Can Soap Berries Actually Clean Your Clothes?

Have you ever heard of soap berries or soap nuts?  They are little dried berries with high levels of saponins (or soap) in them.  Who knew plants made soap?! And, you can use these berries to clean your clothes!

So here is what I discovered after reading about saponins.  Plants produce saponins to repel pests.  Until now I was only familiar with the Yucca plants which creates high level of saponins in their roots and leaves, but you have to dig up the roots to get to the soap. 

But now there are soap berries. A type of berry that grows on a tree which means you don’t have to kill the tree to get the soap. 

Disclosure: The following review is based solely on my experience with these berries and is not affiliated with any company or organization.  I may earn commission on the purchases made by clicking on the links in this post.

Where do you find these soap berries?  

I found a box EcoNuts at Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBB), I couldn’t wait to try them!
The box says it can do 100 loads of laundry; equivalent to a bottle of laundry detergent.  The cost with my 20% off coupon at BBB got me out the door with a box of soap berries for about the same price as traditional detergent. WIN!  Or online of course.  Amazon sells them here.

What’s In the Box?

It’s just a box full of, what looks like, dried berry shells.  See.

dried soap berries in teal plate

First things, first, there is absolutely NO PLASTIC to seal the berries or the box. Yeah!

With the product I purchased, you’ll also get 2 small canvas cinch bags, just big enough for about 6 soap berries (the maximum number of berries you’ll need per wash, per instructions).  Along with the instruction manual to help get you started.

Note: If you buy only soap berries, you’ll need a type of bag to keep them together during the wash.

At this point I am super excited.  Something that is better for the environment and, packaged with absolutely no plastic and all you do is toss it into the wash and press start? Sounds great!

Let’s Try It Out!

First thing I washed were kitchen towels. 

I know, I know. It’s not that exciting, but I wanted to see how the soap berries performed before washing a whole load of clothes.

How well does soap berries clean?

Conclusions after the first washing: It’s not as easy as I first hoped.  

But…

I live in a place that has hard water.  After searching the company’s website I read that hard water can prevent the soap berries and even regular laundry soap from working properly. 

To remedy the situation they suggested I use hot water instead of cold, use a water softener and make a liquid form of laundry detergent using soap berries.

I don’t have water softener but I can use hot water and  make my own liquid soap berry laundry detergent to save from purchasing tons of plastic.

How to Make and Use Liquid Soap Nut Laundry Detergent

To make my own liquid laundry detergent out of soap berries I used ½ cup of soap berries to 1 cup of water. Put it in a sauce pan and let it simmer for an 15-20 minutes until the soap berries are soft.  I poured the water with soap berries into a blender and pulse blended until it was foaming.  (It’s going to foam A LOT!)

Then I let it sit for about 30 minutes and most of the foam turned back into liquid.  Then used a strainer to remove the large bits of soap berries. (I tried reusing these blended berries to make more detergent but based on the color of the first batch I don’t think the second batch would have worked as well)

I used a quarter of a cup of the liquid soap berry detergent solution per wash. (You may be able to use less.  I used this much to compensate for the hard water at my house) 

soap berries in saucepan for 15 minutesAfter pulsing blend simmered soap berries there is foam in the blender

after complete blending of the soap berries and set up with cup and strainer to remove large bits of soap berries.

I tried it again and IT WORKS!

There is no artificial ‘clean’ scent so when I pulled out the dish towels they just smelled like fabric. 

Yea!!! 

I store the soap nut liquid laundry detergent in the refrigerator (as recommended by the company) because it’s an organic substance and will grow things eventually.

One more thing to note is that the smell of the used soap nuts after washing was…different.  It’s not bad, but the smell is not what I would associate with traditional ‘soap’. It’s more of a fruity smell.  However, the smell doesn’t seem to transfer to the clothes.

Now we know it washes clothes, but can it get out stains?

One Step Further – Stain Remover?

I decided to intentionally stain one of our dish towels with coffee, grass and mustard -all common stains in our household. 

Here is the before picture.

                              Coffee                    Grass                  Mustard

After washing with unaltered soap berries in hot water

After washing with homemade liquid soap berry detergent

wash cloth with 3 stains. coffee, grass and mustard after washing with liquid soap berry detergent

After washing with traditional liquid detergent

Here are the things to know about my ‘experiment’ and it’s not perfect.

  1. all the stains were all made at the same time 
  2. I did not remake the stains after each washing
  3. Washing started with a water rinse, then unaltered soap berries, liquid soap nut detergent and finally I used traditional detergent
  4. For the liquid detergent steps, I soaked the stains in either the liquid soap berry detergent or liquid laundry detergent before washing with the respective detergents.

For me, the soap berries definitely removed some of the stain but neither traditional detergent nor liquid soap nut detergent removes the mustard stain completely. 

EcoNuts homemade liquid detergent works great even in hard water!  It even works well to get out light stains!

I was happy to find something that is eco-friendly and works!  I can now use laundry soap without purchasing a plastic bottle. WooHOO!

 

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