Saturday, September 19, 2009

This soap is nuts! Review

As you know, I'm always looking for ways to "green up" my household. We recycle and have switched to cloth napkins instead of paper. I'm also planning to try out cloth diapering and am working on getting us down to one bag of trash per week.

Well, I got a catalog in the mail recently and as I was paging through it, I saw something called Soap Nuts. Supposedly these were some all-natural thing you could use to wash your laundry. Intrigued, I (of course) Googled it and found this Web site. I decided to try these soap nuts out and do a review.

Soap Nuts are actually berries that grow on trees in India and Nepal, and they contain a lot of saponin (the stuff that makes soap soap!), and I've learned they can be used not just for laundry, but for all sorts of general cleaning around the house.

My Soap Nuts arrived, packaged in a muslin bag with instructions printed on it. There is one small plastic bag inside the muslin, and other than that, there is no packaging waste. Awesome.

There was a mild, earthy odor about the nuts when I opened them, and they looked brown and wrinkly, kind of like dates. Hubby thought they smelled gross and forbade me to test them out on any of his stuff. I did anyway.

After reading the packaging, I decided to make some concentrated Soap Nut liquid, so I boiled ten or twelve of the nuts in 6 cups of water for 30 minutes and put the liquid in a glass jar. It was brown and weird looking, but did not smell like much of anything. Then I grabbed some of our dirtiest laundry to test it out. I washed some reallllly sweaty gym shirts that had been fermenting in the hamper for a few days, some soiled baby clothes and some stinky bath towels. Then I dried them. Supposedly, you don't even need fabric softener when you're using Soap Nuts. The clothes came out soft and clean-smelling.

I have since tried out the liquid in place of my normal dishwasher soap and in place of the cleaners I use in the kitchen and in the bathroom. There is a recipe to make a general cleaner on the bag. You mix a small amount of the liquid with water and a small amount of white vinegar and put it in a spray bottle.

I have to say I am impressed. I was not expecting the Soap Nuts to work this well. My big bathroom mirror was even streak-free, as was my glass stove top. Everything I have cleaned with the Soap Nuts liquid has turned out perfect, with one exception: It did not get out a blood stain. However, right on the Web site it says that just like with regular detergent, tough stains will require a pre-treatment, so I didn't really expect it to get out the blood stain.

A 500-gram bag of Soap Nuts will do up to 200 loads of laundry, according to the Web site. I haven't done that much yet, but I will say I have only used that first batch of liquid and I have done about five loads of laundry, two loads of dishes in the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen and both bathrooms and I still have liquid left in my glass jar. A little goes a very long way.

In addition to the lack of packaging, the remnants of the Soap Nuts after you run them through the wash or make liquid are compostable, and the stuff that goes down the drain is antimicrobial, so it's actually beneficial to a septic system. These things are great for the environment, and they don't have anything added to them, so they're good to use on baby clothes or for people who are sensitive or have conditions such as eczema.

I'm glad I tried these weird little critters. I can honestly say they surpassed my expectations, and I don't feel that little twinge of guilt like I did pouring a capful of regular detergent into my washer.

if you want to find out more or try Soap Nuts for yourself, go to


MarciaG said...

Cool product! I have never herd of these and I will be checking out the website!! Thanks.

Ang said...

Oh Wow!! I have heard of these before, but was to chicken to try them. Now I think I will get some. Great review!!