Bare Handed Washing Up

Mrs Everybody used to be allergic to washing up, well, to be precise, her body was sensitized to conventional washing up liquid. As there is no dish washing machine in sight, Mr Everybody gallantly did mountains of washing up, day after long day. Then eventually, Mrs Everybody had an idea… she tried washing up with liquid made from soapnuts, a dried soapy fruit. All change!

With my old routine, at my sink were: Foam pads which clog up very quickly and don’t biodegrade properly; Jay cloths which aren’t very durable; Shop purchased cotton dishcloths which would stretch into unsightly shapes and get covered in holes; The dreaded washing up liquid and the obligatory rubber gloves.

I used to, squirt some washing up liquid in my washing up bowl, fill the bowl up with hot water and immediately start sneezing. Besides washing the glasses first, all the washing up would be piled in the bowl under layers of bubbles. After washing up, I would, notice how sore and dry my hands felt, moisturize and still get dermatitis and lots of broken nails. I’d get headaches and sore throats too. I wasn’t doing very well, even with washing up liquids purchased in health food shops.

This is what I have at my sink now.

  • Soapnut liquid. Found out how to transform your dried soapnuts into a liquid cleaner

    Washing up bowl, soapnuts, sponges and dishcloth

    Washing up bowl, soapnuts liquid, sponges and a durable cotton dishcloth

  • A bowl in a sink
  •  A hand knitted dishcloth knitted in Dec 2011 – which has already celebrated its one year birthday. The pattern is on the Dec 2012 newsletter and that’s on the website site in the Newsletter Archives. They are so good, they should be Army Issue!
  • A small silk fina sponge which fits inside wine glasses and mugs. I think that the average sponge is cleverer than any microfiber cloth.
  • A medium soft honeycomb sponge for wiping plates and pots. These are both clever and very beautiful.
  • A coiled metal scrubbing pad. They are very durable and can be easily cleaned. I recycle mine at the end of its useful life.
  • Hemp Oil soap – emergency help for burnt pans and nigh impossible cleaning tasks.

 Washing Up Best Practice

  1. Rinse everything straight after use. I often use the palm of my hand to rinse a plate – I don’t use a cloth or a sponge. The hand is easier to clean afterwards. It is surprising how easily oily deposits can be wiped off the plate if tackled straight away, even with cold water. Leave the washing up ready for the portentous moment…
  2. At the elected time, fill up the bowl with hot water and add a dash of soapnut liquid. Bear in mind that the hotter the water, the more drying it is to the skin and nails, but then soaps are more active in hot water. Change the soapnutty water if you need to at any stage. You should see some bubbles but you don’t need loads of foamy bubbles.
  3. Wash the glasses first. Use the small sponge and rinse them in warm water if you want perfect results.
  4. Wash one plate or bowl at a time. This is how I do it. I dip the sponge in the bowl of hot soapy water and holding the plate to the side of the bowl (over the sink), wipe the plate with the hot wet sponge. A few wipes may be necessary. Wring out the sponge with one hand over the sink and then redip the sponge in the bowl of washing up water. Wipe the plate again or immerse the nearly cleaned plate in the washing up bowl, wiping it to clean away any further residues.The plate is now clean, the sponge has remained quite clean, the soapnutty water and the inside of the washing up bowl are still quite clean. You can rinse the plate if you are looking for perfect results. Place the plate on your dish rack to air dry. This method might sound more complicated than my former ‘all in one’ method, but actually it is very fast and effective and you will soon get the idea.
  5. Tea mugs and cutlery may benefit from a brief soak in your bowl of soapnutty washing up water and may they need a more persuasive rub with your home knitted cotton dish cloth.
  6. Pans used for boiling and steaming are washed next.
  7. Tackle any oil pans and roasting tins last.
  8. If you have burnt pans, while you are doing the washing up you can easily get the burnt matter off, by simmering a teaspoon of hemp oil soap in sufficient water to cover the stuck on matter. You can stir the burnt matter with a wooden spoon if you are impatient, or lay in wait with your scrubber.
  9. The washer-upper is normally expected to clean the counters, hob and sink too, that is unless you have an industrious assistant! The hemp oil soap might come in handy, especially for the sink, the outside of the washing up bowl and stubborn remains on the hob. Your soapnut liquid will tackle everything else.
  10. Before you skip away, the most important part of the task is to leave the interior of the washing up bowl spotlessly clean (for perfect glasses next time). Try to reserve soapnut liquid and sponges for cleaning the inside of the washing up bowl so it doesn’t get scratched and so it is ever ready for the washing of glasses. Then, be sure that the sponge and dish cloth get a good clean before they are wrung and set to dry.

I have found that by using soapnuts to do my dishes:

  • I use less hot water
  • I am creating no pollution as the washing up effluent will begin to biodegrade once it is in the sewers. The sponges and dishcloth are fully natural too.
  •  My hands and nails are now in good condition and my throat and nose is no longer irritated
  • I am saving money by using soapnuts
  • The soapnuts are wild gathered, transported by ship and by working with the producer our soapnuts now enjoy an organic status. They are a very ethical product.
  • I enjoy washing up and cleaning the kitchen with soapnuts, and washing up is a pleasure rather than a chore. Nevertheless, I shall let Mr Everybody keep his hand in!
  • Compared to conventional products which contain multiple ingredients (often not clearly listed on the label), soapnuts are single ingredient soap, growing naturally and ‘organically’ on trees and they are transported by ship, one of the most planet friendly forms of transport.
  • Soapnuts are definitely safe for sensitive skin because in traditional Indian medicine they are used as a treatment for skin troubles.

One more Tip

  • If you reserve your sponges and your knitted dish cloth for use only in water and soap nut liquid, they will be much easier to keep clean and when you use them you can get streak-free cleaning. Use another set of sponges and cloths for hemp oil soap.

Plunge in with your bare-handed washing up with soapnut liquid and let me know how you get on!

Get you first packet here


4 thoughts on “Bare Handed Washing Up

  1. I also bung about 6-8 halved soap nuts in my dishwasher and also get great results without the elbow grease!!

  2. Helen,

    Have you got hard or soft water? Can you reuse the soapnuts? Can you just use clear vinegar as a rinse aid – do you still need a rinse aid? You can tell that I haven’t got a dishwasher – but it would be great to know!

    Thank you,

  3. Hi I have been using soap nuts fur cleaning and washing up . Any thighs ideas how to get rid of excess fat from pans plates the sink . The soap nut just does not seem to cut through the oil/ fat – I have put lemon juice in but still not cutting through the grease
    Any thoughts
    Many thanks from my natural kitchen


  4. A lot comes down to what you are scrubbing the pans with and what they are made of. All of mine are steel, so for example with my roasting pans, often the soapnut liquid with a steel scourer will do the job. If not, then a little dab of hemp oil soap works wonder and gets off every bit of grease. We also bring the hemp oil soap into play when we are dealing with a burn pan.

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