What are soapnuts?
Soapnuts are a revolutionary laundry soap which grows on trees and replaces all chemical detergents with an eco friendly and green solution! Soapnuts can be used to wash clothes, dishes, windows, vehicles, shower screens and still there are many other uses. While, nothing more than a dried fruit case, they leave the clothes clean, soft and fragrant free. Soapnuts save us from polluting the water with synthetic chemicals, from irritating our skin. The best thing is that thy are so economical to use. A machine load of laundry costs us about 3-4 pence!
Soapnuts are well known across the East and for thousands of years, people across India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal and China have collected the soap nuts, also called soap pods for washing clothes as well as for a multitude of other uses.
The soapnut fruit comes from the sapindus mukorossi tree which grows naturally in the forest and hill track areas. Once the tree reaches 9 years, it begins to produce fruit, and then continues to fruit for another 90 years. Only the natural ripened windfall fruits are collected using traditional gathering techniques and then the seed and fruit pulp is removed by women. It is the fruit case which contains natural saponins or plant soap. The fruit case are then sun dried. Many different species of plant contain saponins but the sapindus mukorossi, has the highest concentration of all the different species of soapnut trees and it is higher in saponins that other saponiferous herbs such as soapwort.
How do soapnuts work?
Hot water dissolves the plant saponins which are in very high concentrations in the sapindus mukorossi soapnut. Saponins are a natural surfactant which reduce surface tension of water, making water ‘wetter’ and allowing it to penetrate the clothing fibers lifting dirt, grime and oil from the clothes. The surfactants then hold onto the dirt, keeping it in suspension in the water until it is drained away. During the rinse cycle, normally with cold water, no more soap is released, meaning that when the clothes are dry, they are completely fragrance free and soft.
How to wash clothes with soapnuts in a washing machine
For hard water you will need 4-5 soapnuts for a full washing load, and for soft water, only 3-4 are necessary.
Split the soapnuts in half. Place them in an old sock, a thick one is best. Tie a knot in the sock to prevent the soapnuts from escaping and place the sock in the washing machine drum with the clothes. There is no need to add detergent or fabric conditioner. Go ahead and do the wash. The sock of soapnuts can be reused 3-5 times, and then the spent soapnut shells can be composted. If you wish to add a scent to your washing, just add 8 drops of essential oil into the conditioner tray of the washing machine.
How many times can soapnuts be reused?
Soapnuts can be used several times over before they are spent, but it depends on the temperature of the wash. With low wash temperatures, 30-40ºC, the soapnuts can be reused 3-5 times, and at temperatures of 60-90º soapnuts will perform well for 2 washes.
It is easy to tell whether the soapnuts can be reused. Fresh soapnuts are a golden brown and if you squeeze them when they are wet they will release bubbles. Once the saponins have been used up the soapnut shells will turn very dark, thin, and they will begin to disintegrate. Then it is time to compost them and to place new soapnuts in your sock.
Soapnuts do not contain ‘optical brighteners’, nor bleach, therefore white clothing may need a boost from time to time. Just add some bicarbonate of soda or soda crystals into your washing powder tray. Also just as with conventional washing, stains will need treating before the machine wash.
Are soapnuts really good value?
250g of soapnuts for £5.00 contains about 90 soapnuts and by using 4 soapnuts, 4 times at a wash temperature of 40ºC, they will give at least 90 washes. An order of 500g of soapnuts for £8.00 gives better value and 1kg for £13.00 even better value still.
Soapnuts are especially kind to delicate clothing such as silk, clothes coloured with natural dyes and natural textiles. Because soapnuts are natural and gentle, they help clothes which would normally fade quickly to retain their colours. Soapnuts have anti-fungal, antibacterial and insect repellent properties making them ideal for prolonging the life delicate textiles. For delicate clothing which needs to be hand washed, make up a soapnut washing solution.
How to make soapnut washing solution for hand washing clothes or dishes
Place a large handful of soapnuts in a saucepan with 1 liter of water. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Cool and strain your decoction. Keep the soap nut liquid in a glass bottle. You can add a little lemon juice or grapefruit seed extract as a preservative if you want to keep the liquid for use over the course of the week. I divide my soapnut decoction into two bottles and keep one in the fridge for use later on in the week and one by the sink for washing up. Be sure to label the bottles so that it is not mistaken as vinegar or salad dressing! You will be able to make several brews from the same soapnuts. Allow the wet soapnuts to dry on a plate ready for your next batch.
How to wash your dishes with soapnut solution
I use the soapnut decoction for washing my dishes and I like it a lot because it doesn’t strip the oil out of my hands or provoke dermatitis. I don’t have to wear gloves when I use soapnut washing up liquid. To make the task easier, I rinse the dishes as soon as they are used – even cold water and a bit of a rub with a cloth or my hand will remove most of the food traces. When you are ready to wash up, just run a bowl of hot water, add your soapnut liquid and the job is easy. Glasses look more respectable if they are dipped in a vinegar and hot water rinse.
How to wash your dishes with soapnuts in a dishwasher
Place 3-5 soapnuts in the cutlery tray. Place some clear vinegar in the rinse solution compartment. Do the wash. reuse the soapnuts and replace the vinegar rinse solution as required.
Other uses of soapnuts
The soapnut solution is traditionally used to:
Soapnuts are great for cleaning the shower screen, windows and mirrors.
Wash and soften clothes, especially wool and silk.
Wash the hair and body, leaving the skin clean and soft.
Clean jewelery including precious metals and stones – Add some lemon juice and scrub gently with a toothbrush
Repel insects and mosquitoes when used as a hair and body wash.
Kills aphids – sieve the soapnut liquid carefully, so that it does not block up a spray nozzle.
Wash animals – not only does a soapnut shampoo leave animals clean and with a soft coat but the solution is highly effective against lice, fleas and ticks and helps to repel insects.
In Ayurvedic medicine as a shampoo and body wash for people suffering from eczema, psoriasis and for removing freckles.
People also wash their fruit and vegetables in soap nut solution to help clean the food and remove pesticides and chemicals. Once the vegetables have been washed in a soapnut solution, rinse them with fresh water.
Please keep the soapnuts away from pets and children.
The ethics of using soapnuts
- The soapnuts are grown and prepared totally without chemicals and manufacturing processes. They are simply gathered, separated from the fruit pulp and seed and then sun dried. No other washing product is made 100% by nature.
- These soapnuts are sourced from Pakistan, a country which desperately needs our support to help recover their economy and restore their normality to their lives after the devastating floods.
- Supports traditional gathering and subsistence among rural families from Pakistan.
- Soapnuts are transported by ship. While 90% of world commodities are transported by shipping, shipping only accounts for 10% of the global pollution. Transport by water is the most environmentally friendly form of transport. As ship technology improves and more shipping routes are opened up, shipping will become even more environmentally friendly.
- Soapnuts are safe for septic tanks and gray water systems. Even when the water enters the sewage system, soapnuts naturally biodegrade as they contain no synthetic chemicals, fragrances, foaming agents or other polluting toxins. The water from the washing machine can also be collected and used to water the garden – helping to deter pests.
- Soapnuts trees need no cultivation and are naturally sustainable. The trees help to lock up carbon dioxide through their 100-150 year long life.
- Friendly to people and animals with sensitive skin and people who suffer with trouble prone skin. People with skin trouble should never use chemical products on their skin.
- Friendly to babies and children who should never be exposed to the toxic chemicals in conventional chemical washing products. Soapnuts are suitable for washing nappies. All washable nappies should be washed with soapnuts to maximize their absorption and prevent leaks. Conventional detergents are not suitable for washing nappies as they prevent the fabric from absorbing fluids fully.
- Using soapnuts helps us and our friends to break away from the manipulative advertising of chemical soap powder and fabric conditioner manufacturers, who unnecessarily pollute the environment, our homes and bodies.
- Soapnuts are much more economical than other washing products.
- Soapnuts help to rid our households of toxic chemicals.
- Please compost the remains.
The soapnuts are contained within a plastic bag to keep them fresh. The soapnuts do not come with a smaller cotton drawstring bag to put them in – I recommend using an old sock as it is easier to undo, and once the sock is knotted, the soapnuts can not escape in the washing machine.
Simply select 250g for £5.00, 500g for £8.00 or £1kg for £13.00.
We import soapnuts and wholesale them. If you need at least 10kg of soapnuts, at please call us on 01603 474516. Just imagine the great difference to the environment if everyone used soapnuts!