Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eco Stuff

A couple of months ago, as part of my continuing bid to be more eco friendly, I purchased a bag of soap nuts.  Soapnuts grow wild in temperate to tropical climates on sapindus trees.  I learned that because they produce a natural "soap," these nuts could be used in place of laundry detergent.  Great, I thought, no more plastic laundry detergent bottles!  Plus the soapnuts can be composted after use.  Even though I've purchased eco friendly laundry detergent for years, I still had to contend with the plastic bottles - and I worried about all the energy that goes into the manufacturing and shipping of the product.  So the idea of soapnuts was very appealing to me.

The problem was, I was a bit nervous about using them, so they sat in my laundry room until this past weekend.  I knew that the nuts could be placed in a muslin drawstring bag and tossed in with the laundry, but I also learned that the nuts could be boiled into a liquid that could be used just like regular detergent and I liked that idea better.  

After doing a search on the internet, I not only found the formula for making and using the soapnuts liquid, I found a wealth of information on other ways to make it and to use it.  According to this website, soapnuts liquid can be used as a mosquito repellent, a liquid hand soap, a shampoo, and a general household cleaner.  Now I'm thinking I can eliminate a wide variety of products in my house and get greener with every step.  

Yesterday I did my first load of laundry with the soapnuts liquid.  I washed my bath towels and they seemed to come out just as clean as with my regular laundry detergent.  The real test, however, will be my husband's work clothes.  I'm optimistic as this discovery can lead to a lot of good changes around my house.


Adrienne said...

I have never heard of soapnuts. I'll have to try them in my wash...and I am always looking for an alternative to liquid hand soap. I have glass bottle that I refill with large jugs of soap I buy at the supermarket, but I would like to not buy those plastic jugs.

Did you buy yours at a health food store or online?

wanda barrett said...

I've been using soap nuts for about three months now and I really like them. Of course I don't have farm laundry but they have worked on all of our clothes and dog beds so far. I also like the way the clothes feel and the smell is just, well, it smells like clean laundry.

I don't love the draw string bag - I find it very hard to pull the knot apart when it's time to change out the nuts. But, I had a fine mesh bag from a package of garlic and it seems to work better for me. I just tie it at both ends.

Even though the nuts work fine in the laundry as is, one of these days I'd like to try making the soap to use for other cleaning too.

Mostly I use Shaklee's Basic H, baking soda, and vinegar for household cleaning. I don't know how 'green' Basic H is really, but at least it's a concentrate so there are fewer plastic bottles.

Cherie said...

Adrienne, I bought the soapnuts online at Amazon, just because I had a gift certificate. There are a number of other sites where you can buy them.

Cherie said...

Wanda, I was afraid of using the draw string bag because of that problem. Either I'd tie the knot too tight or the soapnuts would end up in my laundry. The liquid was pretty easy to make, although it needs to be refrigerated to prevent spoilage. I read you can also grind the nuts and use like powdered detergent.

My mom used Shaklee when I was growing up because it was advertised as biodegradable. We camped a lot and didn't want to pollute in the state and national parks. I think if it was being touted as biodegradable way back then, then it must really be.

Deanna said...

I make the soap nut liquid most of the time and it seems to work just fine. I had used Amway detergent for over 30 years and still have quite a bit so sometimes I still use it. But when it's gone I don't plan to buy anymore. As for other uses, I must admit I don't really care for the smell to use it as hand soap. Perhaps if you add some essential oils, though.

Cherie said...

Deanna, I'm going to experiment with essential oils. I think it will be fun to have different scents.