soap nuts

soap nuts

little cotton bag you put them in

Soap Nuts

So what are they?

“Soapnuts ( Sapindus mukorossi ) are an environmentally friendly, sustainably produced, bio-degradable and compostable alternative to commercial laundry detergents. Grown wild in India, for centuries these nuts have been used for many purposes, from laundry to cleaning jewellery and treating contaminated soil. They are most widely recognised as being an effective and environmentally friendly natural detergent, but can be used for a wide variety of other uses.” New Internationalist

Do they work?

Yep, they do. The clean just as well as any other laundry liquid I was using. There is no lingering soapy smell. There is a tiny and pleasant clean, fresh smell when I first get the washing out of the machine. You have to really stick your nose in the fibres to get it though and nothing residual once the clothing as dried. They also leave everything quite soft. No need for any fabric softners, (if you use it.) There is a really great indepth post here comparing the nuts with regular washing powder. The Monkeys don’t play neatly, and it manages to get all the grime off their clothes.

How expensive are they?

Not all. You only need to use 6-8 of the nut shells in a load and then they are then re-used for another 4-6 times. All you need to do is dry them out in between washes and peg the little bag up when you dry your laundry. So the 500gm bag lasts for ages. New Internationalist (where I got mine) claims they will last for about 6 months doing about 200 loads. That seems to be fitting in with how I’m using them too.

What do you need to do?

Put 6-8 shells in the little bag (3 are included) pop it into some hot water for a minute (I stick a bowl of water in the microwave) and then put the bag and water in with the load of laundry.

Is it too much of an extra effort to do it all the time?

Nope, not all. A minute to warm the water, and a few seconds to empty the bag to dry it and the shells. Super easy.

Can you use them for anything else?

I’ve only used them for laundry, but you can apparently use them instead of regular shampoo, hand wash, cleaning jewellery and pest control in the garden.

What to do with them when you are finished?

They can go in the compost or used as mulch in the garden.

Any problems?

No problems for me. I’ve been really happy with them, and will keep using them.

Some places to find them

new internationalist Australia Australia


32 thoughts on “soap nuts

  1. I use soapnuts when I’m mopping my floors. I just drop one or two into my bucket of hot water. Works great. Next I want to look into making my own handwash with them.


  2. oh wow. I use baking soda as my fabric softener. I can’t stand the smell of the bottles in the grocery aisles. They smell so synthetic. Thank you for introducing me to these soap nuts. I’m going to take a look at the links.


  3. ive been a ‘hippy’ for ohh, 30 years now and my no.1 complaint from my now 16 and 13 yo is how their clothes dont smell as lovely as everyone elses- for them that synthetic fragrance is something they associate with posh families and motherly love! This is my one area of real grief! go figure!


    • Kel I think I felt the same way as a kid. I envyed the kids that still smelt of washing powder at the end of the day, that was LOVE. Thankfully I embraced my hippy roots and realised that was not the way to go. I’m sure your kids will realise hippy ways are best, down the track 😉


  4. Mine are still sitting in the laundry cupboard (like the last lot I end up wasting) while I find my little muslin bag thingy (from last time) or take time to make a mesh one. When I was sick my husband went & bought loads more eco-detergent, so I am still using that! Must buy little bag and get on with it!


  5. Thanks for this post, Brydie. I have heard of these, but didn’t know anything about them. I wonder how they would go in a front loader, though?
    And if we all start using them, are they going to become a cash crop and un-affordable in India?


    • I should have put that in Amanda. These are fine for front and top loaders. (I’ve got a front loader.)
      Becoming a cash crop?…Great question, I would think that would be a long, long way off before that was any where near happening. Considering conventional laundry detergents are still the majority of buyers choice.


  6. a friend of mine uses them and says they are great – I like the idea of no soap powder – once used to make our own laundry soap when in a share house – though the whites all went grey – I guess these don’t bleach (though I don’t wear many whites)


  7. Never heard of these little gems before, thanks for sharing. I love the idea of not using a powder, I don’t know how many pieces of clothing have been destroyed by clumpy chunks of powder working their way into the fibres and staining. Will grab me some of these and have a crack. Thanks for sharing gorgeous lady! 🙂


  8. Soap nuts are the bees knees. I use them for washing (cold wash in front loader), washing dishes, general cleaning, washing hands in bathroom and for just about any cleaning job that needs doing including the toilet. Haven’t had much success with using soap nuts for shampooing hair though. I love the idea of being able to say that my the stuff that goes down my drain is totally organic!!


  9. Pingback: Do soap nuts really work? Experiment and Review | Natural Soap Zone

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