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Health, Home, and Happiness: Natural Laundry Soap- Soapnuts!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Natural Laundry Soap- Soapnuts!



This is what I've been using for my laundry for the past three weeks. Soapnuts. Is that wild or what? These little berries clean my laundry.  I put three in a little drawstring bag, drop in with my clothes, and they get everything all clean!

At first I thought I was not going to let the bag with soap nuts go through the rinse cycle, because it couldn't be good to let there be soap in the rinse water, right? After fishing the little bag out a couple times, I kept forgetting, and my clothing still comes out clean. No residue, no chemical stink, no nothin' but clean clothes!

About every 5 wash loads I toss the older soap nuts and replace them with new ones in the little drawstring bag.   To check if the soapnuts still are going to work in your laundry, you can put them in a little water and shake up, watching to see if bubbles form.
a stack of clean cloth diapers

Before recommending these to you, I wanted to try them for a couple weeks. I can gladly say that they work on my laundry! My husband does construction, you know I cook a lot (and don't always use an apron), and the baby is in cloth diapers, so I think we're a pretty good test of what laundry detergent works.  I still used Oxyclean on a few of the kids' clothes when sleeves were dragged through food. But for detergent, SoapNuts was it for the past few weeks, and I'm sold!

Why are SoapNuts better than my current laundry detergent?

Quite honestly, I'm thrilled to be done with the bulky detergent containers.  And usually detergent doesn't have a list of ingredients on the box or container like food does, so to find out what's being put next to your skin and you're breathing in, you have to do a bit of research. Soapnuts are completely in their natural state, and other than the recycled box they were shipped in, there is no waste involved in packaging.

Soap Nuts - 100 percent natural laundry detergentWhen we were first married, I used Mountain Tide "because then you can tell the clothes are clean" (because of the chemicals oozing out of the newly washed clothes).  When I was pregnant, I bought a box of Dreft because that's what you're supposed to use on baby's clothes, right? But I wasn't impressed with the synthetic smell.  So when I saw that Costco had a 'natural' laundry detergent, that's what I switched to for a few years.  Somewhere along the line when I ran out of Kirkland detergent, I stopped in Target and bought Seventh Generation because Target is closer than Costco and I didn't want to drive across down.  The Seventh Generation gives my baby a rash, so I can't use it on diapers, though he does fine with it on his clothes.

So, what would be in these detergents that might be harmful?

The chemical links go to Cosmetics Database, which is what I used when I was trying to figure out whether I should be slathering sunscreen on my baby or not.
 As far as switching to natural products goes, using soapnuts is a fairly easy change to make.  It doesn't cost much ($8.90 for 40 loads' worth of soap nuts= 22 cents a load- even less expensive if you buy bigger quantities), doesn't take any extra time on your part, and it's not changing something that most kids are going to notice.

I've been really happy with how they clean our clothes. When the soapnuts came in the mail, the kids had a couple shirts that smelled like cod liver oil despite being washed in hot water multiple times with my Kirkland detergent.  I don't know if it was just one more wash cycle that they needed, but after washing once with soapnuts, the smell was gone and it hasn't come back.  I'm impressed!

Buying in bulk (buy here) can cost as low as 9 cents a load!
And you can get just a sampler at first (buy here) to see what you think.

More: See my review on their natural liquid soapnuts detergent (After using both, I do like the soapnuts better for laundry, but use the liquid for cleaning.

Full Disclosure: I do get a referral kickback when you order through my link, but I only promote products and companies that I personally use (like Tropical Traditions, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Amazon) and I think are a good value.

Part of Finer Things Friday
Part of Works for Me Wednesday
Part of Somewhat Crunchy's Natural Cleaner roundup

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Blogger Cori said...

We've been using soapnuts for about a year and a half now. We also have cloth diapers, and they come out great. I'll never buy detergent again :-)

February 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Briana said...

I might have to try this! Thanks for the review.

February 13, 2010 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I've heard about them for awhile, but not yet tried them. I am almost out of detergent, so I just bought some now. can't wait to give them a try! Thanks for posting this.

February 13, 2010 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I ordered a sample set from NaturOil a couple weeks back. We have a front-loader. I did not find the nuts to work very well. Perhaps I did something wrong - I may try to soak the nuts first next time. (I was also careful not to overload the washer.) However, I LOVE their Soap Nuts Liquid! The only thing that it didn't seem to clean well was my husband's stinky underarm undershirts.
I also love their Soap Nuts Soap Bar. I've been using it in the shower every day. When it runs out, I'll certainly purchase more! That goes double for the liquid.

February 14, 2010 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Cara said...

Great to hear of good experiences! I am just starting to use the '18x' - their liquid detergent, and I like that too.

Jen, I think the soapnuts do need to be soaked to work. I read that you need to have them be wet already if you're using cold water, I wonder if the same would be true in a front loader because of the lower amount of water?

February 15, 2010 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Kael said...

I am definitely going to give these a try. My little boy also has a few clothing items that smell like cod liver oil!

February 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Hi Cara,
Great review! Soap nuts are a real gift of nature. They are amazing. There's a few things I'd like to add about using them:

We all need to experiment on our own to get our best results. Washers are quite different in how they function from brand to brand and model to model. I'm not just talking top or front-loading, or the differing cycles. The two things that are most important to get saponin to be released from soap nuts are water and agitation. In any washer you may find the pre-soak cycle quite helpful in getting optimal results. Getting the soap nuts well saturated first never hurts. Jen, you may want to try pre-soaking those stinky undershirts. Typically soap nuts remove most odors, but there's no fragrance at all to help mask the stench. Some deodorants leave a heavy residue, too, that's not easy for any surfactant to break down. If all else fails, that's what Tide is for. :-)

Don't expect soap nuts to perform miracles. Be realistic. They are 100% completely natural. NO bleach. NO SLS. NO optical brighteners. NO enzymes. No... Yea, all the stuff we are trying to get away from. Supplement with what's needed when needed. 80+% of the time you need nothing else at all That's a big step in the right direction imo! A little compromise at times just makes common sense. I'm not going to throw out all my Spray 'n Wash just yet.

Last thing: Be VERY careful not to buy soap nuts with seeds. Seeds can leave spots and are of no value at all in cleaning. A lot of very cheap soap nuts being sold are full of seeds. ASK FIRST if it is not spelled out "DE-seeded". You'll save yourself from being disappointed. I don't think most people even know that the seeds are removed from good quality soap berries.

That's it. Hopefully I could add a little of practical value from my own experiences. I've been using soap nuts for years now.

February 15, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Ashley @ The Happy Little Home said...

I've heard about these before but have been a little skeptical. Thanks for taking the plunge! I think I'm going to try some!!

February 17, 2010 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger missmessy said...

I fell in love with Soap Nuts about a year ago. My son's eczema cleared up in 2 weeks.
I buy them in the largest quantity and am spending 11 cents per load! We do 6 large loads of laundry a week, that means i'm only spending $34.32 for the entire year!
I also do not need any fabric softner, or any other product anymore. I just use the Soap Nuts and warm water and the result is clean, soft, fresh smelling clothes.
My absolute favorite discovery! Great post.

February 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger missmessy said...

Jen, for stinky undershirt, or really soiled clothing, just add 1/2 c to 1 c of plain white vinegar to the load and you will have absolutely no odor. Vinegar is also great for super soft towels and sheets.

February 17, 2010 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Thank you, missmessy! I'll try that next time : ).

February 17, 2010 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Jaz @ Odd Mom said...

Oh, I'm going to try these! I like how the Costco natural detergent cleans, but it smells strongly of corn, and when I washed my sheets in it, I had weird dreams of tamales all night. I'm really sensitive to detergent smells.

Thanks so much for the idea and review!

February 17, 2010 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Amy @ Finer Things said...

I've seen several Soap Nuts reviews that are tempting me... need to try them out sometime.

February 23, 2010 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

After I read this I went and ordered some. My littlest has lots of allergies and we had been using charlies soap until he developed a coconut allergy. So I went back the the free/clear brands, ughh they just didn't get things clean like charlies. I got the sample pack and tried the nuts first. Put them in a hot wash with dirty washclothes and towels. I was amazed at how clean they came out. I mean seriously amazing. And we have fairly hard water. I do have an older top loader so lots of water, but I am in love! Thank you so much for sharing this. And as long as my son doesn't develop an allergy to this we are good to go. I also loved the soap bar, I want to wash just to use it, lol!

February 23, 2010 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

I know what you mean. I didn't think they'd work this well on diapers. I'm really impressed also!

February 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for linking up, I'm fascinated by these things.

March 12, 2010 at 7:20 AM  

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