• Soap Berry Liquid Detergent: Efficacy Test

NaturOli’s soap nut liquid detergent goes toe to toe with leading chemical detergents in independent laboratory testing to compare cleaning power. This is the first time in history an independent US laboratory detergent comparison included soap nuts.

Just in case: Efficacy: ef-fi-ca-cy, noun. The ability to produce the necessary or desired results. (Courtesy of Encarta World English Dictionary)

Independent laboratory efficacy testing. Photo: Private collection.

Independent laboratory efficacy testing. Photo: Private collection.

Recently documented (June, 2009) via laboratory efficacy studies, soap nuts and saponin are proved equivalent in cleaning power to the some of the most popular mainstream synthetic chemical detergents on the market. The testing was for cleaning power only. There is no consideration given to the “mile long” list of additional benefits (either health or environmental) from the use of soap berries and saponin. For most, soap nuts sound to good to be true – but this is real. These are the facts. Here is the proof.

In June of this year, a diluted version of NaturOli’s Extreme 18X concentrated laundry soap was provided to Specialized Technology Resources (STR) in Canton, Massachusetts for comparative testing and analysis. The dilution of the 18X was done to approximate a one-ounce to one-ounce single load comparison. One ounce of “pure” Extreme 18X will wash approximately six to 12 loads. A full ounce of Extreme 18X would not make for a realistic comparison. It was diluted to equate to a single load dosage to compare apples to apples.

Comparisons were made against Tide 2X Ultra, Tide Free 2X Ultra, Seventh Generation Free and Clear 3X Concentrate and Method’s 3X Detergent Concentrate. Tests were conducted using a cold water (70F), normal wash cycle and used top loading vertical axis washing machines.

In the final analysis it is quoted by STR, “At approximately a 35% lower Use Level than both the Tide and Seventh Generation products and at the same Use Level as the Method product (NaturOli’s liquid soap nut detergent) demonstrated approximately 98% Tide’s, Seventh Generation’s and Method’s Overall Soil Removal Capability.”

That’s using 35% less product in the comparison with Tide and Seventh Generation. The tests were conducted using cold water with vertical agitation – one of saponin’s most difficult scenarios for maximum effectiveness. Amazing! Of the numerous tests, even with additional enzyme boosters by the competitive brands, the very lowest comparative results proved 91-93% effectiveness. There are currently no enzyme boosters whatsoever added in NaturOli’s Extreme 18X saponin laundry soap. This is a due to NaturOli maintaining the product’s purity.

Virtually across the board in every single test the results were comparable. The tests compared soiling by dust, clay, coffee, cosmetics, grape juice, grass, blue ball point pen, spaghetti sauce, motor oil and more. Test evaluated results on fabrics such as cotton, polyester and blends.

Hands down, this is a major victory for saponin over synthetic chemical detergents. Please don’t think that the supposedly “green” products that the saponin detergent was compared are actually “green”. Read the ingredients for yourself. They are far from it. SLS is still a primary ingredient.

Bottom line: The first of NaturOli’s saponin-based detergents went head to head with the leading detergents on the market and the jury called it a draw. Given that the emphasis of saponin-based products is placed on purity from all hazardous chemicals, this is a monumental achievement.

9 replies
  1. Alexandra P.
    Alexandra P. says:

    Took me time to read all the info and comments, but I love your articles. They prove to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters. It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained by the asides. You have a unique and pointed style. Writing such a site about soap nuts must have been a challenge. Kudos!

  2. J. Sanchez
    J. Sanchez says:

    Your articles and explanations strike the nail on the head. Doing laundry has become complicated. If you want to have a greener home and practice more eco-friendly cleaning habits you have to think these days. We have learned so much that the Tide, Gain, Method, Ecos… “green” sales hype doesn’t cut it anymore. I’ve learned more about laundry, cleaning products, and soaps…in general HERE than on any other site I’ve read. You go beyond what soap nuts are and how to use soap nuts. Great work. Keep it up!

  3. dg
    dg says:

    Below (in quotes) comes from your FAQ page.
    “My homemade soap nut liquid smells fermented. Is it safe to use?
    Excellent question! As with all botanical water-based liquids they can and will go rancid and could pose a health hazard. Soap nut liquid has a natural pungent odor, hence making it difficult to use its scent as a good barometer. Consider all the factors. Is it older than a few days? Have you preserved it in any way? Has it become cloudy at all? Frankly, if it is more than a few days old, unpreserved and smells fermented, I would limit usage of it to a natural garden insect repellent. Be safe – not sorry.”

    I would like to know what the health hazard is if the liquid goes rancid. Will it not clean the clothes?

    Secondly, if one cannot make liquid detergent at home that will last more than a few days (because of lack of chemistry knowledge as you said in another FAQ) – then how do the commercial liquid detergents (eg NaturOli) do it without adding/using chemicals? thereby not making it 100% natural, organic, or chemical free? what preservatives are they using?

    Thanks for a great resource.

    There are two food grade preservatives used in NaturOli’s EXTREME 18X. Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate are listed in the ingredients. I’ve never seen it marketed as “100% natural, organic, or chemical free”, but frankly, it really could be (per the current labeling standards) given that these are in trace amounts. The preservatives used are in numerous food products you likely eat every day. I think you are confusing it with the language about the raw soap berries used to make it.

    I can’t speak to any specific health hazard from an rancid unpreserved botanical liquid for that would be largely a function of the contaminant, and the degree of contamination. Both being variables. Would a contaminated/rancid soap nut liquid still work as a surfactant? Most likely it would still function. But who would ever want to use such??? Not me!

    And you are very welcome! I do my best.

  4. dg
    dg says:

    and if people want to make their own handsoap or shampoo – then how is the best way to stop it ‘going off’ – can’t really keep shampoo in the freezer 😉

    First things first, read some book on soap making. There’s tons of them. Your question is extremely complex – far too much to even attempt to try to answer here.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Paula says:

    Great post. VERY interesting. Who would have known? I’m new to soap nuts so still learning. Guess I came to the right place!

  2. S. G. Farmer, Jr. says:


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by aember. aember said: RT @soapnutspro Soap Nuts Pro » Soap Nuts Liquid Laundry Detergent – Efficacy Test http://rt.nu/qqjnowy1 […]

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