Even if you’re only semi-crunchy, you’ve probably heard of soap nuts by now. If not, I’ll get you up to speed: they’re an all-natural alternative to laundry detergent. They’re technically not nuts, but the fruit of a tree that grows in India and Nepal. You can get them either de-seeded or with the seeds still inside.
Anyway, they contain naturally-occurring saponins that, when mixed with water, have the power to lift stains and grime. To do your laundry, you just toss a few nuts into a little cloth bag and then throw that into your wash, which you can use a number of times before you compost the nuts.
Can you imagine anything more eco-friendly? Washing your laundry with dried fruit that can be composted?
I’d been interested in soap nuts for at least a year or two before I finally purchased my first bag. (Again, as with the shampoo bar, despite my interest I’d been reluctant to buy them online since shipping in Canada is so dang expensive, and I didn’t know where else to get them).
So when I saw a local vendor selling them at an outdoor festival back in October, I didn’t think twice. I was eager to give them a try. They’re an inexpensive, eco-friendly, easy-to-use alternative to laundry detergent which is also completely free of harmful toxins.
So how well do they work, you wonder? Here’s my review!
(Nobody paid me to do this. I just want to spread the word!)
But first, a disclaimer: I’m pretty lazy about laundry. I just don’t care enough to be bothered with reading care labels or inspecting clothes for stains that need special attention. I just roughly sort my clothes according to colour and then toss them in the wash without looking. I can overlook a few minor stains or tears here and there. I don’t even know the meaning of “delicates.” Almost all my clothes are from thrift stores, anyway.
Since I pay so little attention to my laundry, I might not be the best person to offer a very thorough or reliable assessment of how one cleaner/detergent works compared to another. But I’ll do my best.
Soap Nuts Review
I’ve been using soap nuts for my laundry for the last four months. (Except on diapers. I’ve continued to use my homemade detergent on those).
I haven’t noticed any change in the level of cleanliness with the soap nuts compared to when I used my homemade detergent. Our clothes come out clean and not smelling like anything. (Likewise, I never noticed a change in cleanliness when I switched from commercial detergent to the homemade stuff two years ago, either).
But I figured that alone wouldn’t quite cut it for a review. You might want a few more details than that.
So I paid a little more attention the last time I washed a load of Lydia’s laundry. Just for you guys.
She’s a toddler, so of course her clothes are always dirty. Usually with food stains, mostly. This particular load was especially yucky. I’d forgotten to wash her clothes for nigh on a week. This load included a pair of pants that had accidentally been put in with the wet diapers for a day or two and had absorbed the smell and dampness. (…And then had been put in with the rest of her laundry for a day or two, to spread the smell and dampness to the rest of the basket.) There was also the outfit in there that she’d worn while playing with water in her sensory table, and that I’d thrown into the basket all soaking wet. (See what I mean? Lazy.) All this had been sitting around, all moist, for days. And of course there were the usual food spills and stains all over the fronts of her shirts and dresses.
Without any special treatments or even separation of colours (except to remove any black or white items), I dumped the whole thing into the washing machine with a baggy of three (already used) soap nuts. I ran a huge warm wash. Once they were done, I hung them all up to dry right there in the laundry room as we usually do.
The next morning when I went to gather the clean laundry, everything was clean and didn’t smell like anything. (Except for the smell of the previous owners’ fabric softener. Lydia doesn’t own a single article of new clothing, thanks to two thrift stores within walking distance of our home and some generous friends. Consequently, her laundry contains a multitude of fragrances. Fabric softener scents take several washes to erase, I’ve found. They’re WAY harder to eliminate than diaper stink).
Two shirts had some very minor staining on the front, but I don’t think any detergent could have done any better. I don’t know how long they’d been there. One of them appeared to be tomato-based.
So there you go. Soap nuts work. They work well, in my opinion.
An awesome friend of mine recently bought me a second bag of soap nuts for Christmas, and the included instructions say that they can be used in the dishwasher, too.
U.S. residents: you might want to give them a try via Green Virgin Products.
How about you? Have you used soap nuts? What was your experience? If not, wanna give them a try?