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Soap berries: A natural alternative to harsh laundry detergents and cleaners

Updated on January 7, 2016
Ripe soap berries on a tree in India
Ripe soap berries on a tree in India

Are you looking for a natural clothes detergent? Then soap berries might be for you.

Soap berries are the berry-like fruit that grows on the Sapindus Mukorrosi tree in India.

The berries are perfect for washing laundry, doing dishes and can even act as a natural soap and shampoo for people with sensitive skin and babies.

How to use soap berries as a laundry detergent

Soap berries can be purchased at many online retailers such as Amazon. Just run a search for soap berries or soap nuts. Important: They should always be purchased by weight rather than by number of loads.

To use soap berries, you simply tie them up in a cloth bag and add them to the washer.

Hint: Soap berries release their natural soap, called saponin, more effectively at higher temperatures. If you do your laundry with cold water, you can simply add the berries to a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes. Don't forget to add the "saponin filled" water to your washer afterwards.

How often can you use soap berries?

The berries can be used for multiple loads of laundry. Quick test: Squeeze the berries while they are still wet to see if they release a soapy, sometimes honey-like liquid. If so, you can add them to the next wash. Generally, soap berries can be used for 4-7 loads of laundry.

You might want to use fresh berries for super dirty laundry loads.

Washing whites

When washing white clothes you should also add a quarter cup of vinegar or baking soda to the wash.

No need for fabric softener, as the saponin in the berries acts as a natural fabric softener. The berries give off a pineapple similar scent but you can't smell it on the laundry which is why you might want to add your own scent. Simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the cloth bag before washing.

How to use soap berries for washing dishes, cleaning, etc.

Add about 12 berries to a pot with 16 ounces of boiling water. Let them boil for about 10 minutes before carefully removing the berries and allowing the liquid to cool down. Next, add a couple of drops of lemon essential oil for a nice smell.

Store your natural dish detergent in an old detergent or shampoo bottle and use it for doing dishes, cleaning counter tops or even washing your hair.

Don't worry if you're not seeing any suds when using soap berries. Those suds are usually a by-product of all the chemicals in everyday cleaning products and are not a good indicator of how well a product cleans.

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