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What Are Soapnuts?!


I have been using Soapnuts for a while now and today I want to share with you just what they are!

I discovered soapnuts a few years back when I was looking for ways to be more eco-friendly, reduce the amount of plastic that I use and minimise the number of chemicals in my day to day life.

Soapnuts are not really nuts at all, they are berries that come from a species of shrub that is part of the Lychee family.  The shrub is called Sapindus and grows in several different places, namely Asia, both Northern and Southern.  The berries have high saponins which work as a detergent and have been used for many years in Asian countries.

Soapnuts can be used to clean a multitude of things, from surfaces, dishes, body and hair.

How I use Soapnuts.

I have been using soapnuts mainly to do my laundry and have replaced shop bought laundry detergent with soapnuts for pretty much all the washing that I now do.  I bought my soapnuts from here.  They came in a cloth bag, and the big draw for me was that there was 280 washes worth, they are compostable and are natural, no chemicals or other nasties that can work their way into our waterways.  They are really easy to use, just pop a few into a muslin bag and tie shut, place in with your laundry and set your machine for the regular cycle you would normally use.  Once the washing is done, dry in the normal way.

The nuts have no scent so I like to add a few drops of essential oil to the nuts before adding to the wash or I use a liquid, ecological conditioner (such as this Ecover one), though not having my clothes smell of anything does not bother me too much.  The soapnuts don’t leave your clothes smelling weird, they just don’t have any scent at all.  You can use the soapnuts two or three times before replacing.

Once the soapnuts have been used for laundry I like to collect them up, and when I have about 25 to 30 shells I place them into hot water and boil for 10 minutes.  I then use the water to rinse my hair or add to a bucket to mop over the floor.  The liquid can also be used to wash the dishes in or can be kept in a spray bottle and used for cleaning worktops.

The soapnuts don’t foam, which at first was really weird for me to get my head around after many years of being used to having soap suds being created when doing any type of cleaning.  It is hard to get your head around the idea that something that doesn’t foam can actually be effectively cleaning things.

I have found that soapnuts clean my laundry really well and lift out dirt and stains as well as regular, shop bought detergents, they don’t fade or discolour fabrics and seem to deal pretty well with things like deodorant build up too.

Have you tried soapnuts?  What are your thoughts about them?  Do you have any other uses for them?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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