Saponin, found in the soap nut berry from the Chinese Soapberry tree, can be used as an organic alternative to chemically laden cleaners.
The shells from the berry, called soap nuts, can actually make soapsuds without any additives. The natural ability of soap nuts as an effective cleanser has been known for hundreds of years, especially for laundry use.
Soap nuts can be put in a sealed laundry bag and placed directly with clothes in the washing machine. These can be reused a few times. They can also be turned into liquid laundry detergent by boiling them with a little water.
This vegetable based cleanser is completely biodegradable and compostable. Other added benefits include antimicrobial, antifungal and hypoallergenic properties. They can even soften laundry, eliminating the need for synthetic softeners.
Additionally, soap nuts can be used for other household things like washing dishes, cleaning surfaces and other chores. More uses include homemade body washes and gentle hair shampoos.
Though reportedly they work fairly well for cleaning, some say that soap nuts do not produce the amount of suds many are used to, or much of a scent. Since they do not contain sulfates or other chemicals that induce lathering, they do not become sudsy like regular cleansers. This makes them compatible with most high efficiency washing machines.
Vinegar can be added in with the soap nuts to laundry if clothes need stain treated or disinfected. Also, they may work best in warmer water and probably are not great for removing grease based stains. A few drops of essential oils can be added to the detergent if a stronger scent in the laundry is preferred.
More than a few cleaners on the market assert to be the preferred choice and some may even make eco-exaggerated claims, but historically used soap nuts seem to offer an economical and ecological alternative for those seeking a natural household cleaning option.
If you don’t miss the suds, soap nuts can be a cheaper and safer substitute to regular synthetic detergents and cleaners.
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