Green home » organic cleaning » soap nuts
We have all heard about pollution and risks to the Planet from our lifestyles. One thing all of us can do is incorporate nature into our daily tasks. Laundry in my “world” is a daily task - with four messy boys (yes that’s counting the husband!) I seem to be always picking up dirty clothes, washing dirty clothes or sorting and putting away clean clothes.
By doing several loads of washing most days it became a real concern to me about the amount of chemicals entering our waterways. I also like to recycle my grey water and use to irrigate the garden during dry spells.
About a year ago I discovered soap nuts. Soap nuts are small berry-like fruits that grow on trees. They are native to India and Nepal. The main ingredient in soap nuts is saponins, which is a natural surfactant. When the soap nut absorbs water, it releases this natural chemical which in turn, frees oil, dirt, grease and sweat from your clothes. When these saponins are flushed down the drain they are completely organic and biodegradable so pose no threat to the environment. Best of all you can use the same soap nuts to wash up to six loads of washing!
To wash clothes with soap nuts all you do is place a small muslin bag with about 4-6 nuts in your washing machine. Better still if you have to pay for your water usage, don’t worry about any rinse cycles, just wash and spin. The only draw back is it is recommended to use a warm wash, as the warm water helps to release the saponins (this isn’t an issue for us as we have solar hot water). Soap nuts don’t have any fragrance so I often put of few drops of lavender oil in with the wash. After about six loads of washing either throw used nuts in worm farm or compost. If you like to be really canny (ie Scottish), what I do is save these used soap nuts and when I have a pot full, I slowly simmer in a litre of water for about an hour. This releases all remaining saponins, creating a liquid detergent which you can use with a cold wash.
As I mentioned we have been using these soap nuts for over a year and are completely happy with the cleanliness of our clothes. Nobody has yet told us we smell!!! There’s no way I’d go back to the Surf and Persil isle at the supermarket. Oh, and I forgot to mention, soap nuts work out way cheaper than any of the usual products!
The only disappointment in these soap nuts is they don’t actually sort, fold or put away the clean laundry!
Check out the Soap Nut Shop Here