Do you want to get away and avoid using detergents that contain chemicals? Imagine if there is a single product that would help you with all the cleaning in your house. What if this natural product is as effective as a normal detergent and would save you as much as 50% of the cost. This product is real and it’s more common than you think it is. It is called Soapnuts! It is a 100% renewable resource and the trees that bear its fruit cause no pollution.
Soapnuts is called Sohpaira in Khasi; Reetha, Aritha, Rishtak in Hindi; Pannankottai, Punalai, Punthi and Puvanti in Tamil; Kumbha beeja (round shaped seeds) and Phenila (frothy fruits) in Sanskrit.
Soapnuts, also called soap berries are not literally nuts but rather the shell of a fruit from the tree Sapindus, from the family Sapindacea. The trees need about 9 years to mature and then they drop their berries naturally for 90 years. The fruit is wildly harvested where the inner seed is removed, and the shell is dried in the sun without using any chemicals.
The shell contains a substance called saponin which works like a surfactant, basically a substance which grabs dirt from your clothes and stops it from going back into your clothes. The dirt will remain lifted and suspended in the water and when it is rinsed away into your grey-water system or the sewage system, it leaves no traces of chemical toxins in them.
Soapnuts are widely used as a cleaning agent because they are hypoallergenic, odourless, they leave no trace and do not cause any damage to fabrics. The sustainable nature and versatility of Soapnuts thus make them an important part of one’s home.
Uses of Soapnuts
Soapnut is a completely natural, sustainable alternative to the harmful products that we are using on a daily basis such as chemical based laundry detergents, household cleaners, soaps, and shampoos that contain carcinogens, neurotoxins and envirotoxins. Here are some ways soapnuts can be used:
1) A natural laundry detergent
- Washing delicate clothing: They are gentle in nature. Hence, they can be used for delicate clothing like silk, cashmere and wool. Its mildness keeps the colours bright.
- Durability of clothes: They also act as a fabric softener because of their mild nature, which helps maintain the fabric structure of clothing for longer periods.
- Washing cloth diapers and napkins: Soapnuts are chemical-free so they can be used directly to wash cloth diapers and napkins. They are great for washing cloth diapers because unlike chemical detergents, they do not clog the fabric causing the diaper to loose its absorbency. In addition, soapnuts clean and remove detergent residue from diapers and do not cause diaper rash.
- Water and energy saving: Less water is required because they rinse easier, thus saving water. While using the washing machine, one can use a shorter rinse cycle, thus saving energy. They have low foam which is perfect for high efficiency machines.
2) Dish washing
The Soapnut liquid can be used for washing dishes, glasses, cutlery and pans.
3) Cleaning and detoxifying food
Fruits and vegetables can be soaked for 10-15 minutes in the soapnut liquid and then rinsed. This removes harmful chemicals and residue.
4) Skin cleanser
Soapnuts is a natural product which does not have any toxins and is gentle on the skin. Hence it is particularly an ideal choice to use for bathing, for people who have very sensitive skin. Since it is odourless, it is a great choice for people who prefer odourless cleansers. In Ayurvedic medicines, Soapnuts are used to cleanse the skin, remove tan, and treat eczema and psoriasis.
The Soapnut liquid can be used in place of any regular shampoo. Some of the benefits are:
- Makes hair strong, healthy, soft and lustrous: Soapnuts contain good amount of nutrients such as Vitamin A, D, E and K, which keeps the hair healthy and gives shine and lustre.
- A natural conditioner: Soapnuts provide moisturisation and natural conditioning to the hair.
- Prevents dandruff: Applying powdered Soapnuts on the scalp is useful in fighting off various scalp problems such as dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. This treatment is used in Ayurveda.
- Eliminates head lice: Soapnuts have insecticidal properties and are effective in getting rid of lice from scalp. They have been used traditionally for this purpose.
- Prevents hair fall: In Ayurveda, Soapnuts are used to prevent hair loss.
6) Shaving cream
For preparing shaving cream from Soapnuts, we remove the shells of a few Soapnuts and grind the flesh in a mixer. After making a paste of the flesh, we add 1 table spoon of olive oil and 3 tea spoons of the Soapnut liquid. The mixed paste is then used as a shaving cream immediately after preparing it.
7) Insect and pest repellant
Soapnuts have insect repellent properties. The crushed shells can be used around the garden to repel insects and pests. The Soapnut liquid is also an effective and natural alternative. It can be sprayed on the plants around the inflicted areas to get rid of the annoying pests.
8) Pet shampoo
The Soapnut liquid can be used to wash your pets and spraying their coat can repel pests, flies, ticks and other insects.
9) All-purpose cleaner
The Soapnut liquid can be used as a floor cleaner, which makes the house clean and free of pathogenic bacteria. The liquid can be used to clean the bathroom and window panes of a house and also for cleaning sinks, toilets, bathtubs, porcelain and tiles.
10) Car wash
The Soapnut liquid in huge amount can be used to wash the car, wheels and even the dashboard, steering wheel and windows. The wash water can then be reused for irrigating plants and trees.
11) Cleaning jewellery
In Indian households, Soapnuts are commonly used for cleaning jewellery. The jewellery is soaked in the Soapnut liquid and then rubbed with a cloth to give it a shine.
For hundreds of years, people in India have been doing their laundry and cleaning with Soapnuts. They are both ecological and economical when compared to other forms of detergents. You can always make a conscious strong alternative to harsh synthetic chemicals. With all of these options available, why not give soap nuts a try at your house?