• Liquid or Powder: Better Natural Laundry Results?

Soap nut liquids and powders are growing rapidly in popularity because they are more inline with how we typically wash laundry today – primarily liquids. Statistics show liquid detergents are over 90% of the detergent market and are still growing. The traditional soap nut method (the dried fruits in a wash bag) is so radically different it warrants its own post. I will discuss the traditional method of using soap nuts or soapberries in a separate article. For now we will look at only the pro and cons of soap nuts liquids and soap nuts powder.

Use of soap nuts date back to antiquity, but modern manufacturers know little to nothing about them. Hence, don’t expect to find a machine with a soap nuts compartment for quite some time. So, where does that leave us? The answer is very simple: Use of our common sense. All that is required is a basic, understanding of how your washing machine and soap nuts work. Armed with that fundamental knowledge, you will find all your answers.

During a recent trip to look at new washers and dryers, I must admit that they appear to be quite complex, but appearances are just that. The fundamentals are still similar to that 20-year-old Maytag.

An aside: Ironically, if we would have ever been taught the real science of washing and cleaning (other than the technologically improved energy saving mechanics), we could use that 20 year old Maytag and get fabulous results without ever using a drop more water than absolutely necessary. We have been trained to wait for “somebody” to come out with a better way so we can purchase that better way. In essence we are trained to be dependent on businesses to offer “push-button” solutions. That is exactly how big business wants us to think. I believe that we finally are beginning to realize that if we use our brains and learn more, we can stop waiting for the next solution to be sold to us. Knowledge is power. There is truly a great deal to know about effective cleaning and washing that most of us simply do not know and have never been taught – or taught properly. I believe the Internet and information age are going to change many routine and everyday ways we do things in our lives. I believe the future holds many age-old fundamentals that will be rediscovered. The time is coming when less money and resources will be wasted on needless things, and those resources will be rerouted to development of products that will genuinely improve the overall quality of life. The recent economic downturn coupled with the green movement has provided very good reasons to take a second look at how we live our lives. That “second look” is very likely to evolve into an entirely new era for mankind. A very interesting thing about knowledge – when you get a little, you want more.

Getting back on track: There are more bells and whistles in the new machines. There are some extra features and cycles available. Some of them can be very useful. Just keep in mind that we must simply think a little differently and make adjustments as needed to accommodate proper use of soap nuts. Experimentation is always helpful. From household to household there are many variables. Some are environmental. Some are due to our personal habits. Regardless, we are all different and we do things a bit differently. Finding our own personal best way is a function of thought and such experimentation.

Soap nuts are available in liquid and powder forms in addition to their raw form (right off the tree and dried). The soap nuts liquids and soap nuts powders can be made at home or specific formulations can be purchased from a handful of developers. That makes usage much more similar to using standard and HE detergents, and therefore much simpler. However, note that the manufacturer of your machine has written instructions based upon typical “store-bought” detergents and additives – not soap nuts detergents. And once you are using soap nuts, it’s a whole new ballgame. For example: the fabric softener compartment. It is simply not needed at all anymore. (That is going to make some companies unhappy.) Some other compartment will prove to be useful.

Now stick with me on this for it is very important: If you have a high efficiency (HE) washer that requires HE detergents, soap nuts in any form are ideal when used properly because they are naturally low sudsing. They blow away every HE detergent on the market. If you have a standard machine, they are still ideal. Many people get confused at this juncture. What you must realize is that suds are not required to clean. Nor are they a barometer for evaluating the cleaning that is occurring in your washer. That is one of the big myths regarding detergents and soaps. Regardless of machine type only three things are required for effective washing of everyday laundry:

1 – A surfactant to lessen the water surface tension allowing it to break up and loosen dirt and grime.

2 – Adequate water flow.

3 – Agitation.

That’s it. So, for now try not to get hung up on the whole suds issue. I am going to address suds at great length in another article.

Given the above, now let us get to the nitty-gritty of using soap nuts liquids and powders. The variables here (aside from amounts to use) are primarily the concentration and potency of the liquid, and/or the fineness of the powder. If you are making your own liquid then the potency of saponin in the liquid will vary depending upon how you make it. If you are using a CleanNut, Terra, or Maggies soap nut detergent, they will be used very much like all others (a little more or a little less depending upon the machine type. Water hardness is a variable here. If you have hard water use a little more. Experiment and let the results speak for themselves. Back to the suds issue, do not use suds as a barometer to gauge results. Results are determined when your laundry has dried. Does it look and smell clean and fresh? Is it soft and absorbent? This is where you gauge results. This is where it counts. I had to laugh one day as a woman explained her first experience with soap nuts. She said, “I felt like I was just washing in water.” But stood in amazement at the dirtiness of the water coming from a “not all that dirty” load of laundry. She was astonished at how fresh, clean and soft her laundry came out. (She’s another one who will never look back.)

Comparison: 96 loads with 18X soap nut liquid concentrate

Comparison: 96 loads with 18X soap nut liquid concentrate

If you are using NaturOli’s EXTREME 18X soap nuts liquid concentrate this is quite different. The same “little more” or “little less” principle still applies, but this is a very highly concentrated soap nuts detergent. You will typically use only a half to one teaspoon per load. No kidding. That’s just a squirt or two if using the dispenser bottle. That’s a no-brainer. You can use the compartment as you would with any liquid detergent. You simply use much less. You are probably best to start with a teaspoon (2 squirts) and then cut back and compare. Overcome that feeling of needing more – and let the end results speak for themselves. This is where “concentrated” takes on an entirely new meaning. It is actually more of a pure soap nut extract. A small 8 ounce bottle of EXTREME 18X will have as much or more cleaning power than those  that come in a big 32 or even 64-ounce jug. I know, it’s tough to grasp that, but that is only because of the brainwashing factor again. NaturOli set out to produce the greenest detergent and cleaner possible – and did (winning a major award in the process). There is no laundry soap on the planet with a lower carbon footprint. Why do companies  ship all that water anyway? For that totally pure, unaltered, soap nuts clean and fresh result, you will be happiest with EXTREME 18X. It contains no essential oils that can leave residue and cause “wicking” of the fabric fibers, plus it is totally unscented. If you desire a scent I recommend using an absorbent cloth with a little of your scent of choice and tossing it in the dryer. Use more or less as desired. The oils will not impact the cleaning effects when used in such fashion.

If you are using soap nuts powder, you want it to be as fine as you can possibly get it (dust like is preferred). It’s likely better to purchase finely pre-ground and sifted. A course grind and/or a short wash cycle will result in much saponin just going down the drain and being wasted. It won’t have time to fully release its saponin. (Grinding your own sounds easy enough, but it is a bit trickier than you may think. The shells must be very dry first, and if you have a grinder that will produce an ultra-fine powder, plus a fine filter, an airborne soap nut “dust” will be difficult to avoid. The dust will be irritating if inhaled, or if gotten into eyes. I recommend purchasing it ready-made for use.) Approximately a teaspoon of very fine, quality soap nut powder (added into the powder compartment or directly in with your laundry) will wash an average load. Using powder may be a less economical method of using soap nuts because you’ll likely use more soap nuts than required if reusing them in the wash bag method, or if using liquid. Liquid ensures optimal use of the saponin in the berries.

In all cases, if you are adding salts, water softeners, sodium percarbonate (oxy-bleach basically), washing soda, vinegar, etc. to adjust your water’s pH level and/or for whitening and cleaning boosters, that’s totally fine – plus part of the fun! Experimentation is key to obtaining consistently excellent results.

btw: Soap nuts powder makes for an awesome green scouring powder. That is predominantly what I use powder for. Forget about the toxic Comet and rubber gloves! Powder works great!

There is no rocket science here. Most of this is plain, old-fashioned common sense. The only real hurdle is changing the way we think, and some old habits. Good results are what we are striving for. It may take a couple loads to dial in the best results for your particular scenario, but you will soon know exactly what to do. If you have a pre-wash and a main wash cycle, simply use them as your owner’s manual suggests.

It is noteworthy to point out that with soap nuts you really don’t need a second rinse cycle unless your laundry is very dirty. In most cases, that second rinse is to help flush out all the chemicals in the fabrics. Since we aren’t using chemicals with soap nuts it is no longer needed. It becomes a matter of choice, not necessity. So you do have an opportunity to save quite a bit of water. That’s a nice plus.

I hope this has helped you. It is actually hard to really do something very wrong when using soap nuts liquid or powder. If you are not satisfied with the results, take a look at what you did and make some adjustments. If you have very hard water then you will typically need to use more than average amounts. Once again, let the final results be your finished laundry. Once you have dialed in what is right for you, your laundry will be clean, fresh, soft and absorbent – unlike you have ever experienced before. If you are like the vast majority, you will never want to use anything except soap nuts detergents again.

48 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    You made some GOOD points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree.

    Thanks, John. When it comes to soap nuts it’s hard to keep it all simple. We have been so well programmed that the paradigm shift is difficult. I can only hope to open some eyes (and minds) to the facts and realities we face.

  2. Randal Ruoff
    Randal Ruoff says:

    Hi, I came across your site while searching yahoo…your blog is really amazing. Just thought would let you know that I have subscribed to your rss feed. Thanks.

    Welcome to SoapNuts.pro and the new era of soap nuts!

  3. Theresa Nave
    Theresa Nave says:

    Superb work. You have brought in a recent reader. Please maintain the nice writings and I look forward to more of your amusing writings.

    Thank you, Theresa.
    I wasn’t sure if my off-beat sense of humor came through. It’s a darn good thing that people are funny, for it’s sure not easy being amusing when discussing soap nuts and laundry. 🙂

  4. dollmyface
    dollmyface says:

    Great site! I genuinely appreciate this post. I was curious about this for a long time now. This cleared a lot up for me! Do you have a rss feed that I can add?

    There are so many questions about how to use soap nuts. We are only in the beginning stages of understanding all the benefits soap nuts offer our world. As always, knowledge is the key. I’m very glad to have helped. The RSS feed icon is in the top right corner. Welcome to SoapNuts.pro!

  5. Philip Mullin
    Philip Mullin says:

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  6. Ambrose Eilert
    Ambrose Eilert says:

    You have reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be.”

    That’s beautiful. And so true. Welcome to SoapNuts.pro!

  7. baldwin
    baldwin says:

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    Welcome to SoapNuts.pro. Much more is to come!

  8. Kasey Lacrosse
    Kasey Lacrosse says:

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    Welcome to SoapNuts.pro!

  9. Arlen Kadi
    Arlen Kadi says:

    Heya i got to your site by mistake when i was searching bing for something off topic here but i do have say your site is really helpful, like the theme and the content about soap nuts …so thanks for me procrastinating from my previous task, lol

  10. Eugene
    Eugene says:

    Superb! Definitely useful stuff. Never thought I’d find the facts I wanted right here in one place. I have been looking everywhere on the internet for good information about soap nuts, saponins and genuinely greener cleaning alternatives. I was starting to get discouraged. Fortunately, I happened across your blog and found precisely what I was searching for. Great work!

  11. Cruz
    Cruz says:

    Excellent info about soap nuts and soap berries. I found what I wanted in no time. Awesome. Would appreciate it if you add forums or something, it would be a perfect way for us soap nut enthusiasts to interact. Great job!

    Hi Cruz! Thanks! Agreed. Many plans…need time. All in time. I’ll get there! Welcome to SoapNuts.pro!

  12. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    It’s hard finding good information about soap nuts and how to use them. You are so helpful. I’ve been using NaturOli Soap Nuts awhile now and really like the results. Finally a good REAL natural detergent! Please keep writing more! I’ve learned so much from you and am getting better results than ever.

  13. Tami
    Tami says:

    What about the concept of the “micelle”? If I recall my college chemistry on how soap works, it is not the surface tension that enables cleaning, but rather the soap molecules forming micelles around dirt particles?

    Hi Tami, A good question that has merit. It’s a bit hard to respond to though. To discuss the micelle, we must engage in far deeper chemistry than I want to get into in this forum. The micelle is a function of the surfactant as I have understood it, hence it’s a variable. There are also phases and morphology involved. The easiest way for most people to understand how cleaning actually works is to keep it at the surface tension level. Even that is not easy to grasp at times because of the many myths about soap and suds. The micelle is a discussion for a higher level chemistry class. Thanks for the input! Good job!

  14. Boyd
    Boyd says:

    Soapnuts are amazing! It’s nice to read quality writing on the Internet. I’ll be returning. Thanks for posting such great material!

  15. Pam St. Clement
    Pam St. Clement says:

    Hey, I’d just like to say, what a cool blog! i am just researching for my wordpress blog but i had a problem reading this post because the text sticking out on to the menu…. edit… oops! my fault, it is my outdated version of chrome causing the fault. Might be worth telling people to update.

    Hi Pam, Welcome to SoapNuts.pro!

  16. Markus
    Markus says:

    I get your drift. Soap nuts can literally change everything about how we think about laundry and cleaning. It’s fascinating!

  17. citibank
    citibank says:

    Excellent soap nuts site. Glad to see your site works well on my iPhone , everything I want to do is functional. Thanks for keeping it up to date with the latest.

  18. Venice Dorcent
    Venice Dorcent says:

    Hi there, I just finished reading some of your posts about soap nuts and found you to be quite informative. Thanks.

  19. Deppner
    Deppner says:

    Thanks for the information about soap nuts! I really like your posts. This is a great website. I will stop back again!

  20. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Solar panels, in my eyes, are one of the best investments we make due to them lasting for many years and producing energy for as long as they last. The price of electricity will only go up so solar panels will only become a better investment. I would love to hear more regarding soap nuts, solar power and the synergies between them.

    Hi Jenny!
    I agree completely. Extreme 18X is a currently produced and even homemade soap nut “tea” can be produced using only solar energy. There is much to discuss on this subject. I will work on an article. It warrants one. That was a well thought out comment. I’ll work on it.

  21. tiffany uk
    tiffany uk says:

    Thanks for this useful article. I am amazed at how well soap nuts clean jewelry – with no chemicals!

  22. Kipu
    Kipu says:

    Thank you for a very clear and helpful post. I am getting much better results with my laundry, and have cut my cost per load down too!

  23. Cleaner Reviews
    Cleaner Reviews says:

    Yes… I also enjoy visiting soap nuts place. Your ideas and deductions inspire much thought. Keep it up!

  24. Dover
    Dover says:

    A large amount of the websites I find about soap nuts are constructed of unnecessary garbage copied from other internet websites a trillion times, on the other hand I gotta say this site is in fact quite informative and also consists of a lot of genuine information, so cheers for splitting the trend of simply duplicating other peoples’ websites.

  25. tom ford
    tom ford says:

    I find myself coming to your soap nut blog almost daily. Almost always something new! Superb work and real insight! The best!

  26. Merrill Rehor
    Merrill Rehor says:

    Soap nuts are one of the coolest thing I’ve come across in years. It’s such a little change in our ways and the impact will be huge! If we all do a little bit we can help preserve the earth. Lets try to save our planet and live green. Being greener doesn’t get much easier than using soap nuts!

  27. We are what we eat.
    We are what we eat. says:

    Hey admin, very informative blog post! Please continue this awesome work. I am “greening” my home and changing lots more of my daily routines and habits. Soap Nuts fit in great. I followed your advice and have been very pleased. Soap Nuts are so darn amazing! I think the detergent makers have conspired to keep these secret. I am going to grow my own soapberry trees right in the back yard so I can go pick my OWN Soap Nuts! HOW COOL IS THAT!!!?

  28. V. Fox
    V. Fox says:

    I love soap nuts and the 18X liquid concentrate! Antibacterial soaps are extremely irritating to my skin, so I have searched for alternatives. I haven’t found anything in the regular stores. Even the “plain” soaps there are irritating. This soap is gentle and soothing. It can be used for about everything. I hope Amazon continues to carry the Extreme 18X. I would expect this soap to be especially appreciated by people who are sensitive to fragrance. I don’t notice an odor in it.

    The only thing better? If NaturOli offered this in a refill bottle!! (Hint, hint!)

    (P.S. — I also like the “Extreme Hair soap nuts shampoo”. I’m not affiliated with them at all, just want customers to know their choices.)

  29. Camila
    Camila says:

    Seriously, lovely blog post. You go way beyond using soap nuts. I’ve changed a lot in how I wash laundry because of these posts. We have a much “greener” home these days. Thanks for keeping it entertaining. It did take a while to pick up on your sense of humor. It must be kind of hard writing about doing laundry and house cleaning and keeping it interesting. Very well done.

  30. Jazz Rules
    Jazz Rules says:

    This is a wonderful post. A partner emailed your link. Keep on the impressive work. I haven’t used soap nuts yet, but just ordered some today. 🙂 I’m excited! It’s kinda weird to get excited when talking laundry. lol!

  31. Debbie98335
    Debbie98335 says:

    I stumbled upon your Soap Nuts web site this evening and I am quite excited and have purchased a small amount to get started with in the laundry then I see you have shampoos and other items as well.
    I have a Leather couch that needs cleaning and struggle with buying all the chemicals. Have you tried Soap nuts on leather?
    Thanks. ? 🙂

    Hi Debbie!

    Actually, yes, with great results. One of the tricks with leather (depending upon exactly what it is though) is evenly wetting, soaping it up, and drying it. I have a big SUEDE sofa and matching ottoman. I would think suede would be the toughest leather to get right.

    Every year I take it outside when it warms up, and with a hose plus armed with buckets of soap nut liquid, I TOTALLY wash it down end-to-end evenly, and rinse it thoroughly with the hose. (Don’t worry, it’ll dry.) I use Extreme 18X (2-3 ounces per bucket) diluted with warm to hot water which makes it easy to quickly refill up a fresh bucket when the water gets dirty. And the dirt REALLY comes out. It’ll be black in no time with the first wash. I’ll use 3 or 4 buckets of soapy soap nut liquid by the time I’m satisfied that it’s good and clean.

    btw: I’m always sure to do this when it’s going to be dry and sunny for at least a couple days. I’ll go out and rotate the sofa around as needed to be sure it’s drying evenly. In the end, My sofa looks like new and smells clean and fresh. It actually keeps its original suede smell for the most part. It’s color is just like new, too.

    I tried a lots of stuff before going to this cleaning method. Nothing previously even came close in results, and I tried a lot of different leather and suede cleaners. Another thing that impressed me is how soft the suede felt again. Other cleaners left it stiff and scratchy. I just use a soft brush and sponge to scrub it down. Again being careful to wash and rinse everything as evenly as I can. A little challenging being so big.

    So, hope this helps a little. Don’t know your exact scenario, but cleaning a big L-shaped suede corner sofa would certainly be at the tougher end of leather sofa cleaning projects. I’d never use anything except soap nuts again. It was a very expensive sofa! Until washing it in this way, I considered getting a new one. Not anymore. Even those shiny areas (where you sit all the time) have balanced out nicely with the rest of it. It’s not 100% perfect, but I’m VERY pleased!

    Good luck!

  32. Debbie98335
    Debbie98335 says:

    Thank you for your reply. It took me a bit of time to find the comment section again and finally I found it today. My leather couch is a large 3 piece L shaped Aniline leather couch. Since I live in Washington State, getting this thing outside for a couple of days might pose a problem especially since is it is now the end of fall. LOL! I am going to figure out how to get this done and will get back to you when I do. Thank you so much for your input. :lashes:

    I know…things can easily get lost on this site. So many articles and comments. I’ve been to Washington State many times. Finding a long, warm, dry spell is going to be your biggest challenge. lol! Enjoy using your soap nuts!!! Happy Holidays!


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