One of the easiest and simple ways of living in harmony with “All that is” is to choose eco-friendly detergents. By doing so, we are caring for the Earth, honoring life and respecting ourselves. There has been a while since I am using eco-friendly detergents, which I buy from the eco-trustworthy brands available in the market (e.g. Ecover). In case of laundry detergents, I prefer powder ones, because they come on a recycled paper package, which means double care for nature: no plastic, no toxic/harmful ingredients. Nevertheless, last year I decided to go a little bit further ahead and to try a natural option for laundry, used for centuries in the East, and now available worldwide – the soap nuts (or soap berries).
Soap nuts are the berry fruits of the tree Sapindus mukorrossi found in the Himalayas, which are rich in saponin, a natural component with cleaning properties. Saponin works as a surfactant, breaking the surface water tension to penetrate the fibers of clothing to lift the dirt into the water. With seven halves of organic soap nuts (plus some drops of lavender essential oil, optional) I am able to wash two batches of laundry using warm water, which provides me good cleaning results, or 3-4 batches using cold water, which I found to be less effective. Nevertheless, I am still using powder eco-friendly laundry detergent for white clothes or very dirty clothes, as I was not getting satisfactory results using soap nuts. Using this two eco-options, 1Kg of powder eco-detergent lasted for nearly half an year, and 1 Kg of organic soap nuts lasted for more than one year. Overall, I ended up not only saving the environment but also saving money. Because soap nuts are gentle on skin, they are also a blessing for my skin allergies, providing a good option for those with sensitive skin.
Besides laundry, soap nuts can also be used as all-purpose cleaner. For that, boil seven halves of soap nuts* in 500 ml of water for 10-15 minutes, allow it to cool, sieve it and use the soap nut liquid as floor cleaning detergent (dilute on washing water, and add 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar for great results), or as dish liquid soap (use directly on cleaning sponge). The soap nut liquid can also be used as a natural insecticide for plants, which is free of chemicals and harmful substances – just pray the liquid over the affected plants/areas. After use, soap nuts are completely biodegradable and provide great fertilizer for gardens. Because of its multiple uses, I consider them a blessed gift from Nature, which also provide an eco-friendly solution for a clean Earth.
* Tip: Gather the used soap nuts of 1-2 weeks of laundry and boil them in water as described above to obtain a all-purpose cleaner. Its great as floor cleaning detergent. Dispose the re-used soap nuts in your garden (or plant pots) with gratitude towards Mother Earth for the wonderful eco-resource provided.