What Are Soap Nuts?
Indian Ayurveda has, for centuries now, used Reetha or soap nuts for many purposes. Soap nuts or washing nuts grow on trees 20 metres tall, in clay soil. Fascinatingly enough, they are berries and related to lychees, but as they dry out, they form a hard shell and hence thought of as nuts. They form lather with water, primarily why they’re great alternatives to traditional detergents.
Why Use Soap Nuts?
Soap nuts happen to be great surfactants and can thus be used to do your laundry naturally and healthily. When in contact with water, they release soap-like suds, hence the name. Their anti-bacterial properties can disinfect the clothes, and they can also brighten the clothes without the use of synthetic bleaches. Apart from all its external uses, soap nut is also widely ingested to help curb the growth of tumour cells, help people quit tobacco, relieve from migraine attacks and hysteria.
Soap nuts can be used to prepare all-purpose cleaners for your home. They’re also reusable up to an extent. They also happen to be hypoallergenic (causing fewer allergies) and odourless, and do not cause any harm to any kind of fabric. Woollens, baby clothes and carpets can especially benefit from the cleaning action of soap nuts.
How Can One Use Soap Nuts for Laundry?
As previously discussed, the surfactant action of soap nuts makes them an excellent, all-natural laundry alternative. They are so mild that they can be used for your baby’s clothes and bedding as well. The best part about this is that you don’t need anything apart from soap nuts, so it is undoubtedly one of the easiest laundry DIY’s out there. Here’s how you do it:
1. Crack Open the Nuts
The nuts are soft enough to be broken by the hand. Press some four to six nuts to split them into two to four pieces. The idea is to increase the soaping action.
2. Put the Pieces in a Cloth Bag
Put all the pieces in any small fabric (preferably cotton muslin) bag. Any seller would usually give you such a bag.
Simply throw in the little pouch in your washing machine and run a full cycle. Let the clothes air-dry.
Soap nuts can be reused for laundry. Usually, one can use the same pouch for up to five washes. Nuts have to be replaced if they turn grey and mushy.
DIY Soap Nut Laundry Detergent Recipe
Soap nuts sure are easy to use, but as a liquid detergent, they can be even more portable and potent. Using very simple ingredients, you could make a much powerful laundry detergent that will last longer and save you many bucks.
- Approximately 340 g of soap nuts
- 1 litre of water (4 cups)
- 120 ml of vinegar (1/2 cup)
How to Prepare
- Mix the ingredients in a bowl and heat. Bring to a boil.
- On a medium flame, let it simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid on. Occasionally, stir and mash the nuts.
- After 30 minutes remove the lid and continue simmering on low heat for another 30 minutes. Keep stirring from time to time. This must be done to remove excess water.
- Remove the container from heat and strain out the contents into a clean glass bowl. Let cool.
- After it has cooled down, pour the liquid into a tight jar.
Read more about uses of vinegar in your house.
How to Store
A water-tight jar will do the trick. Don’t make too much, and if you do, get the liquid frozen to store. Using the recipe above, you’ll easily have enough detergent to do twenty loads or depending on your machine even up to forty. Alternatively, you could put the detergent into ice trays and pop one for each load.