About a year and a half ago, I wrote about my experience using soap nuts. I’ve been a happy user ever since.
Like many people, I started out wary: using nuts to wash your clothes? What’s that all about? It sounded too weird and too different from the conventional detergents I was used to using. But I gave them a try and then never went back. (Well, okay, I’ve gone back to using homemade detergent here and there, just because the ingredients are so cheap and easy and to find locally; but I’ve gone back to soap nuts full time ever since I started to suspect the Borax wasn’t helping my hormonal imbalance problem. More on that later.)
Anyway, here’s a recap of why I love soap nuts:
1. In my experience, they’re just as effective as commercial detergents.
2. They’re inexpensive. Depending on the size of the bag you get, it’s possible to spend half as much on laundry with soap nuts as you would conventional detergents. Many people think safer alternatives have to be more expensive than conventional ones, but the opposite is actually true!
3. They’re environmentally-friendly. All you’re using is the lightweight shell of the soap berry, found primarily in Nepal and India. They are easy to grow organically. So basically you’re throwing organic fruit into your wash, which you can then compost. How is that not awesome?
4. With soap nuts, there are no worries about toxic chemicals. I’ve discovered that my hormones are very sensitive and easily disrupted by certain chemicals commonly found in cleaning and household products (to the point where I have trouble getting pregnant.) I do NOT want to mess with my hormones (or those of my family members), and soap nuts are the safest option I’ve found.
5. They leave no smell on our clothes. My husband and I are pretty sensitive to scent, especially synthetic ones; but soap nuts leave absolutely no smell on our laundry, which we love.
So now you’ve heard why I love soap nuts…
Green Virgin Products: Soap Nuts Liquid
Recently, a representative from Green Virgin Products contacted me, asking if I’d like to try their soap nuts liquid and offer a review. He also offered to let me try their all-natural pre-spotter bar, too. (Side note: the company also sells my beloved soap nuts — all organically grown and for a great price.)
A chance to do my laundry for free and try out some wonderfully natural cleaning products? I took it.
Basically, the soap nuts liquid is just the extract from soap nuts that has been boiled out of the shells with water. So it’s still totally natural and non-toxic. Normally, soap nuts liquid has a very short shelf-life, so it’s not feasible to sell commercially; but the folks at Green Virgin Products found an amazingly safe preservative, allowing them to produce and ship it to us. (Learn more about the product here.)
To use it, you just use the pump dispenser to pump 2-3 squirts of liquid into your laundry, just like regular liquid detergent.
I love this product! It’s every bit as safe and effective as soap nuts, but with these added advantages:
1. There’s no need to keep track of how many times you’ve used a bag of soap nuts. (With raw soap nuts, you can re-use them 4-7 times, depending on the temperature of your water and how dirty your clothes are. We keep a white board above our machine where we mark down every time we use a baggie of nuts until they’re ready to be composted. It’s not a big deal, but it’s nice to not have to worry about this. With the soap nuts liquid, once you squirt it into your laundry you’re done thinking about it.)
2. No need to fish out the baggie of soap nuts before tossing the clothes in the dryer or taking them outside to hang on the line. This is so nice when you’re used to playing find-the-soap-nuts after every load.
I guess the Green Virgin folks had some Science performed on the liquid to determine that it’s even better at cleaning laundry than raw soap nuts, but I confess I didn’t notice a difference . . . both do a great job getting out body odour, toddler stains, and everyday messes from our laundry. I am not missing my store-bought detergent one bit.
Unsurprisingly, this awesomely-convenient liquid does cost a bit more than raw soap nuts. But as you will see, it’s still a very economical choice compared to its major competitors.
With a top-loading machine, like I have (where you need to use a little more liquid per load), the cost is comparable to the leading toxic brands (about 23 cents a load); but with an HE washer it’s significantly cheaper (about 16 cents a load). And that’s only if you get the small bottle — larger-sized bottles are even more economical. (Here’s a chart outlining competitor prices to get an idea what we’re looking at.)
Moreover, soap nuts and soap nuts liquid naturally soften clothes, so you don’t need fabric softener. I haven’t used it in years. There’s more cost savings!
So if the choice is between Tide and GVP’s soap nuts liquid, it’s still a no-brainer: soap nuts liquid is a much safer, healthier, greener choice, that is every bit as convenient as the competition, and for similar or slightly lower cost! It’s a great option for those looking for natural solutions but who are not quite ready to throw bags of nuts in their laundry.
But if you want all the goodness of soap nuts, don’t mind the minor inconvenience of counting nuts and keeping track of washes, and want the most economical option, raw soap nuts are probably your best best. Either way, give Green Virgin Products a visit!
Green Virgin GVP Formula 433 Non Toxic Solid Stick Prespotter
Green Virgin also sent me one of their all-natural prespotter bars to try. Luckily, I have a three-year-old, so it wasn’t hard to find an item with a stain that would need some special treatment.
This dress came out of the wash with this orange stain still on it. Not sure what it came from . . . I think it was pumpkin risotto. So I followed the instructions provided on the website for treating stains: I moistened an old toothbrush, rubbed it against the bar, and applied it to the stain.
All gone! (Well, a TEEEEENY bit of residual colour, but come on. Pumpkin risotto. They didn’t send me a magic wand.)
Test #2: I’m also expecting a baby in the next few weeks, and wanted to get some newborn clothes ready for the big day. Naturally, I only want the cleanest, safest things against my new baby’s skin. But all of my old onesies were disgustingly stained — all yellow and gross from spit-up. (Thanks, Baby #1). I didn’t want to use bleach or anything harsh on them. In fact, I was tempted to toss them out and just buy new ones. But I decided to try a few different stain removers on them.
See how nasty they look?
On the first item pictured, I used the Green Virgin Products prespotter bar. I had to use a big scrubby brush because a toothbrush just wasn’t going to cut it.
I used other stain removers on the other items to compare. (On the second, I used a homemade detergent; and on the third and fourth items, a homemade stain remover using Dawn dish soap that has proven effective in the past.)
After treatment, I threw them in the wash with soap nuts liquid. I also poured some hydrogen peroxide into the bleach dispenser for good measure.
This is them after:
Nice and white! Not brand-new sparkling white, but very acceptably white.
(Forgive me — the lighting is different because they’re taken outdoors at different times of day. But you can still see a HUGE difference.) The all-natural prespotter was every bit as effective as the Dawn dish soap version. But it’s cheaper and non-toxic.
This bar is just under $7, and I can see it lasting a zillion years. So if you’re placing an order for one of their soap nuts products anyway, I’d say it’s a no-brainer to toss in a prespotter bar and you’ll be set for years to come.
Wanna Win Some Free Soap Nuts Liquid?
Give it a try yourself . . . just leave a comment telling me why you’d like to try Green Virgin’s Soap Nuts Liquid, and you will be automatically entered to win one 8oz bottle! Giveaway ends November 19, when I will randomly select a winner. (*Update: Giveaway is over. Thanks for your interest!*)
Bonus: If you sign up for Green Virgin Products’ newsletter you can get exclusive coupon codes each month. The sign up is at the bottom of their home page.