Have you ever heard of soap nuts? I hadn’t either, until about a year ago when I came across an overseas article about using soap nuts to do your laundry the eco-friendly way…

My interest was certainly piqued! What exactly are soap nuts? And can I get them in SA? I’d love to try them!

Soap nuts are indeed an eco-friendly alternative to washing powder. They are commonly known as the fruit of Sapindus Mukorossi tree and they contain saponin – a natural detergent commonly used for cleaning.

You can buy a 500 gr. bag of soap nuts for R108.00 from Nature Soap and this bag should last you for about 130 washes, which comes to just over 80c per wash. Now if you’ve done your sums, as I have, you’ll know that’s less than what you would pay per wash if you used most store-bought washing detergents.

And if you buy these in bulk of 4-10 bags from Nature Soap, you qualify to pay only R95.00 per bag, which then goes down to just over 70c per wash. If this is something you are interested in then perhaps ordering in bulk with family or friends would help you all save a bit.

You might be wondering, how come there are so many washes in just a 500 gr. bag? Well, the good thing about soap nuts is that each soap nut will last you a few washes, and for an average load of laundry you’ll probably need about 4 of those shells. Smaller loads may only need 2-3. Simply place the correct number of shells in a small muslin bag (it comes with your purchase), tie it firmly and place it into the washing machine drum.

You do not need to add any other detergents to your wash, not even fabric softener as the soap nuts will make your clothes feel softer. Soap nuts wash best between 30 – 60 C°, that is, in a warm wash which will release the saponin in the soap nuts. If you plan on using a cold wash to do your laundry then you can soak the muslin bag, with the soap nuts, in a bowl of hot water first (for about 10 minutes) and then place the muslin bag in the washing machine drum. When the saponin has been exhausted from the shells for laundry use they will look dark and feel soggy, at which point you can add them to your compost heap.

Soap Nuts

If you use soap nuts for your laundry, and you also have a grey water system installed in your home (or something similar), you can absolutely use the water from your washing machine to water your plants! It’s all natural. For more tips on using greywater in your garden check out this article and be sure to read up on which plants would benefit, or not, from being watered with greywater.

I guess this is probably what got me so excited about trying the soap nuts in the first place! If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I’m all for water conservation and reusing as much water as we can. Now can you imagine doing a laundry load and being able to use all that greywater in your garden? Amazing!

A little side note though. Expect minimal foam in your washing machine, and very little scent on your clothes, if any, once they’ve dried. Remember, you are using an all-natural product. There is nothing added to it to make it foam or smell like flowers, for example, although to me there is a very faint, but pleasant, scent to the shells which I assume must be the saponin.

An indication that your laundry is clean, however, is that it doesn’t smell of anything but that’s definitely something that one would need to get used to. Alternatively, you could always add a couple of drops of your favourite pure essential oil into the muslin bag with the shells, if you wish.

Also, soap nuts absorb moisture easily so it’s best to store them in an airtight container, especially the ones that you are currently using, or should I say reusing. I’ve also found it’s best to mark how many times you’ve used each batch in between washes so that you know when the soap nuts are just about ready to be discarded.

You can order soap nuts directly from Nature Soap and sign up to receive your FREE Soap Nut Recipe Book on their website (soap nuts have many household cleaning uses).

Have you tried soap nuts yet?

Disclaimer: financial, or any other, compensation was not received for this blog post, and opinions expressed here are my own.

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