What about soap nuts?
Our society is conditioned to only believe that laundry detergents can come in liquid or powder forms. We believe that you need harsh chemicals and bleach, fragrances, fabric softeners and more, just to get clothes clean.
What is often forgotten, is that we humans have washed clothing for thousands of years, all before the amazing new “technological advances” in laundry of the last 50 years or less.
How people do laundry in the last 50 years is vastly different than before these changes. Washing clothing used to take much longer, and washing by hand was much more labor intensive. The washer and dryer greatly improved the efficiency of laundry.
But with those changes, came commercialized laundry detergent. Over the years, new, harsher chemicals have been added and “improved”. Conventional laundry detergents are made with petroleum byproducts, and almost all of them do not break down in the environment, but are toxic to plant and animal life, especially amphibians. There’s a growing population of people in this world with detergent allergies, something that was unheard of before we used these “improved” detergents.
Being earth-conscious, and health-minded, I knew there had to be another way. My children developed rashes when I used laundry detergents made with additives. In searching for a better alternative, I found Soap Nuts.
Getting clothes clean is important, I think everyone can agree on this. But do you have to use harsh, toxic chemicals to wash fabric? No! What has been used for thousands of years? Soap Nuts.
Soap Nuts are a fascinating thing. They are not really nuts, but actually berries from the Soapberry tree. It is also known as a Chinaberry Tree. The western soapberry tree was used by some Native Americans. They grow in warm, even tropical climates, and are related to the maple tree. The berries contain a substance called Saponin. Saponin is a surfactant (which means it breaks the surface tension of water) and makes it easy for water to get into clothing, so that the washers motion can shake out the dirt. Soap Nuts easily wash clean from clothing, leaving fibers clean and unscented, as well as residue-free. They are considered hypoallergenic because of the extent to which they do not leave extra stuff in your clothing when you wash with Soap Nuts.
A very interesting thing that I noticed when I first started using Soap Nuts, is that my clothes smelled like clothes. I hadn’t realized that the “clean” smell I was accustomed to wasn’t clean clothes, but a fragrance added to my old detergent. This smell wasn’t helping my clothes, but it was irritating my skin and my baby’s too. Once I switched to Soap Nuts, I actually got to experience the uncoated feel and smell of cotton, and hemp, which I had never actually experienced before.
Soap Nuts can also be used as a natural cleaning solution. They work great as a mild baby wipe solution, skin cleanser, surface cleaner and more. I love to try out new uses for Soap Nuts!
So how do you use Soap Nuts?
Soap Nuts are surprisingly simple to use. They come in nut form, or liquid form as well. Liquid soap nuts are simply an extract of the soap nuts in a convenient liquid form, and can be easily used in any washing machine, hand washing, and is the best way to use soap nuts as a natural all-purpose cleaner around your house.
Soap Nuts can be used 3-5 times, depending on how soiled the laundry is. When they’re done being reused, simply toss them into your compost, depending on your plumbing, you may be able to use your garbage disposal. You can throw them into the trash if you need to.
Front load washer: Place 3-5 nuts in the detergent bin in the top of the washer. Start the full washer, when the wash is done, simply leave the nuts there until you’re ready to use again.
Top load washer: Use a small mesh-like bag (Soap Nuts typically come with one in the box) and add 3-5 soap nuts. Place in the laundry tub with your dirty clothing and start the washer. Remove the bag when the wash is done, and save the nuts to be reused.
Dry your clothing as usual, and enjoy your clean, natural laundry solution!
Want to read more about how cool Soap Nuts are?
How Stuff Works
Global Healing Center
University of Arkansas
New Life on a Homestead
The Healthy Natural Cleaner