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This month I had the opportunity to try soapnuts — ever heard of them?  Soapnuts are the dried shells of the fruit of the Himalayan soapberry tree.  Toss them in the washing machine and they release saponin, a natural cleaning agent to clean your clothes.  One bag will last you aeons, making it fabulously cost-effective.

soapnutsIt sounded too good to be true, but after hearing rave reviews from two friends of mine who swear by them, I decided to try them myself to see if they lived up to the hype.  I was skeptical: It’s all fine and well if they are green and inexpensive but unless they do as good as job as my Seventh Generation laundry detergent, I don’t see the point in switching.  I’ve got messy kids, so I need laundry detergent that performs well.

The first load I did I washed a white sweater with an orange tumeric stain.  If you use tumeric, you know how badly it stains.  The stain came right out in the wash, not a trace left!  I’ve done more than a dozen loads with the soapnuts and while not getting out every stain, I would say it’s just as good in the stain-fighting department as any other detergent I’ve tried.  My friends who use them toss their babies’ cloth diapers and say that even they come clean!

Another concern I had was that the soapnuts have a bit of an odor, kind of like vinegar, but thankfully the smell does not transfer to the clothes.  The clothes come out clean and smelling of nothing but perfectly clean clothes!

I am completely impressed with soapnuts and urge you to give them a try!

Why I love soapnuts:

–100% natural product.
Environmentally-friendly production: collecting the soapnuts doesn’t harm the tree
–Inexpensive: I bought a 1 kg bag for $40 that should do 400 loads.  10 cents a load!
Saves time: Buy one bag, it lasts dozens and dozens of loads; no lugging heavy bottles or boxes home from the grocery store.
–no-waste packaging, nothing to throw away or recycle, they come in a reusable fabric bag.
–Indefinite shelf life
cruelty-free and vegan (most commercial detergents are tested on animals)
–free of synthetic chemicals and toxins that go from the clothes into our bloodstreams, not to mention the toxins from commercial detergents that go down the drain
–clothes come out soft, no residue
–clothes come out smelling clean, no lingering smell and no artificial perfumes
hypo-allergenic: gentle on sensitive skins; perfect for children
effective stain remover
–compost them and they make great fertilizer
–they are reportedly all-purpose cleaners: house cleaner, shampoo and body wash, though I haven’t tried them for other cleaning purposes yet
–use them in hot or cold water, though they will last half as long in hot water
–great gift for new parents!

Instructions: toss about four half nuts into the little cloth bag provided and toss the washing machine.  You can use hot or cold water in the wash.  After 5-7 loads, or when you notice the nuts getting mushy, compost them.

Learn more: http://www.soapnuts.webs.com/

If you live in Waterloo Region, you can buy them via this link here.

Have you tried soapnuts yet?

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