Over the last eight or nine years, I have successfully and unsuccessfully made several homemade detergent varieties.
I have done liquid detergent, powder detergent, & done detergent with Thieves Cleaner.
One of the first natural detergents I ever started to use, before all of those DIY varieties, was sap nuts. When I first heard about using Soap Nuts about 8 years ago I thought that it was incredibly crazy way to wash clothes… but then, things were different then and we weren’t anywhere close to the place in life that we are now.
Over time, things change, and we moved from a rental to a house 30 minutes away. We lived there for a few years, before moving again, back into the outskirts of town and everything was once again re-boxed and back in hiding another ew years.
This past weekend, I was cleaning out the garage and found this giant bag of Soap Nuts that I had purchased 8 years ago. It was a feeling of relief, excitement and pleasure all in one ~ I loved these soap nuts but I had lost track of them for all these years.
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.
Saponin (the soap) tastes bad to insects so there is actually no need for pesticides. The trees that they grow in love uncultivated soil.
Why Use Soap Nuts
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.
They are also safe for septics.
Much like homemade laundry soap varieties, soap nuts do not produce much of any bubbles or foam – things that are added to commercial detergents through artificial foaming agents.
Always remember that foam & bubbles aren’t an indicator of cleaning power 🙂
Since they are no suds, they are great for HE and front loaders.
Using Soap Nuts for your Laundry
If you are thinking about using Soap Nuts, there are a few ways to do that ~ the first way, is using them dry, or boiling them down into a liquid.
If you are using them dry, you simply add 5-6 soap nuts in a muslim bag, tie it shut (pull the strings shut) and then toss in the washer. After the laundry has finished, find the bag and pull it out, and save it for additional wash loads. In between that time, allow the bag to dry.
You can reuse the bag of soap nuts several times until the shells become very gray and to the point that they are falling apart. Then, remove from the muslin bag and throw in the compost pile in the backyard.
They can also be used for shampoo, body wash, and even cleaner. Stay tuned for more recipes.
Where to Buy Soap Nuts
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?