For the last 8 or 9 years, we have been making our own laundry detergent around this house – we have made powdered detergent, liquid detergent, laundry detergent with Thieves Cleaner, and even took a hiatus on making detergent to use Young Living’s plant based laundry soap.
Ya’ll, we do a LOT of laundry around here.
It seems like I have to do laundry 50+ times a day – and if you have kids, you might agree with me — nobody else changes clothes more often than children. For whatever the reason, they feel the need to change 1,001 times each day and they can usually be found outside in the back without shoes.
We need laundry soap that’s powerful, without being toxic.
One of our favorite detergents is this powdered laundry soap here, combined with lemongrass for the harder to treat or dirtier loads, it works wonderfully. We opted against borax, and washing soda actually loses potency when it’s combined with water for an extended period of time – thus is the reason we kept it powdered.
Before making our own laundry detergent in powdered form, we used Soap Nuts for a series of 2 years and absolutely LOVE the fact that it’s non-toxic and safe for my family.
What are Soap Nuts?
Soap Nuts are a berry shell that naturally contains soap. They grow on the Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas.
The natural soap found in these berries is called saponin. Saponin is a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away.
Soap Nuts are not actually nuts, but berries – they are gathered from wild trees that are grown without chemicals or pesticides.
Unlike commercial detergents that can have a profound effect on your immune system, soap nuts are gentle on skin, and are a great option for people with skin issues (allergies, psoriasis, etc.) If you have small children and use cloth diapers, they are a wonderful alternative to toxic chemical detergents and can do an amazing job on clothes.
Unlike commercial detergents, soap nuts are without sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is toxic to eyes and skin and contributes to the synthetic foaming that you see when you add a cup to your washing machine. Sudsing is not required for a detergent to be effective.
Why Transform Soap Nuts from a Berry to a Liquid?
Using soap nuts in berry form is incredibly easy – you basically tuck 4-5 soap nuts in a drawstring bag and toss in the wash. They can be used for 4-5 loads, and then removed and used for compost.
While I love using soap nuts in the washer, I have a hard time keeping track of that little tiny bag in the washer – I have to dig through all those clothes just to pull out the bag, and in many cases, I forget and they transfer to the dryer. While they can still be used once dried, I just personally struggle with remembering how many times I have used them.
With each child my memory gets worse, and worse… am I alone? I sure hope not.
So bring on Soap Nuts liquid.
Soap nuts will not stain your clothes and they are incredibly gentle even for the smallest of kiddos. It’s best to add it to the washer as it fills, remember not to overload the washer. Small to medium loads are best to allow the clothes room to move.
This recipe made just under 5 C. of detergent for us.
- 12 C. water
- 30 [soap nuts, deseeded|http://amzn.to/2ocWkyd
- 1 tsp Non-GMO Citric Acid
- Optional: Silicone Mold
- Place 12 C. water and the soap nuts in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil.
- Immediately turn down the heat and allow to simmer on medium/low for 60-75 minutes.
- As they simmer, the saponin will work it's way out of the berries and soapify on the top of the stock pot. As time passes, the berries will become lighter in color - after 60-75 minutes remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool, and strain out the berries. Set the berries aside to compost (or you can boil a second time and use for body wash).
- Add the citric acid and mix well to combine.
- Pour into canning jars and refigerate for up to 6 weeks. Or keep sealed in jars at room temperature for 7-10 days.
How to Store your Detergent
Soap berries that have been transformed into liquid laundry detergent can be stored a variety of ways – in a sealed canning jar being the most popular. While you have added citric acid, soap nuts will ferment over time if not properly cared for.
You will be able to determine the freshness of the liquid laundry soap by smelling – a fruity smell like sour apple juice may signal that has gone bad and might need to be tossed. To better care for your liquid laundry soap, find ways to properly store so maximize the shelf life:
- Keep at room temperature (72 degrees or less) for no more than 2 weeks
- Store refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.
- Pour into silicone molds and freeze to make laundry cubes and use one or two as needed.
- Use 3-4 Tbsp per wash load, a little more if your clothes need more attention.
Where to Buy Soap Nuts
You can pick up soap nuts at several places – including Amazon, Lucky Vitamin, or even Vitacost.
Vitacost offers you $5 OFF your first order, while Lucky Vitamin offers $10 off your first order as a new customer. Both carry the same variety of soap nuts that you can try yourself to see how they work for your family.
Have you heard of soap nuts? Or, have you used them? What did you think?
Why do you add citric acid to the soap?
Citric acid whitens your whites, brightens your colors and softens your water. It also neutralizes the alkalinity of laundry detergent, and brings the pH of the detergent closer to the natural pH of your skin. You can leave it out if you wish.