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Soap nuts are nature's favorite laundry detergent.  The most beneficial are from the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi.  Soap nuts grow wild and are naturally resistant to insects. This species of the Lychee family is native to northern India and the Himalayas. They are a biodegradeable, hypoallergenic, economical, and
a natural surfactant.  

The detergent property of soap nuts is due to the presence of triterpene saponins in their fruit wall(pericarp).   Saponins are naturally occurring chemical compounds that have the same properties as soap and detergents.  The saponin content in soap nuts can range from 10 to 18%.  The saponin content is the highest in the Mukorossi variety.  The mildness of the soap nut is said to keep colors bright and maintain the fabric of your clothes when compared to Western traditional laundry detergents.

There is a carbon footprint to get soap nuts to your home.  However, there is no thick plastic packaging or a multitude of chemicals that have to travel miles.  
There are no phosphates or other chemicals added.  
Soap nuts and their packaging are 100% biodegradable.  
Environmentally speaking, we feel soap nuts are a better choice.

Experiment, but consider: the type of water (hard or soft), size of washing machine and load, how soiled the items and the water temperature you are using - See TIPS.
Cold Water
  • Add 3-4 soap nuts (or equivalent pieces) in a muslin bag to your wash load after soaking in warm water for 5 minutes.  DO NOT OVERLOAD!  Soap nuts need water and agitation to work properly.  * Reuse from 4 to 7 times.
Warm/Hot Water

  • Add 3-4 soap nuts (or equivalent pieces) in a muslin bag to your wash load after soaking in warm water for 5 minutes.  DO NOT OVERLOAD!  Soap nuts need water and agitation to work properly.  * Reuse from 4 to 7 times.
Stained Clothes
  • It is fine to pretreat.  Also, soap nuts work great with oxygen powered bleaches.  The saponin in the soap nuts will help chemicals release from the fibers during the wash cycle.
Liquid Soap Add one handful of fresh or retired soap nuts (preferably broken up) to 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain out the shells. Now you have a concentrated natural liquid for wash or personal/pet/vegetable/fruit cleansing.  Use from 1/2 teaspoon  to 3 tablespoons per load.
*Soap nuts should be used 4 to 7 times.  Place used nuts in a covered
cup with water in it.  Shake the cup.  If you see suds, your nuts
are good to use yet again.  When soap nuts start to turn a dull color and
no longer produce any suds, they get to retire.  
Please put them in compost pile.  If you do not have a compost pile,
it is fine to just chuck them in your yard.

Soap nuts are a great natural detergent and fabric softener.  

Soap NutsClick to Buy Soap Nuts

No need to buy fabric softener again!

  • Soap nuts work best when several wash loads are done in a row.  There is no need to resoak the nuts when doing a number of loads in a row.
  • If you lose your muslin bag, use a cotton sock or hankie to hold the soap nuts.  Just be sure to tie the top of your sock to keep the soap nuts contained.
  • DO NOT OVERSTUFF LOADS!  Soap nuts need water and agitation to work properly.
  • Soap nuts absorb moisture.  Store in an airtight container.  If they do get sticky and dark, it is still okay to use them.
  • When the saponin has been exhausted from the shells for laundry use they will look dark and feel soggy.
  • "Retired" soap nuts have many uses.  They can be put in a food processor to make hand soap or shampoo.  Soap nuts have anti-insecticidal properties and are used to fight lice in India and Nepal.  Soap nuts have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for years.  Lastly, they can be, and should be, composted.
  • Soap nuts are great for HE washers because they do not produce a lot of suds.
  • They wash most effectively between 85 and 140 degrees f (30 and 60c).
  • For an average load of laundry you will use 3-4 shells (or equivalent in pieces).  A larger and dirtier load may require 5-8 shells while smaller loads may only need 2-3. Harder water may require more soap nuts (or salt).
  • Forgot to remove your bag of soap nuts before throwing everything in the dryer?  No problem. Just resoak the soap nuts before using again for wash.
  • To add a scent to your clothes, put a few drops of an essential oil on to a piece of cloth going in to the dryer.  Do not add any oils during the wash cycle as it may affect clothes wicking ability.
  • Be sure to buy de-seeded soap nuts as the seeds have a tendency to make their way out of the muslin bag and stain clothes.  Also, why pay for the weight of the seeds?

Old Time Solutions for a New World