I washed my clothes with nuts.

Posted on May 1, 2008 by Allie


After the whole Ecover/dioxane “scandal,” I decided I’d look for another laundry detergent option.  Honestly, I’m not too upset about Ecover.  I still think they are a great company and they have great products, but if you’re going to go green, try to go as green as you can get, right? 

I switched to Method, which was working great, but then I revisited the Organic Consumers Association’s dioxane chart and realized that when it comes to dioxane, Method is no angel either (and I’d probably be better off sticking with Ecover).  Still, there are other options for laundry soap out in the world and I decided I’d keep searching.

So, I washed my clothes with nuts.  Really, I did.  Maggie’s Soap Nuts (for some reason there’s a picture of a woman breast feeding on the website — just so you know) are bizarre, but seriously cool.

From Maggie’s Pure Land:

Maggie’s Soap NutsTM are the only laundry soap that grows on trees!  Truly effective, 100% natural and safe for your most sensitive skin.  Soap NutsTM are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree.  They contain saponin, a natural cleaner used for thousands of years to clean clothes, just like the plants used by Native Americans for washing.

Simply put a few Soap Nuts into the included cotton sack and drop it in your laundry. Your clothes come out clean, vibrant, and soft.  Replace your laboratory detergents and softeners with the soap made from Nature by Nature. Your clothes, your skin, your family, and your planet will thank you.

For some reason, I didn’t get the cotton sack that’s supposed to be included in my box of soap nuts, which felt a little like looking for the secret decoder ring in your cereal box only to discover you’re stuck with just cereal.  But I tied the soap nuts up in an old sock and they worked just fine.

I threw a pair of disgustingly dirty socks into the wash and they didn’t come as clean as I would have liked, but the box says to use an “oxygen bleach” (maybe OxyClean?) on very soiled clothes.  And the jeans that got splattered with mud when I took Argo to the dog park last week came clean on the first try.

Where soap nuts really seem to excel is odor removal.  I accidentally left one of my favorite shirts in a wad of wet towels in the basement and even after washing it once with regular detergent, it still smelled like mildew.  After washing it with soap nuts, it smelled like . . . nothing.  Same for my husband’s biking shirts.

The other thing that’s really cool is that without using dryer sheets or fabric softener, my clothes came out super soft and static free.  I haven’t tried hanging soap nut washed clothes out to dry yet (we had some questionable weather) but I’m expecting the same soft results when I do.

There are several ways to use soap nuts.  I used four and washed in cold water.  You can use them for 2-3 loads of laundry and then compost them when done.

I’ll still probably use Ecover for heavily soiled laundry, but I think soap nuts are a keeper.

No Comments +

  1. i’m going to be checking in to those , thanx for the info !

    May 1st, 2008 at 4:49 pm
    Comment by shannon
  2. once i use up the rest of my seventh generation detergent i have to try those! i’m very intrigued. i used to use all sorts of method products too since they were so easy to find, but after reading more about what’s really in them i switched over to even safer alternatives.

    May 1st, 2008 at 5:37 pm
    Comment by Danielle
  3. What’s the price and the availability?

    I use white vinegar to wash my clothes. Super cheap, gets the stink out, takes care of mud and stuff, but isn’t good when it comes to stains.

    About once a month I use 7th Generation soap to get the whites whiter and about once a season I throw some bleach in to get the whites white.

    May 1st, 2008 at 5:50 pm
    Comment by Howling Hill
  4. My box was 8.99 for 16-20 loads, at my local natural foods store, but it looks like if you buy in bulk you’re better off — on the site, there’s a bag that will wash 200 loads of laundry for 34.99.

    May 1st, 2008 at 6:12 pm
    Comment by Allie
  5. how neat! thanks for the tip allie. i like this one a lot. :)

    May 2nd, 2008 at 2:24 pm
    Comment by erikka
  6. How come I’ve never heard of this before? Laundry detergent that grows on trees? What else do they have growing on trees over there in China that we don’t know about?

    May 2nd, 2008 at 6:53 pm
    Comment by mickey
  7. Ha! It is weird that something so simple hasn’t caught on. I wonder if it’s possible to grow the trees here. How cool would it be to go out and pick your laundry soap?

    May 2nd, 2008 at 10:03 pm
    Comment by Allie
  8. [...] using soap nuts awhile ago, and I love using them for delicates.  They work great on removing odors and keeping [...]

    July 24th, 2008 at 4:58 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » Tip of the Day - Switch to Powder
  9. Not sure this will post after so long, but… You may be able to find locally grown soapnuts, depending on where you are in the US. Here in Austin, TX, Sapindus drumondii, commonly called Texas or Western Soapberry, grows wild. (There’s a warning out about an insect borer, so if you see bark/trunk damage, report it! It doesn’t affect the fruits, though.)



    October 4th, 2008 at 10:34 pm
    Comment by DSF

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Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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