Soapnuts! Where have you been all my life?! What seemed ridiculous when I first started searching for more sustainable options for cleaning, now are absolute genius to me. They’re so simple to use and they actually work! So, you know, that’s the best part. Well, my husband would say the best part is that they are so cheap. I married a Scotsman, you know?
Here are some simple uses for your soapnuts/berries.
Okay, so I heard that these worked amazingly, and then I bought them and looked into them a little more (that’s the right schedule, isn’t it?) and then heard a bunch of people complaining they don’t do shit. Well, fuck.
But, it’s okay! They DO shit. Like, really well.
Here’s what I USED to do:
– take 3 nuts/berries and put them into two separate muslin bags. You’ll be washing with 6 nuts/berries each time for a large load (does anyone actually do smaller loads than just a full large?)
– put some clothes in the wash
– add your first bag of berries into the wash
– add some more clothes
– add your second bag of berries to the top or near the top of your wash
(front loaders, just throw them in there as you go)
– wash on warm
– Smell them clean, clean clothes!…except they won’t really smell like much as there’s no scent, but that’s okay!
If you’ve got some dirty dirty clothes and need a little extra ummph, add 1/2 a cup to a full cup of vinegar to your wash, depending on how dirty you are. You can dump it in (my favourite method) or add it to the bleach or detergent section in your washing machine.
For spot treating, I use a few squirts of vinegar on all my clothes that need it.
Here’s what I do now:
I used to just throw the soap nuts into the washer and add baking soda or vinegar. But, recently, I felt like they just weren’t getting my clothes clean. So, now, I make liquid soap and can wash on cold, warm or hot.
– bring 8 cups of water to a boil
– add in your nuts. Ten will do the trick (keep those bad boys in your muslin bag so you don’t have to strain them out after)
– let simmer for a good hour, keeping the lid on so you don’t evaporate all your soapy goodness.
– turn off the stove, and let it sit with the nuts still in it
overnight for about an hour. I had originally done it overnight, but just let it sit for an hour and it worked just as well.
– add to a sanitized jar
– put into the washing machine as you usually would. They’re already soapy and nutty and all them good things you need for washing your clothes! 1/2 cup for a full load of laundry will be PLENTY to get them clean. The real nasty stuff? I’ve used a full cup, sprinkling 1/2 cup over the clothes before I start the machine and 1/2 cup into the detergent dispenser.
Soap nut liquid apparently goes bad, and only has a shelf life of about 1 – 2 weeks. I’ve been using my jar for over and week and everything is just as it should be thus far. If you’re not in a cleaning frenzy, freeze ’em and pop them into the laundry or into the sink when you’re ready to do the dishes.
So, alright. I heard you could use these bad boys in the dishwasher and I was EXCITED. And then, I used them. Meh. My dishes did not get that clean in the dishwasher. BUT! They get nice and clean when doing ’em by hand, so it’s a nice alternative to regular dish soap. Or, eco-friendly dish soap that doesn’t work.
Luckily, you can use those beautiful soap berries/nuts and make your own. And, it’s not super annoying or hard like other detergent DIY recipes. Like, you boil them. And, then you add them to a jar. I mean, if you can’t passively boil up some nuts, then go try Ecover for your dish-washing needs. Love it. But, only for dishwashers.
I’ve had not so great times with Ecover dish soap and then some excellent times with Ecover dishwasher tabs. Highly recommend the tabs.
OR, if you want the easiest straight up method, use vinegar on your hand-wash dishes. That shit is made to clean EVERYTHING. I’ve read some things about how vinegar isn’t good for your dishwasher, so I’m leaving it off the list for dishwashers.
Use the recipe above to get your dish-washing soap and happily clean those dishes. I’ve added some yummy smelling essential oils like orange or lemon to the soap dispenser. Add in your favourite pet-safe essential oil for some delightful scent that is also great at fighting grease. If your dishes are REALLY nasty, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your recipe or 1/4 cup straight to your sink.
And, that’s it! The beauty of soap nuts/berries, whatever you call them. You can use them to clean pretty much anything simply by using the recipe above and adding essential oils when it calls for it and is safe.