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.
No problems for me. I’ve been really happy with them, and will keep using them.
Some places to find them
new internationalist Australia