For as often as I get discouraged when I learn about how products are made with harmful ingredients, I also get so excited when I discover how perfectly God makes certain things. For example, I love knowing that a simple basil plant repels insects, stabilizes blood sugar, soothes a sore throat, and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, along with many vitamins and minerals. To me, that’s amazing.
When I found out about the sapindus tree, I was equally amazed. The sapindus species, native to tropical regions, produce soap berries or soap nuts. When you wash with the berries, the fruity pulp acts as a soap, called saponin.
Since I love to try easy, safe, and natural cleaning methods, I bought a packet of soap nuts and had no idea what to expect. The round berries are about the size of a quarter and are brown, dried, leathery balls. They smell a lot like vinegar.
You can extract the saponin from the soap nuts and use it as a natural surfactant. Soap nuts can be used to treat eczema and psoriasis. They’re also used as a hypoallergenic way to remove lice.
I bought soap nuts to try one thing, though – they’re supposed to make an incredibly effective laundry detergent.
The soap nuts both clean dirty laundry and act as a fabric softener. Because they’re low sudsing, they’re fine for every kind of washing machine. And because they are completely natural, they’re safe for septic systems.
Could they be as perfect as I hoped?
Almost. I was completely pleased with our laundry after washing with soap nuts. Our clothes were clean, soft, and fragrance free. The soap nuts were a cinch to use. I only needed to put four or five soap nuts in a small linen drawstring bag (that came with the soap nuts) and toss it in the drum of my washing machine with all of my clothes. That was it. The berries released their soap during the wash cycle, and I reused the berries in eight to ten different loads of laundry.
The problem is, soap nuts are supposed to last a mere four to five loads of laundry. For my family, that means changing out all of the soap nuts every two days. Since I’m thrifty, soap nuts may be safe and natural, but they’re not a bargain at all. They also aren’t supposed to remove stains, so additional stain remover is needed – I’ve ended up washing heavily soiled laundry with regular detergent.
Strictly because of the economic aspect, I probably won’t buy soap nuts again. But if money was no object, I’d happily use them. Are you ready to give them a try?
Disclosure: Purchasing soap nuts from this post will result in a small commission for Accidentally Green.
Today, I’m linking up with:
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