Soap Nuts for Natural Laundry Care

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

They 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 like this one (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.

Follow up with wool dryer balls instead of conventional dryer sheets, and you’ll have truly natural clean laundry in no time!

Other Uses for Soap Nuts

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

Where to Purchase

I buy mine online, but in the past I’ve seen them in some speciality stores as they’re getting more common.

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

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


203 responses to “Soap Nuts for Natural Laundry Care”

  1. Camille Avatar

    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. 🙂

  2. Shabi Ghaffari Avatar
    Shabi Ghaffari

    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!

    1. Linda Avatar

      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.

      1. Linda Avatar

        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.

  3. Maile Avatar

    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!

    1. linda Avatar

      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.

  4. Katy Avatar

    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?


  5. Janine Avatar

    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.

  6. Donna Avatar

    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?


  7. Lindsay Avatar

    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?

  8. Katie Avatar

    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.

    1. Tai Avatar

      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.

    2. Megan Avatar

      I have been using soapnuts for over 5 years. I only wash clothing in cold water. Here is my method:
      1) Set washer to fill.
      2) Add bag of soapnuts to some hot water and let sit.
      3) Combine 1 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (slowly as it foams). I use a quart-size glass Mason jar for this mixture.
      4) Once washer is full, add soapnut/water mixture and baking soda/vinegar mixture ( swirling first to mix any that settled).
      5) Add clothing.

      I have found that I get about 7 loads of laundry per bag of soapnuts so we use diaper pins to keep track. We add a diaper pin each time we do a load of laundry and empty the bag and add fresh nuts when we get to 7 pins.

  9. Lisette Avatar

    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?


  10. Alicia Avatar

    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?

  11. Barbara Avatar

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

    1. linda Avatar

      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.

    2. Beth Avatar

      How do you use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in laundry? At the same time? Do they degrade your clothes?

  12. Lisette Avatar

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

  13. Carly Avatar

    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.

    1. linda Avatar

      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.

  14. Alyce Avatar

    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! 🙂

      1. Beth Avatar

        Just a few weeks in the freezer? I would guess months…

        Also, can you add Vitamin E oil, citric acid, or salt as a preservative?

  15. KT Avatar

    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.

  16. Lola Avatar

    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.

  17. Jennifer Avatar

    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

  18. Moq Avatar

    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.

    1. Anna Avatar

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

    2. Harriet Avatar

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

      1. linda Avatar

        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 for more information

  19. Ashley Avatar

    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!

  20. Diana Avatar

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

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