As ever, I am always looking out for more eco-friendly options in my daily life. This week my already eco-conscious choice of clothes detergent ran out. I have been using Ecover non-bio laundry liquid and fabric conditioner since I started my eco-friendly lifestyle about a year ago. And, to be honest, I’ve been very pleased with it and there really was no desire to change away from it. It smells divine and, more importantly, their ethical practice is sound- they use plant-based and mineral ingredients, are cruelty-free and maintain a sustainable attitude in their factory right down to the recycled plastic in their bottles. Read about it here (it’s really interesting what they’ve done!).
Anyway, my Ecover laundry liquid and conditioner ran out so, intrigued about the good things I’ve heard, I bought a bag of soapnuts. Made by another big-name eco-brand, Ecozone. Again, Ecozone promote ethical and sustainable practices: they do not test on animals, use vegan ingredients and use non-toxic chemicals in their products. You can get soapnuts fairly easily in the UK. I was originally looking at www.soapnuts.co.uk but went for www.ethicalsuperstore.com in the end because I already have an account with them and I like their ethos.
So I am now the proud owner of 1kg of Soapnuts with basically no idea of how they work. I am ever the sceptic so when I saw that they are literally just a bag of nut shells I was unconvinced. The first thing I see when I bought them is that 1 bag is supposed to last 340 washes! You just use between 4 – 7 nuts in the little mesh bag provided and pop it into the drum. and each bag full can last for several washes (I forget where I read how many, sorry) and when they’re done you can pop the used soapnuts into the compost bin.
If soapnuts were a food they would be a superfood. Seriously, they’re incredible. They are vegan, organic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, phosphate-free, cruelty-free, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, compostable and 100% natural. They are actually a fruit which contains saponin. This is a natural soap which, when in contact with water, is released and washes away dirt and grime.
I put my first load on, including the obligatory scoop of bicarbonate of soda. According to Bicarbonate of Soda: The Complete Practical Handbook by Diane Sutherland, Jon Sutherland, Liz Keevill and Kevin Eyres “its mildly alkaline formation means it dissolves dirt and grease, leaving laundry soft and clean.” And it worked perfectly well! My washing came out smelling fresh and clean. I have to say it does leave a bit of a weird, slightly organic, smell on the clothes but altogether clean and dirt-free. I’ve read that with the inclusion of white vinegar in your laundry it will soften your clothes too. What’s more is that soapnuts are not just for your laundry. There’s so many uses for them. I have also attempted to make an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal cleaning spray by boiling a handful of nuts for 20ish minutes, cooling, draining and adding to a spray bottle with a few drops of tea tree oil (found on www.bleschu.dk). I’m always on the look out for more options and ideas and will keep you updated on new cleaning and household ideas in the future. Let me know your ideas too.