Nope, that isn’t a typo. These are an all natural alternative to laundry soap. This company calls them Eco Nuts, but we first learned about them as Soap Nuts from a BBC show called “It isn’t easy being green” that we watched on YouTube. You can find most of the episodes from the show here.
They are odd looking hollow shells. Technically they aren’t really nuts but dried berries from the Sapindus Mukorossi and Sapindus Trifoliatus that grows in the Himalayas. When these Soap Nuts get agitated in water, they produce a naturally occurring surfactant called saponin. Saponin can be used as a soap or detergent which gently cleanses or as a fabric softener. These little gems are a great alternative to chemical laden laundry detergents for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Additionally, they are an organic, vegan, and environmentally friendly alternative. This single box of Soap Nuts will wash 100 loads of laundry and will stop 3.125 plastic laundry detergent bottles from ever making it to the landfill.
After the berries are harvested they are de-seeded and they dry into a hard hollow shell that resembles a nut or large acorn. It is the outer husk that contains the soap, not the actual seed. The Eco Nuts brand are all wild harvested which means they are harvested from wild trees that have had no chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides used on them. Since Saponin tastes bad to insects there isn’t really a need for pesticides.
These little berries don’t create a lot of “soap foam” like we are accustomed to with commercial laundry detergents. The natural saponin in the Soap Nuts doesn’t foam much. Commercially available laundry detergents use artificial foaming agents because we have all been conditioned to believe that foam equals cleaning power, this simply isn’t true.
To use the Soap Nuts you simply place three or four of them in a small reusable wash bag (provided when you purchase from Eco Nuts). You put them in the washing machine with the laundry and leave them in through the rinse cycle. Since they act as both a detergent and fabric softener, this is a win-win situation. When the wash is complete, remove them and set aside to dry for next time. You continue to use the same bag of Soap Nuts until they lose their color, then you add the used Soap Nuts to your compost pile, replace them with new ones and continue.
The Eco Nuts brand comes with full instructions to use the Soap Nuts up to and including how to deal with heavy stains, cloth diapers, and how to use them as a multipurpose soap. This is our first box of Soap Nuts and we are very excited to use them. We purchased them on Amazon for only $10.99. Can you believe that? Only $10.99 for 100 loads of laundry, plus we get to help our beautiful planet.
You can even grow you own soap nut tree. All it really requires is some space, as they are very large trees, fertile soil, plenty of water, and a frost free environment. In fact, I discovered that there is a Western Soap Nut tree that is native to Texas and will grow in multiple planting zones. Guess what I am going to try to plant on the Hennick Homestead?
Even more proof that Mother Nature provides everything we need naturally if we just look hard enough.