I have recently come across an interesting article. Even as a person looking for natural and environmentally-friendly solutions I was surprised to see that there are so-called soap nuts which are a natural washing detergent.
On one hand I was delighted to see another green alternative for chemicals, on the other I began to wonder whether that really works.
Soap nuts – what are they?
Soap nuts are a species of shrubs and small trees that native to Nepal and India. Their shells contain saponin, a natural surfactant. Adding the shells to water creates foam and as a result stains get removed.
Soap nuts – good clean wash
Apart from nuts you need one more thing. You can’t just throw them into the washing machine. You need a special bag, preferably one made of cotton or linen. It has to be tight enough to protect the clothes being washed from the pieces of shells and at the same time it has to be permeable enough so that the foam could get out.
Put a few nuts into the bag and put it on the bottom of the washing drum. You can use it together with fabric softener as the natural product is scentless.
Soap nuts – washing and its effects
The author of the article I read divided the laundry into three categories: ‘colorful’, ‘white’, and ‘difficult stains’. The first one included colorful clothes worn on everyday basis that were not very dirty (for example T-shirts with some minor stains). In this case the nuts brought about the same results as such commonly used washing agents as washing powder or capsules. The laundry was soft and clean.
The second group included white clothes, socks and bed sheets. Some of them were greyish, others had some greasy stains. To increase the efficiency, the author added some baking soda into the washing powder drawer and set the 60 0 C and 3 hours washing cycle. The effect? The laundry was white, even whiter than before. Although the greasy stains were not completely removed, only a very careful eye could spot them.
The last group included clothes with some old and stiff fruit and fatty stains. Here most stains disappeared or faded, while the red wine and some darker ones were still visible.
Where can you buy soap nuts?
You won’t find them easily in your nearest supermarket or even cosmetics chain store. The best spots to browse are online eco-shops with green products.