Thursday, October 23, 2014

Soapnuts


Since mid-September, I've been doing our laundry with soapnuts instead of detergent.  I've heard about soapnuts for years and was always highly skeptical.  How could a dried berry effectively wash my clothes?

But a good friend of mine had used them - for clothes as well as cloth diapers - for two years with great success.  We did quick math on the price per load and estimated it at $.08, which is ridiculously low.  As frugal as I am, I couldn't pass up giving them a try and I'm so glad I did!

I bought one pound of Soapnuts from NaturOli.  It came with a cotton pouch to put the berries in during the wash, as well as a sample of their 18x concentrated laundry soap, which I used to wash A-Train's wool covers.  Now that I know I like them and find them effective, I only wish I'd bought at least the 2lb package that includes multiple cotton pouches - fishing the berries out of one load to immediately start another is my least favorite part of using soapnuts!

The soapnuts are really easy to use.  You put five or six in the cotton wash bag and, if you're washing with hot water and you know the berries are fresh you can just toss them in the washer.

If you've already used the berries for a couple loads, or you are washing with cold or warm water, it takes an extra step.  To check that the berries are still suds'ing (yes, the berries make SUDS!), put them in a jar of water and shake.  If you see a good number of bubbles, they're still usable.  And if you're going to do a cold load, soak the nuts in hot water in that same jar for a few minutes.  I keep a jar on top of the dryer and I usually do a hot load first, so I don't have to worry about how long it's soaked between loads - I just shake to check for suds and throw them back into the washer all soaked from the previous load.  When they're no longer producing suds, I throw them in our compost.

Soapnuts are fine going through the dryer, too.  Which is why having only one wash bag that I have to fish out to start another load is a little annoying!

The only other complaint I have about the soapnuts is that occasionally the wash bag opens and the berries are amidst the laundry.  Sometimes I find little pieces of them in the clean laundry.  But they don't stain, they're not dusty or oozy.  It's like finding a nutshell in the laundry; just pick it up and throw it away.  I have taken to tying a knot in the drawstrings of the wash bag, and that helps.

So, one month in, I'd recommend soapnuts!
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