Soap nuts (also known as soapberries) are all-natural, plant-based cleaning products. The nut comes from the Soapnut Tree (Sapindus mukorossi) and it is easy to grow, organic and as a final product requires very little processing or packaging. The shells used as detergent contain saponin – a natural surfactant that reduces the surface tension of the water making it wetter and easier to penetrate soiled fabrics. Contrary to this, commercial detergents contain chemical surfactants. One of them is 1,2 Dioxane, a carcinogenic and volatile substance.
The Dangers of Conventional Detergents
Conventional detergents are made of a concoction of different fragrances. All of these ingredients are endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and potential cancer-causing chemicals. Chemical detergents have signature their own fragrances made potent enough to remain on yours clothes. The unscented versions, on the other hand, also include chemicals which mask the already present fragrance. Seems like you can’t win with these, huh? Well, the truth is that the laundry room may very well be the most toxic room in one’s home.
And it’s not like this a hard to detect fact since these detergent have “caution”, “warning”, or “danger” written on the packages themselves. These words are plain giveaway that point out the presence of toxic chemicals in the product.
Apart from harming the user’s health, these detergents have poisonous effects on aquatic life. They do a lot of damage in a few different ways – by destroying the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; by causing severe damage to the gills; by killing fish eggs; by decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms; and by lowering the surface tension of the water.
Benefits of Organic Soap Nuts
This type of detergent is a sustainable and renewable natural product that is easily and organically grown. It comes with no harmful ingredients and it is eco-friendly. Moreover, each berry can be used for up to 6 washes before you need to get rid of it, and it doesn’t cause any skin or respiratory irritations.
Another thing that makes them so convenient is that they are easy to use. Simply throw them in the washer or make a simple liquid detergent. If you want, you can add your own essential oils because the soap nuts are odourless. You won’t need to add a fabric softener – they do that too. So, these are also cost-efficient. Additionally, organic soap nuts are 100% biodegradable, safe for greywater systems and are non-polluting. Lastly, they have countless uses. Read on for a few ideas about how to use them in your home.
How to Make Liquid Soap Nut Detergent
This is quite simple. Boil 2 berries for each cup of water for a period of 30 minutes. You can crash or mash the berries either before or during the boiling process in order to release as much of the soap as possible. After that, allow the water to cool down, strain the solution with a muslin cloth, add essential oils if you want and store the detergent in a jar in the fridge.
How to Use Berries and Soap Nut Detergent
The most common use of eco soap nuts is for washing laundry. A small quantity of the detergent is enough to replace both your regular detergent and the fabric softener.
Put 2-5 berries in the cutlery basket of your dishwasher and use it as usual. As a natural rinse aid, it is recommended that you add white vinegar. As for handwashing, you can use a liquid detergent made of berries (see above).
Take a spray bottle, add soap nut liquid detergent and white vinegar and you have a solution which you can use for cleaning cabinets, cleaning venetians, cupboards, walls, doors, floors, stainless steel and other metals, wood, tables, shoes and many other items and materials. It is even safe to use around kids and pets.
Yes. A bit unconventional, but these little berries are great for washing hair too. Mix 30 ml of liquid soap in 300 ml of water, add your favourite aromatherapy and pour it over your scalp. You could make the application process easier if you have a functional spray bottle you can use for this purpose. That way, you’ll be able to get to the roots more easily (you’ll have more control) and also you’ll waste less product.