Soap Berries - A natural laundry detergent
Want a chemical-free, low-tox all purpose soap that cleans you, your car, your dishes, your clothes AND your dog??!!
Look no further. The answer is in a fruit, grown high in the Himalayan mountains which is picked and dried by local farmers.
Soap berries, also known as soap nuts are technically known as Sapindus Mukorossi and are native to the mountainous region between India and Nepal. A natural miracle really, the skin of the fruit contains a cleaning agent called saponin that produces an effect similar to soap. Saponin works as a surfactant, reducing the surface tension in water and creating a lather that removes dirt, leaving it suspended in water that is flushed away.
Soap berries are hypoallergenic and are perfect for your skin. They are also antibacterial, anti-fungal and odourless. The lather it creates has a balanced pH level and moisturising properties, gently cleaning your skin and your clothes. Soap berries are a 100% organic substitute to your usual cleaning products that can contain harmful chemicals such as PEG's, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), synthetic fragrances and colouring which can be a skin irritant and also affect your hormonal system. Aside from its wonderful cleaning properties, soap berries are also highly-sustainable, they can be reused many times and thrown in the garden or compost when done.
So how can you use this miracle fruit to its full potential?
Soap nuts are not just used for laundry. They have been used for centuries to wash the skin and the hair. In Ayurvedic medicine, the berries’ mild antibacterial and insecticidal properties make them perfect for preventing head lice.
Here are some useful DIY recipes that you can easily try at home using your natural Soap berries ( I refer to soap berries & soap nuts interchangeably)
- Soap Nut Liquid Concentrate
- Soap Nut Hand Wash
- Soap Nut Shaving Cream
- All-Purpose Soap Nut Kitchen Cleaner
- Dishwashing Liquid
- Soap Nut Shampoo
Who can use soap nuts?
Soap nuts can be used by anyone, young or old and even your furry friends. Also recommended to those with sensitive skin as they are hypoallergenic and have antibacterial properties.
Can they really clean my clothes? They don't seem as 'sudsy' as normal washing powder or liquid
Lathering is important to commercial chemical soaps, to give us the sensory impression that it is working. Most detergents use artificial foaming agents to achieve this. Soap berries, though producing fewer suds, are still very effective in washing away dirt. They are free of sulfates, phosphates, formaldehyde, perfume and bleach that can irritate your skin and do internal damage by increasing the toxic load in your body.
How many soap nuts do I need per wash?
That will depend on how dirty your clothes are and how big the load is. Hard water areas may require more saponin, so it is recommended to use 3-4 soap nuts for half a load. For big loads, 6-8 soap nuts are the way to go.
Can I reuse the soap nuts for more than one load?
Yes! They typically last up to 3-4 washes. Just make sure to soak them in hot water as soap berries release very little saponin in cold water. If you are washing cold, throw them into a cup of boiling water before pouring the liquid into the tub and the shells themselves into a mesh bag that you then tie closed. This keeps them from ending up in your pocket and you can more easily remove and reuse them this way.
Soap nuts have a slight fruity, vinegary scent. Will my laundry have this scent?
Nope!! Soap nuts do not transfer scent. If you prefer a fragrance to your laundry load, I suggest adding a few drops of your favourite, pure essential oil to your wash.
The only way you can really understand how versatile and easy these are is to give them a try. I have slowly removed almost all of the chemicals in my home, this little fruity powerhouse has replaced about 5 products in my home. They really are quite incredible.