I first read about soapnuts on a blog I visit occasionally, No Impact Man. This is a blog that a friend introduced me to – a guy living in NYC who decided to try to live with no environmental impact for a full year. He had to take a lot of pretty drastic steps in that year – but it resulted in some really interesting ideas and discussion. While his year of living impact-free is over, he still updates pretty regularly.

While we’re far from impact-free, I like to think that Adam and I try to live a fairly environmentally friendly lifestyle, though there’s certainly still a lot of room for improvement. 

So, soapnuts. Someone commented about using soapnuts as a way to use an environmentally friendly laundry alternative. I was intrigued. I read up: what the heck are soapnuts?  Apparently they are actual nuts that grow on trees in India… and they release soap! Soapnuts!

I learned you could use it for washing clothing by simply putting a few nuts into a small bag and throwing it in with laundry… and apparently it would not only get the clothes clean, but you’d not need fabric softener, and it’s gentler on the clothes so they’ll actually last longer. Oh, and while you use 4 or 5 half shells in a load, you can re-use them for 4 or 5 loads! Ok, I’ve gotta try these magical nuts out.

I got a small bag at Grassroots in Toronto – 250g for $10. A pretty little bag.. but I have a feeling it’s going to last me months. I wasn’t so sure it would work, so I tried it first with rags… and I was impressed. They came out quite clean and soft.

Sure enough, I re-used the same 5 half shells in four loads before they started to break down, and each load came out clean and soft. The softness is actually what impressed me the most. I’m a liquid fabric softener junky. I’ve not used dryer sheets in years – never thought they got my clothing soft enough. 

So yay! Soapnuts! I highly recommend others check them out.


6 Responses to “Soapnuts!”

  1. Amber Says:

    Unfortunate environmental impact: carbon emissions getting them here from India.

  2. Cari Miller Says:

    Agreed – but if such a small bag lasts me as long as I think it will, I still think it’s better than the never ending plastic bottles we were going through of our old detergent… a lesser of two evils perhaps.

  3. Cari Miller Says:

    Quick update – It’s now five months later, and we’re just now down to the last of our first 250g bag. I just went and bought a 1 kilogram bag for $25, which if the last 5 months were a good indication, should last us well over a year and a half. Wow!

  4. baby maven Says:

    how nifty! do you know if it works on front load w/d too?

    • Cari Miller Says:

      I don’t have a front loading washer, so I can’t say from personal experience. That said – I don’t really see why they *wouldn’t* work. If I recall correctly from my mom’s front loader, the main issue is that you can’t have something that suds too much, right? If so, these should work no problem.

  5. Life at No.71: A Year In Review « Life at No. 71 Says:

    […] 10th, 2009: Soapnuts People may give us weird looks when we tell them we wash our clothes with something that resembles […]

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