Have you heard of soap nuts?
They are fruit shells that grow on ritha trees in Nepal. They release a natural detergent called saponin which makes them a great pure option for laundry detergent. Supposedly, many cultures have been using them as such for centuries.
Till recently I knew very little about soap nuts. A few of my friends and family members used them before but I was never quite convinced of their power. I often wondered if they would leave an unusual scent or if they actually clean and get rid of all the bacteria from our clothes. So, after months of friends trying to convince me to give it a go, I researched everything I needed to know about them and I finally took the plunge. I bought a small bag and to my surprise, I quickly realized how brilliant and easy they are to use and how clean they leave our clothes without all those nasty chemicals, regular detergents have.
So here is what you need to know about soap nuts:
As I mentioned above, they are a macadamia-sized berry fruits that are cracked open and dried in the sun, producing a dark golden ‘shell’ resembling nuts. The pods contain a very high percentage of saponins, a surfactant which removes dirt and oils from clothing when combined with water. Unlike commercial soaps that contain harmful artificial foaming agents, soap nuts do not produce lots of bubbles or foam. Actually, that is good, since foam is not an indication of cleaning power - it's just a misleading byproduct. Soap nuts are eco-friendly, non-toxic, gentle on clothes and skin. In India people even wash silk with them, because of their goodness. They will definitely leave your clothing clean, soft and without scent.
To use them as a laundry detergent, simply place 4 or 5 soap nut shells in a cotton drawstring bag and tie it securely. Toss the bag in the washing machine before adding your clothes and the rest is as usual.
Additionally, to make things even more natural, you can swap your softener for white distilled vinegar and a dash of lemon essential oil or add washing soda to the pre-wash cycle instead of your usual bleach to make your whites even whiter.
For now, I’m still using softener with my soap nuts, because I really like the scent, but you’re welcome to swap it all the way to essential oils if you want. I also add about 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to every cycle for extra freshness.
So, the bottom line is, those soap nuts are as good as a regular detergent you buy weekly but they are natural, healthier, chemical-free and totally pure. Those are my favourite, but you can get them pretty much in an health stores around your city. Thoughts? Would you try them? Have you already? What was your experience?
P.S: Ok, here is something crazy!
P.P.S: And if you're not into soap nuts, here is a great laundry detergent made easy.
(3rd photo by exPress-o, the rest via Hither and Thither and some of the info via Natural Fit Foodie)