Soap Nuts: an Ecofriendly Laundry Detergent Alternative


What Are Soap Nuts?

Soap Nuts are the fruit of a small tree called the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which is native to the Himalayas and the mountainous region between India and Nepal. Also known as the soapberry nut husks, they are the husks or shell from the soapberry nut. Once picked and left to dry in the sun, these amazing little berries contain a natural cleaning agent that produces an effect comparable to soap.

It takes about 9 years for this tree to begin yielding fruit. But once it starts producing, it can be harvested for 90 years! With 6 months per year of harvest time, that's a lot of soap nuts!

Although these nuts have received a lot of attention in the last couple of years, historically they have been known and used for centuries as an integral part of Indian customs and used widely by Indian households.

These berries have been used to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, but they are also used as a chemical-free, ecofriendly and natural way to clean clothes and fabrics. They contain saponin, a natural surfactant that can cut through dirt, oils, stains, and other yucky grime in the laundry.

Saponin breaks the surface tension of the water, penetrating the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away in the rinse cycle. Despite the term “soap” in its name, they DO NOT contain soap.

The great thing about saponin is that it's a 100% natural and organic substitute to chemically made laundry detergents and cleaning products made with synthetic ingredients like SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulphates). The best part is that you can wash your clothes with a truly ecofriendly and non-toxic product, without worrying about all the nasty drawbacks or side effects of those synthetically produced toxic chemicals.

How to use SoapNuts in the Laundry?

Loose Shells in the Washing Machine
    • Grab about 4-6 (deseeded) shells.
    • Put them into a muslin bag, a sock or a washing bag.
    • Place the bag into the washing machine and select your desired setting.
    • When the washing cycle is over, take your soap nuts out of the bag and leave them in an aired place to dry. 
    • The same berries can be used for 3-4 washes.
    • Once you've used them 3-4 times, replace the nuts and discard the old nuts into the compost or garden.
    We like to use these NaturOli USDA Organic Soap Nuts.
      Liquid laundry Soap Concentrate for the Washing Machine
      • Place 4-6 crushed, (deseeded) nuts in a pot with 2 cups of water. 
      • Bring to boil, then let simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.
      • Strain the liquid.
      • Once cooled, pour the concentrate in a bottle.
      • To use: put a about tablespoon of your concentrate into your washing machine detergent drawer. You can use more or less depending on the washing load size.
      Don't want to make your own concentrate? We recommend using this Naturoli Soap Nut Liquid Concentrate.
        The bottom line is that Soap Nuts are a highly-effective and gentle alternative to store bought chemical detergents. They will leave your laundry fresh and clean, its mildness will keep fabric colors bright, and it will help maintain the structure of your clothes for longer periods. They can be used on all fabrics and at all temperatures, leaving your clothes incredibly soft without the need for fabric softeners or conditioners. Honestly, it's the most ecofriendly way to wash your clothes!
          *Kinilly may earn a small commission when readers purchase through links on our site. This does not affect which products are included in the articles, and in most cases our writers are not aware of which brands and products offer us a small commission. All products we highlight are recommended for their quality, performance and overall effectiveness regardless of any affiliate relationships.

          1 comment


          • Kyndall Lynn

            I didn’t know you can use soap nuts in the washing machine. Thank you! We’re going to try this.


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