These all natural berries could change your cleaning habits

13 Ways to Use Soap Nuts

by Christine L. Taylor

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My mother loves saving money by shopping at those wholesale member clubs. Difficulty arose when she started having problems lifting those oversized bottles of laundry detergent and fabric softener. Determined to continue to buy them, she asked the wholesale club employees for help carrying her oversized loads. Lugging those colossal bottles of laundry detergent back and forth to the laundromat became a laborious chore as well. Yes, she used a shopping cart to carry those items, but for someone in their mid-70s, it became burdensome. So, I told her soap berries (or so called soap nuts) will not only help her from the strain of hauling heavy bundles, but will also save her money.

Indigenous to warm, tropical conditions, soap berries grow from the Sapindus Mukororee tree. Free of all the synthetic chemicals, toxins, dyes and perfumes found in any laundry detergent, soap nuts are hypoallergenic and eco-friendly. As per the Complete Soap Nut Guide, "Sapindus Mukorossi trees have the highest saponin content." It also states, "Saponin is a natural detergent commonly used for cleaning among many other things."

Additionally, "Soap nuts have been used medically as an expectorant, emetic, contraceptive, and for treatment of excessive salivation, epilepsy, psoriasis, head lice and migraines." Source:

When I brought over the bag of berries to my mom's, needless to say, she was quite skeptical about its cleansing abilities. Noticing the broken nut shells, she turned up her nose from the distinct scent. I walked with her to the laundromat, and I put six to seven broken shells into a muslin bag and tied it. Warily, she threw it into the wash and then added her laundry. She sat and watched her clothes as if watching a breaking news story while complaining of little suds.

She didn't notice the scent once her clothes finished washing, but the actual test would be after they dried. I interrupted her breaking news story and explained that she can boil the berries in water to create a liquid cleanser for other household uses, for example:

  • Glass cleaner
  • Jewelry cleaner
  • Kitchen counter tops
  • Bathroom cleanser
  • Floor cleaner
  • Fresh fruit and vegetable wash
  • Dish detergent
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Non-toxic spray to deter pest from garden plants
  • Car wash
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Pet shampoo

Additionally, that one bag of six to seven berries will clean five to six medium loads of laundry. Most importantly, there's no heavy lifting. Furthermore, in order to make a more concentrated liquid cleaner, boil more berries. It's a judgment call.

"We'll see," she stated as she smirked.

Finally, after seeing the results, Mom was amazed. She had clean clothes with no heavy chemical smell from laundry detergent. Surprisingly, none of her clothes had any static cling, so there was no need for dryer sheets. My excitement was two-fold. I was thrilled about leaving less of carbon footprint by limiting toxic chemical waste created by the manufacturing, packaging and transport of solvent products. Plus, I was able to help my mom continue to live independently. She accepted my suggestion of using a natural laundry soap, and she was delighted that they worked so well despite the low suds.

Christine L. Taylor earned her BA in Communications from The City University of New York. Both Christine and her young son Jared love to swim, bike ride, and travel. She also enjoys gardening, learning new languages, and learning how to live eco-friendly on a budget.

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