Cleaning Laundry with Soap Nuts
What Are Soap Nuts?
Soap nuts sound like either a tiny chunk of soap or some hippy thing. Let’s just say, it is a hippy thing. Soap nuts are not actually a nut at all, but they are actually berries that are related to lychee berries. Why they call them soap nuts and not soap BERRIES is beyond me; possibly because the word “nuts” makes people think of hard shells while “berries” conjures up an image of squishy perishable fruit.
These “nuts” release saponin when they are wet. It is saponin that is the soap which cleans your laundry. Totally strange, I know. A plant that makes soap that actually can clean clothes!
Why Choose Soap Nuts?
- Soap nuts are a great choice for those with sensitive skin.
- Soap nuts are a cheap choice when it comes to natural detergents.
- Soap nuts are compostable.
- Soap nuts are all right to use with septic water systems.
- No crazy chemicals since soap nuts are found growing on trees!
- Soap nuts help your laundry stay soft and fluffy, almost like a natural fabric softener.
- Soap nuts are safe for baby clothes and cloth diapers.
How Are Soap Nuts Used?
Simply place 4-5 nuts in a muslin bag and toss into your laundry water. Generally it is recommended to use soap nuts in warm or hot water, as that helps release the saponin. However, if you like to do your laundry in cold water like me then you simply soak your bag of soap nuts in a cup of warm water for a few minutes before dumping the entire contents into the wash.
You can leave the soap nuts in the wash for the entire cycle including the rinse cycle. You will not end up with soap nut residue on your clothes or diapers even if you leave it in for the rinse cycle. Once your wash cycle has finished, simply take out your soap nut bag and dry your clothes. Generally you can use one batch of soap nuts for 5-10 loads of laundry. If you are looking for a good visual aid to help you understand when you should toss those nuts then check out this one from Eco Nuts.
I was on the fence about just how well these soap nuts could possibly work. However, once I actually tried them, I was hooked! So simple, so safe! They work just as well as my old detergent. My clothes look great, my diapers look great, and I have never heard of build up problems when using soap nuts for cloth diapers so there’s another perk! I truly am sold on soap nuts!
Brittany lives in Seattle with her husband and three children (a 5 year old, a 4 year old, and a 1 year old). She enjoys researching everything that involves living naturally and writes about her increasingly crunchy life at The Pistachio Project. When she is not chasing the kids around, she enjoys sewing, photography and baking.