How to Use Soap Nuts
If you’re looking for a laundry detergent option that’s natural, safe for sensitive skin, and is zero waste, look no further than soap nuts. If you’ve never heard of soap nuts or you’re wondering how to use soap nuts, keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
What are Soap Nuts?
Although they’re called soap nuts, they’re actually neither a soap or a nut. Instead, soap nuts are berries that come from the Sapindus mukorossi (soap berry) tree.
They contain a natural cleaning agent called saponin. Saponin is a surfactant that lifts dirt from clothes and suspends it in water to rinse away.
For centuries before chemical laundry detergent became a thing, people were using soap nuts to naturally clean their clothes.
Why Use Soap Nuts?
The laundry room is one area of the house the uses a lot of harsh chemicals and produces excess waste. When you make the switch to soap nuts, you’re using a natural product that doesn’t produce any waste.
Plus, the soap berry tree is an incredibly eco-friendly tree. Once the tree begins yielding fruit, it can be harvested for up to 90 years. It also has a harvest period from September to February, which is very sustainable.
The other excellent benefit the soap nut tree offers is that it combats the greenhouse gas effect by changing carbon dioxide into oxygen. So when we plant these trees to harvest their soap nuts, we’re cleaning the air and eliminating our need for harmful chemicals.
If the non-toxicity and eco-friendliness of soap nuts wasn’t enough, they’re also a very budget-friendly product. This box of soap nuts can handle around 100 loads of laundry. Plus, you don’t need to use fabric softener or dryer sheets when you use soap nuts, which saves you even more money.
How to Use Soap Nuts
Not only are soap nuts eco-friendly, but they’re also incredibly easy to use. Simply place 2 to 5 berries in a small wash bag. Most soap nuts come with a wash bag, but you can also buy replacement wash bags if you need them.
Toss the wash bag into your washing machine and wash as normal. When you’re done washing clothes, simply take the bag out of the washing machine and let it dry.
Soap nuts are good for around 7 to 10 loads of laundry. The best way to see if your soap nuts are used up is to place them in a jar of warm water and give the jar a shake. If you get suds, the soap nuts are still good.
If you don’t get any suds, soap nuts are completely biodegradable. Simply toss them in your compost bin and put a new set of soap nuts in your wash bag.
If you prefer to use liquid detergent, you can also use them to make a homemade soap nut liquid laundry detergent.
FAQs About Soap Nuts
Now that you know how to use soap nuts for a more eco-friendly laundry routine, you might have a few more questions about how they work. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about soap nuts.
I’m allergic to nuts. Are soap nuts safe?
Yes! Soap nuts aren’t actually nuts; they’re berries. My son has a peanut allergy and has been able to use soap nuts just fine.
I have eczema/psoriasis/sensitive skin. Can I use soap nuts?
You should have no problems using soap nuts. Soap nuts are hypoallergenic, and allergies are incredibly rare. In fact, soap nuts are recommended for washing baby clothes because they’re so gentle and natural.
My son has eczema. When I first started to work toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle, I picked out a commercial laundry detergent that said it used only plant-based ingredients. Unfortunately, it caused him to break out in a rash from his head to his toes.
Then I made the switch to using soap nuts, and his skin has been perfectly fine and clear ever since.
If you’re worried about a skin reaction, you can always test one piece of clothing before washing an entire load with soap nuts.
Can I use fabric softener with soap nuts?
No, you don’t need to use fabric softener with soap nuts. Chemical detergents leave a residue on your clothes that makes them feel stiff, hence the need for fabric softener. Soap nuts rinse clean, so you have no need for fabric softener or dryer sheets.
I have found that wool dryer balls help make my clothes even softer. Since soap nuts don’t have any scent, you can put a few drops of essential oil on each dryer ball if you would like a light fragrance on your clothes.
I love to put a drop of lavender essential oil on each dryer ball. This soothing scent is especially nice on the clothes we sleep in since lavender is known to help naturally promote good sleep.
You can also check out this post to discover even more outstanding ways to naturally soften clothes without using fabric softener.
Can I use bleach with soap nuts?
Yes, it’s safe to use bleach with soap nuts. If you’re looking for a natural bleach alternative that actually whitens, check out this post on how to make homemade bleach alternative.
Can I use stain remover with soap nuts?
Yes. Soap nuts can only clean away dirt, not stains. Therefore, you’ll want to use a stain remover to get rid of those tough stains. Here’s a great option for a homemade stain remover for clothes that works incredibly well.
Can I use soap nuts in cold water?
It’s important to look at the directions for the soap nuts to see if you can use them in cold water. The soap nuts I use and recommend can be used in cold water. They simply suggest using 5 soap nuts in the washing bag.
Although you should wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible for energy savings and to lower your carbon footprint, it’s important to note that soap nuts will produce more suds in warm water. If you have heavily soiled clothes, you might need to do one load using warm water for the best results.
I find that letting my soap nuts soak in a jar of warm water for a few minutes before I use them activates the saponins and makes them work better. I can then toss them in the washing machine with my clothes and run my load like usual.
What if my soap nuts accidentally go in the dryer?
Your soap nuts won’t be harmed if they end up in the dryer with your clothes.
Can I use soap nuts in standard and high-efficiency washing machines?
Yes, soap nuts are effective in any type of washing machine. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you might find it better to use a few less soap nuts in the washing bag.
Making the Switch to Soap Nuts
Now that you know how to use soap nuts, you can make the switch to them today. When you do, you can get your clothes naturally clean without the need for toxic chemicals.
More Eco-Friendly Living Tips
Now that you understand the benefits of soap nuts, are you looking for even more eco-friendly tips? Then be sure to check out a few of our other popular posts:
- How to Make Reusable Disinfecting Wipes
- Natural Cleaning Ingredients You Should Never Mix
- How to Create an Eco-Friendly Cleaning Routine
- Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax