Who would have thought that you could clean your clothes with the fruit from a tree! Well, that is exactly what soap nuts are. Don’t be fooled by the name. These are not nuts, they are actually berries that grow on trees native to India.
I love to save money on laundry and cleaning in general. I have tried a lot of things in the past to reign in the pennies, including making my own laundry liquid. Currently, I use half and half regular laundry liquid along with soda crystals and have done so for a long time.
But is this the best option for my family’s health and for the environment?
So I’m looking at alternatives.
I took a look at Ecoegg. I liked what I found, and I am very tempted to go for that option. While I was doing my research I came across a lot of comments from people who recommended ‘soap nuts’ instead, and I became very curious as to what those were and if they could be better than Ecoegg.
The idea that, like Ecoegg, these nuts could help reduce my plastic usage and be kinder to the environment is very attractive too.
Provided switching out my detergent takes me no more time than I would normally spend on doing the laundry and it saves me money, I am definitely interested. So if you are in the same boat, here are some soap nuts pros and cons to help you decide too.
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What is unique about soap nuts is that that when added to water they release a natural soap called saponin. The saponin in soap nuts has natural cleaning powers including anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties which makes them perfect for cleaning your clothes, skin and hair.
Because soap nuts are naturally occurring, they biodegrade easily when spent, and are kind to sensitive skin.
Where to buy soap nuts?
Soap nuts seem to be widely available. You can buy them on eBay or Amazon.
Are soap nuts cheaper than regular detergent?
A 1kg pack of soap nuts can last for approximately 240 washes. Which works out at about 5-6p per wash or more if you wash at higher temperatures. Of course, the saving will vary depending on how much you pay for your soap nuts. You can reuse your soap nuts a second time on cold-warm temperatures and get even more value out of them.
How long do soap nuts last?
One bag of soap nuts can last indefinitely. It’s important to keep them away from moisture. Soap nuts need water to activate, if you get them wet they will become sticky. As they age they will become darker in colour but will work just the same.
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How to use soap nuts to replace regular detergent?
- Load your washing machine
- Place 3-7 halves 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
- Reuse your soap nuts in the next low-temperature wash or discard
If you are washing at a low temperature you can reuse your nuts.
How to know if you can reuse your soap nuts a second time
Here’s a trick to find out if your soap nuts have enough soap left in them to reuse.
- Run your muslin bag containing the used soap nuts under warm water
- Squeeze the bag
- If you see suds coming through the bag, your soap nuts can be reused, if not then discard the nuts and replace
Soap nuts pros and cons
Not sure whether to make the switch to soap nuts? Check out these pros and cons to help you decide.
Soap nuts pros
Cheaper than regular detergent
You can save considerable amounts by switching out your regular detergent for soap nuts. Based on 4 loads of week you could get a year’s worth of laundry done for just a £12 outlay. Bear in mind that you might need to spend extra on stain removers if you regularly deal with stained clothing.
Soap nuts do not contain any harsh chemicals that could damage the environment. You can reduce your plastic use by switching to soap nuts too. Think of all the plastic detergent containers you won’t be using.
Kind to skin
Soap nuts are the perfect choice for those allergic to regular detergents or who have skin conditions such as eczema.
Can be used on delicate clothing
Soap nuts are just fine for all fabrics including delicates.
Can go in the dryer
One of the downsides of the Ecoegg is that you can’t put them in the dryer. If you have a washer-dryer you won’t need to fish your soap nuts out before the drying cycle.
Soap nuts cons
You may need fabric softener
Some reviewers are saying that they needed to use a fabric conditioner, some say not. Personally, I have never used fabric conditioners. But if you prefer extra softness you can stay all-natural by adding vinegar to the conditioner compartment. Your clothes will be softer but won’t smell of vinegar, so don’t worry about that. Vinegar has natural anti-bacterial properties too.
Not so good at cold temperatures
Coldwater washing is possible but you will need to soak the nuts in some warm water first in order to activate the saponin. The great news is that cold water washing should make your nuts last for more washes.
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Does not remove stubborn stains
If you are already using a non-bio detergent you are probably already used to pre-treating stains. Spray some stain remover directly on the stain or pre-soak.
Not so great for whites
Soap nuts do not contain whiteners or bleach as some regular detergents do. You might find your white loads becoming grey unless you add a whitener to the load. You can buy natural whiteners to avoid chemical use. Drying your whites in the sunshine will naturally whiten your whites too.
Frequently asked questions
Can soap nuts be used in front loaders and HE machines?
Yes, soap nuts can be used in all types of washing machines.
Are soap nuts good for eczema?
Yes, soap nuts are all-natural and do not contain any harsh chemicals.
How many soap nuts per wash?
This depends on the normal washing temperature. For a cold to warm wash, you will need 5-7 halves depending on the hardness of your water. Don’t forget that sometimes you can reuse your soap nuts a second time.
Can soapnuts be used to wash hair?
Can you use soap nuts for hair? Yes! Here’s how to make shampoo with soap nuts:
You will need:
- 15 soapnuts
- 6 cups of water
- 1 pot large enough to accommodate the soapnuts and the water
- 1 potato masher
- Put the soapnuts in a pot with the water.
- Boil for around 10-15 minutes. The more you boil it, the more concentrated it’s going to be.
- Cool and then leave overnight.
- In the morning, crush with the potato masher to release as much of the soap as possible.
- Drain the liquid
- Transfer to a bottle
- Use as you would normal shampoo
Attribution for these instructions with thanks – Vitalivesfree.
Do soap nuts kill germs?
Soap nuts are naturally anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
Can you use soap nuts to wash dishes?
Yes! Use the instructions as above for hair and you have yourself some dishwashing liquid too.
Can soap nuts be used in the dishwasher?
Soap nuts won’t cut through grease in the same way dishwasher powder and tablets can. If you do here is a recipe to make a liquid.
How many times can soap nuts be used?
You can use your soap nuts more than once before you need to switch them out for fresh. Here is how to tell if your soap nuts are spent.
What do soap nuts contain?
Soap nuts are naturally occurring fruits from a tree native to India. They do not contain anything extra.
Where can I get soap nuts?
Soap nuts are widely available. You can buy them on eBay or Amazon.
How do soap nuts clean?
When soap nuts are added to warm water they release natural foamy soap called saponin. It’s the saponin that does the cleaning.
Can you use vinegar with soap nuts?
Yes. You can use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. Vinegar has natural anti-bacterial qualities too.
Soap nuts vs detergent
Regular detergent contains chemicals that could irritate sensitive skin. Soap nuts on the other hand naturally occur and are kind to the skin. Soap nuts are usually cheaper than man-made detergents, use less packaging and have much less impact on the environment.
Soap nuts pros and cons – final thoughts
I am very tempted to give soap nuts ago. I love the fact that they are so natural and kind to skin and to the environment. There are lots of positive reviews around the internet, so I’m feeling pretty confident that my experience will be positive.
Now my kids are older, I don’t have lots of stubborn stains to deal with. But if I did, I think I might find having to keep pre-treating stains a little tedious, which would be the case with soap nuts. I appreciate being able to just throw in washing and pressing buttons!
Have you tried soap nuts? I would love to know what you thought.