How to use soap nuts – and do they work?

Read our guide for all you need to know about how to use soap nuts, what they are and how they work!

Updated

 washing with soap nuts in a washing machine

Key steps

  • Soap nuts release saponin, a natural detergent.
  • The shell absorbs water as saponin is released.
  • Put 4-6 soap buts in a muslin bag and use your normal wash cycle.
  • Add products like white vinegar for stains.
  • If soap nuts aren’t for you, use an eco-friendly detergent like Seventh Generation.

Soap nuts, or soap berries, are natural dried berries which can be used in place of detergent in a laundry wash. But do soap nuts work, and is making the switch worth it? Read on to discover everything you need to know about soap nuts, so you can make the switch today! For more sustainable cleaning advice, why not check out our guide to DIY cleaners and guide to changing to sustainable cleaning?

Soap nuts are natural, eco-friendly, and also waste-free!  Use them for more than one laundry load, and when the shells start to turn soft and grey they can be composted.

What are soap nuts?

Ever wondered what soap nuts are? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Soap nuts are native to India and Nepal, but they can be found in both eastern and western hemispheres. They have recently taken off as an environmentally friendly alternative to detergent, due to the fact they contain saponin, which acts as a natural detergent.

How do soap nuts work? Understanding soap nuts

In short, soap nuts work by absorbing water and releasing those all-important saponins which work as a natural detergent. The saponins can help to lift dirt and grime from your laundry, leaving little to no scent behind.

 Washing with soap nuts: a guide

Soap nuts are non-toxic, sustainable and budget-friendly options when it comes to doing your laundry, especially as you can compost them after use! Here’s our simple step-by-step method for how to use soap nuts for your laundry.

  1. Add 4-6 soap nuts to a muslin bag. You can purchase these, or alternatively use up fabric scraps to make your own!
  2. Soap nuts can be used in your normal wash cycle, but are most effective on warm cycles.
  3. If you have stains on your clothes it might be a good idea to pre-treat them before adding them to a cycle, as soap nuts on their own are unlikely to remove tougher stains.
  4. Once the cycle is complete, remove the bag.
  5. Allow the bag and the nuts to dry.
  6. You can dry your clothes as normal!
  7. Did you know? Soap nuts can be re-used! Keep an eye out for when the shells start to turn soft and grey. This means it’s time to pop them into the compost.
  8. N.B. While they are a great natural alternative, soap nuts will not provide you with the same results as a specialised laundry detergent. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly detergent, why not try Seventh Generation laundry products?

So, in just 5 simple steps you now know how to use soap nuts for your laundry, as well as having the knowledge of what they are and how they work.

Originally published