Every day many of us are unknowingly assaulting our skin by wearing clothes washed in chemical laundry detergent. The question on my lips? What’s the best natural laundry detergent? Of course. Was there an alternative out there? The search was on.
Our skin happens to be our largest organ. It’s our first line of defense against bacteria and infection. The function of the skin is to protect our organs, help us release toxins and regulates temperature to enable our body to carry out it’s natural processes efficiently. That alone suggests our skin is rather important and something to be nurtured.
With two children who love the great outdoors we are no strangers to mud, mess and muck. We needed something effective yet gentle. Not convinced by any supermarket product, I spent time a grating castile soap into soda crystals Sure, it worked but it was time-consuming.
As a busy mother, with an active family I yearned for something natural, simple and effective. So, can you imagine my delight when I stumbled across the best
laundry detergent is completely natural.
And it grows on trees.
Introducing soap nuts…
Or soap berries as they’re also known belong to the Sapindus family.
They’re found throughout India, China, Hawaii and Florida. The dried husks (shell) have long been used for washing and cleaning across the water. Why? Because these babies contain saponin – a natural surfactant.
Used widely in Ayurvedic medicine for eczema and psoriasis they are a must try if you suffer with these. Suitable for even the most delicate of skin means baby can get down with soap nuts too. Cloth nappies and all. Yep, that’s right. Soap nuts are cloth nappy friendly. Soap nuts are not actually nuts they are safe to use with folks with nut allergies. Could this be any more perfect?!
I’ve been washing my families clothes in these for a few years now and I am sold. My husband’s skin has never been better. He has a rare skin condition, similar to psoriasis but worse. The improvement since we switched has been quite remarkable. I’ve several soap nut converts among my friends too. No one’s been disappointed yet.
Why regular laundry products suck
The tall and short of it is; they contain toxic chemicals. Chemicals linked with a multitude of health problems. We’d be here for an age if I listed them all. So I’ll give an overview of some common ingredients found in laundry products.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Originates from coconuts but it’s far from natural once it becomes SLS, a synthetic surfactant. The manufacturing process known as ethoxylation creates a byproduct 1,4,Dioxane, which contaminates the SLS. 1,4 dioxane is a probable carcinogenic. Not a promising start eh? It gets worse. There are 1600 studies linking SLS to health problems including but not limited to:
- Irritation of the skin and eyes
- Organ toxicity
- Reproductive harm
- Neurotoxicity (That’s your brain)
- Endocrine disruption
- Biochemical or cellular change
- Possible mutations
And that’s just one ingredient in your washing detergent. A very significant one if you consider it’s in just about every product that foams. Shampoo, toothpaste, shower gels, bath foam. We really don’t want to be absorbing this crap into our bodies’. Nevermind directly into the bloodstream via our largest organ. The skin…do we? Nope. Not I, anyway. SLS is on my ‘Nope’ list.
1,4 Dioxane aka Dioxane
The key point here is: this is a byproduct of ethoxylation manufacturing process. As such, it’s not considered an ingredient. So, it’s not labeled on your laundry products. With the write up this stuff has we ought to know it’s hiding in there. It sure as hell does not belong on our skin. Long term exposure has been found to result in:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
And this stuff is not listed as an ingredient! That’s something I feel we ought to know, personally. It’s worth noting; if a substance been manufactured using ethoxylation, you can bet your bottom dollar this stuff is lurking in it. If that wasn’t enough, dioxane is toxic to the environment and gets into ground water. Contaminating it. Steer clear.
You’ll remember just how toxic fragrance is from my home fragrance article. That smell of ‘clean’ clothes is fragrance. This seemingly simple ingredient is actually a cocktail of typically petroleum derived chemicals. Sometimes 200 of them to make a single scent.
Fragrance commonly contain known endocrine disruptors 1,4 Dicholorbenzene and phalates. The impact these have on our health include;
- Eye, throat and nose irritation
- Respiratory problems
- Reproductive harm
- Birth defects
- Nervous system damage
To add insult to injury these chemicals work by deception. These pesky things erode your smell receptors stopping you from being able to detect odour. That’s like blinding yourself and saying;
“Ah, now the house is is clean. I can’t see any mess!”
Using soap nuts, it’s so easy! And good for your skin
I never imagined a natural approach to laundry would be quite this simple. Perfect for busy families and our skin sure appreciates it.
A box of soap nuts will last us about a year, depending on how we use them. Yes, that’s correct. Twelve months washing for our family of four. The savings on toxic detergents is fantastic. Nuts usually come with muslin baggies but if yours don’t a sock will do. Here’s how to use them:
So, it’s wash day:
- Load up the machine.
- Pop 4-6 nuts into your mini drawstring muslin bag.
- Add a few drops of your favourite essentials oil onto the bag. Geranium and Lime are two of my favourites.
- Throw into the machine.
- Hang up the muslin bag ready for next time.
- Enjoy lovely clean clothes with a subtle scent.
You’ll get several washes out of the nuts. I use mine until they disintegrate inside the bag. Clean clothes every time.
To begin with washing with soap nuts may seem strange. Don’t be fooled by lack of overbearing ‘clean clothes’ scent. Your clothes are clean and your nose isn’t being assaulted. This is a good thing. Change up your essential oils and find what works for you.
Frugal Tip: soap nuts compost friendly. Chuck em onto your heap and reap the crumbly, nutrient rich rewards.
DiY liquid laundry detergent
Prefer liquid laundry detergent? No problem. You can make a liquid from soap nuts quickly and easily with this simple method.
- 1 Cup Soap Nuts
- 2 Cups Filtered Water
- In a pan bring soap nuts and water to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for approximately an hour.
- Cool and transfer to a clean glass jar or bottle with secure fitting lid.
Store in the fridge and it’ll keep for a month or so.
This is natural soap without preservatives. It lacks the eternal shelf life of its chemical competitors. For this reason make it up in manageable size batches to avoid wastage.
Frugal Tip: Freeze liquid soap in ice trays to prolong shelf life. Defrost and use as required.
I like to leave the liquid soap unscented so I can customise it to my needs. I’ll add few drops of essential oil before putting in the wash. For babies chamomile is safe and gentle. Always read up on essential oils before use. Not all are indicated for use in children, pregnant or nursing women etc. Avoid essential oils when washing cloth nappies as they may compromise their integrity.
This liquid soap can also be used for household cleaning. Wipe down the surfaces, sink and even clean the floor! I use lemon essential oil or another citrus for the anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and grease cutting properties. They smell wonderfully fresh too.
Soap nuts for the win!
Call me nutty but I love soap nuts. They’re so versatile and won’t break the bank. They’ve been an absolute blessing for my husband. You don’t need to have sensitive or skin conditions to benefit from soap nuts. They really are for everyone. Truly family friendly they are suitable from baby to 100 and beyond. And the financial savings? They speak for themselves. I’m never looking back. Banish the baddies from your laundry room and try something new. Your skin deserves it. Take care of it and it’ll take care of you.
Do you use soap nuts? Or fancy trying them? Perhaps you’ve had benefits from switching already? I’d love to know. Just drop me a line below. Stay blessed.