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Learn more about soap nuts and why you should consider using them as an alternative to commercial laundry detergent.
Why use soap nuts?
The danger in commercial laundry detergent
The inspiration for today’s blog post is the reaction I received from a meme which I posted on my facebook fan page a while ago. Up until then I had not realised how many people were unaware of the dangers in using commercial laundry detergents and fabric softeners.
Conventional detergents are comprised of a concoction of fragrances, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and potent cancer-causing chemicals.
Most detergents have signature fragrances which are designed to impregnate and stay in clothes. The unscented versions add masking chemicals, which simply cover up the fragrance with another chemical. These chemicals linger in the fabric and rub off on your skin, your largest and fastest-growing organ. Source BranchBasics
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By now you might be wondering what are these harmful chemicals found in laundry detergent that you should be avoiding so I’ve complied a list of the top 3.
Top 3 harmful chemicals found in laundry detergent
- Fragrance – gives your laundry that ‘fresh’ sweet smell but can literally be a concoction of hundreds of chemicals that manufactures can lump together under the name ‘fragrance’.
- Surfactants – used to deep clean and gives detergent its foaming abilities. However with over 16,000 research studies on surfactants such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) indicating links to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption it is quite clear that we need a better alternative.
- Optical Brighteners – leaves a residue on your clothing which reflect light and make clothes look brighter, with more vivid colours. Chemical brighteners such as Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) are endocrine disruptors that adversely affect physical function and fetal development. Particularly vulnerable to these chemicals are babies and children as NPEs are known to adversely affect neurologic, immune, cardiac, kidney, and liver function as well.
There simply must be a better, more natural, hormone friendly way to clean our clothes!
Safer Laundry Detergent Options
Why I choose Soap Nuts
When my daughter was born almost eleven years ago my journey to a greener lifestyle began. It was almost like she came into our lives and I had an epiphany.
I suddenly became aware of all the lurking toxins and endocrine disruptors present in our home and I had to get rid of them! I turned away from my previous lifestyle and started making most bath and beauty products from scratch.
I became informed and began making body butters, bath bombs, shampoo, linen spray, nappy cream, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, ‘Vicks’ you name it – I made it . I even gave my ‘line’ of products a name. Lexi-licious rightfully named after my baby girl.
Laundry detergent had me stumped though. I could not come up with a homemade concoction I was pleased with so I continued to buy the ‘greenest’ laundry detergent available to me.
It was completely by chance that I discovered soap nuts. I was browsing my local health shop at the time when I came upon these amazing little berries.
I picked up a package and since then soap nuts are what I have been using for washing laundry. Throughout the years I have certainly put them to the test; gym wear, food and dirt stained baby clothes, towels, bed linen everything gets washed with those little berries and I have never been disappointed.
What are soap nuts ?
The soap nut tree Sapindus Mukorossi aka Indian Soapberry is a very large tree found in warm temperate climates, as well as tropical regions in both Asia and the Americas. It produces a macadamia-sized berry fruit. The berries are cracked open and dried in the sun, producing a dark golden ‘shell’ resembling nuts.
Soap Nuts aren’t actually nuts!
Soap Nuts, soapberries, washing nuts, soap nut shells, wash shells, soapberry nut husk, Ritha (Hindi) nutshell, Chinese soapberries are all one on the same. Because Soap Nuts are actually a berry fruit they are completely nut allergy safe and have been used successfully with no reactions by people with nut allergies.
How soap nuts work
The pods contain a very high percentage of saponins a surfactant which removes dirt and oils from clothing when combined with water. Unlike commercial soaps, that contain harmful artificial foaming agents like sulphates soap nuts do not produce lots of bubbles or foam. Contrary to popular belief though foam is not an indication of cleaning power.
Just read this article Laundry Science: Why bubbles don’t equal clean if you don’t believe me.. 😉
Soap nuts most definitely leave your clothing clean, soft and without scent.
How to use soap nuts
Soap nuts can be used in a variety of ways, not only for washing laundry
Time needed: 5 minutes.
How to use soap nuts a laundry detergent
Put 4 or 5 soap nut shells in a cotton or muslin drawstring bag and tie bag securely.
- Add to washer
Toss the bag in your washing machine before you add your clothes.
- For lightly scented laundry
Add a few drops of essential oil of your choice onto the soap nuts wash bag for lovely, lightly scented laundry. I like lemon.
- If you’re washing whites
Add washing soda to the pre-wash cycle for extra white whites.
- For fabric softener
Add white distilled vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine for extra ‘softening’ power
As a dishwasher detergent – Put 4 to 5 soap nut shells into the cutlery basket of your dishwasher and run the cycle as usual.
As an all-purpose household cleaner – Make a Soap Nut liquid concentrate – Boil a handful of soap nut shells in approx 4 cups of water. Allow the liquid to cool and strain the shells out. This liquid can be used as an all-purpose cleaner, car wash, liquid soap, pet shampoo, washing-up liquid or for any other areas you would normally clean with a liquid. The liquid’s shelf life is approximately two weeks on the counter. You can however freeze it in ice-cube trays.
As a shampoo / face wash – Same as above by making a soap nut liquid concentrate. I do not utilise the soap nut liquid for this purpose very often mostly because soap nut liquid stings the eyes and tastes really bad.
So what do you think, will you give soap nuts a try? If you do please let me know what you think in the comment section below. Click the image below to order your soap nuts online from Amazon.
Soap Nuts – Mother Nature’s Soap
- Soap Nut shells
- Muslin drawstring bag
- Dirty Laundry
- Washing Machine
As a laundry detergent
- Put 4 or 5 soap nut shells in a cotton or muslin drawstring bag and tie bag securely.
- Toss the bag in your washing machine before you add your clothes.