Soap Nuts for Natural Laundry Care

Soap Nuts are a natural and very inexpensive way to clean your laundry without chemicals

I’ve posted before my homemade recipes for liquid and powdered laundry detergent, but I’ve also been experimenting with another even more natural method that I wanted to share.

To be fair, I must admit that when I first heard about this method a few years ago… I thought it was crazy. Of course, there have been times when I also thought cloth diapering, making my own soap, and keeping chickens were all crazy ideas too…

What Are Soap Nuts?

According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

Soap nuts are found in both the eastern and western hemispheres, but are native to India and Nepal. They have recently become a popular environmentally friendly alternative to chemical detergent, and are a gentle option for those with allergies to chemicals in regular detergents. They have traditionally been used as an expectorant, and in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis. Soap nuts contain saponin, a natural detergent. The soap nut shell absorbs water and releases the saponins which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, freeing dirt, grime, and oils from clothing.

Sounds crazy… right?

I thought so too, but was amazed that they actually work! They leave little to no scent, maybe a slight apple scent, and they don’t bubble, but they do remove stains!

Why Soap Nuts?

Soap Nuts are the only true non-toxic and sustainable laundry option I’ve found. Homemade laundry soaps are a great alternative to conventional ones, but still create waste products. Soap nuts can be used completely and then composted for a no-waste solution, and a simple re-usable muslin bag is all that is needed to add them to a laundry load!

Another advantage to Soap Nuts is that they are extremely affordable! A handful of Soap Nuts can be purchased for pennies and used for multiple loads, making them the most cost-effective laundry solution I’ve found too. Since they are no-suds, they are great for front loader and HE machines and they don’t leave residue. They are also cloth diaper safe!

They don’t have the rain fresh smell of commercial detergents, but I like the light apple scent (that disappears when clothes dry).

How to Use Soap Nuts for Laundry

This is where it gets technical and difficult… just kidding!

To use, put 4-6 Soap Nuts in a muslin bag (I get mine here, or you can make one out of fabric scraps) and place in washer. Wash as usual with cold, warm or hot water. After washing, remove bag and let dry. Dry clothes as usual. Soap Nuts may be re-used several times until the shells start to become soft and grey, and then they should be composted.

Other Uses

Soap Nuts can also be used to make liquid cleaner, to clean dishes, and even in shampoo. I’ll be posting more recipes soon…

Have you ever used Soap Nuts? How did they work for you? Any tips? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. These little nuts are GREAT and I’ve been using them for about 4 years now. I bought them initially to strip some used cloth diapers I bought when my first son was tiny. I’ve also made liquid detergent out of it, but I usually only use this for spot treatment. Looking forward to some other ideas on how to use these!

  2. I just started using your homemade laundry soap and love it! It smells lovely and cleans awesome! I definately want to try these though, even less waste is right up my ally! Does the bag have to be made of Muslin?
    Also, your homemade scouring powder is amazing! It works just as well if not better than chemical cleaners and I don’t have to worry about doing harm to the environment! Thank you!!

    • Any cloth bag that allows water through easily will work…

      • I have found that muslin works best. I’m going to try cheese cloth tomorrow. My muslin bag got tatty and I made up some small bags out of loose weave 100% cotton, these have failed quite miserably. I suspect the way the material behaves in water does not allow the ‘soap’ to get out very well.

        • How did the cheese cloth bags work?

        • I am using a langerie bag. Looking for smaller on but works perfect. Like the zipper vs the draw string.

    • My box came with at least 4 muslin bags in it already…I would imagine they will last as long as the box of nuts does!

      • Where do you purchase yours?

        • Green living products online

  3. Will you please share about how many washings on average you get out of a set of nuts? It would help in determining how many to purchase. Thanks! Looking forward to the other recipes you’re trying out.

      • that’s what i get; i typically swap them out at 3

    • If you click on any of the “Soap Nuts” above in the article, it links to the brand I use…

  4. Do you need to retrieve the nuts out of HE washer before rinse cycle? It sounds like a wonderful idea.

    • You don’t, but you certainly can if you’d like to

    • There is no need to – soap nuts are water softeners (just like fabric softener, except that soap nuts are completely natural and they don’t leave a waxy film on clothes or create a build-up in pipes and machines). Leave them in, even for the rinse cycle and your clothes will come out softer each time – especially if you have used excessive amounts regular washing powder/liquid (which is almost everyone), or have used regular fabric softener (again, almost everyone).

      If you live in an area with hard water, you can add 1/3 cup of white vinegar for extra softness.

      • Previously, I used bake soda and vinegar as booster, softener and brightener for every wash. Good to note to continue using vinegar for softness. How about baking soda? I added it for softening water, and an extra clean to clothes. Thanks!

        • Per the instructions that came with my soap nuts, I use them until they fall apart. In my front loader, that’s 8 or more loads of clean clothes.
          BTW, I still add about 1/2 cup white vinegar to the fabric softener cup for less wrinkles. I still get the fresh scent the nuts leave behind.
          For extra dirty clothes I add 1/4 cup baking soda to the tub before adding clothes and 1/2 cup white vinegar to the “bleach” cup on my washer. Does not effect the texture or cleaning power of the nuts.

  5. I been using soap nuts for a while now and I love them I also use a bag in my dishwasher the same concept as in the washmachine place 4 nuts in the muslim bag and place the muslim bag in the silverware basket. The direction were on the package of my soapnuts.

    • a MUSLIM bag??!?!?!?! Really? lol, I’m sorry, I’m not poking fun at you, it just hit my funnybone.

      • “Muslim” ???? I laughed out loud too!..just had to comment!

      • It is muslin. Not Muslim.

  6. I know it is a different subject but sense you changed my life i wanted to have your input. I have also just discovered a natural toothbrush and I just ordered a case on amazon they are called
    Miswaks I never had them but a friend of mine uses them for a while and told me about them what do you think
    It is an organic product. Natural way of brushing teeth.

    Kills bad odor. Requires no toothpaste. Easy to carry around

    • Thank you, I’d never heard of them either but, checking them out after reading your comment, thought the benefits they provide against tooth caries and gum disease worth trying out. Having done that I can affirm that they do do the job. Though I will say that the natural flavour, sort of horseradishy, might be a bit of an acquired taste.

  7. I love soap nuts! They work really well. I bought a big bag and since you only have to use a few at a time I know they will last me a very long time. I didn’t know I could reuse them, though– I guess they’ll last even longer than I thought!

  8. I tried the soapnuts last year and they didn’t work for me at all. After one washing the nuts were falling into mushy pieces and my clothes weren’t clean or smelling fresh. I was disappointed. I got mine from a different vendor, though and I’d be willing to try them again from a different one.

    • I’ve tried them last year too and my husband and I both noticed that our white laundry (underwear) turned somehow dirty-looking grayish 🙁 I still have a full bag of them sitting in my bathroom.. Do you have any suggestion?
      Many thanks from Toronto!

      • If you still have them I’d gladly pay a small shipping fee to try them out. Let me know how much and I could paypal it if you want to give them away basically.

      • The difference seen in a whites wash is possibly down to the optical brighteners that commercial detergents contain. These take the energy of the UV portion of the spectrum and re-emit it in the blue portion of the visible spectrum. Since UV isn’t visible but blue is any white surface treated with an optical brightener will emit more visible light than that which shines upon it. Hence the apparent brightness of treated whites is an optical illusion – really they truly are that yellow natural cleaners reveal. One natural way to get the brightness back into your whites without recourse to chemical detergents is to always dry them in full sunshine – the sun is a great whitener.

      • If you can get your hands on it, sodiun percarbonate can safely be added with the soap nuts to brighten white laundry.

      • My sister uses them as a head to toe body wash for her girls who have sensitive skin. Might try that.

        • Your sister should be careful with that, the pH of soap nuts is about 5, that’s very acidic. I’m surprised it’s not drying out their skin.

    • Soap nuts are not suitable for everyone that causes some problems like etching sense, scars etc. What we have to do is, try soap nut along with some natural ingredients like Acacia concinna, hibiscus podwer. These ingredients will soften its Ph level and will give better results as these sources are also very beneficial and good for hair care.

  9. I’ve been using soap nuts for my laundry needs for the last 5 years. I use them on everything except the Queen size bedding. The only reason I don’t use them with that is that they tend to get tangled in the bedding.
    I have also made a concentrated laundry solution out of them for washing / soaking delicates in the sink.
    Easy to bring with you when you travel (even internationally) and make great gifts 🙂

  10. I boil water & steep the soapberries for an hour or two then use one cup of the liquid for a large load & keep the rest of the liquid in a jar.

    • Sounds Great! How many berries per cup of water do you use to steep it in.

  11. i’ve used soap nuts for my laundry and they’re wonderful; i can’t wait to hear what everyone else comes up with!

  12. I’ve been using them for about six months. One suggestion from the company was to soak them in warm water for a little bit if you are going to do a load of darks (with cold water) so the nuts have a chance to release some of the “soap”. One issue I’ve had is when washing a load of white bedding is that I found a bunch of brown marks from the soap nuts. That only happened once. Otherwise, not many issues. I haven’t tested against any super stains.

    • I just started using them. Each time I’ve used them they leave large white blotchy film on my clothes that are black or navy. Any type of fabric this happens with. It makes me think that their saponins are not dissolving in the water, and are just leaving a white film on my clothes. Anyone else have this problem? The washer is a high capacity he top loader that uses very little water.

      • I hate HEs!! I’ll never have another one, they just will not do a good enough job.

        Sorry. I have had it happen just once and blamed adding too much wash soda. Most of my washes are dark materials and I have been using them for a number of years now. Are your soap nuts confined to a wash bag? You could, perhaps try making a soap nut liquid (method elsewhere amongst the comments). You could also try soaking the nuts in hot water for 5 minutes before tipping into the washer as they need a temperature over 40° to successfully release their saponins.

  13. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but there is no link in the article to the muslin bags you use. Just wanted to let you know in case it wasn’t just me. 🙂

    • Agreed! Could you please repost the link to where we can find a muslin bag like yours? Thanks 🙂

    • Did your stains from the soap nuts come out or are they permanent? I had one piece that is 1/2 white come out with grey stains all over yesterday. I am currently treating it with stain removal (so much for natural!) and am thankful it wasn’t a more serious piece of clothing (like husband’s work shirts). I don’t think I could use these on whites again. I even took the nut bag out during the rinse cycle, so that obviously did not rinse the excess away from this piece of clothing. Thank you!

      • Hi.
        I’m considering these for laundry or smartklean laundry ball. Did u get the stains out? I liked these cuz more natural. Any tips helpful. I read some soak 1st before darks? Dry between loads? Best places to buy? Waiting anxiously… Lisa

    • The box of soap nuts comes with 4 muslin bags.
      I also use vinegar every wash in the bleach cup of my HE front loader. And I was in Eco Warm.
      I’ve been wondering how clean it really gets so that’s why I came looking here.

  14. So how many soap nuts come in 1 pound? I make my own laundry detergent (it has washing soda, baking soda, Borax and Fels Naptha). It started bc I was trying to eliminate as many chemicals as possible, but a wonderful side effect is it got rid of my sons’ eczema. I have one who is allergic to grass (even if he wore pants he’d come in covered in welts). When I started using my own detergent he stopped reacting to the grass. This summer I forgot to take it with us when we went to spend a month with my parents, and he broke out all over. Soap nuts sound even easier, but I wonder how cost effective it is if you have to replace them every 3 uses. I just have no concept of how far a pound goes.

    • I haven’t counted, but a pound lasts our family of 6 for several months, and when I calculated, out monthly laundry soap cost was around $2 I think…

    • On average, the ones I bought, weigh about 1 gram each – that makes about 1000 in a kilo (around 450 to the lb). I make mine into a concentrated liquid, frozen into ice cubes, that averages out 1 soap nut to a light soil wash and 2-3 to a heavy soil wash. Plus I grind some into a powder for stain treatment adding up to maybe an extra 1 or 2 for every other wash. That is an awful lot of washes to the pound.

  15. I’ve used soap nuts for years. I simmer them in water to extract all their soapy goodness and reuse a Seventh Generation laundry detergent bottle. It needs to be stored in the fridge though. Or you can freeze it in ice cube trays and use 2-3 per load. When you first start using them you may have to use vinegar to cut through the film left by commercial detergents. I am crazy sensitive to fragrances and these just leave my clothes smelling clean.

    • This is a great idea. I wonder, what if the liquid is stored out in the dark cold laundry cabinet rather then freezing. Have you tried it?

      • Think of the soap nuts as you might a bag of plums (they aren’t but think that way for a moment) If you boiled the plums up and poured the liquid into a bottle, after a while it would go off. The soap nut liquid can be viewed in the same way. It will keep for a while but not forever like shop bought products will. If you use a lot then keeping it on a cold shelf might be fine, Otherwise ice cubes in the freezer makes for the better option.

  16. Stupid question… what if you have any nut allergy? Even just a mild one… Are they truly considered “nuts”?

    • They are actually a berry in the same family as the goji berry…

    • great question! I was just going to ask the same thing. My daughter has a severe nut allergy and the whole family is sensitive to fragrances/ chemicals/ soaps. This looks like a great solution. So delighted to have found this site!

  17. We’ve been using soap nuts successfully for a couple of years, including on cloth diapers. A few tips: hot water is best to release the saponins, a knotted sock works as a great replacement for the muslin bag, if you make a liquid soap for the laundry you can increase the cleaning power by adding washing soda, and finally watch for stains! Very rarely we’ll get a brown mark on something that wasn’t there going in. I’ve noticed it when I use the liquid solution at high concentration in a hot wash.

  18. Back in India we mailnly use this as Shampoo. We usually mix with Amla and soak in water the night before, to use it the next day. They say it cures Headaches and is also very good for hair growth. Good to see this can also be used for Laundry !! 🙂

    • Hello, I’ve been looking for a good shampoo I can make. Can you tell me more about the soap nuts with amla? Can I make a lot at once and store for regular use?

  19. Hi Katie,

    Just wanted to thank you for having this great blog and sharing it with all of us and I wanna let you know I bought the soap nuts and “love them”, thank you thank you and will be doing the gelatin stuff you had mention : ) Have a great day!!!

  20. I was wondering if using soap nuts would reduce the amount of color that bleeds from the clothing while washing, so my dark-colored clothes wouldn’t fade as fast. Commercial detergent usually is pretty harsh on colors.

    • Good question… I don’t know for sure, but it seems that it makes sense and they are more gentle on clothes…

    • Extract from naturalspasupplies.co.uk
      “[Soap nuts] are especially kind to delicate clothing such as silk, clothes coloured with natural dyes and natural textiles. Because soapnuts are natural and gentle, they help clothes which would normally fade quickly to retain their colours. Soapnuts have anti-fungal, antibacterial and insect repellent properties making them ideal for prolonging the life [of] delicate textiles.”

  21. I just started using soap nuts a few months ago. I love them! Our clothes are clean even with our hard water.

  22. I’ve been using soap nuts for over a year for all of the our laundry (my husband and I). I love them! They are cheap, non toxic and work great (even on my hubby’s stinky basketball clothes!). To extra stinky loads I just add some vinagar to the wash. It’s amazing to me now, when I smell other peoples wash in the machine now (I live in a apartment with common use machines) their sented detergents smell so toxic and unnatural to me!

  23. I got mine from a different vendor and the few loads I’ve done have had a lot white fibers/fuzz all over them. Could this be from the muslin bag that it came with or that particular brand of soapnuts? Has anyone else had this problem? I really wanted to be jazzed about them but it’s very frustrating especially since I line dry and they don’t get removed by the dryer lint screen

    • If you think it could be the muslin bag put the nuts in an old sock and tie it off like one other blogger said. I hope this helps.

      Sincerely,

  24. I switched to soap nuts after extensive research on being able to recycle my wash water onto my yard including the vegetable & fruit garden when the rainbarrels run dry. This is the only way I can do it and not flood my yard with all the salts in every other commercial or homemade detergent. Also living in the country on a shallow well with a septic system it helps me conserve water water from the well and keep it out of the septic system. With my high energy washer and about 5 loads a week, I get 100 gallons of water for watering everything that needs it. Will soon try making the concentrate for dishes and hair.

  25. I would be very interested in how to use as a shampoo, dish soap and cleaner.

  26. We love soap nuts! I add a few drops of tea tree oil to the little bag before tossing it in the wash. Helps kill bacteria and leaves a fresher smell.

  27. I just bought a pound of soap nuts from Mountain Rose Herbs and just so happened upon your sight…glad cause didn’t know how to use them. Wow! It will be cheaper than the DIY laundry liquid I’ve been making. 1 pound has 112 nuts for $6 but I purchased 10 1 pound packages = enough to get a 15% discount so cost me $5.10.
    I’m reading here you can use for shampoo but didn’t leave a recipe for how many nuts to how much water and boil for how long? I’d love the recipe! Thanks so much!
    Terrie

  28. Do I put soapnuts in the washing machine and use detergent or do I use them independently? I recently made a homemade powdered detergent with the recipe 4 parts baking soda, 3 parts borax, and 2 parts castille soap but I am pretty disappointed with the results after the first weekend of washing. The whites seemed “dingy” and everything appeared to be “fuzzy” 🙁 – hoping to find another solution. Do you have either of these issues with your powdered recipe? Thanks

    • I haven’t had either of those issues, but the soap nuts can be used by themselves (in a muslin or cloth bag) and the work great!

  29. I was really disappointed by the brand you recommended. I ordered my 1 lb of soap nuts for $6 and was so excited, (not so excited by the $11 shipping! eek!), and they are not deseeded! If you use soap nuts with seeds in them you can end up with stains from the seeds on your clothes. I can crack these open and use them still, but what a pain. You need to mention this in your article, because I just assumed that since you recommended them that they were deseeded because that is how you are supposed to use them!

    • Omg..seeds! So exciting…If you live in a warm climate, plant them, and grow your own soap nuts!

      • Do not plant them! they are invasive here!!!!!

  30. I’ve just started using soap nuts and love them. I’m having issues with my white clothes, however, since using the soap nuts… especially socks… They are turning gray and dingy. Any ideas?

    • sodiium percarbonate it is the main ingredient used in oxy products.
      3 or 4 table spoons of washing soda

      hard water a couple more.
      lemon juice or if you can find it citric acid powder couple of spoons.

      couple of cap fulls of hydrogen peroxide
      white vinegar

      i always use at least a cup full of washing soda to help the soap nuts along
      borax is another superb natural product

      soap nuts in a bag
      half a cup hydrogen peroxide
      1 cup baking soda or washing soda in the wash would be a powerful combo

      problem is hard water,washing soda is much stronger than bicarbonate of soda or baking soda
      so washing soda maybe best choice

  31. In the back of the package says that it contains the chemical that is known to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Anyone has any idea about this?

  32. I’m using soap nuts and making liquid from them. I loved it for very long, but after a while my white clothes and my gym clothes plus towels got sour smell, so i made my own liquid detergent from natural soap and water. They are working very good so far, but i’m sure i keep the nuts as well.

    • I boost my soap nuts with 1/2 a cup of borax and washing soda mix, and a few drops of tea tree oil on 1/2 or 1 cup of vinegar I. The rinse cycle for my towels and sweaty gym clothes for myself, husband, and kiddos. I also wash my clothes longer. I put it on the longest time and I do not overload the washer so the soap nuts can work their magic. Everything comes out clean and absolutely no scent. 🙂

      • So you take the borax, washing soda mix, tea tree oil and vinegar and you put them where? Do you use this along with the nuts??

  33. Have you had any issues using this with cloth diapers, like barnyard stink or ammonia build up?

  34. I’ve read if you wash cold, you have to soak the nuts in hot water first and then add to your wash. True?

    • Extract from soapnuts.pro
      “Can I use soap nuts in cold water?
      Absolutely – If the soap nuts are high quality soap nuts with a high saponin content they should be fine right from the start. They should feel a little tacky. If they are dark and dry you should prime them so to speak. Soaking them or making a “tea” may be needed to facilitate the release of the saponin. It is also very helpful to break them into smaller pieces to further facilitate rapid saponin release. For laundry in general – regardless of temperature or detergent type – a little time pre-soaking will produce better results.”

      Alternative 1 – you can make your own Soapnut liquid by boiling them until soft, making absolutely sure that there are no seeds included liquidise with a stick blender and sieve off the resulting liquid. Count the number of complete berries you use, take this as your portion control, add an extra 20% for luck then use at the rate of 1 portion for lightly soiled, 2 or more for heavy soiled. (I use just enough water that 1 portion is equal to 1 section of my ice-cube tray and freeze until required)

      Alternative 2 – for this your soapnuts do need to be dry to start with (if they are damp or sticky they will gum up the works). Using the same counting method, place your soapnuts in a liquidiser and grind them to a powder – do not over grind or the powder will turn into a solid coating around the side of the jug. Sieve to remove any remaining solids or fibres, weigh and divide the results by the number of portions and use as above.

      This powder can also be made into a paste for stain treatment, hand wash or shampoo.

      • Could you pass on your shampoo recipe please? Thanks

  35. Katie, I use soap nuts now (LOVE THEM) and I was wondering if you have done Any research about growing the plants that soap nuts come from. I would love to grow my own plants 🙂

    • There is a native soap berry tree that grows in the US. You can use it’s berries the same way – their just smaller.

  36. I tried skimming over the comments to check but I couldn’t find anything. I am also pretty sure my question answers itself but I just want to be doubly sure… when you say, “wash as usual” you mean without any other products? These replace detergents and only requires water?

    • avoid petrochemicals

      old fashioned ways are the best

      borax,washing soda,vinegar a couple of drops of essential oils.
      small amounts of citric acid and cheap hydrogen peroxide can all be used.

      not all at once : )

      much safer than modern chemical crud.

  37. I bought a box to try recently. My washing machine water runs off into the bathroom sink. After a few loads I noticed that the water in that sink was beading. The whole sink was covered with white powdery residue.
    This made me wonder if there’s residue being left on my clothes, that I can’t see yet. Would it make cloth diapers less absorbent if it repels water like this? Is it safe that I’m wearing it on my skin?
    Not sure I should continue using it to find out.

    • I have noticed that my Bum Genius cloth diapers have lost some of their water repellance since I’ve started washing them with soap nuts. I love them for washing clothes though.

  38. I have used these too and liked them, but they seem a bit pricey.
    So now I want to try baking soda, vinegar and a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract. Has anyone tried that?

    • I wash some of my clothes with no soap at all and they smell clean and fresh. I use warm water only. I do use soap to wash socks, underwear and towels and sheets. Basically I wash church clothes and anything that needs a wash but doesn’t have greasy stains or difficult stains on it this way. When I started doing this I was AMAZED that it took anywhere between 3 & 5 washes to get out all the residue from commercial cleaners. Now when I do use soap it is a homemade version.

    • Soapnuts can be an expensive in the short-term but, if used properly, they are an economical investment and will save you money in the long-term.

      Baking soda does work well in the wash but you might find that the quantities you need to use work out as more expensive than the soapnuts.

  39. I was wondering if you need to rinse clothes after using soap nuts? Just thinking about camping when have limited water?

    • Soap nuts work by reducing the surface tension of water, making the water ‘wetter’ and allowing it to penetrate the clothing fibres to lift dirt, grime and oil from the clothes. This detritus is released into the water and a certain amount of dirty water will remain in the in the material after it is lifted out.

      Your clothes will still need to be rinsed but rinsing can be cut to a minimum since you are not trying to remove all the chemicals associated with commercial products.

  40. I have a front loader machine. Can I still use SoapNuts? Are they going to be as effective?

  41. They seem to be a lot cheaper at mountain rose herbs ( 1 lb for $6) than on Amazon ( 1 lb for 18.95 ) Am I interpreting this right? Thanks for your help!

  42. Hi,
    Sorry i did not understand, where to put soap nuts? in the machine with clothes or in detergent dispenser? (a box where you normally put detergent), i have front load washing machine.
    Thanks

    • In a cloth bag.
      Inside the washing machine.
      In a cloth bag inside the washing machine with your clothes…..

    • But how can you take the bag of soap nuts out so that it is not in the rinse cycle?

      • You don’t, you leave it in there. It doesn’t matter that that means they are in there for the full cycle as they don’t leave a residue that needs to be rinsed away. Check out Soapnut.pro for more information

  43. Wondering if you can tell me how many pounds of soap nuts I will need to make the shampoo and also for laundry use? thanks

  44. You should never buy soap nuts with the seeds in them. The seed is much heavier than the shell so what seems like a good deal is really a rip off. Always buy deseeded soap nuts. Also, beware of strange posts like the one that said soap nuts contain a chemical that caused birth defects. That’s just ridiculous, soap nuts are totally non-toxic. The big soap companies employ an army of posters to post derogatory things about healthy products in an attempt to get consumers to continue to buy their toxic chemical blends.

    • Thanks for this info!

  45. I’ve wondered about these for ages but wasn’t sure if they’d handle the family washing. I’ll give them a go now! Thanks.

  46. Hi Wellness Mama, Can you please tell me how long soap nut liquid will last in the freezer in a ice tray? Thanks in advance! 🙂

  47. What am I doing wrong?! I was so excited to try these but they do not seem to be working for me! I’ve been using 4 to 5 per wash and they seem to only last one wash. And things are not as clean when compared to my DIY laundry detergent.

    • There’s not really a process, so I doubt you are doing anything wrong. Could it be your water?

    • Soap nuts clean by releasing saponins into the water. It is hot water (above 40C at minimum if memory serves) that promotes this release, which is why you need to soak the berries first if you intend to do a cold wash. When using whole berries better results can be achieved with a wash cycle of 45 minutes or longer, though they need fewer rinses so time can be reduced there.

      If you want to run a short cycle you would be better making up a liquid – instructions for which can be found in a number of place throughout these comments.

  48. Hi. I am so excited to find your site! Did you order your soap nuts from amazon.com

  49. I have been using soap nuts for a year now. I like them but my whites are dulling. I used vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.

    • Most whites aren’t actually white, they rely upon optical brighteners to create an illusion. Soap nuts, of course, don’t replace these brighteners so whites return to their genuine colour.

      You could try adding soda crystals, bicarbonate of soda or borax into the process. Plus, as far as is possible, always dry whites in bright sunshine – the sun is a powerful brightener.

  50. To save money I buy soapnut halves and pieces. You about 6 soapnuts n the muslin bag for 5-6 washings. I reuse them until they don’t feel slippery when rubbed between my fingers. My partner works on a dairy farm. My 17 year old autistic daughter still wets the bed. They get rid of the smells in fabric better than any cheap detergent, and some not so cheap. Naturoli is they ONLY company I will buy from. They should not be brown, should not have seeds, and should not leave marks on your laundry! They’re a light brown color, not brown or black. Yikes. Naturoli also sells a liquid that is fabulous, as well as other products made with soapnuts! Did I mention they’re organic?

  51. Hi Katie,

    A friend of mine brought me some soap nuts to try and I am LOVING them! I was wondering do you only use soap nuts for your laundry now or do you change up and use soap nuts sometimes and your DIY laundry detergent at times?

    Thanks!

  52. Hi Katie! I was wondering when you use the soap nuts to wash in hot or cold water? I’ve read that if you wash in cold, you have make a liquid version by boiling them in hot water, or soaking them in hot water before adding them into the bag before each wash to release the saponins because they will not be released in cold. It’s really hard to get a straight answer anywhere else on the net.

    • I have not really experienced a need to boil them first.

    • I use soap nuts in cold water as that is the only wash I use, and they take out stains normal washing powder doesn’t….. my husbands jeans and shirts get very grimy working on our farm, and I have also spoken to other farmers’ wives who have had great results on their mens’ filthy overalls etc.
      I like odour in my clothes so I drip a few drops of essential oil on the bag before placing it in each wash.

  53. I just found your website about 6 months ago and have been creating a more natural home with your recipes. I have loved everything you have posted! I just got my soap nuts today and am wondering how they do with stains. I have 3 young kids who play hard and just wondering should I be extra diligent with scrubbing out stains before washing?

    • I typically make a concentrated tea with them and pre-treat for really bad stains. Thanks so much for reading!

  54. I used them and loved them, but sadly, I can no longer use them as they make me itch.
    Does anyone have the same problems or answers on how to overcome it?

    DD

  55. If your soap nuts still have the seeds in them then you shouldn’t buy them, the seeds can discolour your clothes and just add to the weight of the bag, so in effect you’re getting less for your money.

  56. I just heard about soap nuts and started to do some research…how amazing! I have been making my own laundry soap, but this just sounds like a miracle! Can’t wait to try them! Do you have any recipes for other household cleaners or stain removers using soap nuts?

    Thanks,
    Katy

  57. Just found your blog and I am so excited that I did! We are very sensitive to detergents, fabric softeners etc. My little 4 year old has psoriasis and it’s nice to know that soap berries are used as a natural treatment for that. I do have one small question though, do you have to allow the bag and the soap berries to dry completely in between loads? I’m one who week start loads back to back so I’m wondering if it’s necessary or if I need two bags and I can switch them if needed.. Any feedback is helpful and thanks for taking your time to do this blog!

    • You only need to allow them to dry between wash days so if you are doing 2 or more loads back to back you can put them straight back in the washer.

  58. I just started using soap nuts and I love them, but I have had color bleeding issues in at least 3 loads of laundry. I never had these issues before, so I don’t know if it is because chemical laundry detergents usually are designed to catch the bleeding. Any suggestions you have of how I can continue to use soap nuts and stop the bleeding would be great!

    • Well you can buy laundry sheets specifically designed to absorb dye from the wash but I would be surprised if the bleed was caused by the soapnuts – one of the advantages to using them is that they are very gentle on colour. I have been using them for years with no problem at all.

      • PS you could try washing by colour. So all your lights are safe from any strong colour that bleeds. Strong colours are less likely to show any obvious colour change – of course new strong coloured items should always be washed on their own to ensure that they do not bleed before placing them with the general wash anyway.

  59. I recently learned about soap nuts and using them in laundry. I used them for the first time after my daughter bit through her lip at school and her clothes were covered in blood. I treated with Oxi powder at first, but there were still some spots left. Did my first load with soap nuts–blood is gone! Fantastic! So thrilled. I’m converted. 🙂

  60. Hi! I have a recipe for making shampoo, suitable for both hair and body. The shampoo made from the recipe below can also be used on pets. I live in Finland, and I found the recipe on a Finnish wellness site. I just found out about soap nuts last night, and went out and bought some today. I’ve not tried using them yet, but am excited to read the posts about using them for laundry and will soon be trying them for personal hygiene too!

    The Finnish article said that this shampoo, when used for hair, makes the hair shiny, strong, and healthy! It also said not to be alarmed when you don’t see any “foam”; massage the shampoo into the hair and scalp and rinse like ordinary shampoo, and see the good results. : )

    Here is the shampoo recipe:

    Put 5 or 6 whole soap nuts into a pan with about one quart ; cook for 10 minutes, and let cool. Store in plastic bottle!

    Loved visiting this site! : )

  61. What other brands have you all used and recommend? The one used by Wellness Mama is wonderful, but the shipping is too expensive to Canada. I also love Eco Nuts but they’re a more commerical oriented (and therefore twice as much) compared to online brands.

    Help!

    • NaturOli do seem to be good and I’d love to be able to afford their Extreme 18x liquid but, yes, they were out of the reach of my pocket too so I did a bit of research (quite a lot of it on soapnuts.pro which is like THE soap nut expert site – though the author works for NaturOli there is no bias in her information) and worked out a set of purchasing criteria:
      1) the best nut, or berry really, is the variety Mukorossi.
      2) they need to be deseeded – the seeds add to the weight but are of no benefit to cleaning power and can leave stains. Be warned that even deseed ones still contain a few seeds you need to keep an eye out for.
      3) I wanted them to be from a sustainable crop and providing employment (thus finance) to local populations.
      4) using the whole nut requires a wash bag (though a sock will do if it comes to it) so that needed to be in the deal too.
      5) bearing in mind that the most expensive are not always the best and the cheapest are not always the best value they had to be at a price I could happily afford (doing a quick calculation that 4-8 soap nuts do 4-8 washes and around 1000 in 1K that is going to save lots of expenditure on commercial soaps and softeners).

      Then I went looking on Amazon at what others were buying, read the reviews and contacted sellers to find the one that best met the criteria I had set. I am on the other side of the globe so the brand I ended up with, Salveo Indian Soap Nuts, probably has no meaning but more than a year later I am still happily ploughing through my purchase.

      I don’t know where you shop on your side of the pond but taking a quick look at Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MBKHWYO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00MBKHWYO&linkCode=as2&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=YW5AVU3RLPOTTYNT have 98% positive reviews and are packaged by disabled women in Nepal so they are starting to tick boxes already. They are on special offer at the moment so there’s another tick (this is not a recommendation, just an example).

      Good luck at finding the right one for you. I hope you love them as much as I do mine.

      • thanks for this, i already bought some, but i will use the vendor you suggested the next time!

  62. Does the Norwex laundry net work as well for holding the nuts?

    • Hm… I have never thought to try that…

    • I would be concerned, as the soapnuts break down toward the end of their useful life, that particles would pass through and become lodged in the wash. If you did try this, do post back and let us know how it went.

  63. These sound like a great inexpensive alternative to try. I have a front load HE washer and the detergent drawer is above the wash basin. Would I leave the soap nut bag in the traditional drawer or throw them into the wash basin?

    • You’d put the soapnuts in with the load (in their little bag). It doesn’t matter that that means they are in there for the full cycle as they don’t leave a residue that needs to be rinsed away – no more soapy itchy skin.

  64. I just used an orphan white sock when I lost my muslin bag in the apartment laundromat. No need to spend money or effort on the bags if you don’t want to.

  65. You sourced soap nut information from the Mountain Rose Herbs website. Have you ever purchased soap nuts from this company? I am currently thinking about it and wanted the feedback.

    • Yes, many times. They’re my go-to source for all things herbs.

  66. Hi, I’ve been using soap nuts for a few months and they work great on my lightly worn day-to-day clothes, but they’re not so great at de-stinking my gym socks and sports bras since those individual articles get used more frequently than the individual items in my selection of street clothes. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to give my wash cycle an extra kick so I don’t have to double wash?

    • You could try putting your heavy duty items to soak overnight before the wash. Alternatively (or in addition) you could try adding either a cup of vinegar or bi-carb to you wash cycle – but not both at the same time as they will cancel each other out.

  67. Hi,

    Do they remove the smells from the underarms of the garments? that’s how I usually tell if a detergent has successfully done its job and I’m not an overly smelly person either. Thanks

    • Hi
      Not so well by themselves, however I spritz neat white vinegar onto the underarm areas. This didn’t make a difference straight away, particularly on items we wore before we moved over to non aluminium deodorants that get that nasty white build up. But continuous use of the vinegar direct to problem areas on each wash and it battled the niffs down within a few washes.

  68. I’m afraid these don’t work for our family.
    Husbands a welder, and three kids.
    They actually don’t seem to do anything when we use them, our clothing still smells really bad also.
    Were still looking for a recipe that works for us.

    • Have you tried combining them with washing soda, or doing a pre-wash with washing soda and final rinse with vinegar? You will need to pre-treat any stubborn stains but I have found various combinations of these 3 will address just about any problems.

    • Stacey if you make a liquid concentrate from them first you’ll get a strong detergent that should work brilliantly, I’ve come up with a really good recipe that gets the most out of the berries and smells awesome too. Though you only get a small amount of concentrate from it, but it goes a fairly long way, I also ground mine in a coffee grinder to get the most out of them that way as well, I’ve just found out you can also by it in powdered form which I think is way better. 200g of powdered berries gives me a litre of concentrate, I’ll put the recipe below:

      200g Soap Nuts (ground/powdered preferable) – or whole
      3 litres water
      1/2 cup Vinegar
      6-10mls Eucalyptus Oil (add when cooled) – or any other essential oil you are drawn to. Other good ones for cleaning are Tea Tree, Orange & Peppermint.

      Bring Nuts, water, and vinegar to the boil (watch closely as it will froth up and boil over), then reduce heat and simmer with the lid partly open until the liquid has reduced to just over 1 litre. This could take a couple of hours and you can speed up the process by removing the lid and increasing the heat, but the longer simmer time, the better. Cool, strain through muslin and decant into a bottle. Add Eucalyptus Oil (or other). And store in the refrigerator.

      I have a laundry soap scoop which is 30ml and that does a normal wash, 2 scoops should cover a heavily soiled wash no problems. For dishes, use sparingly to get the most out of your bottle.

      • That is excellent but has left me having one of those Dohh! moments here 🙂

        I do something similar with my soapnuts but I have always counted the soapnuts out, boiled them whole, whizzed it all up with a hand blender – then had to wait a lifetime for all the foam to go down so that I can portion the mix out into ice cube trays and freeze. I then also grind some so that I have a powder for spot treatment. Why oh why did I never think to use the powder when making the liquid???

        Thank you, Lucette, for making my life so much easier.

        • You’re welcome 🙂

          Oh, I forgot to add, I always put the pulp back in the pot and boil it down a second time so not to waste any. I can get a good 1 to 2 litres of liquid soap from that. Then all good for the compost! Cheers!

      • Hi Lucette

        The liquid form might be rancid easily, do you know how to keep it for a long time without freezing ?

        Thanks,

        • Hi Jo,

          With the addition of the vinegar and Eucalyptus oil, it’s shelf life should be a lot longer than without, but I always keep my detergent in the fridge as yes it is a natural product and will eventually go rancid. But because I use my concentrate for everything, I tend to use it up within a few weeks so I am yet to experience an off batch. However my second boil down, which is not as strong but I get larger quantities of it and it sits in my fridge for longer, has lasted a good 2 months in the fridge and is still going ok, so I do believe it should last a good while in the fridge alone. Though freezing does not ruin it in any way so if you have surplus I would highly recommend freezing as you should then be able to store it indefinitely that way, or within reason. Hope this helps

          Regards

        • If you are worried that your soap liquid is being stored for too long in the refrigerator, you can re-sterilise it by heating to boiling point every so often. You could also start off by using distilled water and sterilising all tools and equipment.

  69. Is this something you are still doing? I am making my own laundry detergent for almost a year now and not that i have read this and all the comments, I am thinking about trying this out but just wondering if it is that great that i will stick with it or revert back to making it.

  70. I am a certified organic farmer and momma. I love soap nuts. I use naturoli brand because they are certified organic. Have you made the powder soap detergent or spray from your soap nuts? I haven’t tried it yet. Was wondering if it was worth the effort?

    • I have made a soap nut powder by grinding the berries and a liquid from boiling them, dividing the end result into the equivalent of individual soapnuts, a spoon for the powder and ice cube tray for the liquid. This seems to make the full power of the berry available all in one go. These I can then use singly for a light wash or in multiplies as required by however soiled the laundry. I do think that the convenience makes the extra effort worthwhile – apart from anything else I have no bags or soggy berries to dry out after each washday nor do I have to keep count of how often they have been used with regard to how much life is left in them.

  71. do you still use these and recommend? Thank you

    • I have been using soapnuts for over 3 years now and will continue to do so. They do not remove stains so a little extra pre-wash effort is required but an almost 100% total reduction of itchy skin as the reward is more than enough compensation for me.

  72. soap nuts are fantastic but i am biased.
    i believe regular washing products are evil : )

    soap nuts can be soaked in a jar overnight then the liquid used for your clothes hair body.
    they can be used in the muslin bag.
    3-5 washes.

    old fashioned products that are amazing are borax (20 mule team)
    washing soda
    bicarbonate of soda
    vinegar

    natural whitening sodiium percarbonate which is used in most oxy products

    a couple of drops of essential oil of your choice in the softner tray tops it off.

    all the items i mentioned i would not classify them as part of the industrial rotten petrochemical industry.
    just simple products that have been used for a long long time.

    5 soap nuts in a bag in the wash

    heavy cleaning half a cup of washing soda

    white sheets
    a vodka shot glass size of hydrogen peroxide liquid or table spoon of sodiium percarbonate.

    one thing to understand is most folks laundry is saturated with petrol chemical cleaners from overloading your wash with detergent this dries and builds up in the fibres.
    do an experiment wash your sheets and clothes with just water and you will see what i mean plenty of suds.

    using soap nuts gets the items feeling and smelling better over time give it time.
    if the bag bursts the brown nuts will stain just collect up the pieces and do another wash with washing soda or any of the more natural items i have mentioned.
    you do not need petrochemicals in your laundry wash unless you want petrolium in and on your body.

    imagine you clothes smelling of your favorite essential oil rather than some nasty factory fake carcinogenic substance.

    soap nuts as the base ingredient by experiment you will find what other extras like vinegar washing soda etc work best.

    anyone saying these nuts are terrible either made a mistake did not experiment or works for tide or persil : )

  73. I was just wondering if anyone knows whether it matters what brand you buy the soap nuts from, or if they’re all the same?

    • No they aren’t all the same. A good site that gives a lot of information about soapnuts is soapnuts.pro. Alternatively you could search the comments on my name for a brief explanation of how to buy the best.

  74. Have you ever heard of pureWash? I heard it mentioned in a cloth diaper blog post and looked up the website. It sounds like something you would have looked in to at some point.

  75. When I use soap nuts (not bought from where you suggested because I already had some) our clothes are stinky. I have to wash them twice and I have been using 5-6 nuts to see if that was the problem. It has made no difference. The only way our clothes smell good at all is if I add lavender Essential oil to the wool drier balls. Could there be something wrong with the soap nuts I have been using?

  76. What happens if the person has sensitive skin or allergic to nuts?? I was told about this because I wanna start cloth diapering.. this will be interesting..

    • I have 6 children and have used cloth. My short comment is this: I would not use soap nuts on cloth. I can’t imagine that’s going to get them clean enough and help with whiteness. I recommend Allen’s Naturally, the gallon size and don’t look back!

    • Maria, they aren’t actually a nut, they’re a berry. Soap Nuts is just a common nick name for them so they would be completely fine for people with nut allergies. The berries aren’t edible and in a concentrated liquid form it is quite acidic so definitely not good to ingest them or any contact with eyes, but the soap itself is far more gentle than any chemical detergents you’ll find on the market shelves, and it also rinses off much easier so the likelihood of any residue is pretty miniscule. Though in saying that, when they’re being used whole in washing machines they are there through the whole cycle and that still doesn’t seem to bother people. People have been using them in India for centuries for almost everything, clothes, shampoos, body wash, even as a lice treatment and although I’m cautious about the acidity when using the concentrate directly on my skin, a lot of people swear by them for sensitive skin. So I think it is best to trial them and make your own mind up.

  77. Thank you for all the great info on soap nuts! I just recently started using them, thanks in part to you, and I love it!