Sunday, July 20, 2008

Soap Nuts

One of my least favorite chores is laundry. Thankfully, I'm married to a true gentleman who realizes that all that "woman's' work" doesn't HAVE to be done by a woman. He's incredibly helpful in everything and I know what a lucky woman I am. He's a keeper.

But I digress . . .

It's not just doing the laundry I hate, it's also having to lug around the laundry soap, bleach, etc. Several years ago, I quit using laundry softener in the form of liquid or drier sheets when I discovered dryer balls. These are nothing more than spiky silicon balls that fluff your laundry as it dries. While I know that all these do is move the laundry around and sort of keep it aerated, in my experience they keep the laundry fluffy and I haven't experienced static cling since I've been using them

This left me with laundry soap, chlorine bleach for whites and color safe bleach for everything else. Recently, we were in a campground and another RVer had the unfortunate experience of the liquid laundry soap turning over and spilling all over the outside compartment. Not a pretty picture! I took that as a lesson learned and carry my laundry products in a plastic tub. Still, they're bulky, expensive and I just don't like em.

Recently I read about something called Soap Nuts. They come from a the Chinese Soapberry Tree which is fairly common in the far east. Woman have used these for years as a natural soap for cleaning their clothes. After reading as much as I could find all over the internet, I decided to give them a try.

And you know what? I think they work great! One of my complaints about commercial laundry soaps is that, even using only half , it feels like it rarely rinses out completely. These Soap Nuts are very low sudsing and seem to rinse completely. And our clothes were clean and sparkly. Well, maybe not exactly sparkly but you get the idea. They were definitely clean and soft and smelled nice with no harsh detergent smell, just nice and clean.

Soap Nuts are rich in saponins, a natural surfactant. A surfactant reduces the surface tension of water, making it "wetter". This makes it easier for the "soap" to get into fabrics and bond with the the dirt. The dirt is then washed away in the rinse water.

I don't know if I'm explaining this correctly, or if it's a bunch of hooey, but I can tell you that all our clothes came out clean. In reading about Soap Nuts, they are apparently good for folks with very sensitive skin since they don't contain a lot of extraneous substances. Laundry products have a ton of additives, none of which are I feel are essential.

In order to use Soap Nuts, you put them in a little muslin bag (included) and throw them in with your wash. I needed more than one muslin bag, so I just put them in a sock and tied it with a rubber band. This worked just dandy.

You can reuse Soap Nuts four or five times till they turn grey and mushy. Then you just discard them into a garden or a compost heap, they're completely biodegradable. You can also boil them up and make a cleaner from the broth, which I'll be trying soon.

I got mine from Amazon, but apparently if you aren't out in the boonies of New Mexico, you can find them at a local health food type store. I paid $19.00 for enough for fifty loads of wash, a price I'm quite pleased with.

Needless to say, I will be using Soap Nuts from now on. This will greatly reduce the laundry product load we have to carry, which pleases me immensely. I think I'll also switch to an Oxy type bleach (a combination of sodium percarbonate (a solid form of hydrogen peroxide) and baking powder). This will allow me to dump both bleaches and my liquid laundry soap.

Pretty cool, huh?


Judy said...

You know what Kate? You are just an enclycopedia of info about all sorts of things. I never fail to read your blogs and have tried a lot of your "new findings". I'm still going to get a Nesco roaster one of these days. Your latest on soap nuts I find really intriguing. Still wondering how in the world you found them in the first place. Oh yes, I've always wondered how those little blue thingies work in the dryer too and am glad to her that you still have no static in the clothes.

Judy Wms.

Mimi said...

I'd say your nuts about Soap Nuts! That was 7 links in that post! LOL, I'm gonna give them a try. Thanks sweetie.

Kate said...


I'm just interested in a LOT of things and have way too much time on my hands!

I've had great luck with the dryer balls, even though the remarks on the internet say otherwise, I'm pleased.

I kind of feel the same way about the Soap Nuts. I'm happy with them and will be trying a Soap Nut based cleaner soon.


Kate said...

Gee Mimi, Can you tell I have a new software for links?