What are Soap Nuts and how do you use them?

Have you heard of soap nuts?

I hadn’t heard of them until I recently started actively looking to a chemical plastic free way to wash my clothes. They came up on a few blogs and Instagram accounts and I was intrigued! How could these weird little nuts actually clean my clothes?!

So, why did I start looking into alternative laundry detergent?

Laundry detergents are manufactured from synthetic chemical compounds. When they are released into the flow of waste water coming from the home after being used, these detergents can have far-reaching environmental impacts on water courses.

The chemicals that are used to break down the dirt in your clothes carry on working when they are washed away. They can cause environmental problems such as  ‘Surfactant Toxicity Increase’  which enable pollutants to be more readily absorbed by aquatic life.

So, I wanted to read into whether there were alternatives to using the typical synthetic laundry detergent that would still clean my clothes, not harm the environment and not be too expensive.

What are soap nuts?

Soap nuts are actually berries, from the Lychee family. That’s it, they are literally just berry / nut shells!

How do they work?

The berries contain saponin which is a natural detergent that is works like a soap to lift dirt and grease from your clothes while in the washing machine!

The soap nuts need warm water to help release the saponin in their shells. So in order to work effectvely they need to be used on a was temperature with a minimum of 40’c.

How do you use them?

You pop 5 or so (a small handful) into a cotton bag and add this into the wash drum with your clothes and wash as normal!

You can add 5-10 drops of essential oils if you like to have your washing fragranced. Antibacterial essential oils such as Lavender, Tea Tree, Lemon and Rose would all work well.

They nuts can be used 4 or 5 times over before they need to be changed over.

What do you do with them once they have been used?

The soap nuts are completely natural and can therefore be composted at home or put into your food waste bin / garden waste bin.

Alternatively they can be used in the garden to help deter slugs and snails and being a big fan of gardening, this made me very excited! You blitz up the shells, mix them with some water and just pour it around your plants that you’d like to keep the pesky slugs off! Winner!

How much do they cost?

I bought my soap nuts from Living Naturally at £11.99 for 1KG which they say can do 480 washes.

Soap Nuts
480 washes / £11.99 = 2p per wash
40 washes / £2.99 = 7.5p per wash

Do they really work?

So, they are 100% natural, came in the post plastic free, and are significantly cheaper than my previous supermarket detergent! But do they actually work?

I took some before and after photos after my first wash using the soap nuts today (yes, I am very keen to write this blog on my new soap nuts!!).

They really worked! The stains I photographed were from gravy, red cabbage and tea marks. All of these stains were cleaned and have completely gone!


After washing

After washing

I have seen that you can add 1TBSP of baking soda to the wash to help lift stubborn stains and add in white vinegar to brighten whites and soften fabrics.

I’m really happy with the soap nuts and how they have been able to clean my clothes so far. Let me know if you try out soap nuts or alternative laundry detergents!

Emilie x

5 thoughts on “What are Soap Nuts and how do you use them?”

  1. Pingback: DIY Scented Fabric Conditioner

  2. So I’ve bought a sample sized bag of soap nuts from #preserve on Glos Rd and some lemon myrtle essential oil from #scoopaway to put in my white vinegar to use as fabric softener #feelinginspired #greenlaundry

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