Over the past year I have tried out many different recipes for home-made laundry soap. We have very hard water and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed with any of them. At least I wasn’t until this summer. I had come across soap nuts during one of my forays into the world-wide web and they intrigued me from the very start. I mean, what’s not to like? They are completely natural, very inexpensive and as they are compostable leave absolutely no waste behind. They are gentle on the skin and did I mention 100 % natural?
So I got to researching. What exactly are soap nuts and how do they work? Well, I’m glad you asked! Soap nuts are actually the fruits of the Soap Nut Tree. They contain Saponin which when it comes in contact with water makes a gentle sud similar to that of soap. Saponin is a natural alternative to other detergents and cleansers.
And they really are rather wonder-ful if all the blurb is to be believed. According to information found around blogland (and therefore incredibly reliable….) soap nuts
- are highly effective yet gentle
- will leave laundry fresh and clean
- is so mild using it will keep colours bright and maintain fabric structure
- can be used on all fabrics
- can be used at all temperatures
- are allergy-free
- are chemical free product
- are naturally antibacterial and antifungal
- and are very gentle on the skin
Yes, such a wonder really does exist. Thing is, I had heard this before about almost every recipe I had tried and honestly, I’d always been less than impressed. But I was interested enough to go to my usual port of call when I want someone’s honest opinion of something. Amazon. Yes, really.
Interestingly the purchasers on Amazon gave them almost unanimous 5 star reports. As I read more and more of the reviews I became even more impressed. Enough to buy a bag of them to try out myself. I paid £9.74 for 1kg which claim to do up to 330 washes. That’s under 3 pence a wash. I ordered and the very next day received a lovely cotton bag filled to the brim with soap nuts and two smaller wash bags to place the soap nuts into for washing purposes:
On the back of the bag the company have printed information as well as instructions for use:
You need only use between four and seven per wash and even then they actually last for up to five or six washes:
For the first wash using them I chose my husband’s work clothes. Gary has an out-door grubby job so his clothes are really dirty. In addition I included a rag which had cleaned the car and was dirty with oily dirt:
I open the bag, feeling rather excited about the whole prospect of cheap clean clothes. And I nearly passed out. Oh. My. Goodness. Never, I repeat NEVER have I smelt something more revolting in all my life! There was no way I was going to walk round in clothes that smelt like THAT. The rest of the family was equally unimpressed. I’d opened it though, and I knew if I really didn’t like it Amazon have a great return policy. So I placed the seven nuts in the mini bag. They felt hard and sticky and smelt revolting. Really, I didn’t have high hopes at this point in time.
But I was to be proved wrong. Very wrong. And on this occasion, I couldn’t have been happier to have been wrong. First, the soap nuts got everything very clean. I took a photo of the rag and it is nearly new looking:
But more than that, the clothes smelt glorious. Really. They smelt clean, without any scent. I have an incredibly strong sense of smell and they just smelt clean, without any nasty fragrance at all.
For me though the proof would be not just how well the soap nuts cleaned, nor how good they smelt, it would be whether or not I came up in a rash. I am allergic to almost everything. I can use Fairy as a laundry soap but not as a washing up liquid, and any other brand brings me up in a rash and makes me very itchy. I was delighted to find out that the soap nuts really were hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin. I have used them all summer without any reaction.
Each wash used to cost me 37 pence and now costs me just 3 pence. As I now look down the list I wrote above outlining all that soap nuts claim to be, I would have to say I agree with every single one of them. These are a keeper. After searching for over a year and trying out a multitude of recipes, I have finally found something which I don’t need to make from scratch and which works beautifully. The only negative I can see is the smell of the soap nuts in their raw state. I just make sure I keep the bag shut at all times with a baggy clip and hold my breath when I go to get new ones.
I will still be washing my bedding in Fairy, simply because I like the fragrance of Fairy and how lovely it makes the bedrooms smell, but for everything else, I will be using soap nuts.
I have also heard they can be used for so much more than just a laundry solution and that is what I am going to be investigating over the next few months.