Thanks to Anne over at Summer Naturals, I was sent some magically soapnuts to test out for use with my laundry. The instructions tell you to put between four and eight half shells in a cotton bag (or old sock or tights), tie securely and put in your wash with no need for any fabric conditioner or laundry detergent.
Hang on a minute – “half shells”? Yep soapnuts are actually real nuts. Soapnuts grow wild on trees in India and Nepal and the shells contain saponin, a natural soap, and are suitable for people with sensitive skin. But do they work?
The short answer is yes. While it felt a bit strange not putting any fabric softener or powder into the machine’s trays, if you’re familiar with putting one of those nets in with the tablets inside, this is just the same. Anne gave me a nice cotton bag with the shells in and I tied it securely and threw it in there. And the result was lovely clean washing, even on muddy trousers which will happen even more now winter’s arriving with haste.
Initially when I took the washing out to dry, it was hard to tell whether the soapnuts had done their job. There’s no ‘laundry fresh’ smell (you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to the drawer if you want) but that doesn’t mean the clothes aren’t clean. And they were clean and the little bag of nuts was secure. Seems almost magical, especially when you can use them around four times before needing more nut shells.
One question in my mind is that they’re imported from abroad and I know nothing about the conditions they’re harvested in. But as I know little about all the ingredients in Ecover for example, until they start making washing powder at my local farm, this is something that cannot really be a factor in whether to use a particular washing method.
Soapnuts contain nothing chemical at all so obviously don’t have the same whitening power of major brands but for something so natural, they’re remarkable. And cheap, an average of 3p a wash compared to 25p with washing powder and softener. And you just throw them on the compost heap when you’re done with them so there’s no waste. You can buy them here.
Oh, and before you ask, they’re not my hands in the photos….