Product Type: Other Brands Household Cleaning
Newest Review: ... compartment of my washing machine, about 20 drops for an extra freshness. Soapnuts do not have an scent and they can leave your cloth... more
I'm coming clean, I've gone nuts.
Member Name: tune57
Date: 10/09/09, updated on 01/01/10 (299 review reads)
Advantages: Kind to the environment, your laundry and wallet
Disadvantages: May not shift some stubborn stains
* 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.
Summary: Not just for your laundry
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