It’s awesome how many people are trying to be more proactive in reducing their plastic waste and generally do good stuff for the environment. It still feels like we have mountains to conquer, especially where business is concerned, but it’s a start. The problem is that we have become so reliant on the convenience of single use plastics especially, so moving away from it feels really difficult. Really difficult.
One option that I came across was soap nuts, an organic, biodegradable detergent. (“Oooh”, I thought to myself. “These could be good!”) The reviews I came across suggested that they were better than those laundry eco egg things (which I have not tried, so cannot compare) plus they’re plastic free.
Do soap nuts work?
I suppose the top question is do they work? Do they get your clothes nice and clean? Well in my reasonably unscientific approach (over the last two weeks or so) I found that yes, they seem to.
I have so far done 6 loads of washing using soap nuts. This includes 1 wash using soap nuts only, one wash using soap nuts with fabric conditioner, and 4 washes with soap nuts and lemon essential oil drops. One of these washes was bedding, one was towels and the other 4 were clothes. (Actually sounds quite scientific when I put it like that!)
Do soap nuts work on their own?
I only did one load of washing with soap nuts alone (plus a few rubs of vanish on some stained baby clothes) at 30 degrees, and for the most part I did feel that the clothes came out clean. The only item that was not clean was a t shirt that had been liberally spattered with bolognese, which remained stained after the wash.
However, I am so used to perfumed laundry that I didn’t appreciate the lack of scent. For this reason, I did inspect everything extra closely, and genuinely I was pleased for the most part with the cleanliness of our clothes.
Do soap nuts work (better) with fabric conditioner?
Although I no longer use fabric conditioner, I’ve kept my old, half-full bottle to trick other people in the house into thinking that we do still use it. Clever, eh?
In the absence of any essential oils, I decided to add some fabric conditioner to a similarly soiled load. Whilst I much preferred my clothes being scented, there was no perceivable difference in the cleanliness of the clothes, nor in fact in the softness of my clothes. Giving up fabric conditioner is proving to be a good choice for my purse and the environment with downsides only for the companies that make it.
Do soap nuts work better with essential oils?
Using soap nuts with essential oils only adds fragrances to your washing. I really fancied sandalwood, but was discouraged by the cost (£9.95 versus £2.79 for lemon).
The soap nuts I bought came with instructions that said to add 15 drops onto the muslin bag, but I read online reviews that suggested the fragrance would be stronger with fewer drops if they were added to the fabric conditioner slot of the washing machine.
When I used the oils, I preferred the immediate fragrance when removing the laundry from the machine, but once the clothes were dry, I couldn’t smell it anymore so I do wonder if it is really worthwhile?
How well do soap nuts work for various laundry types?
I found my 4 loads of clothes to be reasonably clean, although 3 items of baby clothes remained stained and will most likely need to be cleaned with chemical detergent.
I found the towels, tea towels and flannels to be super soft, way better than normal laundry detergent, so that was definitely a win!
Bedding was similar to clothes, everything appeared clean and the essential oils smell was pleasant enough.
Is it cheaper to use soap nuts?
It depends on what you use. And how many soap nuts you buy. And whether you get your detergent on offer. So it’s hard to say, but it definitely has the potential to save a lot, especially if you’re buying larger (1kg) quantities.
This table gives some idea of costs:
|Brand||Cost||No. Of Washes||Cost per wash|
|225g tub of soapnuts||£7.99||minimum 76^||10.5p|
|1kg of soap nuts||£11.99||minimum 337^||3.5p|
*This is the based on using the recommended amount of liquid. I personally use less than what is recommended, but for simplicity’s sake I stuck with what they suggest.
^I purchased Living Naturally soap nuts. You can get about 25% more washes if you boil them to make your own liquid, but I’ve used the lower figure as I’ve not done this yet. Also, you’d need to pay postage, although I bought my 225g tub from a local shop for £8.99
If you can stump up the money up front, larger quantities of soap nuts are the way to go for getting the best value.
Would I buy soap nuts again?
To be honest, I really hope that I will. I don’t find them as convenient as liquid, they definitely don’t get rid of stains, and I need need need to get my head around the lack of fragrance. But convenience isn’t good for the environment, so I’m going to think positive, keep going with them, maybe try and boil them up to make a washing liquid, and look for other changes I can make too.
Firstly, thank you for reading this far if you have done. Soap nuts are not the most riveting of topics.
However, they are far better for the environment and have the potential to save money, if you buy the right quantities. They definitely don’t have the convenience factor of powder or liquid, but we’re killing our planet with convenience.
If you liked this post, you might like my list of ways to save money and the environment. I mean why wouldn’t you? It’s a win-win!
Have you tried soap nuts and how have you found them? What switches would you recommend to get rid of single use plastic from the home?