Looking for a safe and natural laundry detergent that works and isn’t just soap that will build up? Try this one made from just two ingredients! Soap nuts and water, that’s all.
Laundry is a task that never seems to be complete and that people only notice if you stop doing it. You’d think with only two people in my house that I wouldn’t do much laundry. Well, you would be wrong. I’m not sure how we create so much laundry but I seem to have an endless mountain of it.
I used to dread when I ran out of laundry soap and needed to buy more. Walking down the laundry aisle always led to a headache. The amount of scents down that aisle is so overwhelming. As someone with asthma, this simple task could even leave me struggling to breathe. This has to make you wonder if these things should really go on your clothes and then your body. The answer is no, they shouldn’t be on our bodies.
Researchers have found dryer vents emit more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when scented laundry detergents and dryer sheets are being used. Seven of those VOCs are considered hazardous air pollutants! These scents can also be endocrine disrupters.
There are natural laundry detergents out there but they aren’t cheap. Another option is to make your own. There are so many recipes out there but most involve a lot of steps and often still contain scented soaps. Many of them also build up on your clothes because they use soaps that leave residues.
I have a really simple and affordable answer for you, soap nuts. If you are anything like the friends I’ve told about my washing clothes with soap nuts, you are likely thinking what on earth is she talking about.
Soap nuts are not actually nuts, they are berries and sometimes you will see them called soap berries. These berries contain saponins which are a natural surfactant. Surfactants are those things in your laundry detergent that make it work. They have been used for washing for thousands of years by native people in Asia and North America.
Unlike other DIY laundry soap recipes, this one contains two ingredients and takes very little time to make. It also is more effective and doesn’t leave a build-up since it’s a surfactant, not a soap. Because of the lack of build-up, it’s great for cloth diapers and towels. It’s totally safe for your HE washer and may even help prevent mold build-up by not leaving the film that soaps can leave behind.
You can just place 4-5 berries in a cloth bag, which most soap nuts come with, and throw it in the washer with the clothes. This only works in warm or hot water though as the saponin doesn’t release well in cool water. The way around this is to make a soap nut liquid, this is what I do. It’s still easy and it works great.
How to Make Soap Nut Laundry Detergent
- Place 15 soap nuts (more if pieces instead of whole soap nuts) in 6 cups of water.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. The soap nuts will turn light tan when all of the saponins is released.
- Strain the liquid and compost the soap nuts.
- Pour into a clean, air-tight container.
How to Use
Use 2-4 tablespoons per load, depending on how large and dirty the load is. Hard water may also require more of liquid. The liquid can be used just like you would use other detergents in your washer. For best results don’t overfill your washer, the clothes need room to agitate to be properly cleaned.
How to Store
I find that I can only leave it at room temperature for a couple of days before it starts to go bad but some find they can leave it out of direct sunlight in an air-tight container for up to two weeks. I like to keep mine in the fridge and it can keep there for about a month.