Soap nuts are an amazing natural alternative to toxic and chemical detergents and cleaners. They are not a nut but a husk from the berry from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, native to the Himalayas. It naturally contains saponin that powerfully breaks down grease.
Place 3-4 nuts in a muslin bag or sock and wash as normal for warm water cycles. For hand washing or cold water wash (recommended for your yoga mat) you can make a “tea” by placing the bag in a bowl of hot water for 1 minute and then using the extraction in cold water. You can also make the concentrated liquid recipe below.
Because our mats are made with organic cotton and herbal dyes, soap nuts will keep your items chemical free and pure of toxins. They will also keep the plant dye colors vibrant and unchanged. This is because the PH is neutral. A neutral PH ensures that the color of the plant dye will not change. Some chemical detergents can alter the colors of plant dyes. It is a gentle detergent that will keep the integrity of your mat and wellness properties of the herbs intact.
It’s also hypoallergenic & fragrance free. Ideal for sensitive skin & noses. Leaves laundry clean, soft & fresh. Superb for delicates, silks, wools, & organic fabrics. Excellent for cloth diapers. No chemical contamination, agricultural pesticides, industrial pollutants, commercial fertilizers, or hazardous environmental toxins. Eliminates the need for softeners and dryer sheets and is biodegradable.
Typical detergents use unnecessarily harsh chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Phosphates, Formaldehyde, Chlorine Bleach and Ammonium Sulfate and synthetic fragrances with VOC’s. The one time use packets in particular are very concentrated and toxic. If even a small amount of the detergent gets into a child's mouth or eyes, it can cause serious breathing or stomach problems, eye irritation, and even coma and death. We don’t see a reason why such harsh and dangerous ingredients are needed to effectively wash clothing when nature provides us a non-toxic and powerful solution.
To replace any chemical cleaners in your house you can make lots of non-toxic and natural ones with soap nuts. Here are just a few to try!
The whole nut/shell, which is good for laundry.
Liquid, which you can learn how to make in this post. This is best for most the recipes below.
Paste, which is basically running the boiled soap nuts through a food processor. This is good for shaving cream and heavy-duty cleaning jobs.
Powder, which you can buy in powder form, or make yourself by grinding the shells VERY finely (in a coffee or spice grinder – the good news is, it cleans out really easily). This is good for laundry or adding to a homemade dishwasher detergent, which I’ll talk more about right now.
15-20 soap nuts
6 cups of water (plus more as you’re boiling)
Sterilized container to hold the liquid
Boil the soap nuts in the 6 cups of water for about 20 minutes. Add another cup of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Add another 2 cups of water and boil again for 10 minutes. Strain the nuts from the liquid and store in the sterilized container. It’s best to store the straight liquid in the refrigerator, as it will turn rancid after a while. Keeps in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
Note: The liquid will sting if it gets into eyes. And while not toxic to humans it is not edible and will give you tummy ache if ingested. Soap nut liquid does not last forever so use promptly after making. Adding 1 tsp citric acid to 4 cups of liquid can add weeks to your soap nuts liquid’s life.
Option 1: Nuts - Place 4-5 soap nuts in a muslin or spice bag. Place in the washing machine, and wash your clothes as usual. Replace the nuts after 4-5 washes, or when the flesh starts to lose its color and turn a bit gray.
Option 2: Liquid - Add 1/8 c. soap nut liquid to the wash, in lieu of regular laundry detergent.
Option 3: Powder - Grind the shells (not the pits) into a fine powder. Add 1 tsp soap nut powder to a load of laundry.
Option 4: Ice Cubes - Freeze soap nuts liquid in ice cube trays. Store in the freezer. Use 3 ice cubes per load of laundry.
Liquid soap nut (recipe here)
Directions: Place a small amount in had or wash cloth. Leaves skin silky smooth
Liquid soap nut (recipe here)
Directions: Place 2-4 tbs in hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes rinse, leaves hair shiny and bouncy.
1/2 c. Liquid Castille Soap
1/8 c. Soap Nut Liquid
5 drops Essential Oil (Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint or Rosemary would add extra antibacterial power)
Directions: Mix everything together in a small pump bottle and use as you would any hand soap. You can also just wash your hands with a little bit of soap nut liquid, but adding this all together will give more cleansing power, and mixing the essential oils and Castile soap in with the soap nut liquid will prolong the life of the liquid.
Straight Soap Nut Liquid
1 c. Borax
1 c. Washing Soda
1/8 c. Finely Grated Castille Soap
1/8 c. Finely Ground Soap Nut Shells
Stir everything together well, and use as you would a dry dishwasher detergent. (Don’t forget to put white vinegar in the rinse well, too!)
1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
2 Tbsp White Vinegar
1/8 c. Water
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Use as you would any glass cleaner.
1/8 c. Baking soda
1/8 c. Borax
1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
10 drops Eucalyptus Oil or Peppermint Oil (optional)
Stir everything together well, breaking up any clumps. You should have a thickish paste, which you can add more liquid to, if you’d like it thinner. Scoop out a bit of the paste with your sponge and clean your bathroom counters/tub/toilet with it. If you have any remaining, drop it in the toilet and use the toilet brush to clean the bowl well.
Try these Soap nut recipes for non-toxic cleaners for bath, body and home. Let us know what you think!