As someone with sensitive skin that reacts badly to chemicals and fragrances in commercial products, I’ve long made my own cleaners. I recently came across soap nuts at my local health food store. I liked that they were all natural, sustainable and long lasting. But best of all they are hypoallergenic and won’t irritate my eczema prone skin. So I bought some to try them out.
Soap Nuts FAQ
What are soap nuts?
Soap nuts are not actually nuts at all. Also known as soap berries, they are berry-like fruits that grow on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree. They are a great natural, eco-friendly alternative that functions just like regular soap, but without harsh side effects.
How do soap nuts work?
Soap nut berries naturally synthesise their own soap “saponins”. The soap nut shell is like a sponge that absorbs water and releases saponins in turn. You may use any water temperature with the seeds, but the warmer the water the more saponins are released. The saponins circulate in the wash water and free grime, oils and dirt from your clothing.
How long do soap nuts last?
You don’t need to replace the soap nuts until they are greyish in colour and have lost their soap-like capabilities. Depending on how hot your wash and how hard your water, this is normally 4-6 loads. You know it is time to replace them when the seeds take on a greyish colour, or stop producing a honey-like substance when squeezed.
Are soap nuts sustainable?
Soap nut trees have long lives. They reach fruit-bearing age after nine years. The soap nut berries ripen, drop on the ground and can then be harvested for up to ninety years, providing natural soap with no need for manufacturing.
7 Reasons to Replace Your Laundry Detergent with Soap Nuts
1. All Natural
For those of us who care about the negative effects of pesticides, chemicals and toxins on our bodies and in our homes, finding safe, natural alternatives is essential. Soap nuts are naturally hypoallergenic, anti-fungal and antibacterial. They are fruit which grow on trees, dry naturally and require no chemical processing to be effective. These same trees help our environment convert CO2 into breathable oxygen.
Soap nuts are ideal for those who want to switch to an easier, cost effective and natural solution.
2. Easy to Use
Using soap nuts as laundry detergent is easy. Simply place about half a dozen berries into a small wash bag (typically included when you buy a pack of soap nuts – or use a sock). Tie off the bag, put it in the washing machine along with your clothing and start your wash cycle.
3. Cost less and last longer
While a kilo of soap nuts might cost more than twice the same amount of commercial laundry detergent, it will last you, on average, a year. This is because each load of washing only needs a half dozen or so soap nut berries and those berries can then be used again and again.
And because they don’t leave any soap residue they leave your clothing fresh and soft which means you don’t need fabric softeners. Imagine only buying detergent for all your laundry needs once a year!
4. Use Less Water
This is an important reason in a country with such an arid climate as Australia. Soap nuts save water. Because they don’t leave a residue, you don’t need to rinse your clothing, unlike conventional laundry detergents where residue needs to be fully rinsed out to avoid skin irritation. Simply use the washing machine without a rinse cycle, and remove the clothes to dry as normal.
Soap nuts will save you loads upon loads of rinse cycles. Along with time you can spend on more important matters, you can also lower your water bill when you replace your laundry detergent with soap nuts.
Much like our holistic moisturising balms, soap nuts are multi-use. In addition to laundry detergent, you can use them for making shampoo, washing dishes (pop them in a stocking under your running tab), repelling bugs and more. If you boil them, the soap nut liquid can even be used to make hand soap or an all-purpose spray cleaner.
6. Better for the Environment
We all know that laundry detergent, along with many other products we use on a daily basis, are laden with toxic and harsh chemicals. These pollutants not only harm ourselves and our loved ones, but also our environment – which is already in dire need of aid.
Even if you disregard the factors of manufacturing waste and pollution, just the packaging of laundry detergents is not usually environmentally friendly. And when it claims to be, it is often lined with plastic to prevent moisture getting in, which means even the “eco-friendly” cardboard option takes years to break down.
Soap nuts, on the other hand, are grey-water and septic tank safe and are 100% biodegradable. Simply add them to your compost when they are spent or sprinkle them on your garden to help fertilise your plants.
7. Suitable for sensitive Skin
Using a natural alternative for your laundry helps protect the vulnerable skin of newborns and young children and keep allergic reactions at bay. If anyone in your family sufferes from allergies, eczema or sensitive skin, you will love this solution. Naturally hypoallergenic, without side effects to worry about, soap nuts are a great choice.
Soap nuts are a wonderful find for those of us who want to make a difference in the world while going about the daily business of caring for our families.
Some people find natural living or eco-friendly solutions to be too expensive for their budgets. Soap nuts are the opposite, saving you time and money while conserving natural resources.
You won’t regret saving your good health, water, money, clothing and the planet by switching over to soap nuts. I certainly don’t.