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  • Writer's pictureValinda

Ditch the Chemicals: Why Soap Nuts are the Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

Updated: May 30

Here you could read about doing your laundry sustainably but if you want to go the extra mile, maybe soapnuts are for you.

Soap nuts, also known as Indian soapberries, have become increasingly popular due to a natural cleaning essence contained in their shell: they are a fantastic natural detergent. These nuts are also called soapberry nut husks because they are the husk (shell) from soapberry nuts. In addition to their increased popularity in the last couple of years, soap nuts have been used for centuries, mainly in India.

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Soap nuts are the fruits of a small Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which grows in the Himalayas and the highlands between India and Nepal. After picking and drying in the sun, these unique shells contain a natural cleaning agent (saponin) that produces an effect comparable to soap.

A significant advantage of saponin is that it can completely substitute chemically made laundry and cleaning products made with SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulphates) without these chemical components' downsides.

Sapindus Mukorossi tree

Are soap nuts eco-friendly?

The Sapindus tree grows in a wild environment, in hard environmental conditions and protects its native areas from the risk of erosion, and does not need fertile soil to flourish, quite the opposite. In addition, it is incredibly resilient to diseases, so no fertilizer or chemical pesticides are used for its growth. A soap nut tree becomes mature after about 9 to 10 years. This is when the berry production start. Each year, it has a six-month harvest time and can be harvested for almost a hundred years, which means a single tree can produce a lot of soap nuts.

Its fruits, the nuts, are harvested by locals, thereby a great source of financial sustainment for them. The people pick up the berries from the ground after they become gooey and red as they ripen. Once picked up, the seeds are removed from the shell. After that, they are let dry in the sun without any chemical or synthetic agents. Therefore, soap nuts are not treated in any way and what is then put on the market is a 100% natural, unmodified product. To conclude, when used up, the soap nuts can be composted, so they are 100% zero waste as well.

What are they used for?

The Sapindus mukorossi nuts produce substantial amounts of a saponifying agent. This completely natural surfactant can be used as laundry detergent, dish and hand soap, shampoo and body wash, pet cleaning wash, and mosquito repellent, among many others.

Who would use soap nuts?

Next to their wide array of uses, soap nuts are especially recommended to babies as well as other people having various skin conditions such as:

- eczema, psoriasis, and rashes due to allergic reactions (thanks to its allergy-free, antifungal, and antibacterial nature)

- dry skin

- mature and aging skin (due to the anti-aging and antioxidant effect)

- delicate skin, particularly for babies and toddlers

- acne-prone skin, as it dries up excess oil in the epidermis and reduces the appearance of clogged pores

How to use soap nuts?

The best thing about soap nuts is that a primary soap nut liquid can become the basis for many cleaning products.

You can use soap nuts for laundry, machine washing, as well as a hand wash. Just add 6 - 8 (depending water hardness) in a small bad to a load of laundry. You can reuse the soap nuts for 3-4 washing loads before adding them to the compost.

Once the saponin is released from the shells, the soap nuts will stop feeling sticky and start looking quite pale and brittle once dry. When that happens, pop them in the composting pile, and start using a new fresh handful. It is essential to mention that the dried soap nuts will last until you use them all: they cannot go bad and have an indefinite shelf life since they are simply the dried shell of a fruit.

a bag of soap nuts

It takes about 20 minutes of cooking for their natural detergent to be released. This will turn the boiled water into liquid soap. This soap can be used as a base for liquid laundry detergent and other cleansers.

Soap nuts can be used as a dishwashing detergent. Just like with the laundry, put a small bag full of soap nuts in the silverware tray of the dishwasher (not in the regular soap spot on the door.)

Soap nuts are an excellent choice for personal hygiene as well. Although you could probably rub the berries directly on your body, making berry soap syrup is perhaps the best way to get the most washes out of the berries and the least mess on the bottom of your shower.

They are a low-cost natural alternative that will make your hair soft and are great for hair growth and prevent hair loss. In addition, the nutrients in soap nuts will make your hair shiny and smooth, and if you use them regularly, they can reduce split ends, tame frizz, and detangle.

Soap nuts can fight dandruff because they are antifungal and antibacterial. Moreover, they also have insecticidal properties that can kill lice. However, you want to make sure not to get them in your eyes: due to their lice-killing properties, they can cause your eyelids to swell.

Using them as a face cleanser can even out your skin tone as well as brighten your complexion. Using soap nuts as a body wash will cool and cleanse your skin without causing damage. In addition, soap nuts can prevent dry skin because they are a natural moisturizer.

Liquid soap nut solution is not just great for human hair and body; it can also be used to shampoo your pets. A soap nut detergent works well for washing pet beds and cleaning toys. And as a bonus, because insects hate soap nuts, you can spray your pet with the solution to repel fleas and ticks.

bowl of soapnuts

You can clean your entire house with soap nuts. A few berries mixed with water will create a powerful, natural solution that can clean glass, cabinets, kitchen surfaces, and dishes. In addition, they have no odor, so simply add a few drops of essential oils if you want some fragrance.

Soap nut liquid soap solution can be used for cleaning electronics, polishing jewelry, or even washing your car.

If you were looking for an all-natural cleaner for almost everything in your home, look no more. Soap nuts are the thing you were looking for all this time.

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Valinda - Natural Parenting Blog - Eco-friendly mom - Cloth diaper - sustainable pregnancy

Meet Valinda

Hi there, I am the founder of the green and happy mom blog and green and happy shop. After battling severe depression, I am determined to make the world a little better and I want to take you along that journey with me. 

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