for baby clothing!). The satchel must be tied tightly so that the shells do not fall out during the wash. You do not have to take out the satchel during the rinse since saponin is not released in cold water hence during a cold water rinse no cleaner is released.  When the wash is finished you can remove the satchel to dry unless you will be doing another load of laundry. These same soap nut shells can be reused 3-10 times (read the instructions on the specific soap nuts you buy - usually 4-7 times - the bag I bought says each satchel of shells is good for 5kg of laundry or 3-5 times). If you want to wash your clothing with cold water, you still can. All you have to do is soak the soap nuts in a cup of hot water for a few minutes then pour in the water and the soap nut satchel into your laundry. Soap nuts do not work once all the saponin is released. How do you know when it is all released? The soap nuts become soft, thin, mushy and grayish in colour.

      Is there any other way to use soap nuts? Yep, you can also make your own soap nuts laundry detergent and dish detergent.  Actually soap nuts are being used and are considered for use in commercial products such as cosmetics and detergent. There are products now on the market that can be purchased with this ingredient, for example Eco Nuts products. Historically soap nuts were even used in folk remedies and for contraception! Soap nuts actually show anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and insecticidal properties.

     How do I use soap nuts when washing my cloth diapers? Its very simple all you have to change from your regular routine is throw in a satchel with soap nuts for the actual wash in hot water. Therefore what do I do? I throw in the dirty diapers (inside out, velcro closed), wipes, wetbags (inside out) into the laundry machine. I do a short wash or soak in cold water so that the stains do not set in. Next I  put the machine on hot wash, cold rinse. After that is done I do a quick cold rinse if deemed necessary. Then I pull out the bag of soap nuts and pull out the washed diaper gear out of the washer. That's it ladies and gentlemen. Hard? Not harder then using usual detergent. After about 2-4 washes I check inside the bag to ensure the soap nuts are not thin, soft or graying.

    If you lift the lid of your laundry machine during a cycle you wont see many suds but that doesn't mean it isn't working - try it out smell the laundry after a wash no smell its just clean this does not get hard set stains out though just like regular detergent doesn't you would need to pre-treat it.

      The first time I used the nuts I inspected the diapers very carefully (diapers were what I tried soap nuts on first). Hmm, no smell...nothing. No ammonia smell from pee nor any detergent smell, the diapers were white inside. After the dry cycle I noticed everything was very soft and the inserts seemed very fluffy. This was wonderful, yet still I did not fully trust them. I've used them about 6 times since and still everything is clean with no evidence of a detergent, softener or any product being used.  I had two satchels going and neither are yet done, one has gone through 4 times, one has been used two times. Both have the minimal amount of nuts inside. This product seems wonderful and my weariness towards it is slowly subsiding. I hope I continue to see great results.

The above diaper in the picture had been very... soiled before the wash! I was actually shocked it came out without even a glimpse of a stain! No need to sun bleach this diaper (Very happy mommy)

Soap nuts cost approximately $14-25 for 500g depending on whether you order it online or you find a store that sells them. This lasts for about 150-200 loads of laundry hence each load costs about 12-15 cents. Meanwhile regular detergent comes out to about 14 cents if it is the regular meanwhile the free and clear options can cost about 20 cents a load if not much more! Also keep in mind that the large bulk that you buy soap nuts in the cheaper they are (so a kilogram may come out cheaper then the 500g bags per load, the larger the bulk of soap nuts the cheaper it comes out, it can end up being around 5 cents a load!)

   Have you tried Soap nuts? How do you like them? How have you used them?


  1. I've heard of them and wanted to try them, but I haven't yet.

    I'm visiting today from Fun Friday.

  2. Wow these look amazing !

    Hi I'm James and I run Daddy Space a blog about our three wonderful children and family life. I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you to join our blog hop, Saturday Bloggy Takeaway.

    Love the blog looking forward to future posts.

  3. hi this is marie, from listening rather then speaking.
    i am offering everyone who teams up in this take away giveaway free ad space, in honor of my donation giveaway. i am hoping that this will help people join my cause and be able to understand my cause. i have over 288 children counting on me to make this a success, so please email me regrading the free ad space and i will tell you how.

  4. i've never heard of this! wow!!! Found and following via the hop!