November 29, 2012

Nuts for Soapnuts!

I finally invested in a bag of soapnuts.  I read about them on Ready Nutrition, where Tess Pennington gave detailed instructions on the many ways they can be used. (Be sure and check out her article – she tells you how to make liquid soap, shampoo, etc., from them!)  I spotted them in a muslin bag at our local grocery store, much to my surprise – you don’t often find specialty items in a little place like this!

I started off with a small bag just to test them out and see if I like them.  I payed $18 for an amount that promises to wash 100 loads.

I like the idea of using something natural in my laundry.  I do use a tiny amount of a scented product for a nice fresh smell in the laundry in the winter, since I dry inside this time of year.  In the summer, the great outdoors gives all the nice fragrance I need!

Soapnuts come from a little tree from the genus called Sapindus.  These shrubs grow in warm to tropical regions.  Many of the soapnuts sold in North America are grown in Nepal and India.

The nuts aren’t actually nuts at all, but little berries that are related to the lychee.  The berries are harvested and then dried in the sun until they become a hard leathery little nut.

Soapnuts have other non-laundry oriented uses too (this is from research, not personal experience!)

  • The soapnut liquid can be used as an natural insecticide when sprayed on your garden plants.
  • Used soapnuts can be composted.
  • They were traditionally used in Asia as an expectorant.
  • They are used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for psoriasis and eczema.
  • Soapnuts were used as a contraceptive because they have spermicidal qualities.
  • Research is currently underway about the effectiveness of soapnuts in treating migraines.


So, back to the soapnuts adventure….I took out the little nuggets and smelled them – not an especially fresh fragrance but very light and not offensive.  They just looked like random little nuts and they came with a tiny muslin bag in which to place the required amount of nuts for your load of laundry.

The instructions on the bag called for 3-5 nuts per load of laundry.  I also put in a couple of broken chunks.

After 2 months without a washing machine, I’m pretty darned thrilled to announce that I received one from my landlords when they upgraded to a new front-loading model.  My set up here isn’t fancy and I only have cold water going to my machine.  Because I can’t wash in hot, the instructions on the bag said to soak the nuts for 5-10 minutes in hot water.  I used hot tap water this time but next time I think I’ll pour water from the kettle over the nuts.

After wandering off and forgetting that the little bag was soaking, I came back after 20 minutes and saw this, a soapy looking liquid.

I dumped the entire contents of the bowl into my washing machine with a load of darks.  I also tossed in a few scent beads.

When the wash was done, everything looked nice and clean and smelled good.  There had been a couple of “work shirts” in the load, which were a real test of the cleaning ability.  They came out smelling clean.

The little muslin bag, disappointingly, bit the dust on the first load.  It ripped so badly at the seam that it isn’t even mendable.  Fortunately there was a second bag included.  I may pick up a mesh lingerie bag on my next trip to the store if this one falls apart too.

The soap nut experiment has been a definite success.  The 3-5 nuts are able to be used for up to 3 loads of laundry before they lose their cleaning power.  A large bag that is said to do up to 500 loads of laundry is $27.  This takes up far less precious storage space than a like amount of ready made detergent, and also less space than the ingredients for homemade detergent.
(Qualification:  Before I invest further we are going to wear some of the soapnut-washed apparel.  Rosie has numerous allergies and has very sensitive skin so I want to be sure that she won’t react to it.  There are many commercial detergents that are off-limits for that very reason.  Soapnuts are said to be hypoallergenic so I have high hopes!  She’s wearing soapnuts clothes today, so if I don’t hear from the school about an itchy kid, we’re good to go!)

UPDATE:  The soap nut laundry has been a success.  My extremely allergic kid has worn clothing washed in soapnut liquid and slept in soapnut-washed sheets!  We’re all clear – apparently these little fellas are very hypoallergenic!




Daisy Luther

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy Luther lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper's Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and the soon-to-be-released The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy's articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

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