As I continue to remove toxic products from my home, you know, things that we don't think twice about like certain candles, air fresheners, and cleaning products, I am replacing them with eco-friendly products that I purchase or make myself. Soap nuts, are not actually nuts at all, they're a berry from the Sapindus mukorossi tree. They're in the same family if plants as lychee, one of my favorite things to snack on. Soap nut trees can be found in India and other tropical regions. Soap nuts contain saponin, a natural surfactant (foaming agent). Surfactants are what helps to clean by trapping dirt and grime.
What can soap nuts be used for?
to clean your laundry
to wash your hair
to clean your skin (dry and sensitive, even babies and genitals)
to clean your kitchen and bathroom
to clean your pets
It's pretty much all-purpose. Soap nuts have a gentle foaming action, unlike detergents that have chemicals for all those suds. That's really just for show to make you think that more suds equals better cleansing, but that's actually not true. You don't need a bunch of suds as proof for how well something can clean. To use for laundry, it's best to place about 8 soap nuts into a bag with a drawstring. Just toss it in and start your load of laundry. As a liquid, make a concentrate and use it the same way you would use detergent from the store. You can make a concentrate as a base for everything in the list above.
How to Make Soap Nut Concentrate
2 cups of water
16 soap nuts (seed removed)
Add soap nuts and water to a pot. I like to use my mortar and pestle to crush the berries a little. Turn the fire up high and then reduce to a simmer after it begins to boil. You don't want to over process the berries. While simmering, you may see it creating suds and that's ok. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, let cool, strain and store.
Place the leftover berries in the freezer because you can use them again, however you'll have to simmer then a little longer than you did the first time. After you get about 2-3 uses, you can then compost the berries. Feel free to add essential oils. For my disinfectant spray, I like to use lemon, grapefruit, oregano and patchuli essential oils and these all have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal components that can kill germs. If you prefer more sud action, add more than 18 berries to the two cups of water, or add castile soap.
Your soap nut liquid can last a few weeks, longer if you add citric acid. You can store it in the fridge or in a dark cabinet. But if you're like me and constantly cleaning, you won't have to worry about keeping it for long because you'll use it all up. If you try soap nuts, tag me on social media and let me know your thoughts.