How to Use
Soapnuts work best when ‘agitated’ (put them in a bottle with some water and shake them for 10 seconds and you’ll see what we mean!) so are best in the drum of the machine rather than in the drawer. Just put them in the cotton washable (or an old stocking tied at the top) to avoid the shells sticking in any filters in your machine. If the nuts have come free in the wash check your filter to ensure none have become lodged.
As with the front loaders, pop the cotton bag or sock tied at the top into the machine before you switch it on. Make sure there is sufficient space for the cotton bag to move around in the load.
Yes you can either make up a soapnut solution or else you can soak them for a few minutes in their bag in hot water to make a ‘tea’. Then just the ‘tea’ to your cool water basin.
For best results separate your colours and whites. Because they don’t contain optical brighteners you may find it helps to add an oxygen bleach every so often. Alternatively add half a cup of lemon juice to maintain your whites.
Once your soapnut shells have lost their sheen and become a bit dried up looking (normally after 4+ washes – depending upon the hardness of the water in your area) it’s probably time to dispose of them. If you want to eek out the last of the saponin you can choose to save them up and boil a batch to make your own soapnut liquid (detergent or multipurpose cleaner).
If you have a compost bin, the soapnut shells can be safely added into it.
Don’t have a compost bin? You can safely add them straight to your garden soil and mix them in to help maintain healthy soil composition or else pop them into your normal bin.
If you have a particularly dirty load, we recommend using half the load size with the usual quantity of soapnuts. When you do use hotter washes (e.g. 60C +) you will probably only get around one or two washes out of one batch of soapnut shells
If you have particularly stubborn stains, pre-treat with an eco-stain remover before washing as usual.
Although soapnut have a slight vinegary smell this will not transfer to your clothes – in fact using them on their own will leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean.
If however you do prefer a scent to your wash, you have several options:
- You can add a few scents of your favourite essential oil to your wash (to the bag or in the detergent drawer of your washing machine).
- You can use a linen spray once your laundry is out – either while it’s drying or the line, when you’re ironing it or when you’re putting it away/back onto your bed (linen). Our favourite is lavender or rose.
These versatile little wonders can be used for a whole range of things. To make a liquid soap simmer 25g of soap nuts in 500ml of water for around 10 minutes – this can be used as a household cleaner or as a base for many personal hygiene products. Add some favourite essential oil to give it your favourite scent.
For a quick and simple scrub that leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed, try this out:
- 1/4 cup finely ground soapnut powder
- 3/4 cup organic raw sugar (more refined if you prefer a finer scrub for more delicate skin, coarser for rougher, dryer areas)
- 2 tablespoons of organic oil – we love coconut, olive or grapeseed (full or vitamin E)
- A few drops of essential oils of your choice
You can get more creative using ingredients such as coffee granules, coconut sugar, salt, raw honey etc… you are only limited by your imagination! Just avoid use near the eyes – soapnuts antibacterial properties can sting the eyes.
Soapnuts have been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis.