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 and 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!
Our soapnuts are organically grown in Bangladesh. They come to us by ship and we pack them here in UK. The packaging is made European grown corn starch is which compostable. So now our soapnuts supply is totally plastic free!
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.
The Basics of Using Soapnuts
Soapnuts can be used in the washing machine, just by popping them in a sock, a thick odd sock is best.
Or you can stand the soap nuts in water to make a liquid cleaning and washing solution.
The great thing about cleaning with soapnut liquid is that you don’t need rubber gloves.
How to make Soapnut Washing Solution or Liquid.
Hand washing clothes; washing up liquid; surface cleaner and for cars.
Just stand the soapnuts in cold or warm water. The saponins are water soluble and will leach out. We never use the hot method where the soap nuts are simmered on a stove as this creates clouds of steam, used lots of energy and destroys the saponins. So do try our easy ‘cold or warm water method!’
We use about 1/3 of a packet and top up with about 1 liter of cold or warm water. We wait for a while for the water to change colour and to take on a more amber tone and use the natural soapy extract for washing shiny and glazed surfaces. If you are in a hurry, put the soapnuts in a jar with a well fitting lid, add the water and shake. Once you have used this liquid, add more water to make more liquid … We use tepid and then increasingly warmer water for further infusions, finally squeezing the soapnuts out by hand to extract the last of the saponins. Finally the spent soapnuts are composted.
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.
Place the soapnuts 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 some drops of essential oil into the conditioner tray of the washing machine.
How to Wash Clothes by Hand with Soapnuts and No Rubber Gloves!
Make your soapnut washing liquid. Pour some of this liquid into your washing tub and add warm water, make sure there is enough soapnut liquid to cause some bubbles to form on the water surface. Immerse an item of clothing making sure it get thoroughly wetted. You could soak it for a while. Then go ahead and wash it. Ring or squeeze the item and give it a quick rinse. Soapnuts are great at washing silk, wools and other delicate items.
How many times can soapnuts be reused in the washing machine?
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. If you handle the soapnuts while they are wet or damp, the fingers will feel sticky – proof that they still contain lots of soap. 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.
Just as with conventional washing, stains will need treating before the machine wash. Also soapnuts do not contain ‘optical brighteners’, nor bleach, therefore white clothing can begin to appear slightly yellow. We have now found the best eco solution: We use indigo powder as a natural optical whitener making whites look dazzling white and giving bedding a crisp professionally laundered feel. Indigo is also used to enhance the depth of colour on your coloured clothing too. Perhaps the best thing about using Soapnuts and Indigo is that the laundry is ideal for people with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and the indigo can be used in formulations specifically designed for psoriasis skin types.
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. Buying larger quantities, such as 500g, 1kg or even 5kg brings greater savings too.
The indigo is great value too and we have now added some options for small amounts of indigo on the Soapnut menu so you can by both at once.
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 of delicate textiles. For delicate clothing which needs to be hand washed, make up a soapnut washing solution.
How to wash your dishes with soapnut solution
I use the soapnut liquid 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.
Other uses of soapnuts
The soapnut solution is traditionally used to:
Soapnuts are great for cleaning the shower screen, windows, mirrors, cars, toilets and any washable shiny surface.
Wash and soften clothes, especially wool and silk.
Wash the hair and body, leaving the skin clean and soft. We mix Soapnut extract with Rhassoul Clay to make a degreasing shampoo.
Clean jewellery 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 and use it for washing indoor plants.
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. Remember not to get it in the eyes.
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.
We use the soapnut liquid as summer time windscreen wiper wash fluid and for washing vehicles without polluting the ground 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.
- Fully compostable packaging of cornstarch, sent in a biodegradable padded envelope.
- These soapnuts are sourced from Bangladesh, a country which desperately needs our support to help recover their economy and restore their normality to their lives after the devastating floods. The corn for the packaging is grown in Europe and the packets are manufactured in the UK. We love supporting other eco businesses!
- Supports traditional gathering and subsistence among rural families from Bangladesh.
- 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. Soapnut trees are very important and lots of people have them in their gardens. The leaves are used for cattle fodder, the seeds contain about 50% oil, locals can cold pressed the seeds to produce oil and of course the wood is valued for making agricultural implements and as fuel.
- 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. In Ayervedic medicine soapnuts recommended for people with skin troubles.
- 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 and ours are completely plastic free.
- Please compost the remains.
The soapnuts are contained within a resealable cornstarch 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.
250g Soapnuts for £5.00,
500g Soapnuts for £9.00
1kg Soapnuts for £14.00,
5kg Soapnuts for £55.00
10kg Soapnuts for £90.00.
250g Soapnuts + 5g indigo
500g Soapnuts + 5g Indigo
1kg Soapnuts + 10g Indigo
5kg Soapnuts + 10g Indigo
10kg Soapnut + 25g Indigo
We import soapnuts and wholesale them. If you need more than 10kg of soapnuts, at please call us on 01379 588100 0r 0800 023 5008. Just imagine the great difference to the environment if everyone used soapnuts!