Ritha, Aritha Or Soap Nuts - The 100% Natural Detergent And Cleaner - Its Benefits And Uses And Many Health Benefits

Ritha, Aritha Or Soap Nuts

Latin name : Several species of the Genus Sapindus, like S. mucorossi, S. emarginatus, S.laurifolius etc.

Indian names : Reetha, ritha, aritha, etc

Common names : Soap nuts, Indian soapberry, laundry tree, washing nuts, washing berry, etc

The Genus Sapindus belongs to the lychee family; Sapindaceae. The trees in the genus Sapindus are small and 5 to 10 species of this genus provide the soap nuts or ritha that are the fruits of these trees. These trees grow in warm, temperate to tropical parts of the world. The Sapindus trees are native to India and Nepal.

S. mucorossi, S.laurifolius, S.emarginatus, S.trifoliatus, are grown in India while S.mucorossi is grown in China.

Among the other species are S.delavayi, S.marginatus, S.saponaria, S.ohauensis and S.rarak which also provide soap nuts and are grown in different parts of the world.

The soap nuts contain saponins which are natural surfactants and approximately 15% of the soapnut pulp contains these saponins.

Soap Nuts In A Bag

soap nuts
soap nuts | Source

Soap Nuts or Laundry Tree & Soap nuts

Click thumbnail to view full-size
soap nut saplingsimmature soapberries or soap nuts soapberries or soapnuts maturingalmost mature soap nutsmature soap nuts in Hawaii, Sapindaceae saponaria Indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiʻi Island only) Oʻahu (Cultivated)soapy solution made from the soap nuts pulp after soaking them in water for sometime. black seeds in the soap nuts. Each nut contains one seed.
Source
soap nut saplings
soap nut saplings | Source
immature soapberries or soap nuts
immature soapberries or soap nuts | Source
 soapberries or soapnuts maturing
soapberries or soapnuts maturing | Source
almost mature soap nuts
almost mature soap nuts | Source
mature soap nuts in Hawaii, Sapindaceae saponaria Indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiʻi Island only) Oʻahu (Cultivated)
mature soap nuts in Hawaii, Sapindaceae saponaria Indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiʻi Island only) Oʻahu (Cultivated) | Source
soapy solution made from the soap nuts pulp after soaking them in water for sometime.
soapy solution made from the soap nuts pulp after soaking them in water for sometime. | Source
black seeds in the soap nuts. Each nut contains one seed.
black seeds in the soap nuts. Each nut contains one seed. | Source

About Soap Nuts or Ritha And The Soap Nut Tree - Some Uses And As Medicine

The soap nut tree grows to about 20 meters tall. It has a straight trunk with a smooth bark. The tree lives for about 70 years and during this period keeps growing.

Soap nuts are 100% natural, environmental friendly and biodegradable. They contain saponins that are natural surfactants that remove dirt, preserve the color and quality of the fabric and leave the clothes soft.

Soap nuts can effectively replace your normally used detergents used for washing clothes. They are extremely gentle because they are chemical free and this is a boon for those with sensitive skin.

Traditionally these soap nuts - the pulp of the fruit and not the seeds - have been used since centuries by the native people of Asia to wash clothes as well as hair. Soap nuts are also used in cosmetics and detergents, and in various other products.

The most surprising part of soap nuts is their use in traditional folk medicine as a remedy to treat a variety of health conditions, though these have not been confirmed by research studies.

However, soap nuts have many properties that offer health benefits and there have been numerous studies done to confirm these properties. Some of these you can read in the references at the end of the article.

In the Ayurvedic system of medicine also, soapnuts are being used in Ayurvedic hair shampoos, cleansers and also in medicines for treating certain skin conditions.

In Unani and Tibetan medicine also ritha or soap nuts have been used in medicine.

The leaves of the Sapindus tree acts as food for the larvae of some species of moths and butterflies.

Extracts of the seed have been used to stop the growth and spread of the Aedes aegypt mosquito, which spreads viral diseases. The extract interferes with the enzyme activity of the larvae.


How To Make Soap Nut Juice

  • Add 50 grams of crushed soap nuts minus its seeds to 1 liter of water.
  • Keep to boil and once it starts to boil lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  • On simmering, the saponins will leach into the water. Cool the solution, strain and fill it into an empty bottle.
  • You can simmer for a longer time to make the solution more concentrated.
  • Add essential oil of your choice to this solution if you desire a particular fragrance.
  • The strained out soap nuts can be used to make a liquid hand wash by adding a little water to the soap nuts and blending it in a blender.

How To Use Soap Nuts For Different Purposes

Soap nuts can be put to various uses some of which are explained below.

  • As a laundry detergent

To wash clothes put 5-6 soap nuts in a muslin bag and drop it in the washer of the machine. The clothes will be cleaned naturally and smell fresh. If fragrance is needed add a few drops of your choice of essential oil in the washer.

  • As A Shampoo

Crush about 5 to 6 soap nuts (remove the seeds before crushing). Put in a pan and add about 3 cups of water.
Keep to boil and once it comes to a boil let the contents simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into an empty shampoo bottle. Discard the soap nuts.
Use little as it does not form much foam and this may lead you to think you haven't added enough.If the hair after washing feels stiffer than normal use less of it next time. Soap nuts' shampoo leaves the hair soft and clean.

You can also use a little soap nut powder on the body instead of soap and have a bath. It will cleanse the skin as well but take care to use just a little.

  • To Control Pests

Add 1 teaspoon of soap nut powder or reetha powder to a bowl of water mix well and soak the vegetables and fruits in this. The insecticide and chemical sprays will be cleaned away. Be sure to rinse and wash the foods well with fresh water.

  • As An All Purpose Cleaner

Ritha or soap nuts can be used to clean almost anything. Mix a little soap nut powder in water and use this solution to clean windows, glass, carpets, pets etc.

  • Soap nuts are the main ingredients in soaps and shampoos for washing skin.
  • Precious metals like gold and silver can be brightened by using soapnuts.
  • Soap nuts can be used for making soap nut juice. This juice can be used to do laundry @ 3 tablespoons per wash load, wash utensils and crockery in the dishwasher @ the same concentration as in laundry, sweep floors, bathrooms, wash hair, clean windows @ 2 tablespoons of soap nut juice and 3 tablespoons of vinegar.

Some Benefits Of Soap Nuts

  • Good for the environment. They are totally biodegradable.
  • Safe for those suffering from sensitive skin or those with skin allergies or conditions like psoriasis, eczema etc as they are non irritating.
  • Safe for the washing machine be it front loading or top loading. Though not much suds are generated by the use of soap nuts the clothes will be washed clean.
  • Safe for all types of clothes even delicate fabrics like those with embroidery etc.
  • Safe for the septic system and they also have antimicrobial properties.
  • They are good as eco friendly gifts.


Health Benefits Of Soap Nuts Or Ritha

  1. Ritha or soap nuts have anti inflammatory, anti microbial, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antipruritic, anti hyperlipidemic, emetic, and CNS depressive activity.
  2. Soap nuts have anti inflammatory properties. They can be used on inflamed joints externally to reduce inflammation.
  3. Ritha acts as a purgative to reduce both body heat and accumulated mucus.
  4. In morphine poisoning, ritha powder is given to induce vomiting.
    Dose : For inducing vomiting it is 3-6 grams of the fruit pulp powder, as purgative, it is 4-8 grams of the powder and for other medicinal use it is 1-2 grams of the powder.
  5. The soap nut tree has inhibitory activity against a number of pathogens like, E.coli, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, Streptococcus, Bacillus species.
    A study was done to assess the antibacterial effects of the leaf extract on these bacteria as compared to Penicillin and Streptomycin.
  6. Active ingredients in the leaves include the phytochemicals, sugar, tannins, flavonoids, saponin, terpenoids, cardiac glycoside etc.
  7. The fruit extract lowers both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  8. Ritha leaf extracts show lower blood sugar due to its anti diabetic activity.
  9. The antioxidant activity can be used to manufacture anticancer & anti aging products for use on the skin.
  10. Soap nut extracts have hepatoprotective and anti epileptic activity and is an anti hysteric.
  11. Because of its spermicidal activity a herbal contraceptive has been made from it. Concentrations almost 10 times lower than above have been shown to inhibit trichomoniasis in women, a sexually transmitted disease.


Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Do Soap Nuts Work?

Using and Foaming Your Soapnuts

Soap Nuts Harvesting Process

A Natural Way to Wash - How to Use Soapnuts

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

More by this Author


Comments 33 comments

wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

How interesting. This is new to me and it sounds fantastic. Nature is wonderful to provide such a beautiful, useful tree. Always learning here.


collegedad profile image

collegedad 3 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

We were just talking about soap nuts the other day. Interesting hub!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Wonderful eco-conscious hub! I had heard of these before briefly but knew little about them. Thank you for the research and helpful information and suggestions.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Rajan, when I read your title, I wondered if I would read about detergent or food. Nuts? Smile, please. Anyway, I knew that I would learn something healthy, and I did as always. Thanks for the information. Voted Up!


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I have never heard of soap nuts! It is really interesting that they can be used as all-natural laundry detergent, shampoo, and as an all-purpose cleaner. I enjoyed learning about this.

Thank you for sharing this useful article with us.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Rajan, you continue to amaze me with these finds. I have never heard of soap nuts? You sure do have some amazing plants and trees in your part of the world. This was really interesting. Thanks for the education. Voted up, shared, etc....


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

This has got to be THE most helpful hub of all! First, I never heard of soap nuts but an alternative to commercial detergent...fantastic! I have a feeling I won't be the only one purchasing some soap nut products. And a natural shampoo....I can't wait to try. This my friend is not only helpful but can be so beneficial.

Do the trees grow anywhere besides Asia?

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

wnd-nature never ceases to amaze me. Thanks for taking out time to read and comment.

@college dad-thanks.

@FlourishAnyway-glad to know this hub has provided you with more info. Thanks.

@MsDora-I agree the title is a tad different but I wanted it that way since this tree is different. Thanks.

@Kathryn-yes and very successfully at that. Thanks.

@Bill-Thanks for your comments and this is an exceptional tree. I appreciate your votes and sharing.

@Mary-Thanks for all the comments, votes and sharing.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hi Rajan! I never heard of Soap Nuts before, until yesterday. Mary615 also published a hub on Soap Nuts...what are the chances! :)


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 3 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

I used this nuts once when I was in a village for a wedding. When I asked for shampoo, an elderly lady handled me crushed nuts in half mug of water. And I should say that it worked better than any shampoo I used so far. Good Hub!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Very interesting I have never heard of them. Wish we had some trees here. Voted up and shared. I was going to share this hub but I can't find your share.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Fascinating information on such a useful, natural source. Very interesting tree. I would like to grow one or two of these trees. The soap nuts look like tiny cabbages or Brussel sprouts. Thanks for posting this valuable hub.


agapsikap profile image

agapsikap 3 years ago from Philippines

Am not aware of this nuts. And you gave me idea of looking where to find those nuts here in the Philippines. If they have it in China, then maybe we have something alike. It is very interesting to find out. This is really useful and informative. Awesome. Voted up and sharing!


vertualit profile image

vertualit 3 years ago from Bangladesh

This is one of your best article. Very informative and Useful. Voted up. Thanks for sharing..


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Brilliantly put together and so well researched on this unique tree an d the benefits sound so helpful.


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Fantastic article (and videos, though I didn't watch them all) about a topic I've never heard anything about before ( some of my Indian friends are in trouble LOL). I live in Minnesota (10, occasionally 20 and 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheight in winter, 80s and often a hot spell or two of 90-100 degrees F in the summer. Would a soap nuts tree grow here, do you think? Will they grow indoors? This might just solve my friend's elusive allergy problems! Thanks for writing this helpful article and I look forward to trying this myself!


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Hi, Rajan!

This was very interesting. In Hawai'i, one of the ginger plants had this soapy substance that the women used to shampoo their hair. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. Natural is way better than synthetic!

Aloha!

Joe


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

Well, Rajan.....between you and me we are doing our part to introduce Soap Nuts to those people who are not familiar with them. You and both published articles about them within days of each other.

You did a lot of research (as you always do) to write this Hub. I am happy I discovered Soap Nuts. I'm doing my laundry with them, and I've learned to made liquid from them for cleaning purposes. I also make foam to use for shampoo for me and my dog.

May I link this Hub into mine that I wrote about Soap Nuts? The Hubs would certainly compliment each other, I think.

Great Hub. Voted UP and will share and also Pin.


pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

Hi rajan! You have quite wonderfully described this herb Ritha, which we are using in the Indian subcontinent from ages.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Interesting, seems like I need to try washing my clothes with soap nuts. I have very sensitive skin and use the free and clean stuff which still makes me itch.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Amazing! I am going to have to try these soap nuts. Many up votes and will pin and tweet.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Rajan,

Wow, what an incredibly useful nut you have in India! So many wonderful ingredients stem from India and this is another I have not heard of. I was very interested to read it has benefits in Epilepsy as I have this condition and went to read your resource but it was not linked, do you have a link you recommend for it? Thanks so much you are a mind of information and this is such an interesting hub in your wonderful collection! Voted up, Useful, Awesome, Interesting, Shared (yeh, the button is back!)


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

What an interesting hub. I'm interested in the anti-inflammatory properties of soap nuts, since I have arthritis. Voted up, useful and interesting - and sharing.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

Wonderful! How much more organic can you get. I make homemade soap and love the idea of homemade purity. But when you get your soap right from the tree - not only pure but simple! (Tweeted and shared)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@Linda-I've read the hub by Mary while I was in the process of writing this one. These nuts have been used since ages here.

@Anamika-you are right. They leave the hair squeaky clean.

@moonlake-these trees grow in hot climates. The share button is back today.

@PegCole-Yes they do look a lot like brussels sprouts but are not eaten like a vegetable. Thanks.

@agapsikap-thanks for reading and sharing. I think you should be able to locate them in the philippines.

@Abdus-thank you.

@Devika- thanks.

@Laura-thanks for the read and interest. It is just too cold for the plants to survive there.

@Joe-now that info about one of the ginger plants is interesting too. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Aloha!

@Mary-I think I did comment when I read your hub on soap nuts that mine was in the pipeline. I'm glad you've found many uses for this natural cleaner.

I'll be honored to have this hub linked to yours and I'll be linking yours to mine. Thanks for all the votes and sharing.

@pinto-you are right. Thanks.

@truthfornow-it would certainly benefit your skin to use these nuts for washing clothes.

@Peggy-thank you for the read and sharing.

@Suzie-this is one research article that says that of the many uses, epilepsy is one that is treated by this plant. You can see it mentioned in the introduction immediately following the abstract. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/chem/2013/613190/

Thanks for reading and sharing of this hub.

@Margaret- thanks for giving this a read and for sharing it too.

@Dolores-nature is amazing isn't it! appreciate the read and sharing.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I use a soap nut shampoo. It's a commercial brand but has no artificial or chemical ingredients. I don't like that it doesn't foam, but when I went to the hairdresser to get my roots touched up, she commented that my hair condition had improved incredibly and didn't look like chemically treated hair anymore. She wanted to know what condition I was using. Well, the only thing I had changed was the shampoo so the soap nut must really pamper my hair.

I have to wash 3 times/week instead of twice a week, but now I think it's worth it. Peruvian women in the mountains use a leaf that foams in water as a natural substitute for shampoo. I'm going to see if I can get a supply of them as I'm sold on natural shampoos! Thanks for this informative and interesting Hub. Voted up, up, up!


hempsuperfood profile image

hempsuperfood 3 years ago from Colorado

Great read, thanks....never even heard of these!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@vespawoolf-that's so good to hear. I wonder what the name of the plant whose leaf foams in water, is? Of course, soapnut as usual is a wonderful cleansing agent.

@hempsuperfood-thanks for reading and commenting.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Hi rajan jolly

I have only read one other article about soap nuts and it was not quite this detailed.

It is very interesting to know that they have such a wide array of properties which make them a versatile substance to use.

I must find out more and give them a try.

thanks for sharing and I hope all is good with you.

Angels are on the way ps


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Patricia,

Soap nuts are certainly very versatile fruits. I'm glad you like the info. Thanks for stopping by.


jennifer west profile image

jennifer west 3 years ago

I discovered soap nuts about 6 months ago and find that the basic liquid recipe works very well for cleaning all sorts of surfaces, especially removing dried food from the stove. I don't care for the smell on its own so I will put lavender and chamomile herb in with the nuts the last 10 minutes or so of boiling. Smell wonderful and it a very effective natural cleanser. Very nice article.


DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

very interesting and informative, thank you. I must see if I can buy soapnuts here.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks DreamerMeg.

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