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Soap nuts for washing clothes

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 29, 2013 at 1:46 AM

I'm making changes away from commercial cleaning products inspired mainly by the fact that when I was very sick a few years ago normal cleaning products (especially bathroom) started burning my skin and causing rashes as well as causing respiratory difficulties. At the time I switched through a number of different laundry powders/detergents finally settling on a big brand liquid detergent - the only one I tried that doesn't cause skin irritation from clothes rubbing during exercise. I'm not sure whether to stay settled for this one or try to find something "more natural" (perhaps less chemical laced?) in case I lose tolerance for it. I've read about soap nuts a number of times and they sound good and cost-effective in theory but I've never heard from someone who has actually used them. A concern for me would be whether they cause any discolouration of fabrics at all.

Has anyone here used them? If so, how do you rate them and have you had any problems?

A general question for anyone reading this - how much overall impact do you think laundry detergents have on skin health? Do you think the average commercial products are safe and harmless for people of average/good health?

Medium avatar

(389)

on February 04, 2013
at 03:22 PM

Adding essential oils is an awesome idea - have not tried it but let me know if you do. And for me, I notice when I air dry the smell is not as noticeable compared to when I put them through the dryer.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on February 04, 2013
at 02:12 AM

My phrasing was misleading. I think the liquid solution is the most multi-purpose, and my feeling (no scientific proof, but it seems common sense) is that there is less residue on the clothes and the results are more consistent because the product is more consistent - I aim for a particular extraction with my liquid. From a practical standpoint, I moved right to the liquid because I live in a cool wet climate, and reusing a cloth bag of soapnuts was just asking to have a mold or mildew issue.

1f711e2d8bb0a91c5f64f5db04aba01c

(40)

on February 04, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Would adding essential oils to the nuts cover up the smell? Also, I don't have a dryer - is it the dryer that makes the smell go away or will it be okay to air dry?

1f711e2d8bb0a91c5f64f5db04aba01c

(40)

on February 04, 2013
at 01:27 AM

Thanks Syrahna. What makes the soapnuts liquid better than just throwing the nuts into the wash whole?

Medium avatar

(389)

on January 30, 2013
at 09:28 PM

Agreed... although I'll admit, sometimes I miss that "interesting" chemical smell after pulling the clothes out of the dryer haha.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 29, 2013
at 04:13 PM

I've never thought the scent made it through the dryer. Anyhow, I think the synthetic fragrances smell "interesting" :)

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on January 29, 2013
at 03:33 AM

I just bought some but haven't tried them yet. I am very sensitive to dyes and perfumes and normally use a detergent free of them. I've decided it's time to try these. They get rave reviews so I'm hopeful.

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5 Answers

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5
D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 29, 2013
at 04:15 AM

I really like them. They're great for every-day not-filthy clothes. Towels and sheets are noticeably softer. I wash with soapnuts about 85% of the time. I have the best results with soapnuts liquid. I put a couple handfuls in a quart jar, pour boiling water over, and let sit overnight. Sieve, put into handy bottle in fridge, make another batch with the same soapnuts. I glug some into the washing machine detergent input, occasionally with a half teaspoon or so of eucalyptus essential oil.

I can leave the liquid on the counter for at least a week without any visible mold or spoilage, but I'm in a cool climate. I mostly keep it in the fridge. Some people freeze it in ice cube trays and have 1, 2 or 3 cube washes depending on how dirty the clothes are.

I've even used them for washing dishes and cleaning the counter. I was so surprised when they did actually cut the grease. For counter-spray, I mix with a bit of white vinegar and anti-viral anti-fungal type essential oils.

If you decide to try washing yourself with them, go dilute (a foaming pump works well) and do NOT get it in your eyes. Look at Indian/Ayurvedic beauty sites for info on traditional use - they're called ritha.

From what I've read, the soapnut quality matters hugely. I've been buying from Naturoli on Amazon. Big soapnuts that I usually can get three uses out of. When they're getting spent, they're great to smush up a bit and use as a sink or tub scrub.

1f711e2d8bb0a91c5f64f5db04aba01c

(40)

on February 04, 2013
at 01:27 AM

Thanks Syrahna. What makes the soapnuts liquid better than just throwing the nuts into the wash whole?

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on February 04, 2013
at 02:12 AM

My phrasing was misleading. I think the liquid solution is the most multi-purpose, and my feeling (no scientific proof, but it seems common sense) is that there is less residue on the clothes and the results are more consistent because the product is more consistent - I aim for a particular extraction with my liquid. From a practical standpoint, I moved right to the liquid because I live in a cool wet climate, and reusing a cloth bag of soapnuts was just asking to have a mold or mildew issue.

2
Medium avatar

(389)

on January 29, 2013
at 03:25 PM

Love them.

Only complaint is that some people noticed that clothes had, "An interesting smell to them," and not in a good way. So now I use regular detergent every once in a while and soap nuts the rest of the time - Works great.

Medium avatar

(389)

on January 30, 2013
at 09:28 PM

Agreed... although I'll admit, sometimes I miss that "interesting" chemical smell after pulling the clothes out of the dryer haha.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 29, 2013
at 04:13 PM

I've never thought the scent made it through the dryer. Anyhow, I think the synthetic fragrances smell "interesting" :)

Medium avatar

(389)

on February 04, 2013
at 03:22 PM

Adding essential oils is an awesome idea - have not tried it but let me know if you do. And for me, I notice when I air dry the smell is not as noticeable compared to when I put them through the dryer.

1f711e2d8bb0a91c5f64f5db04aba01c

(40)

on February 04, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Would adding essential oils to the nuts cover up the smell? Also, I don't have a dryer - is it the dryer that makes the smell go away or will it be okay to air dry?

1
9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on January 29, 2013
at 08:45 AM

I've been using soap nuts for two years to replace laundry detergent. I put 5-10 in an old sock, tie it up, and throw in with the laundry. They work really well. Haven't tried them for other uses.

Some recommend using commercial detergent every once in a while, but I don't see the point.

0
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 29, 2013
at 05:13 AM

I have tried using them instead of shampoo. They did not work because they have a slight odor. With time, I got to dislike that particular scent so much - I stopped using them. And they did not work as well on my hair. But YMMV.

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