Soap Nuts in your wash

11 Jun

washing line

I have recently swapped to washing my clothes with Soap Nuts & I am loving them!!

These magic nuts (which are actually the dried berry of a tree) are amazing, with very little effort you can boot all of the nasty chemicals from your wash & still have lovely clean, fresh clothes.

They require slightly more effort than your normal washing powder (if you wash in cold water – like I do) but it is well worth it.

I use about 6 – 8 nuts in my wash bag & find that they generally last me about 4 – 5 washes. Most websites that sell the nuts will tell you that they can be used for 5 – 7 washes until the saponin runs out, I have not found that to be the case. So while it may not be the cheapest alternative it is definitely a healthy, green alternative to the chemical cocktail that I used to use.

But the best part about the Soap Nuts is that my laundry comes out super clean & fresh smelling (as in no smells!) & the waste water from the washing machine can be used as a natural insecticide & bug repellant for our plants & garden. This is fantastic for us often drought stricken Queenslanders & a great way to minimise our waste & environmental foot print. So a win for us & the environment 🙂


So how do I use my Soap Nuts to get the best I can out of them in cold water washes?

I place about 6 – 8 nuts in my wash bag & place my wash bag in a glass of hot water to get them to start activating. I do this before I sort my laundry so that they can soak in the water for a good 5 minutes while I am hunting down dirty towels, missing socks etc. I pour the hot water & the wash bag into my laundry load & set my washing machine to agitate for about 10 minutes & then soak for a minimum of half an hour before it re-continues the agitating phase. This allows the saponins to be further released from the nuts & seems to make the clothes come out cleaner. If you can’t set your machine to soak, then manually pause it & re-start it after an adequate soaking period. I also add a good dash of white vinegar to the rinse to freshen, deoderise & soften the clothes.

One important thing to remember is to not overload your washing machine, do medium sized loads so that there is ample room for agitation which is a vital part of ensuring your clothes come out clean.

So why don’t I make the liquid from the Soap Nuts that everyone talks about?

  1. Because it takes more effort, you have to boil up the liquid & then cool it & store it – this takes time & effort!
  2. The liquid has to be frozen or refrigerated & used within a few days (so this requires strategic laundry planning to ensure your not wasting your liquid letting it go rotten in the fridge).
  3. You use more Soap Nuts to create the liquid & more liquid is used per wash load so it ends up costing roughly 25% more per load.
  4. So more time + more effort + more planning + more expense = No for Mama Going Natural


Soap Nuts 101

How do you tell if your Soap Nuts are still doing their job or if they need replacing?

Place your wash bag (filled with your soap nuts) in warm water, squeeze your wash bag a few times & if it becomes sudsy they are still good to use, if they are a little less sudsy than normal you may want to think about adding a few new soap nuts to the batch or retiring this batch of soap nuts & starting afresh.

What do you do with retired Soap Nuts?

I let mine dry out & then I grind them up in my food processor & make a paste that I add to water to clean the bath, sinks etc – waste not, want not 🙂

I accidentally put my Soap Nuts through the dryer, whoops?

You too?? To check if you can still use your Soap Nuts let them soak in warm water for a few minutes & squeeze them to see if they still suds up, if they do – your fine to keep going. If they don’t – you might need to make some bathroom cleaning paste out of them, so all is not lost 🙂

Best way to store un-used Soap Nuts?

In a dark cool place in an airtight container – moisture is the enemy of the Soap Nut

How to store your wash bag filled with Soap Nuts between loads?

I let my Soap Nuts dry out between loads, I open the drawstring wash bag & place the Soap Nuts on top & leave them on the laundry shelf to dry out. If you are a frequent washer you can store them in a glass of cold water, but this does keep them active & the resultant juice (because they are a fruit) can go rotten & rancid if not used up often.

If the Wash Bag is left in throughout the wash cycle do your clothes come out soapy?

Come on admit it, thats what you were thinking, right?

Me too, but no – they don’t come out soapy. If your rinse cycles use cold water the Soap Nuts will release very little saponin & the bit they do release just leaves your clothes soft, my air dried towels are no longer hard & scratchy boards, they are soft & fluffy without the added electricity expense of using the dryer – so its a win for me. The Soap Nuts also release no harmful or skin irritating agents so any residue is not harmful but could actually be beneficial as they have found Soap Nuts to be anti-fungal. You can also get away with just one rinse as your clothes are not covered in chemicals from the washing powder, so that means less use of natural resources.

Stain Removing???

I have a wee one, who is a dirt, food & paint magnet, the best stain remover I have found at this stage it to wet the stain cover it with bicarb soda, leave it to soak over night & then rub it with a warm water activated wash bag of Soap Nuts until all sudsy & wash in cold water. This is the best stain remover I have found so far, but I am open to any & all suggestions as I still have no idea how I will keep my daughters clothes not looking like they came from the rag bag without our dreaded “NapiSan” laundry soaker.

Any ideas???




This post is featured on Fight Back Fridays

One Response to “Soap Nuts in your wash”

  1. marycheshier October 1, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green and commented:
    Great article. Thanks!

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