How Do Soap Nuts Work?
I buy my soap nuts from Amazon. They come in a big draw-string bag, along with a matching, but smaller (and therefore cuter) draw-string bag. They are so easy to use. All I do is put 4-5 soap nuts in the smaller bag and throw it in the washer. The nuts release their "soap" better in warm or hot water, although they still work in cold water. If I'm washing a load of darks in cold water, I fill up the washing machine with enough hot water to cover the soap nut bag, and then I change the temp to cold water.
The soap nuts last for about seven loads, until they get mushy and gray. If you put the soap nuts in the dryer by accident (which I have done many times), don't freak out. They still work! Soap nuts smell vinegar-esque, but the clothes just smell clean after being washed.
Where Are the Suds?
Soap nuts are low sudsing, which is perfect if you have a front-load washer. If you don't have one, it's still perfect because the amount of suds has nothing to do with how well a soap or detergent cleans. Companies actually put chemicals in their soaps and detergents for the sole purpose of making suds because people think their soap isn't working if they can't see suds.
Goodbye Fabric Softener
Another great thing about soap nuts is they make the laundry soft without fabric softener or dryer sheets. I stopped using fabric softener and dryer sheets months ago because of all the toxic chemicals, which you can read about here. When I use my homemade laundry detergent, I have to use vinegar in the rinse cycle to get softer clothes and to wash away the soap residue. But with soap nuts, I don't need any vinegar. My loads that are washed with soap nuts end up surprisingly soft.
Too Good to Be True?
Just when soap nuts sounded too good to be true, here's a reality check. They don't get stains out as well as commercial laundry detergent. It hasn't been a problem with my clothes or my husband's clothes. But my boys' unbelievably filthy clothes and my laziness at pre-treating stains is a big problem. When I have the presence of mind and the will-power to pre-treat stains, soap nuts work fabulously!
**Update** I've been using a scoop of generic brand Oxi-Clean with the soap nuts to wash the kid's clothes and our white loads. It's been getting out all the stains so far. Oxi-Clean is just hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. You can add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 cup of washing soda (found in the laundry isle) or baking soda (not as powerful) to your load instead of buying Oxi-Clean.
More Ways to Use Soap Nuts
After publishing this blog post, I got an email from one of my readers, Janet McCollum. I was so intrigued, I had to share with everyone! Here's how she uses soap nuts.
I have been using soap nuts since October for my family of eight. After doing some research I tried making a concentrate instead of using the berries in a bag method. It works much better! The last load then gets the same concentration of soap as the first and it distributes more evenly in the wash. It also cleans as well in cold water as hot. But best of all it is more cost effective and you don't have to hunt for the bag in a bunch of wet clothes. Method - Bring to a boil 2 berries for every 1 cup of water, turn down heat, cover and simmer for one hour. Use 1/4 cup per load. This will give you four loads worth. I make three times this amount for my family's laundry. You must refrigerate any leftover and use within a week.There are so many cool things you can make with soap nut concentrate! Check out crunchybetty.com to get recipes for soap nut dishwasher detergent, window cleaner, household cleaner, hand soap, bug spray, jewelry cleaner, shampoo, dandruff treatment, facial cleanser, body wash, shaving cream, and a treatment for athlete's foot.
In summary, here are the pros and cons of soap nuts.
|easy to use||stains must be pre-treated|
|all natural||don't work as well in cold water|
|low sudsing for front-load washers|
|eliminate need for fabric softener or dryer sheets|
|cheaper than most laundry detergent|
|don't go bad so you can buy in bulk|
$0.19/load - Tide Free & Gentle ($12/64 loads)
$0.14/load - All Free & Clear Laundry Detergent ($9/64 loads)
$0.11/load - NaturOli Soap Nuts, $24/1 lb
$0.08/load - NaturOli Soap Nuts, $24/1 lb (if you make concentrate)
$0.07/load - NaturOli Soap Nuts, $33/2 lbs
$0.06/load - NaturOli Soap Nuts, $33/2 lbs (if you make concentrate)
$0.05/load - NaturOli Soap Nuts, $45/4 lbs
$0.04/load - NaturOli Soap Nuts, $45/4 lbs (if you make concentrate)
Have you used soap nuts? What do you think?
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