Soap nuts or other names , wash nuts, soap berries and reetha nuts, are traditionally associated as being a natural alternative for laundry washing. Putting the nuts inside a little bag and adding them to your laundry load.
This 100% naturally created fully biodegradable berry, is not exclusive to laundry and also thankfully has many more wonderful uses. It is a gentle cleaner and can be used as a natural shampoo or hand wash, yet it is strong enough for hand and machine dish washing. It can also be a general purpose cleaner around the home for worktops, floors and windows, and pretty much anything else you may want to wash or clean such as the dog!
The saponin which is contained within the shells of the nut or berry needs to be extracted to create the brown tea looking mixture that is used to clean. To do this the soap nuts need to be boiled. Here is a simple recipe below.
You Will Need
- 15-20 Soap Nuts
- 6 -10 Cups Of water
- A large saucepan
- Clean container
- Large wooden spoon or masher
- Place the soap nuts in a large pan
- Add 6 cups of cold water and bring to the boil
- Simmer for 20 minutes
- Periodically squeeze the soap nuts against the sides of the pan or use a masher. (this is to agitate the soap nuts so that they release more saponin)
- Add another 2 cups of water, bring to boil again and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Keep watch of the pan as it can quickly boil over particularly with a lid on.
- Continue to mash and squash up the shells until your not seeing the suds expel soap or they have lightened or gone greyish or clear.
- Remove from heat and wait to cool before pouring the liquid through a sieve to separate the shells and pour into your vessels.
It isn’t an exact science, the amount of saponin extracted may depend on the quality of your soap nuts. They may need to simmer for longer or for more water to be added. As a general rule you want the soap nuts to be discoloured. Either way you will be left with a soapy liquid. If you find it to be too weak, you add less water or more nuts next time. If you live in a soft water area, you will have more suds.