DIY Natural cleaners series – Soapnut
I am starting this DIY natural cleaners series because I love using them and would want you to try it too. It’s been years since we bought any store bought toxic chemical cleaner.
I thought of sharing our experiences and learning in a series of posts as it is URGENT that we stop polluting what is left of our water sources. Fire and foaming in belandur lake in Bangalore is a wake up call for us to open our eyes and realize that even house hold cleaners pollute water not only Industrial effluents.
So let’s start with what our ancestors trusted for clean, happy and healthy homes
Soap nuts are wonderful cleaning products – so gentle and sustainable
They are naturally hypoallergenic, odorless and do no damage to surfaces or fabrics.
The soap nut comes from the Soapnut Tree (Sapindus mukorossi and Sapindus trifoliatus in India). These trees produce the small black berry, that are deseeded and the shell is dried prior to use.
These shells contain something called saponin, which works as a natural surfactant. Most commercial detergents contain chemical surfactants, some of which (such as 1,2-Dioxane) have been shown to be carcinogenic and volatile. But soap nuts are all-natural and have been used for centuries by our ancestors.
They need less water and energy to wash as they rinse of easily. They are non-polluting and safe even for babies. They can be used in countless ways
Making Liquid Soap Nut Detergent
Liquid soap nut recipes are easy to follow and the results are versatile.
Soak 2 berries for every one cup of water for overnight.Then boil or pressure cook them. You may want to crush or mash the berries to release as much of the saponins as possible. Allow the water to cool, then strain the solution through a muslin cloth, add essential oils if you prefer and store in a recycled jar in the fridge to prevent spoiling. I keep it for almost 4-5 days without fridge. Use the leftover soap nuts and repeat the process to get a second extract or put it in the muslin cloth in the washer together for one load of laundry.
The many uses of this liquid soap are below.
Washing laundry is the most common use. A small cloth satchel with a few crushed soapnuts or its powder inside is all that is needed to replace both your regular laundry detergent and your fabric softener.
The number of berries to use depends on the temperature of hardness of your water. For soft, hot water use 1-2 berries; they can usually be used a second time. For cold, hard water use up to 8 berries at least 6 or more times. To check to see if your berries are done, squeeze the shell: you should see a slight sudsy liquid release if they are still good. If you prefer to use the liquid detergent, add 1/4 cup per load.
Use the liquid soap for dishwashing just like you would use your chemical dishwashing liquid.
All Purpose Cleaner
Using the liquid detergent recipe above, in 1:10 dilution ratio in a spray bottle. You can add white vinegar or essential oils if you prefer.
The solution can be used on cabinets and cupboards, walls and doors, floors, stainless steel and other metal, wood,and most other surfaces
It’s even used in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent hair loss I heard. If you are allergic to hair wash powders, then this shampoo is a great alternative
Fill an old recycled bottle with 1/3 of the liquid soapnut and shake it well, you will have good amount of suds, you can use that to wash your hair. You can even work out your own dilution ration by trial and error depending on your hair type.
Body and Face Wash
Just like shampoo, the berries can be used as a liquid body wash or face wash. You can add brown sugar crystals with a little of the soapnut liquid to make a great facial scrub
Use the liquid detergent to shampoo pets, wash pet beds or bedding, clean toys and possibly even repel pests by spraying their coat.
Soak your jewelry in undiluted liquid solution, and then scrub clean with an old toothbrush. You would have seen this in a lot of jewellery shops 🙂
Please do try these simple recipes and be amazed at the the amount cleaning these simple nuts can do and at the same time not cause any lake to froth or kill aquatic animals. This is a win-win solution