I’m always on the lookout for anything that can save me money on cleaning products, and soap nuts fill that bill beautifully.
Aside from the money-saving aspect. Soap nuts are an eco-friendly way to clean your house, clothing and body.
Soap nuts are naturally occurring, so there are no plastics involved in producing and packaging them and the suds cause no harm to the environment. Plus, soap nuts are very kind to the skin.
What is not to love about them?
The more I looked into soap nuts, the more I realised how versatile they are for use in everyday life. So in this post today I am going to take you through the many uses of soap nuts. Prepare to be impressed!
What is a soap nut?
The soap nut is not actually a nut, it is the fruit of a tree from Asia. The Latin name for the tree is Sapindus Mukorossi and it is also known as Reetha.
The soap nut berry has an outer shell with a seed inside. The outer shell produces saponin (suds) when added to water. The seed inside is essentially useless and can be discarded.
Soap nuts have been used as a soap for thousands of years. When you add water to the shells, light suds are produced which is effective for washing your hair, clothes and body, and much more.
Best uses for soap nuts in the house
Washing your clothes
The most common use for soap nuts is as a laundry liquid. Soap nuts are brilliant for cleaning clothes and leaving them soft. You can replace your regular washing powder with soap nuts.
How to use soap nuts to wash your clothes
- Load your washing machine as normal
- Place 3-4 soap nut shells in a muslin bag and secure tightly
- Run your wash as normal
- Remove the muslin bag and leave to dry or add them to your dryer with the rest of the laundry
You can reuse the soap nuts for a second wash or discard them.
You can tell if your nuts still have suds in them by wetting the bag and squeezing. If suds come out then you are good to go for a second wash.
Three things to be aware of when using soap nuts for your laundry
- Soap nuts won’t remove stains. You will need to apply a stain remover to the stain or add a scoop of stain remover to your washing load such as Vanish
- Soap nuts won’t whiten your clothes. For natural whites hang your washing outside to dry in the sun, or add a whitener to your washing load.
- For cold washes, you will need to soak the nuts in hot water first to activate the saponin.
Washing your dishes
The antibacterial qualities of soap nuts make them a great soap for washing dishes.
Add your soap nut muslin bag to the warm water and squeeze until you have some soap suds.
Cleaning glass and windows
Make up some soap nut liquid and add it to a spray bottle. Spray your windows as normal and wipe with a microfiber cloth.
As a fruit and veg wash
Soap nuts have a natural detoxifying effect. Soak your fruits and vegetables in a soap nut solution to help remove pesticide residue from the surface.
Soap nuts have natural antibacterial qualities which make them great for washing nappies and diapers.
- Put your nappies on a rinse cycle
- Add a bag or 3-4 soap nut shells to the wash
- Optionally add a drop of essential oil such as lavender or orange oil
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the fabric conditioner compartment
- Run a wash as normal
Your nappies will be clean and should smell fresh too.
Washing your pet
Washing your pet in soap nuts liquid is especially beneficial if it is suffering from skin complaints. Soap nuts should help alleviate skin problems and prevent itching.
- Make up a cup or two (depending on the size of your pet) of soap nut liquid
- Wash your pet
- Rinse as normal
Best uses for soap nuts for the skin and hair
Soap nuts are very kind to eczema/psoriasis/sensitive skin. This condition can be especially worse on your hands.
- Make up some soap nut liquid and add it to a pump bottle
- Wash your hands as normal and rinse
Washing your hair
Soap nuts are very gentle on the scalp and are very effective at cleansing your hair. Plus soap nuts have unique insecticidal properties that help to kill hair lice.
How to wash your hair with soap nuts
- Oil your hair (optional)
- Apply a cup-sized amount of soap nut liquid to your hair and work it through to the ends
- Apply another cup-sized amount of liquid to your hair and continue massaging it to the ends
As a body wash
Soap nuts can be used as a gentle body wash or bath soak.
- Make up a bottle of soap nut liquid
- Wash as normal or add to your bath
As a baby bath
Soap nuts are very gentle, which makes them perfect for washing your baby’s skin. Be careful not to get the soap nut fluid near your baby’s eyes as it will sting.
- Make up some soap nut liquid
- Add to your baby’s bathwater
As a facial cleanser
Using soap nuts as a facial cleanser is said to lighten your complexion and even out skin tone. Soap nuts will also help you to rid your skin of stubborn pimples and blackheads.
How to use soap nuts as a facial cleanser
- Mix a few drops of your favourite essential oils with some soap nut liquid.
- Massage gently to remove makeup and impurities
Other uses for soap nuts
Washing your car
Soak 12-15 soap nuts in a gallon of water to release suds and then wash your car as normal. The suds are no danger to plants or animals and can safely be drained onto the garden.
Spray some soap nut liquid on your skin to repel insects.
How to make soap nut liquid
- Add 15 soapnuts to a pot with 6 cups of water.
- Boil for 10-15 minutes.
- Cool and then leave overnight.
- The next day, crush with the potato masher to release as much of the soap as possible.
- Drain the liquid
- Transfer to a bottle
You can also make a cup of liquid by adding 2-3 soap nuts to a cup of hot water and leave to steep. Much like making tea!
How to make soap nut paste
Soap nut paste can be used to wash your hair as well as the liquid. Here is how to make soap nut paste.
- Take some soap nut shells and shikakai pieces and add them to a food blender or coffee grinder.
- Grind until you have a powder.
Pro tip: Don’t let the dust get in your eyes, it will sting! Also, you might want to have a dedicated grinder because the soap nut powder will taint any other food you grind up in it.
How to use soap nut paste to wash your hair
- Combine powdered soap nuts and shikakai pieces with water to make a paste.
- Apply the paste to your scalp and work it down your hair shaft until it is evenly applied.
- Massage for a couple of minutes
- Rinse thoroughly with water until the paste is completely washed out.
Frequently asked questions
Where to get soap nuts?
Soap nuts are available widely to buy online and in some shops. You can buy them on Amazon here.
Are soap nuts natural?
Yes, soap nuts grow on trees and are biodegradable with no harmful effects to plants, animals or humans.
How to thicken soap nut liquid?
To make your soap nut liquid more concentrated, simply boil for longer on the stove until more of the water evaporates.
Are soap nuts edible?
Soap nuts should not be eaten because they are not actually nuts. They are great for producing natural saponin but should not be consumed as food.