Soap nuts (also known as washing nuts or soapberries) are dried fruit shells that contain real, natural soap. They are 100% natural and a good, environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical detergents.
The nutshells contain saponin - a natural detergent that has cleaning and degreasing properties - which is released when the shells come into contact with water. For this reason, soap nuts are a non-polluting, compostable alternative to conventional laundry detergents and synthetic soaps: free of foaming agents, bleach, phthalates, phosphates and parabens, they are 100% safe and don't cause any allergic reaction.
People can, in some circumstances, find soap nuts a little disappointing. In my experience, they are less effective when the laundry is very soiled (items we have to wash at 50°-60°C) as they don't cope with stains very well. However, soap nuts are particularly effective when washing fleece, silk and wool, which become really soft and nice. They are perfect for a coloured load or for delicate fabrics that require only a gentle wash. I suggest washing these fabrics at 30°C or in COLD water, a great habit of saving energy too.
Some people don't like soap nuts because they don't make their clothes smell "nice", as washing powder does. Personally, I don't like chemically-perfumed garments, because the "fake good smell" of the fabric conditioner reminds me of how bad it is for us and the environment. I will admit that soap nuts do have a strong smell, but it will disappear from your clothes as soon as they are dry.
I have found that the best way to use soap nuts is to boil them and produce a liquid soap, instead of putting a few nuts in a wash-bag as many suggest.
50g Soap Nuts
HOW TO PREPARE
Put 50 grams of soap nuts into a pan with 600ml of water. Mix and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain the liquid. Transfer into a bottle and store it in the fridge. You can compost used soap nuts, if you wish. Your detergent is ready to use. It looks just like apple juice!
HOW TO USE
Pour around 50/60 ml into the main wash compartment of the drawer ora dosing ball and pop it on the top of your clothes.
As your laundry-nuts liquid is completely natural and free of preservatives, it has to be stored in the fridge. Storage time is approximately up to 3 weeks. I recommend that you do not produce too large a quantity and also that you put a label on the bottle in case of someone, finding the bottle in the fridge, mistake it for apple juice and drink it!