I came across a product recently that really caught my eye: soap nuts. My first thought was... cute packaging. Then I wondered what they were... I have to say, I was strangely intrigued. Turns out soap nuts are small, berry-like fruits with a hard shell that grow in warm, tropical climates like India, Nepal and some other south Asian countries.The packaging claimed that the odd little sticky nuts (“saponin”) could be used to wash laundry, or to make your own green dish and dishwasher soap.
Don’t get me wrong — I recycle and try do my part for our earth — but laundry with nuts?! Here's how it works: four of these vaguely vinegar-scented nuts go into a small muslin bag (the pack comes with a couple of these bags). Then you toss this small bag with the nuts inside the washing machine. This bag of four nuts will wash 4 to 6 loads of laundry — amazing really.
So I tried it. I tossed them in the water with my load of towels and the water became nice and soapy. Not Tide soapy, but soapy enough to clean day-to-day stuff like towels and sheets. The photos above show how the lather increased after a bit of agitation. There was no odour in the wash, which made me think that you could add your own lemon juice or lavender clippings for scent. It felt really great using an all-natural product. You can even compost the nuts after six loads of laundry, or when they stop lathering. A one-kilogram bag is $40, and it will wash 300 to 400 loads of laundry. You can buy them online at Buysoapnuts.com.
I’m inspired. My next step is a clothes line. Out of the wash and onto the line. After all, summer’s almost here, and what a good example to set for my kids.
For more eco laundry products, see our Laundry Room Revolution blog post.