Soap Nuts are one of the Earth's truly sustainable natural soaps. Actually, a fruit containing saponins, a natural soap, that is harvested from trees in India and Nepal.
Sustainable and Biodegradable
Not only sustainable, but biodegradable, chemical-free, gentle, natural detergent—for your laundry detergent choice look no further than the humble Soap Nut. They can be purchased on-line from buysoapnuts.com and other websites.
How to Use
They are very easy to use in your washing machine. Pop 3-4 soap nuts into one of the small cotton bags, also available at buysoapnuts.com . Tie and toss into the washer; add clothes and water. Each of these bags of soap nuts can be reused for 4-5 loads, then can be disposed of in your compost pile. A second option, according to Erin Johnson, who co-owns buysoapnuts.com with her husband, an online business that they run from their Melfort, Saskatchewan home in Canada, is to make liquid soap nuts laundry detergent outlined on her site.
You can also choose to add a 1/2 cup of borax or baking soda to the wash cycle to boost cleansing power or white vinegar to the rinse cycle, if you want greater germ-killing power. The soap nuts do not need to be used with any fabric softener, as they are naturally softening. Soap nuts are also exceptionally gentle, even on the most delicate of fabrics. And they are non-irritating, a wonderful perk for those with sensitive skin.
Do Soap Nuts Have a Fragrance?
The clean, fresh scent of Nature is the only "fragrance" that soap nuts have, which is often a plus for those with allergies. If you want to add fragrance, look for an all-natural, essential oil; a few drops into the wash or onto a clean rag tossed in your dryer will do the trick.
Soap Nuts and Dirty Jobs
When asked if soap nuts work with heavily-soiled items like dirty cloth diapers or a teenager's athletic socks, Erin, an experienced, young mom of one toddler in diapers, states that soap nuts work great to remove bad and musty smells. To disinfect and whiten though, you will need to add your choice of ½ cup of borax or hydrogen peroxide. She was amazed after starting to launder her daughter's dirty diapers with soap nuts at the natural clean smell (i.e. the lingering urine smell was gone). Another bonus was that the natural saponins in soap nuts worked to strip the old detergent residue from the cloth diapers, making them more absorbent again.
Soap Nuts and Your Conscience
Although some consumers are concerned with the energy costs of shipping products from the far corners of the world, harvesting and exporting Soap Nuts creates jobs for villagers in India and Nepal. These local co-ops provide sustainable, economic prosperity for local people. Often, the alternative is trees are cut down for a one-time use as fire wood.
The Nepalese supplier for buysoapnuts.com has recently applied for a Fair Trade certification, a certification whereby local business co-ops in impoverished areas link with importers in developed countries to market their products at a fair price to enable their communities to prosper.
Soap Nuts might look a little funny, but let's not judge the "package from the outside" – they pack a powerful, all-natural option to the chemical, manufactured detergents polluting our bodies and water. Try some; you might just keep on "buying soap nuts"
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Suite 101 Magazine Contributing Writer:
Women's Online Magazine Columnist
"Living Green Each Day"
The copyright of the article Soap Nuts: Biodegradable and Hypo-Allergenic in Green/Simple Living is owned by Pamela Palmer. Permission to republish Soap Nuts: Biodegradable and Hypo-Allergenic in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.