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Have you heard of Soapnuts? I am going crazy for them! Some people call them soapberries, and aptly so, considering they are not a nut, but rather a berry instead! With as many uses as there are for these wonderful berries, you can save a ton of money by using them all over your house and your body! Late the other night, the Hippy Hubby needed his laundry done for work the next day, and we were completely out of my homemade laundry soap. Being that it was late, I did not feel like grinding up some castile soap and quickly putting together some laundry soap for him. Remembering that I had a bag of soapnuts that I use for my homemade Herbal Goddess Soapnuts Shampoo, I grabbed a muslin bath tea bag and tossed a few in there. I handed him the bag and told him to throw it in with his clothes in the washing machine and wash like normal. He did not believe me. In fact he told me there was no way that his clothes would be cleaned by them. You know what? He ate his words the next day when he pulled his clothes out of the dryer. Not only were they clean, but they were actually even softer than usual! He was impressed and so was I! I began to try other ways to use my soapnuts and have found a plethora of uses for them, from cleaning your house and clothing, to cleaning yourself!
What are soapnuts?
A member of the Lychee family, soapnuts are actually a berry that grows on the Soap Berry tree (Sapindus mukorossi) and contains saponins, a natural surfactant. Although soapnuts can be found all over the world, they are actually native to India and Nepal. Used for centuries by natives to clean their clothing, their hair, and their bodies, soapnuts is a great eco-friendly option over many of the toxic chemical-laden detergents out there. Soapnuts, unlike commercial soaps with artificial foaming agents, do not bubble or foam up while doing their cleaning job (the whole foaming = clean is a myth propagated for money by commercial detergent companies). You can get soapnuts from a bunch of different places, but so far my favorite place to buy them is from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Why do you want to use soapnuts?
A very gentle option for those with allergies to the chemicals in detergent soaps, soapnuts are often used as an Ayurvedic treatment for eczema, psoriasis, and fungal conditions. A truly non-toxic option, soapnuts are an affordable choice that can even be composted when you are done using them! Because they are not actually nuts, those with nut allergies can rest assured that there are no issues using soapnuts for all of their cleaning uses!
The MANY uses of soapnuts…
The are so many awesome uses for soapnuts, whether you are using the liquid (recipe shared below), the powder (made with a coffee/herb grinder and the shells), or the whole shells, you can clean your whole house and yourself using them! These are some of my favorite uses for soapnuts, though I am sure you will be able to find even more:
- Laundry Soap – There are actually a few different ways that you can use soapnuts in your laundry. You can throw 4-6 of the berries in a cotton muslin tea bag, throw into the machine with your clothing and wash as usual (don't forget to remove before putting your clothing in the dryer!). You can re-use them 5 or 6 times before throwing them in your composter. You'll know they are ready to be replaced when they turn gray and flimsy. You can use the liquid instead if you prefer, add 1/8 cup soapnut liquid to your wash, in place of your regular liquid detergent (You can also use the ice cubes of the liquid, just throw 3 ice cubes into the wash, per load!). To use the powder, just add 1 tsp. soapnut powder to the wash. No matter the option, I love to also add a scoop of OxyBoost to my laundry to my laundry (The hubby's clothes are always permeated with coffee thanks to Starbucks). Soapnuts are cloth diaper safe, and great for a gentler option for those with sensitive skin.
- All-Purpose Cleaner – Combine 1/2 cup soapnut liquid, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in a spray bottle. Use all over your house!
- Window Cleaner – Combine 1 Tbsp. soapnut liquid, 2 Tbsp. white vinegar, 2 Tbsp. Isopropyl alcohol, and 1/2 cup water. Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and use as usual on all your dirty windows!
- Dishwasher Liquid – Just fill up your detergent section of your dishwasher, with the soapnuts liquid! I still use vinegar as my rinse aid.
- Dishwasher Powder – For a more scouring version that works great in hard water too, combine 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup oxygen bleach (I use OxyBoost because unlike OxyClean, it is not filled with additives.), and 1/4 cup finely ground soapnuts shells. Stir everything together and use as you would your dishwasher detergent.
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner – For a clean white toilet bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. washing soda, 2 Tbsp. Oxyboost oxygen bleach (I prefer to use OxyBoost because it doesn't contain any fillers and is 100% pure meaning you do not have to use as much as you would OxyClean.), and 1/2 cup soapnut liquid. Once a paste is created, use to clean the tub, toilet bowls, and more! To whiten your toilet bowl, leave paste in the bowl to sit for 30 mins – overnight, before scrubbing out.
- Softscrub – I love my normal soft scrub, but I jumped at a chance to try a new version using soapnuts and it pretty much rocked my socks off! Combine 1 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup liquid castile soap, and 1/4 cup soapnut liquid. I also love to add 25 drops orange or lemon essential oils.
- Insecticidal Garden Spray – Spray the soapnut liquid on and around your plants because it's a natural insecticidal. For even more power, combine 1 Tbsp. liquid castile soap, 1/2 cup soapnuts liquid, and 1/4 cup water.
- Shampoo – Though you can just use the liquid by itself as a shampoo, you know how I like to amp things up to make the most awesome products for myself. I love to make my own herbal shampoo using this recipe of mine!
- Lice Treatment – Using the shampoo recipe above, combine a couple drops of Tea tree essential oil or geranium essential oil to the shampoo and leave the shampoo on your head for at least 5-10 minutes before rinsing and following with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Do not rinse the ACV out of your hair, as it will further prevent lice from coming back to your head. Both Tea Tree and Geranium essential oils are safe options for small children.
- Body Wash – Use alone on your washcloth or bath poof, or combine 1/2 cup soapnut liquid with 2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel for an even softer finish!
- Facial Wash – You can either use the soapnut liquid alone or use it as the liquid activator when cleansing your face with cleansing grains! Follow up with your toner and moisturizer.
- Foaming Hand Soap – Combine 1/2 cup liquid castile soap with 2 Tbsp. soapnut liquid. You can also add a couple drops of essential oil if you wanted. This can be used in a small pump bottle. If using a foaming soap bottle, combine 1 Tbsp. liquid castile soap with 1/2 cup soapnut liquid and water to fill.
- Athlete's Foot Treatment – Though I am a big fan of my anti-fungal salve, this is another great option to use! Combine 3 Tbsp. soapnut liquid (or you can use 1 tsp. of the soapnut powder instead) with 3 Tbsp coconut oil and 3 drops of Tea tree essential oil, 1 drop of clove essential oil. Apply by massaging into freshly cleaned feet. Do not rinse! Be sure to put socks on afterward!
Many of the soapnuts liquid recipes that can be found on the net, only call for you to boil this recipe once with just 6 cups of water, rather than 10. I found this liquid to be a bit diluted for my needs and devised this recipe to make a big more concentrated version of those recipes. By doing it this way, you will get the complete use from the soapnuts and find them a gray color when you are done, showing that you have gotten all of the saponins out of them. Compost your used soapnuts when you are finished with them!
- Bring 6 cups of water and all of the soapnuts, to a boil and reduce heat down to medium so that the soapy water does not boil over. Boil for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add 2 more cups of water and continue to boil for another 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add the last 2 cups of water and continue to boil for 10 more minutes.
- Strain the liquid and store in a clean air-tight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. This will not keep outside the fridge without adding something for preservation! Use for all your cleaning needs!
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