The 'But' is there because our understanding of how washing works is driven by past experiences and some things you may not realise. I have used Soapnuts for washing clothes for about 4 years and have tried all kinds of ways of working with them and have finally arrived at a formula that I think works for anyone trying to do the right thing but with a busy life, grotty kids & no time.
This was my criteria:
In summary, soap nuts definitely clean your clothes very effectively.
There is no question that they work. Just put them in a jar of water and shake. It's pretty soapy in there. Put simply, the nuts contain the surfactant, saponins, a foamy substance that is released in the washing machine and cleans your clothes.
Clothes cleaned with soapnuts have no smell. Just clothes. Even when your clothes are completely clean with soap nuts, they don't smell of anything. Oddly, that is something that might take a little getting used to.
THE REASON IS THAT MOST COMMERCIAL DETERGENT HAVE A LOT OF FRAGRANCE IN THEM TO MASK RESIDUAL ODOURS. IT'S NOT THE KIND OF THING YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU USE IT ALL THE TIME AS YOUR NOSE SWITCHES OFF TO THE SMELL. (AND ANYWAY YOU PROBABLY HAVE BETTER THINGS TO SNIFF & THINK ABOUT.)
The thing is that even if you add essential oils to your soapnuts wash, the smell is mostly stripped out by the soap nuts as they wash. If you use vinegar as a softener, you have doubled your chance of the same outcome. No smell.
Cold water washing with soap nuts might be ok for clothes that aren't very dirty, but for the most part, it doesn't get all odour or life smells out of sweaty clothes. Or stains. Not all of them anyway. That includes baby clothes, business shirts and kids uniforms. You need to wash in 50 degrees to get rid of odours and stains (unless it's a cold stain issue like blood). Fifty degrees is not particularly hot, but after much experimenting, it is the level I have found to be effective.
Linen should really be washed at 60 degrees to kill most bacteria & mites. Beds are full of freeloaders like dust mites as well as shards of your skin and litres of your sweat. This state of affairs is why businesses like Ettitude developed coffee ground infused sheets and sell plenty of them.
Mostly when you buy soapnuts, they are sold with a little fabric bag that you put a few nuts in, tie it off and that lasts you for 5 or 6 washes. They will wash very effectively, but what doesn't work, if you have a front loader is that you can't get them out after the wash cycle. So they are still there through your rinses.
Some of the soapnut sellers will tell you that if you rinse in cold water, the soapnuts don't create suds. That's kind of crazy. I used whole nuts for a while, but even with vinegar rinse aid, your clothes always feel like there is some residual detergent in them. (duh).
The general instructions to simply put around 5 soap nuts in a wash bag and place in your washing machine works better with a top loader because you can lift the lid and fish out the nuts once the wash cycle is finished. (The nuts will actually last around 5 – 6 washes, dependent upon washing load size.)If you go down this route, I would advise that you use something like an undies wash bag rather than the little calico bag that is often given to you when you buy soap nuts. It's simply easier to find. You have to fish it out of your washing after each wash and sometimes - like when you are cleaning sheets and doona covers, that can be quite a hunt if the bag is really small.
I have a front loader and a smelly teenage son and no time to stuff around. At first I used the whole nuts in the supplied bags and noticed two things early on:
After much experimenting, including boiling the soapnuts to create a liquid. (This worked and was a versatile end product, but the liquid goes off.)
In the end, I powdered them. Grind the soap nuts in a Vitamix and mix 1/2 teaspoon of soapnut powder with 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda for my wash. I wash at 50 degrees and rinse cold. I use vinegar as rinse aid. And I now have a perfect wash.TO GRIND THE SOAPNUTS, USE ANY GOOD QUALITY FOOD PROCESSOR THAT IS CAPABLE OF TURNING GRAIN INTO POWDER (LIKE WHEAT INTO FLOUR). Some other pointers that may be of value:
That's it! I would love your feedback and any suggestions that will help others. You can buy soap nuts online or at any decent health food shops. You will notice they have a slightly vinegar-ish smell, but this does not come through your clothes.
If you line dry, the sun is great for completely airing clothes. And of course if you use a dryer, you can put essential oils onto a piece of fabric or your dryer ball and infuse your clothes that way.
This advice has worked brilliantly for me BUT I was still washing in cold to be eco and since I have switched to a hot wash it's sooooooo much more effective all round. I also sometimes leave the soaps-nuts to be ground in the sun before grinding to get them dry in a renewable way :-)
Friday, 14 June 2019
Most nuts come in 1 kg bags, here’s a 250g. Bag to start with. https://www.lilbit.com.au/product-page/lil-soap-nuts
Friday, 14 June 2019
Sally T - yes we sell Soap Nuts at EORTH. You can see in our ekko.world shop or go to https://eorth.com.au/product/organic-soapberries-250g/
Friday, 14 June 2019
Do you sell soapnuts at Eorth, Cathy?
Friday, 14 June 2019
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Soap nuts are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree and have grown wild in India for centuries. The Sapindus Mukorossi tree is considered a pest in some countries like Australia so, enticing as it may be to grow a soap tree, growing your own isn't really an option in Australia.
Soap Nuts contain saponins that do the actual cleansing. Saponins act as a surfactant, (which is a substance that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces).
If you put some in a jar and shake it up, you will see just how soapy they are. They can be used for cleaning pretty much anything around the house. Just be aware that once they are mixed with water, they will go off after a few days.