[UPDATE, July 2013]: I must confess that since writing this post, I’ve gone back to using a commercial detergent. The thing is, the soap nuts didn’t ALWAYS work as well as they did the first few times. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t, and I was mystified as to why they sometimes didn’t. I will do some more experiments and update this post.]
In my last post, I told you about my experience using soap nuts to wash my laundry.
Prior to using soap nuts, I’d used a homemade liquid detergent for my laundry for several years, which I was also happy with. The homemade detergent — which uses Borax, washing soda, a grated bar of soap, and five gallons of water — is amazing: it’s crazy-frugal, hypoallergenic, all-natural, and, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, eco-friendly to boot. (I got my recipe here, though I sub out the Sunlight bar for an unscented vegetable glycerin bar, which I get from Whole Foods). I’m equally happy with either the homemade detergent or the soap nuts for my laundry, and will probably continue to use both.
As most of you know, I make most of my other household cleaners and body-care products, too, from deodorant to toothpaste to glass cleaner. (I do this because I think it’s important, as a disciple of Christ, to take care of both the home and the body he gave me. And also because it’s frugal and fun.)
I’d never found a satisfactory solution for the dishwasher, though.
I’d seen homemade granulated recipes out there, but I knew that the use of Borax on dishes was questionable. Moreover, I knew a couple of people who’d tried these recipes and found them severely lacking.
Until now, I’d just used an eco-friendly commercial detergent. I felt okay with that, but it’s kind of pricey, and I felt I could do better.
So I was delighted and surprised, when I received a second bag of soap nuts from a friend, to find that they included instructions for use in the dishwasher.
Soap nuts in the dishwasher?! I’d never heard of this before. If this worked out, I may have found my solution!
So I thought I’d give it a try and let you guys know how it went!
I’ve actually tried it twice now, and documented my second attempt. So here goes!
A Note Before I Begin:
I don’t pre-rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. In fact, I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with people who pre-rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Why go through the trouble of loading the dang thing if you’re planning on running them through the sink anyway? I just don’t get it. (If this is you: sorry. I think you’re weird.)
So none of my dishes have been rinsed prior to this wash. (Except, perhaps, for a few heavily-coated pots and pans.)
So here you see my dishwasher full of dirty dishes. Yuck.
According to the directions on my bag of soap nuts, you put a couple of nuts into the little cotton bag (I used four), and drop the bag into your utensil rack (NOT the detergent dispenser.)
I ran a regular wash, without the heat dry. (I always turn off the heat dry. Save money and decrease your carbon footprint!)
After the cycle had run: ta-da! All sparkling clean!
I was totally thrilled with the results.
I’m told you can re-use the same soap nuts 3 or 4 times. The load you see above was this bag of nuts’ second run. After that, you can just toss them in the compost. (According to this post from Crunchy Betty, you can go a whole lot of things with the soap nut flesh after it’s been used. I haven’t tried any, yet!)
I still have some store-bought detergent to up, but after that I think I’ll be sticking with soap nuts!
Update: I tried a THIRD load with this method (using the same four nuts), and still loved it!
Shared on Your Green Resource via SortaCrunchy!