Soapnuts - Ecological Laundry Detergent from India

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Soap Nut Tree

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A natural, enviroment friendly, economical and effective
detergent that... grows on trees

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Soapnut Soap Nut

Nueces de Jabón
Nuez de Sapindo

Arishta Phenila

Sapindus Mukorossi (North India) Sapindus Trifaliatus (South India)


Wash nut Reetha Chavakkai Munippungu Urulinji Kumkuticettu Uruvanci



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    Soap nuts or Soapberry, also sometimes referred to as Washing Nuts or Ritha / Reetha (in Hindi), contain ‘Saponins’, which have the ability to clean and wash. When in contact with water, it creates a mild suds, which is similar to soap. Soap nuts are naturally anti-fungal, antimicrobial, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. Besides, used properly, they are by far less expensive than the commercial chemical detergents.


Your everyday laundry detergents contain a combination of many toxic chemicals, the residues of which are left behind on your clothes after washing. This can be potentially dangerous as these chemicals are absorbed by your skin into your blood stream and also evaporate into the air, which you and your children breathe. Both, the manufacturing process of the chemical detergents and their use, have a long term effect on the environment as well.

Most of your common laundry detergents contain phosphates, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, optical brighteners, artificial fragrances, EDTA etc. These chemicals can cause rashes, itches, allergies, sinus problems and have long term toxic effects on the environment.

    There are trees in south Asian countries called Soapnut trees on which natural soap grows. Yes it is true and believable you can see natural soap on the trees in south Asian countries. Soapnut trees grow 13 to 18 meters high. People of Asian countries refer to the fruit of these trees as Reetha, Areetha, Kala kamodi, Soapnuts andSoapberries. The fruit is harvested from September to February. The Soapnut Tree plant's botanic family includes 2,000 species.

Soap Nuts Liquid     Soapnut trees have grown naturally, in the forest and hill track areas (particularly in the Himal ayan range) for centuries. The Soapnut is used as a natural soap, detergent, wash bar and cleaner for all kinds of dirt removal. The Soapnut shells have also been used for cleaning gold and silver ornaments for centuries in the south and central Asian countries. Women throughout the entire world, especially i n south Asian countries, have used Soapnuts as a natural shampoo for their hair for thousands of years as it helps to make hair strong, healthy, long and silky. Soapnuts are particularly effective in treating dandruff, headlice and many other diseases of the hair and scalp. Once planted, it takes nine years for the Soapnut tree to begin yielding fruit. After the ninth year the Soapnut trees can be harvested for a period of ninety years. Thus the Soapnut tree’s life cycle is extremely long, allowing a natural and sustainable cultivation. In addition to this, the Soapnut tree contributes to combating the greenhouse effect by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. The more trees we allow to remain growing in the earth, the better for our earth, atmosphere and ourselves.

    The used shells of the Soapnuts are 100% biodegradable, so they reduce the amount of landfill as you just add them to your compost heap and they will turn into a natural fertilizer for your garden and plants to enjoy. Obviously, since all that is happening is the fruit is picked from the tree and thrown in with the laundry, there is zero manufacturing. The same as Soapnut powder, which is made from berries dried under the sun.

    The Soapnut trees are extremely beneficial to humanity, the earth, Mother Nature and our total environment. You will hardly find another product which is roughly as Eco friendly as "the Soapnut trees".

    So, how good are soap nuts as a washing agent?

    You may have read elsewhere about their seemingly "magical" properties. Truth is, they work very well, about as well as normal non-bio detergent, at least. Better in some things – delicates silk/wool. Certainly towels and nappies etc. For certain stains like grease, soap nuts benefit from a little help. A scoop of Sodium Carbonate (Washing Soda) helps soften the water and boost the removal of heavy stains. Exactly like you would need for a standard non bio product. It will also help preventing lime scale building up in your machine.

This is Important !

You won't get loads of suds (because soapnuts have no artificial foaming agents), Likewise you won't get artificial "country fresh" perfumes, whiteners and bleaches. People have been conditioned for decades to expect these and it is a shock when it doesn't happen. They assume, quite wrongly, that soapnuts are not working. Truly, suds have nothing to do with cleaning. They are chemical additives used to create the illusion of cleaning action.

Some people may not "get on" with soapnuts! They could not really care less about the environment, have busy lives, and just want to bung their washing in, with a powerful detergent, and accept the illusion that all will come out clean and fresh.

It is their world as much as mine, so it is their choice. If, however, you do care, it is worth giving them the best possible chance. You can only do that by using the best available soapnuts.

    In addition

    Soapnuts can be safely used for children's clothing, nappies and bedding, as well as for washing their stuffed animal toys. The soapnuts will not leave a residue and will kill bacteria, microbes and dust mites.

    Soapnuts are highly effective and gentle at the same time. They will leave your laundry fresh and clean and compared to other detergents, its mildness will keep colours bright, maintaining fabric structure of your clothes for longer periods. They can be used on all fabrics and at all temperatures. They leave your clothes incredibly soft without the need for fabric softeners or conditioners. With soapnuts there is no need for fabric softener. And also don’t need a second rinse cycle unless your laundry is very dirty. In most cases, that second rinse is to help flush out all the chemicals in the fabrics. Since we aren’t using chemicals with soapnuts it is no longer needed.

    It is generally recognised that items such as towels, and certainly cloth nappies, should not be rinsed in fabric conditioner. It has the effect of coating the fibres and reduces their absorbency. Exactly what you don’t want! Commercial detergents cannot tell the difference between whites and colours, it coats them all. So your colours start to fade.

    With Soap Nuts you will not be saturating your clothes in "whitening agents", optical bleaches and unknown chemicals and enzymes. Your colours will start to look brighter as these "masking agents" are removed. Many people with sensitive skin have reported near immediate beneficial effects after trying natural soapnuts.

   Do soap nuts work as an insecticide and insect repellent?

    Yes. Studies show that saponin inherently has exceptionally positive attributes as both. A soap nut solution will deter pest from your plants, pets and yourself.

    Your beloved children may sleep with a coat of Soapnut liquid that is harmless to their sensitive bodies, allowing you to relax, knowing that they are protected naturally from mosquitoes. Wash or coat exposed parts of your body with the Soapnuts decoction to ward off insects. Mosquitoes are repelled by the smell of saponin and will stay away.

    Can the wash water be used to water my garden after using soap nuts?

    Absolutely! It may even end up helping your garden grow healthier since it has both anti-fungal and insect repellent properties. Soapnuts are totally organic and, as stated earlier, a mild insecticide. It is safe, even beneficial to put on your garden. Your washing machine uses about 50 liters (12 gallons!) of water per wash. Collect that waste and your watering problems are over. Unless you are an aphid!

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Soapnuts - Ecological Laundry Detergent from India
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