Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Laundry Soap That Grows on Trees. Seriously!

I tried Eco Nuts.
Soap nuts are the fruit of the Sapindus mukorossi tree, a plant native to India and Nepal. They contain saponin, a natural detergent. They are mostly used as a gentle alternative to chemical laundry detergent. Fans of soap nuts say they can also be used to clean dishes, hair, skin, counter tops, cars, jewelry, and pretty much anything else you'd use a regular soap or detergent for. I thought I'd give them a try so I purchased a trial size package of Eco Nuts.

Making soap nuts liquid detergent.

According to Eco Nuts, you can just toss five nuts into the bag and then toss that bag into the washer with your clothes. You can do this up to 10 times! However, they do recommend making a tea (liquid detergent) with the nuts if you plan to do a cold water wash.

I am a total novice when it comes to these soap nuts so I just experimented. I boiled them, sans bag, in 4 times more water than nuts then soaked them for 10 minutes. When that didn't result in a lot of liquid detergent, I ground the same nuts in my food processor and boiled the mash. That time in much more water (about 4 cups). Of course, I got more detergent but, surprisingly, that batch seems to be as potent as the first.

I've used soap nuts detergent to hand wash a few soup pots, to machine launder a few sweaters, and to hand wash some handkerchiefs. I'm pleased with the results. I appreciate that the soap was gentle on my hands. I also think the ecological footprint of soap nuts (minimal packaging, biodegradable, compostable, organic) is pretty impressive.

Still, I don't think I would use these for regular washing. The majority of my laundry is done with cold water and making a tea each laundry day would be a real pain in the applejacks. Also, I think they smell kind of funky, like a mellow ginko funk. Fortunately, I don't smell it on anything I've washed, but I did smell it while making the liquid and it was hard to not gag.

In conclusion, I think soap nuts are the best choice for sweaters and other delicate clothing so that's what I'll use them for in the future. I'll probably just purchase the pre-made liquid detergent for that so that I don't have to face the funk of the brewing berries. It comes in a cool wine box when you buy the 3 liter value size.

More on Soap Nuts:
The Mother of All Soap Nut Resources (via Crunchy Betty)
Household Uses for Soap Nuts (via EcoNuts)
Soap Nuts Profile and Purchase (via Mountain Rose Herbs)

Have you tried soap nuts? What do you think of them?

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  1. I use them on babes cloth diapers. They work pretty good and don't leave a buildup on the diapers.

    1. oh cool! they must work pretty well if they can handle a diaper. totally going to try this on my regular clothes next wash day. thanks!

  2. i've seen these but was a bit skeptical as to if they would actually clean a load of clothes. so if they can work on diapers, i may try them out...especially since they contain none of the added ingredients of regular soap. enjoy the rest of your week:)

  3. awesome! thanks for commenting Chandra. Hope you love 'em! Enjoy your week too :-)



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