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Plastic Free Laundry Detergent: Soap Nuts

During our Plastic Free journey we’ve looked a several ways to convert your laundry room into a plastic free, zero waste environment. We’ve talked about using Wool Dryer Balls to reduce static and dryer time, as well as transitioning from the plastic peg to a more eco-friendly peg. Another great laundry product that’s not only plastic free but also perfect for reducing waste is a soap nut.

What’s a soap nut?

Soap nuts (also called soapberries) are berries that are harvested from the ritha tree, which grown in the lower foothills of the Himalayas. The fruit from the plant is commonly known as Indian Soapberry or a washnut.

A ritha tree doe not start bearing fruit until it matures to approximately nine years. However, once it starts producing, the fruit can be harvested for up to 90 (yes ninety) years! One plant can produce 30 to 35 kilograms of fruit per year. The berries also have a six month window for harvesting, making them a very environmentally friendly, sustainable product.

As these nuts come from a natural plant source they will naturally biodegrade and are safe to place in your compost (though as they are a hard shell, they will take a little longer to break down than other organic materials). Soap nuts are a 100 per cent natural, organic, chemical free cleaning solution.

How do you use a soap nut?

To use a soap nut for your laundry place the soapberries into small cloth nut bag and close the bag with a drawstring before adding to the washing machine. When the load if finished, the bag can be removed and put aside for future washes. One 250g bag of soap nuts will wash up to 90 loads.

How many soap nuts you will need will depend on the size of your laundry load. For a small to normal size load about 5 nuts is a good amount. It is recommended you use warm or hot water for the cycle, as this will aid in drawing out the soap in the nuts.

Soap nuts can be used for around 4-5 wash loads before placing them into your compost. Don’t have a compost? No problem, the used soapberries can be safely tossed into your garden, where they will biodegrade naturally. The soapberries are no longer effective, when they are thin and brittle.

Soapberries are natural and non-toxic, making them the perfect alternative for those with sensitivities to common chemical based laundry detergents. As this is a natural product they do not contain any brighteners and whiteners. There are plenty of natural plastic free, zero waste laundry brightening solutions you can use to get a brighter load. We discuss these in our final Plastic Free Laundry tip.

A great plastic free, zero waste addition to your home.

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4 years ago

Best Article I have ever seen ever about a soap nut. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful article.

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