* Prices may differ from that shown
About an year ago I though I should look into a better eco friendly alternative into washing my clothing. Initial I discovered Eco-balls but I found them to be too expensive, It was costing me more then my usual detergent but I persevered looking further thinking as here must be something better out there. And so I started reading about SoapNuts. I was really intrigued by the fact that there wore actually dried up berries of a small shrub tree. It turns out that they have been used in India for centuries yet is such a new concept to me as I have never seen them before in any supermarket, natural health food shops, eco friendly or hippy short of shop.
So I have decided to place my first order over the internet, the most handy place to do so was eBay so I picked up an random seller from which I purchased a small amount of 250g for 4 pounds.
They wore small sized hazelnut type, dried, with the constancy harder then a fig, something reminiscent to a dried up peel of oranges. How about that for a description.
Smell wise they have a faint vinegary scent.
On my first load of washing clothes, I put them in a small separate thin cotton bag, tied up well, or else they could end up every ware. I used my normal washing machine program and I have put the SoapNuts bag in with the clothes. At then end I was pleasantly surprised that my clothing smelled clean and felt fresh.
Over time of use:
I have repurchased more soap nuts and I regularly use them however they are not as efficient as detergent ,but that is only because sometimes clothes can be to dirty. Otherwise I would say 75% of the times I use soap nuts and I am extremely happy with them.
How I use them:
I put about 8 soap nuts in a tied up thin cotton bag and I reuse them 3 to 4 times. Only thing is that I can easily forget how many times I reused them.
I also like to add essential oils in the conditioner compartment of my washing machine, about 20 drops for an extra freshness. Soapnuts do not have an scent and they can leave your clothes them same which is not actually a bad thing, is a matter of preferences.
I highly recommend them. I find it is a great alternate to conventional detergent. Also SoapNuts actually grow wild so no fuss with plantations and chemicals used in obtaining them.
Price wise they will only save you money on the long run so it worth giving them a try.
I have reed that you can even plant your own soap nut tree, but it takes about 7 years to produce the SoapNuts berries and it might not even survive in UK but that does not mean it won't, so the potential is there. I really want to give it a try one day.
I discovered this product having been sent a free sample of some eco friendly disposable nappies. I have two children in nappies at the moment although I'm currently working on getting my two year old out of them during the day time. Anyway, I like these nappies and so I had a good look at the catalogue that was sent with them. There were lots of ecofriendly alternatives to many household products but the soap nuts caught my eye, and no, before you say anything it wasnt just because they have got the word nuts in the name either!
What Is A Soap Nut And How Does It Work.
Soap nuts are fruits of a tree called Sapinadis Mukorossi (soap tree) which are grown in both India and Nepal. The soap nuts are gathered between mid September and mid October. A soap nut tree can produce between 200 and 1500Kg of soap nuts and as these trees grow naturally beside other crops that the farmer may already be growing, they are a fantastic source of extra income for the farmer.
The soap nuts are round,about the size of a 1 pence piece and are golden in colour with a sticky surface. They contain a little black nut which is either eaten or disregarded by the farmer. It is not the nut but the shell however that is used for the purposes of cleaning. The shell contains approximately 12% saponine. This is a moderatley sticky substance which behaves like a natural soap on contact with warm or hot water. The shell of the soap nut allows the saponin to dissolve into the water giving a solution which cleans effectivly. Saponine is a glucoside (a type of sugar) and is therefore totally biodegradeable.
Uses Of The Soap Nut.
The soap nut is extremely versatile and can be used for many different applications. The main one being to wash clothes. The instructions that came with my soap nuts gave clear guidance on how many halves to use per wash at each temperature and also differenciated between hard and soft water areas. The amounts range from just three halves on a sixty degree wash in a soft water area to six to eight halves in a hard water area on a thirty degree wash. There is more needed for a cooler wash possibly due to more Saponine being released at higher temperatures. However the nuts can only be used once at sixty degrees but twice at thirty. I have since read on a website somewhere that if wasing at thirty they can be used up to four times and still work just as effectivley, but I will give my experiences a little later.
They can be used as a general purpose cleaner by boiling 12 halves in water for ten minuites and using the cooled liquid in a spray bottle. One litre of liquid will yeild approximately 500ml of liquid for use this way. It is best to add some lemon juice to the liquid as this helps preserve the solution for approximately two weeks. This liquid can be used on work surfaces, bathrooms, floors and even to wash your car if you are really going for green.
An alternative for shampoo is another surprising use for these versatile little nuts and is reportedly great for anyone who is really sensitive to any form of chemical shampoo as it is non allergenic. It is also great for anyone who has dandruff on a long term basis. Pets also benefit from using this as a shampoo again as it is chemical and synthetic free. It is meant to be highly effective against fleas and lice, but as I dont have any pets except the husband ( and he dosnt get fleas that often) I wont be able to comment on this particular application.
The soap nuts can be used to clean jewellery by soaking half a lemon in the soap nut solution ( made in the same way as described for all purpose cleaner). By pressing a toothbrush into the solution and gently scrubbing any dirty jewellery it will clean without the need to send it off to the jewellers and without the need for environmentally damaging chemicals.
Dishwasher tablets can be replaced by 3 or 4 soapnuts placed inside the dishwasher inside a cotton bag. Putting half a used lemon will also make dishes spakle and shine just as well as any chemical infested and expensive dishwasher tablets.
My Experiences Of Soap Nuts.
I have been using these natural washing powder alternatives for about three months now and I have to say that it would take an awful lot for me to go back to washing powder. They can be purchased for £12.50 for a 1Kg bag and in our house where we do approximately 20 to 30 washes per week ( washable nappies! + dirty little children = lots of washing ), this amount is going to last at least 6 months. I am able to wash all my clothes on a 30 degree short wash and nappies on a 60 degree long wash and have been able to stop using fabric softners as the soap nuts are better at keeping the water softer. This is in a hard water area aswell!
The soap nuts do have some disadvantages, they will not keep whites white as they do not have any bleaching agents in them. For whites I need to add some Ecover Laundry Bleach. This is chlorine free and a much better environmentally friendly product. This does mean that colours come out really well as the lack of a bleaching agent in the nuts means the colours are not lost.
The only other disadvantage is that they will not remove any hard to shift stains such as chocolate or grass. For this I just add half a cup of soda crystals which are only 50 - 60p for a bag and I find this generally does the trick, but there are plenty of stain removers both eco friendly or not on the market.
Even with these extra items needed the cost of washing has been slashed from about £30 a month to about £5 a month. Worth it dont you think?, and helping to lower that all important carbon footprint that is the buzzword on every news readers tongue at the moment.
I was dubious about the smell of them when I first opened the bag as they have a kind of sweet vinegary smell but was pleasently surprised by the end result. They simply smelt like clean washing, no chemical fake perfumes but just clean. If you do prefer to have a smell on your clothes then a few drops of an essential oil in the rinse will perume them for you. If you really prefer really soft clothes then adding some fabric conditioner will eliminate the need for ironing, even when line dried in a hard water area. Do not take this lightly as up until now I ironed socks and tea towels and basically anything that wouldnt melt, so this really is a good claim.
I have not been brave enough to use them as a shampoo, but did find they cleaned effectivley as a surface cleaner, and while they did not lather I used some on my hands after they had come out of the washing machine and they worked quite well.
I have seen several reports about the allergic properties of these soap nuts and as we dont have any allergies in this house I cannot personally comment, but my instincts would be that these are about as gentle as it comes and anyone allergic to washing powders or anyone with eczema should give these a try. I would be interested to hear from anyone that does so I could add it to this review.
These unfortunately can only be ordered online at the moment so shop around and give them a try.
I first read about soapnuts sometime ago and made a mental note to check them out however my memory failed and I completely forgot all about it, until I came across reference to them in a book I recently read. Not wanting to let the grass grow I logged onto the inasoapnutshell website and ordered a free sample of them. Now I would like to stress they were not exactly free, as you have to pay postage, which can be done in one of two ways.
* Pay 75p through PayPal (this includes a 22p charge by PayPal)
* Send a SAE (the site states a 48p large letter stamp but on checking with Royal Mail these have gone up to 52p).
I opted for the PayPal method because it seemed a lot less hassle plus the fact it worked out cheaper when you consider you have to put a stamp on an envelope to send the SAE, which if my calculations are correct would cost you 82p (assuming of course you sent it first Class). Second class postage would cost you 42p for the large letter stamp and 27p to send it.
My sample arrived 10 days after ordering and I must admit I was rather excited at the prospect of trying these out. The envelope contained 8 loose half shells and a little single sheet leaflet giving instructions how to use them and a handy order form printed on the reverse. On the information given, I could expect to get at least 4 consecutive washes out of the set of shells I received. The shells were the colour of chestnuts, a little tacky to the touch and didn't really smell of anything. Curiously though, I did notice that the postage shown on the envelope was 37p, that and the 22p PayPal charge still only came to 59p, so perhaps I in fact paid 16p for the soapnuts themselves, either way it was still a bargain.
*~*What are soapnuts*~*
Soapnuts are natural biodegradable washing shells grown on the Chinese soapberry tree. They are not really nuts but are in fact berries which grow on 15 metre high Sapindus Mukorossi trees in India and Nepal. The shells contain Saponin which is a natural soap and have been used in India for centuries. The berries are sticky and golden in colour, which changes to a reddish brown not dissimilar to that of chestnuts and are harvested from the trees in October. The nuts are then cracked open and the black kernel inside is removed. This is inedible and of no further use except in the pharmaceutical industry although what for I haven't a clue. The shells which contain saponin, a natural detergent, are then packed into cotton bags and sent off to various companies who then in turn sell them to the public. As soapnuts are a natural product they do not contain any of the nasty harmful chemicals that are found in conventional detergents.
*~*How they work*~*
As mentioned earlier the shells (soapnuts) contain saponin, which produce mild suds when they come into contact with water (although not just any water, but more about that later). All you need to do is place between 6-8 half shells in a sock. Knot it so the shells don't escape then place in the washing machine with your laundry. (If you buy the nuts you will be provided with a little cotton drawstring bag which you can use instead of a sock.) Don't be tempted to use one of those little net type bags that come with the conventional washing tablets though or you may well find that what should be clean laundry is actually covered in little brown sticky bits. Set the washing machine going on your chosen programme then sit and wait to be amazed by the results.
It's worth pointing out that the soap is only released from the shells when they come into contact with water with a temperature of at least 30 degrees, (the lowest I used was 40 degrees), so, before you ask, no further soap is released when the machine goes through the rinse cycle, as the water temperature is usually below 30 degrees.
As mentioned before, my free sample consisted of 8 half shells, which with hindsight I should have just used 4 of them on my first wash, but hey ho excitement got the better of me and I used the lot. As previously stated I used a sock to keep these little fellas under control ( seem to have an ever increasing pile of odd socks these days, which I am glad I kept as I knew they would come in useful some day). Shells having been secured in knotted sock were placed in the washing machine. I do try to use the 30 degree wash cycle where possible as we have been encouraged to do so my the leading detergent suppliers and environmental groups as it helps combat climate change and saves about 40% energy per wash. However I have yet to be convinced that anything lower than 60 degrees is sufficient for things like towels, bedding and underwear (although not the delicate stuff). For me there is no contest as anything lower than 60 will not kill dust mites and bedbugs. (The lowest temperature I used whilst testing these nuts was 40)
* First Wash *
Towels washed at 60 degrees came out very soft and smelling fresh and clean, I was actually amazed at how soft they felt considering I had
refrained from adding the usual dose of fabric conditioner. They didn't smell of anything in particular and I can only describe the aroma as
"clean and fresh," The shells were soft to the touch and didn't feel as tacky as they had done before.
Don't expect to see a mass of soapsuds through the glass window on your machine though. I took a peek (well several actually) and was rather surprised not to see any. I started to wonder if they would in fact work.
** Second Wash **
Using the same shells again (and the sock), it was jeans this time (4 pairs)
Using a 40 degree wash, these too emerged from the machine feeling soft and smelling clean and fresh. The shells felt soft and were not as dark in colour they had originally been.
***Third Wash ***
Bedding , (sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers) using a 60 degree wash , again these emerged soft and smelling clean and fresh. Shells felt soft again and were paler in colour
**** Fourth Wash ****
Table linen carrying stains from a homemade tomato based sauce (used to make spaghetti bolognaise) using a 40 degree wash. My expectations were not exactly high at this point as I was now using the same shells for the 4th time however the shells did the business and the previously tomato splattered table cloth emerged from the machine not only feeling soft smelling clean and fresh but spotless too.
***** Fifth Wash *****
Now this is where I thought I was really pushing my luck, white T shirts, vests and son's grubby white sports socks (he has a habit of venturing outside to the bin or to feed the birds with nothing on his feet except his socks.) All done on a 40 degree wash and came out; yes you've guessed it, spotless and fresh smelling too.
The shells by this time were much paler which I can only describe as a caramel sort of colour, they had also lost their tackiness and I came to the conclusion they were now exhausted and of no further use. I would like to point out that information I have read has stated the shells appear darker once exhausted, but mine in fact were definitely paler .
However having a "waste not want not" attitude I decided to see if there was any life (or should that be soap) left in them and set to work trying to make some liquid soap.
Having released all the shells from the sock I placed them in a saucepan with a pint of water, brought it to the boil then let it simmer gently for about 15 minutes, after which I let it cool before straining the liquid into a glass jar. The shells were then put in the compost bin as they had well and truly served their purpose.
The liquid was a very pale brown in colour (I dare say it would be much darker if fresh shells were used) and would of course be more concentrated.
I used some of the liquid to hand wash some gloves and scarves which I had taken out of hibernation ready for the cold days ahead, which worked beautifully and the remainder to wash out the fridge, and wipe down kitchen work surfaces and cupboard doors.
The 75p spent to get the 8 half shells allowed me to do 5 consecutive washes plus the added bonus of a hand wash and some household cleaning too. Of course soapnuts do not contain fragrance so they will not leave any perfume on your laundry. If you want to carry the eco theme further you could always add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the dispensing drawer or pop some drops on a handkerchief and put it in with the rest of the laundry. If you miss the fragrances achieved by fabric softeners then by all means carry on using them but I didn't miss it one bit. I still have a supply from when I stocked up after seeing it on promotion that is now sat gathering dust. No doubt they will be used when I wash the delicate winter woollies that are now seeing daylight again as I do things like jumpers and sweaters to smell fragranced.
I am told you can expect to get between 4 and 6 consecutive washes from one lot of soapnuts (using 6 half shells), although this does depend on the softness of your water and the temperature you use. I managed to achieve 5 (excluding liquid soap) using two different temperatures from my one set of 8 half shells. (I might add that we live in a soft water area).
Being more than impressed with the results I wasted no time in placing an order for a 500g bag of soapnuts at a cost of £7.00 (including postage) from the same company that supplied the free sample. The contents of this 500g bag should allow me to achieve at least 300 consecutive washes if I use the same 6 half shells 4 times. It sounds impressive doesn't it?
My order arrived 12 days later and I found my self very eager to get using them again.
*~* What I got for my money *~*
The envelope contained a cotton drawstring bag full of 500gs worth of soapnuts (165 whole nuts, yes I counted them), partly split and ready to be snapped in half, there was also a small cotton drawstring bag for use in the washing machine.
I was curious to see how using different temperatures affected just how many consecutive washes could be achieved from each set of 6 half shells and decided to have 2 sets on the go at the same time. One for 60 and the other for 40 degree washes. I even used different coloured socks so as not to get them confused. My findings were as follows.
6 half shells using a '''60''' degree wash achieved 4 very successful consecutive washes.
6 half shells using '''40''' degree wash achieved 6 extremely successful consecutive washes. Proving that the temperature you use affects the life and effectiveness of the shells and yes each set of shells appeared to look paler in colour once they were exhausted.
As previously mentioned these are a natural product and therefore do not contain any environmental nasties such as chemicals and optical brighteners', so whilst they are kind to your skin and your wallet, they won't fade your coloureds, although the continued use of these on whites may require a little extra help to keep your "whites" white. This can be achieved by simply adding laundry bleach to the wash or a cup of borax to the dispensing drawer of the machine. I however just alternate between the shells and standard detergent which seems to do the trick.
Heavily soiled/stained items may also require pre treatment and the use of fresh shells to achieve optimum results.
There is not only the environmental issue to consider here but perhaps more important in the current climate the financial benefits. I for one will save a small fortune having switched predominantly to these soapnuts. Considering I found myself paying £5.49 for my pack of 20 Bold Liquitabs (which gives 20 washes) working out at 27p per wash, I achieved 5 washes from the free sample for just 75p. You don't have to be a mathematician to work out the benefits. So you can help the environment and your bank balance too.
*~* Where to buy *~*
There are several places you can purchase your own set of nuts, just Google soapnuts and you will be spoilt for choice and as you'd expect prices do vary.
I bought mine from www.inasoapnutshell.com, this is also where you can request a free sample. A 500g bag costs £7.00 whilst a 200g bag comes in at £4.00 both prices include postage.
If you are lucky enough to have a Lakeland store (there are 39 dotted around the country) close by then you can purchase a 250g box for £5.99 or visit their website and order online at www.lakeland.co.uk but please be aware orders under £49.99 carry a delivery charge of £3.95.
You will also find them on eBay and Amazon, plus various other sites too.
*~*Other uses *~*
These soapnuts are not just effective in the washing machine. If you make up some liquid soap as I have previously detailed, this can be used
in a number of ways including.
*Cleaning Jewellery - just leave to soak in the liquid rinse then polish when dry.
* Household cleaning, clean the house from top to bottom including the windows,
* I am told the liquid is good for washing pets as it said to remove parasites from fur and skin, leaving the animals fur clean, soft and protected from further infestations.
*Use to wash the car, rinse off then polish when dry. (Have yet to convince Himself on this one)
*Add around 4 half shells to the bottom of the cutlery drawer in the dishwasher and some vinegar to the rinse aid drawer for sparkling clean plates and glasses. Although I am told they don't fare so well on items with baked on food (haven't tried this as I don't own a dishwasher)
*Wash your hair with the liquid (I haven't tried this but a friend of mine has and she wasn't that impressed with the results)
As you can see you can certainly get your monies worth (and more) from these. If you haven't put them through their paces yet I'd certainly recommend you give them a go.
I think it is worth pointing out that inasoapnutshell have been assured by their suppliers that everyone involved in the production of their soapnut shells are all paid fairly and no child labour is involved.
As mentioned previously these are not actually nuts but I'm sure for some the mere mention of the 'n' word will no doubt send some with allergies running for cover. I am pleased to report that a very dear friend of mine has such an allergy as well as recurring bouts of eczema and has been using soapnuts for the last 6 months or so with no ill effects.
Previously posted by me on ciao with pictures.
Like millions of others I am concerned about the state of the environment and where possible I recycle and reuse. My husband thinks I'm crazy so you can imagine his dipleasure when I told him I've found this new washing thing, soapnuts.
What he didn't realise was that we has been using them for the last week and he had noticed no difference to the cleanliness, smell or feeling of his fresh laundered clothes.
I knew he wouldn't like the idea of it so after dropping a couple of drops of lavender essential oil into the little cloth bag containing the nuts (soapnuts don't smell so I matched the smell to my usual washing powder) I washed the families clothes as normal with excellent results. I use 6-8 nuts in a bag for about 10 washes with great results everytime. When washing the childrens clothes I add a spoon of Ecover laundry bleach to give the clothes that extra boost agains stains etc.
The Soapnuts are easy to locate and cheap to buy, they do the job well with less impact on the environment (they work at only 30 degrees!).
So everyones happy - Clean clothes, clean conscience!
Reading several reviews about Soapnuts and how good they were both at washing and for the environment, plus you could save money on expensive detergents I decided to order my sample nuts, which were free of charge apart from postage and packing of 75p.
:: Background ::
I had never heard of this product so before parting with my cash I did a bit of research! Sapindus is a genus of shrubs and small trees native to warm temperate and tropical regions, the ones I have came from India or Nepal. The fruit is called the Soapnut and is small and leathery skinned, about 1 -2cm diameter. The soap nuts contain Saponin which is a natural detergent, which are used to clean clothes and are safe to use on woolens, silk and delicate fabrics.
:: Description ::
The sample arrived quickly in a nice green recycled paper envelope with an information sheet, small cotton drawstring bag and 9 half soapnut shells. They are a tan colour and fairly hard and very wrinkled. The inside of the shell is smooth and shiny. After use they are much softer to touch, and if you squeeze them you can see a soapy solution. At first I didn't think there was any smell, but after use I thought they had a smell similar to vinegar.
My sample was purchased from www.inasoapnutshell.com and they say that a wash can cost as little as 3p compared with about 25p using a standard non-bio detergent. Using Soapnuts may be asolution for people with allergies especially eczema as they are natural. They say they have been assured that no child labour is involved and everyone is fairly paid.
:: Washing ::
Following the instructions I put my half shells about 6 -8 into the bag or you can use a knotted sock and put it in with my washing on the usual cycle, which for towels I usually use 40C, but sometimes use the 30C depending if my washing liquid and how dirty the washing is. They say you can add a few drops of essential oil in the softener drawer if you want your washing fragranced and recommend geranium and Lavender oil. I don't normally add softner to towels as it effects the drying properties so just used the soap nuts.
My second load was dark washing polo shirts, socks, mens pyjamas, pants etc.
Third load was white and light washing, like my underwear, a white shirt as hubby had been to a funeral, light T shirt, cream jumper, other light shirts.
Fourth load was duvet cover, sheets and pillowcases.
:: Results ::
I lifted the towels out when the cycle had finished and had to dry the washing indoors as it was raining, they didn't smell too bad and felt reasonably soft. When they were nearly dry I finished them off in the tumble drier as I always do, just to ensure they feel soft. They felt as soft as normal, but the following week when I went to use them I was disappointed as the bath towel had a strange smell, almost as if it had been used before and smelled stale. I presume that is the vinegar like smell I had noticed.
The dark load seemed OK, some of the things need ironing and I had no complaints from my husband that they didn't seem clean.
The third load I felt disappointed when I lifted the washing out as the shirt collars looked a little grubby and the white shirt wasn't as bright as expected. Apart from the collars there were no stains on the washing so I can't say how it would cope with food or grass stains.
My fourth load looked reasonably clean, but when I was ironing it I felt there was a smell from the sheets, not nice and fresh as usual.
Although there was still a sign of bubbles when I squeezed I haven't used the soap nuts again as I prefer my washing to smell nice and clean. I might use them the next time I stick the dusters in!
:: Cost ::
If you want to buy them they cost £7.00 for 500grams or £4.00 for 200grams including postage and packing. They can be purchased online or by using the order form that came with the sample.
:: Thoughts ::
I liked the idea of a natural product and it would be useful if you had a septic tank, plus after 4 - 6 washes they can be put in the compost to rot. Therefore no waste to fill up landfill sites. But I won't be buying again even though it would save me money as I like my washing to smell clean, and I wasn't convinced that it was really deep down clean and the white shirt needed another wash to look pristine.
:: Interesting extra ::
I have read that jewellers in India and Indonesia use the soapnuts to remove tarnish from silver and other precious metals, so perhaps I'll collect some of my silver earrings and see if it makes them gleam even if it doesn't make the whites dazzling!
I had read a few reviews about soapnuts and was curious about them so decided to log onto www.inasoapnutshell.com to order a sample of 8 soapnuts for just 75p postage and packing. My sample arrived just a few days later and I was keen to see what they were like.
My package contained 8 soapnuts, which are about the size of a walnut in a paper bag. Soapnuts are grown in India and contain the saponin, a natural soap. To use them you split the soapnuts in half and place around 8 of those half shells into a knotted sock and place it into your washing machine instead of washing powder. The soapnuts can be reused several times, to check if they have life left in them you simply squeeze when wet and if some bubbles come out then you can use them again. After they have reached the end of their life you can compost them.
I really put my soapnuts to the test, heres what I found with them.
A whites wash at 40 degrees, including daughters mud spattered coat and several shirts. I used fabric softener because I like the smell. I was really impressed that the mud stain disappeared but I thought that the whites looked a bit duller than usual.
This was my test wash without fabric softener to see how my laundry would smell. This wash consisted of swimsuits and towels on the quick wash programme. The washing was not dirty, just needed freshening up and the smell of chlorine removed. I really missed the nice smell of fabric softener and washing powder but even drying indoors on radiators my clothes were nice and soft.
Washes 3 and 4
More quick washes, general mixed coloured clothing. The clothes all came out nice and clean and I used fabric softener again so they smelled nice.
Ahhh, the joys of sick kids. Daughter woke up and threw up all over herself and her bedding. This wash consisted of a duvet, duvet cover, sheet, pillowcases, towel and nightie and was done at 3am at 50 degrees. I used soapnuts because I had run out of both washing powder and fabric softener. The clothes were hung out on the line at first light to because my radiators just couldnt cope with this quantity of washing. I was extremely impressed this time, not only was this washing all clean but it was just as soft as if I had used fabric softener and it smelled lovely after being hung outdoors all day.
Unfortunately, I lost the other half of my sample when I had workmen replacing my worktops and had to clear my kitchen.
My trial with soapnuts has convinced me to go and buy a full sized bag of them. For everyday washing they performed well but I wont use them for every wash, I think I'll stick to normal washing powder with brightening agents for my whites. At just 3p per wash based on buying a 500g bag for £7 they are excellent value for money compared with up to 25p per wash for conventional products.
The lack of harsh chemicals in soapnuts means that you can feel good about buying them and is an easy way to boost your green credentials. I really missed the smell of fabric softeners and will try the suggestion of using essential oils for fragrance as using the soapnuts meant the washing was soft enough to leave it out but I missed the smell.
For washing that is both clean and green the soapnuts are worth a try.
I was first introduced to soapnuts a few years back by a member of a green living internet forum that I used to frequent. I was very sceptical as the lady explained to me that soapnuts are grown on trees in India and Nepal. The nuts themselves are used in the pharmaceutical industry and it was actually the shells which we were talking about. The shells contain saponin, which is a natural soap.
I ordered my soapnut shells from www.inasoapnutshell.co.uk. They come in a lovely cotton drawstring bag along with a smaller cotton drawstring bag for using in the washing machine. I was extremely curious about these little nut shells, so the day they arrived I opened them immediately. I was greeted with a strange smell, not unpleasant, maybe a little sweet. To look at they are nothing special. Most of them are broken in half so you have a bag of half shells that look exactly like the picture shown above. They are quite dark brown in colour and are half circles. To touch they are quite solid and I would presume that it's the saponin that makes them a bit sticky.
So.... how on Earth do I use them? Well, according to the leaflet enclosed, you pop six half shells into the drawstring bag, pop a few drops of essential oil in the softener drawer if you so wish and then chuck it in the drum of your machine on top of your washing.
I didn't bother with the essential oil as I was a bit unsure as to whether it would be safe on fabrics and to be honest I didn't really see the point. When the cycle had finished and I opened the door there was no smell. I wasn't too sure how I felt about this to begin with. I didn't think I was too fussy about smells, but to not be greeted with a smell was a bit strange. However, after thinking about it and realising that the smell I was used to was caused by so many chemicals, I decided that the lack of smell could only be a good thing.
So, how did the clothes wash up? Well, the clothes belonging to my partner and I were great - perfectly clean. However, the cuffs of the kids clothes and the knees of my sons jeans hadn't come up as well as I would've liked. Still, I had just purchased a large bag of these, so I decided to stick with them for a bit. You can use the same batch of soapnuts for 4-6 washes, so the bag really does last ages. I do a fair bit of laundry and it took me 6 months to get through the bag.
In these 6 months, I discovered that the soapnuts are slightly more effective (though still not perfect) if I didn't fill the washing machine right up - I'm not talking half loads here - just one or two less items. I also realised that because they don't have the brighteners that conventional soap powders do, they don't get your whites really white. However, the flip side of this is that for exactly the same reason, they don't fade your colours either, but instead keep them nice and strong.
Soapnuts can also be used in a dishwasher or for hand washing dishes. I haven't done this, so can't comment. I think the lack of bubbles would be an issue for me here.
Soapnuts are very eco friendly as they come in a re-usable cotton bag, and the soapnuts themselves can be composted after use.
Due to the fact these are completely natural, they beat even non bio detergents when it comes to suitability for sensitive skin, allergy and eczema sufferers.
At 3p per wash, compared with approximately 25p per wash for a standard non bio, soapnuts are a very cost effective way to do your laundry. Plus there's no need for seperate softeners, saving even more.
If you're not sure if these are for you, you can get a sample by sending a 48p SAE to the lovely people at www.inasoapnutshell.co.uk.
If you do decide to purchase some soapnuts, a small bag will cost you £4 and give you up to 150 washes (based on using 6 half shells 4 times). A large bag will cost £7 and give you up to 300 washes. Both of these prices include delivery.
Overall, I would say if you only do laundry for adults and maybe even older children, these would be fantastic. For my footballing son and my food dribbling toddler they're just not good enough. I find this very unfortunate as £7 for 6 months would certainly be my preferred choice instead of £5 per week I am currently paying for my powder.
I will definitely use soapnuts again in the future, but until my kids are a bit less messy, my soap nutting days will have to go on hold.
I was a little unsure about trying soap nuts and was quite sceptical about how well they could work having never seen them in shops and I have never known anyone who has used them - my thinking was if they are so great why isn't everyone using them?
I am a sucker for freebie sites and whilst searching for some goodies a week or two ago I noticed that the company www.inasoapnutshell.com. This was not technically a freebie, there were 2 options, I could either send them a self addressed envelope with a 48p stamp on it so they could send me a sample, or I could pay a small amount via PayPal (75p) to cover the cost of the envelope and stamp to send me my sample, I opted for the PayPal as it would work out cheaper then buying 2 suitable envelopes and 2 lots of postage.
I received my little bag of soap nuts about 12 days after ordering, they arrived in a little brown paper bag inside an envelope and I was very curious and keen to try them out as soon as possible.
The soap nuts are strange looking things, it is actually the shell you use rather than the nut, the nuts have been extracted and are used for other purposes. The nuts are quite sticky to touch and to me they look like some sort of caramel or toffee, they are slightly transparent and a dark golden colour and have a bit of a shine to them.
To use soap nuts you place some of the shells into a sock, the instruction I received said I should place around 6 half shells into a sock, tie the end and place it in the drum of your washing machine.
The soap nuts have no fragrance, so if you like your washing to smell nice it is suggested that you add some essential oils to the fabric softener drawer in your washing machine, so you can easily choose whatever smell you like for your washing.
Having put your sock full of shells into the drum, you just load your washing and use the same settings you normally would then just sit back and wait for these little shells to work their magic on your clothes.
If I am honest I did not expect the soap nuts to work and had though that I would be rewashing my clothes with a powder detergent afterwards but I was pleasantly surprised.
When the wash had finished, I removed my clothing from the machine and inspected it - it was actually nice and clean! I was really pleased to see that the nut shells had done what they promised and I had added some Ylang Ylang oil to my drawer so my clothes smelt great too.
I had also heard that soap nuts make your washing nice and soft so there is no need for a fabric conditioner but as the clothes were wet I could not really tell, so I popped them into the washing machine and waited.
My clothes were lovely when I took them out of the washing machine; they were so soft and had retained the Ylang Ylang fragrance still. I was a little worried that because the nuts felt sticky, that there would be a residue on my clothes, but there was none - I was really pleased with the results of using soap nut shells to wash my clothes.
The soap nuts are not suitable if you have bad stains, though the sender of my sample claim that stains such as grass and tomatoe sauce can be removed by soap nuts, otherwise you will need to add some stain remover to your wash or pre treat the stain. You may also want to add some sort of bleech occasionally for things such as white shirts to keep them bright, but these can be environmentally friendly too - Ecover is suggesed by inasoapnutshell.com
I can not understand why more people do not use soap nuts, they wash very well and act as both a detergent and a fabric softener, these little nuts are actually quite cheap, mine were free ( well 75p ) but if I were to buy some washes would work out at around 3p per load which is amazing, and of course they are great for the environment, no bottles or chemicals and manufacturing, plus when you are done with your shell they can just go on the compost heap so there is no waste either !
The instructions which came with my shells say that each set of 6 shells used in a wash can be used for 4 loads; some people have even managed to make 7 loads making it even cheaper. When you have removed your washing from the machine you remove your sock of shells and squeeze, if it bubbles then your shells are fine to use for another wash.
Soap nuts have other uses too, you can soak them in boiling water, leave for a few hours, remove the shells and use the water as an environmentally friendly cleaner according to inasoapnutshell.com
I am certainly going to purchase some soap nuts to do my future washing, after all I am doing a little bit to be greener and of course it helps my pocket - 3p a wash, you won't get better than that !
I have recently tried soapnuts for the very first time having been tempted by the offer of a sample amount weighing 25gms, for which I only had to pay 75p postage and packing. I first heard about soapnuts a few months ago and, to be honest, did not think they could possibly work, so the free sample offer gave me the perfect opportunity to try them out.
My soapnuts came from In a Soapnut Shell which is based in Sharpthorne, West Sussex. You can order them online at www.inasoapnutshell.com or by phone on 01342 811220. Mine took about ten days to arrive. They came packaged in a brown paper bag inside a 'Treesaver' envelope but, when you place a full order, they come with an unbleached cotton bag with a smaller cotton drawstring bag to put them in when you load your washing machine. The bonus is, as the suppliers say, that they also come with a 'crystal clean, clear conscience'.
The soapnuts are dark brown open bark-like shells which contain saponin, a natural soap that produces bubbles when it comes into contact with water. They produce great results with general laundry but, as they do not contain stain removers like conventional detergents, some stubborn stains may need further treatment. However, so far, I have been delighted with the results that I have obtained on whites and coloured clothing.
Soapnuts grown in India and Nepal on trees; it is the shells that are used for washing - the seeds inside are put to other uses by the pharmaceutical industry. The suppliers take care to inform us that no child labour is used to harvest and prepare the soapnuts, and that everyone who works on them is fairly paid. It would be difficult to feel you were helping to save the environment by using soapnuts if you knew that vulnerable people were being exploited in the industry.
You do not place the loose soapnuts straight into the machine; the comprehensive instructions that came with my free sample recommended putting them into an old sock which you then tie into a knot. I used an old white sock so that I could check whether or not the soapnuts stain. The soapnuts do not impart a smell to the washed laundry so you are advised to use a few drops of essential oil placed into the fabric conditioner drawer of your machine. I have tried both lemon and lavender oils which gently fragrance the wash.
Eventually, after between four and six washes - the soapnuts will lose their effectiveness - you can test this by squeezing them in your hand whilst they are still damp; if they still produce bubbles they can be used again. If not, they can be placed straight on to the compost heap.
With soapnuts, your laundry will turn out clean and soft without the need for fabric conditioners. Soapnuts are kind to the skin and to clothes and are ideal for sensitive skin and people with eczema or allergies.
I am so impressed that I am about to order a larger amount. I can order 500gms for £7 or 200gms for £4. For a small outlay I will be helping the environment, helping trade in poorer countries and saving myself money. What more could anyone want?
Soap nuts an amazing alternarive to washing detergents. I use Samu soap nuts but have tried many other retailers of them and they are all the same. I alternate between Ecover Liquid and Soap Nuts. I normally put the bag with the soap nuts directly in on a 40 degree wash and the clothes really do come out cleaner. I sometimes put a little shake of Domestic Borax (a natural ingredient) in the drawer if I need an extra clean. I use Soap nuts for most of my coloured items and for things I wash regularly. For an intensive clean I would still recommend Ecover liquid instead.
The other great use for Soap Nuts is as a shampoo or shower/bath wash. I am a big fan of making my own products and avoiding harsh chemicals and companies that test on animals. If you boil about 8 Soap Nuts in a pan with a litre of water, you get a good foamy water that can be used to rinse your hair clean. The same can be done for a bath wash and you can use less water to get a stronger foam, although don't expect the same as you would get with your normal brand!
195g bag/box of soap nuts can last up to 25 washes. They are native to India and Nepal and grow on trees in the local areas. They have been used for centuries to clean clothes/hair and bodies in these regions. They contain a natural ingredient called Saponin which is released in high water temperatures. Soap Nuts are safe for people suffering with Eczema and other skin allergies and are completely chemical free. They are organic and biodegradable so they are the ultimate if you are trying to be environmentally friendly!
HOW TO USE SOAP NUTS
SOAPNUTS FOR WASHING YOUR CLOTHES
* Put 6 - 8 nuts in a cotton bag and secure it.
* Place the sack with the laundry into the washing machine and wash as usual.
* Reuse soap nuts sack, by adding them to the next wash.
* Use the sack 3 times then dry out the sack and compost the used pods. Keep the sack to use again.
My experience of soap nuts is in the liquid form, not the actual soap nuts that you put in a bag, then in the washing machine. I have been interested in trying them for a while, as they are environmentally friendly. I saw the liquid while in Lakeland, and it was on special offer, at around £3.99 for 1.5 litres, down from the original price of about £7.00, which seems to be a little bit too expensive. The bottle claims to deliver clean washing without using any chemicals, with colours remaining brighter for longer, and approximately 37 washes worth in the bottle (presumably for soft water areas, that would be able to use less).
When using the soap nuts liquid for a load of washing, I added some soda crystals to the drawer, as I usually do, living in a hard water area, and 50ml of the liquid, as the instructions on the bottle advised. The soap nuts liquid has a mild fragrance, that is quite appealing, but different to most conventional washing detergents, that tend to be very strong. It has a smell that seems to be very sweet. I found that the clothes were washed well, and as clean as with a conventional detergent, though some stains on my toddler's clothing seem to be impossible to shift whatever I use.
I have since ordered two more bottles from Lakeland, and am still using the last one. I will probably buy it again in the future, as it is a green product, but I would need to have it delivered or go to the shop in person. I may try the actual soap nuts at some point, but I think that the liquid is a very convenient way to use them.
I have been trying to lessen my impact on the planet since long before it became the cool thing to do and I have recently found a new way of doing this.
Soapnuts first came to my attention when I was searching for information about greener ways to do my washing and all the links I found on Google kept coming back to Soapnuts. I found myself at www.inasoapnutshell.com and after reading a little bit about Soapnuts on there I saw I could order a free sample and only had to pay for the postage through Paypal or send a SAE for them.
I sent off for some and I was so impressed that I have just today ordered myself a full pack because I think they are so good.
Soapnuts are grown on trees in Nepal and India and the shells contain Saponin which is a natural soap and this is what you are going to do your washing with. I was not convinced it was going to work because the Soapnut shells looked like something I find on my lawn underneath the trees but I gave them a try not just because of the planet but also because I thought they might help with my excema being as they are completely natural.
I used a small muslin bag to put my soapnuts into the washing machine because you have to use between 6 and 8 half shells in each wash. The website suggests you use a cotton bag or knotted sock but the muslin bag worked fine except the shells snagged it a little bit but I am not worried about that. I sometimes put a few drops of lavender essence into my conditioner drawer to give my clothes some fragrance because there is no scent to soapnuts.
The first load of washing only had lightly soiled clothing in it and none of the clothes were visibly dirty it was just they had been worn and needed to be washed. This load came out spotlessly clean and it smelt fresher than when it had first gone in the washing machine even though I had not used any fragrance this time. My clothes felt soft as well and that in something in soapnuts favour for me because I cannot use softener at all because of my sensitive skin and even the Pure varieties can irritate me.
You can use the same set of soapnuts for more than 1 load and their cleaning ability does not diminish until they are right at the end of their life. Do not worry that you will not know when to replace them because they turn dark and go soft when you cannot use them anymore and then you can safely put them on your compost heap if you have one. They are normally a light colour with a brittle texture so you will know when they need changing. I noticed mine had gone dark but still tried to do a wash with them but when my clothes had gone through the machine it looked and felt like they had been washed in plain water.
I later washed my grandaughters blouse after she had a nosebleed but soapnuts do not get rid of stains very well so the marks the blood had made were still there and had not even faded very much. The same happened when I washed my tea towels because they can get very grubby when I am cooking and I was disappointed that they still looked dirty when they had been washed although the soapnuts had taken the greasy cooking smell out of the towels.
It is very cheap to do your washing with soapnuts because from www.inasoapnutshell.com you can buy 500 g of soapnuts for £7 and this will do up to 300 washes. I thought about it the other night and even if that figure is wildly optimistic and they will only do 200 washes then it is still much, much cheaper than buying washing powder. I still have to buy the occasional box of Surf because when I have heavily soiled articles the soapnuts do not get them clean so I have to use normal washing powder but that is no problem because I will carry on using soapnuts for the rest of my washing.
Alright, I have to admit it. When I opened the pack of soap nuts I'd bought from my nearest hippy store, I was a bit dismayed to find a bunch of little squashed spheres, bearing a striking resemblance to kangaroo poo and smelling strongly of creosote. This was entirely my own fault. I'd seen - and ignored - all the signs. First of all, they were on sale right next to the jossticks. Second of all, I'd had to squeeze my way through rows of tie-dyed and besandled customers to get my hands on a pack.
I sorted out the cheapest, roughest clothes I could find to wash with them first time through. No sense in ruining my best togs, I thought... let's see how they do with my muddy gardening trousers. Following the instructions on the packet, I tied up 8 soap nuts inside a sock, shoved them into the wash, shut the door and made a dash out of the room before I chickened out altogether.
I needn't say that it was with trepidation that I opened the machine... to find a load of extremely clean, fresh-smelling clothes! Gone was the creosotey smell, to be replaced by a scent as clean that left by any washing powder, and gone was all the mud and dirt too! The wash was also really soft, even though I hadn't added fabric conditioner - this is a known advantage of these, since they naturally give a soft finish.
Soap nuts are an entirely natural product. They grow on trees in India and Nepal and their shells contain "Saponin" a natural soap. You use 7 or 8 nuts per wash, and they can be reused two or three times, after which they can be composted - they're fully biodegradeable. They are also extraordinarily cheap - a pack of them (enough for 100 washes or so) cost me £2.50. They're also extremly good for those suffering from sensitive skin or dermatological conditions like eczema, because they give a very mild wash.
The only downside is that the nuts do make a bit of a mess inside the sock. I'm going to get a small bag to put them in instead, so I don't end up with flakes all over my feet!
I guess those tie-dyed people knew what they were doing after all...
I do try hard to recycle as much as I can, not use plastic bags when I go shopping, and using eco-friendly products around my home as much as I can. So when I saw a website advertising Soapnuts, I did a little research into them and was so impressed with what I found out that I decided I would order a sample of them, and try them. Now I have used them for a few weeks, I can honestly say I am a convert, and by writing this review I hope to convert a few of you too! Chances are you haven't yet heard of Soapnuts so I hope this review will enlighten you about them!
Soapnuts are a natural product which contain Saopnin, or natural soap to yuo and me, which you put into your washing machine in place of any normal washing powder you would use. Being a natural product, they contain none of the usual chemical detergents that you find in your normal detergents, so they are better for your clothes, your skin and the environment.
Soapnuts natural habitat is in India, and in Nepal. Their botanical name is Sapindus Mukkrossi, and the family name is Sapindaceae.It is the seeds which grow on the tree which are the soapnuts that you will be able to buy online. They are brown, round and in a dry state quite hard. When they are in your washing machine, the water turns them soft and this is when the Saopnin, or natural soap, is released.
When you order Soapnuts from the internet, you will usually be sent a bag full of the shells. Sometimes they are not split and will have a nut inside which you just throw away as they are of no use to us. When you have the shells, simply put 6-8 of them into a thin cotton sock and tie a knot in the end so that the shells cannot come out. Put this into the drum of your machine and turn it on. When the cycle is finished, I always empty the shells out of the sock and leave them to dry.
In order to see how much life is left in your shells, just run them under water and squeeze them gently. If bubbles appear then they are good for another wash, but if not then that is usually a sign they have been used to their full extent. The shells also get darker and soft when they have been exhausted completely. Simply throw them away, or for the more environmentally friendly add them to your compost heap. I have found I usually get 4-5 washes out of the shells, which is superb value compared to the cost of a detergent. Using soap nuts, a typical wash will cost you 3p whereas with your normal detergent, it is around 25 pence for a standard non-bio wash.
One bonus I have noticed since using the Soap Nuts is how soft my clothes have been. I have stopped using Fabric conditioner on them as this would defeat the object of using an environmentally friendly detergent, so I know the softness is coming from the soapnuts. They don't really smell of anything, but if you want your clothes fragranced, I have seen it recommended that you put a few drops of essential oil into your washing machine drawer, but I haven't tried this yet. You can also use them in the dishwasher, but since I don't have one, I can't say whether this works or not.
I have found that they remove lighter stains, although for more pronounced stains, I use a clothes bleach on the offending stain, or an extra stain remover if necessary but for the most part they do get off most stains. My whites have stayed lovely and bright, and all my coloured clothes haven't faded as there are no chemicals eating away at the colours, another bonus of these fab little shells.
I got my sample of www.inasoapnutshell.com which was 75p for about 14 shells, so enough for around 10 washes. The website charges £7 for 500 grams of Soapnut shells (up to 300 washes) and £4 for 200 grams (up to 150 washes). When you think we pay £3.79 for a bottle of Persil Small and Mighty which lasts around 25 washes, you can see how much better value this is. Not only that, but you are assured that they are completely natural and you aren't putting nasty chemicals onto your skin, which is especially great for people suffering skin conditions such as sensitive skin and eczema. Give them a go, for 75 pence it's worth a try, and who knows, maybe you'll become converted like me! Oh and please note I don't think you can get these on the high street yet, so the internet is your best bet!
Thank you for reading
Soapnuts are a natural, organic, environmentally friendly alternative to soap, detergent and shampoo / Especially good for sensitive skin.