Soap nuts

If you are anything like me then soap nuts or soap berries are a relatively new concept. What are they? How do they work? Are they as effective as other cleaners? I wanted to try to answer some of those questions here and to convert you to the wonderful world of natural cleaning. I have been using soap nuts for a while now and personally, I think they are pretty amazing!

First of all, what are soap nuts? Soap nuts grow on trees and are actually a berry. They are a member of the Lychee family and grow in places like the Himalayas. They are generally organic as they do not attract pests due to their unpleasant flavour so don’t need chemical treatments to maintain yields.

Now on to the crucial information, how do they work? Soap nuts naturally contain saponin which is a type of soap. This works by breaking the surface tension of water to penetrate into fibres, lifting stains and dirt into solution, thereby cleaning the fabrics.

Instructions for use: place 4-5 soapnuts in a cloth bag and put in the washing machine drum with your washing, then just wash as usual. There is no need to add any of the usual washing liquid or powder. If you like your clothes to have a particular scent you can add a few drops of essential oil to the bag with the soap nuts in.

Your soap nuts will do between 5 and 10 washes but change them when they start to disintegrate. It is worth noting that soap nuts do not produce the froth and foam we are used to. Turns out, there is no need for that foam and we have found the soap nuts to work perfectly well to clean our clothes.

Now on to the best bit – what makes soap nuts any better than other cleaners? Well firstly they don’t come in a plastic bottle like so many washing detergents so they have a much lower packaging demand. Some washing powder does come in cardboard boxes but soap nuts require even less packaging than that, you can just pick them up and pop them in your reusable bag.

Secondly, these are natural products. Nothing has been done to them in terms of processing or chemicals apart from picking from the tree and drying. Other products for washing clothes are a mixture of unidentifiable ingredients and it is sometimes difficult to know what you are putting on your clothes (and, consequently, on your skin when you wear them). Personally I prefer to know what I am using wherever possible and either make it myself or use something composed of clear, recognisable ingredients. Soap nuts tick this box.

Finally, and possibly most importantly for some people, soap nuts are very gentle and therefore are good for people with sensitive skin or for washing babies clothes and nappies. This is important for me as I have had reactions in the past to washing powders and found it is almost impossible to identify what exactly it is causing the reaction.

So all in all I am a complete convert to the soap nut cause and I hope this post has at least persuaded you to try them for yourself.



Great idea. Could you please do a short article about how your shop will work. Practical terms. Do shoppers have to bring their own containers, or reusable bags. Or bottles????


Hi Ian,

Thanks for the comment! I will definitely do a post on how the shop works, thanks for the suggestion :).


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