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• Soap Nuts / Soap Berries & Front-loaders

Having a clean, fresh smelling front-loading HE washer is easier than you may think. Your answer even grows on trees. Welcome saponin from soap nuts / soap berries!

This is an article that my team and I were prompted to prepare in response to the December 11, 2013 email from TreeHugger called “The latest spin on washing machines.” We feel it can be VERY helpful for many of you with the issues you’re experiencing with your HE and/or front-loading washers. The original article, entitled “Lawsuit over front-load washers may drive consumers back to energy-wasting models”, was written by Kimberley Mok, and published on 12-10-13.

The only issue we had with Treehuggers’s article (and its followup) is that a MAJOR remedy was overlooked: That is the use of saponin – derived from soap berries (aka soap nuts). Only in reader’s comments were soapberries mentioned. Guess we need to have a good talk with Treehugger. They simply missed the boat – and it’s right up their alley. As even service techs will attest to: An HE or front-loader that uses soap berries instead of the commercial HE soaps will be sparkling clean by comparison – even the areas and parts you can’t see. No gross chemical residue or gunk, no mold, no mildew, no odors. It’s so simple! For the most part, the problem never begins.

Yuk! Typical stinky mold and residue build up.

Yuk! Typical stinky mold and residue build up.

Ms. Mok also wrote a good follow up article on 12-13-13 entitled, “8 Easy maintenance tips for front load washers.” She’s obviously been writing away same as I. She covers the main helpful tips well, and the reader comments are excellent (especially in the first article). We haven’t even corresponded. No doubt we will at some point. I’m looking forward to that!

The interesting thing though is that the tips and comments are geared to reducing a problem primarily through user maintenance – plus simple things like keeping the door open to relieve the excess moisture. Our approach is a far more proactive one. We focus on eliminating the entire problem from the start – and doing so without a bunch of extra work. – Big difference!

Be assured the gist here has nothing to do with your “green-ness”, or lack thereof. This is to assist with real, everyday problems we all face. As the founder of NaturOli, and the author of SoapNuts.Pro (SNP), of course I will speak to our remedies and solutions to the front-loader issues. If you feel my NaturOli association biases my opinion, so be it for that’s your opinion. However, it’s via NaturOli, SNP, and reading tons of feedback from consumers that I’ve acquired the knowledge to write an informed article on this topic.

From my homework and with input from service technicians, there are no major mechanical differences between the older and newer front-loaders (bells and whistles aside). HE labeled units have been modified to be more energy and water efficient, plus there’s more (often confusing) features. Some are needed, but many are for show and likely will rarely to never be used.

HE units require much more user care and maintenance mainly due to less water usage. They don’t utilize enough water for a thorough self rinsing and cleaning after each use. They attempt to extend time and agitation to offset that lack of water flow. This sounds good in theory, but doesn’t always work out very well – creating numerous problems for consumers. This is why they now need a “cleaning” cycle. (As usual, we consumers had no say as to what constitutes “efficient”, but I’m avoiding that issue. Let’s leave it as “they” just told us – again.)

Manufacturers have made tweaks and adjustments to help with the mold and odor problems, but the real problem is within the fundamental design of a front-loader (HE or not). If HE, the problems is only worsened due to the lack of water used for flushing the left over soap scum and gunk out with each wash. It’s imperative to use a low sudsing “HE compatible” detergent with an HE washer. Yes, they are usually more expensive. No surprise. And typical softeners are a no-no. They definitely add to the crud that builds up. But just hang in there with me for we’re going to get to the EASY fix soon.

It’s like night and day between USA and Europe when it comes to washers. In Europe there has been greater emphasis on both water conservation and space efficiency for (ever…???), hence many won’t even relate to the water-gulping top-loading monsters that we’ve grown to love here in the US. Separate moisture-filled laundry rooms are not part of everyday life for many of our European friends. Washday habits here in the US are quite different. We’ve been spoiled in many ways. Those mainstay front-loaders at the laundromat have big advantages over our “home” units: They are “commercially” built units, they’re typically bigger, they’re regularly maintained, and they’re commonly left open – quite a different ballgame than found in our tidy US home laundry rooms. (“Tidy” may be a stretch. It certainly doesn’t describe mine.)

Properly well maintained laundromat.

Properly well maintained laundromat.

As reported by numerous companies, “bad odors” (also referred to as “The Smelly Washer Syndrome” by the makers of the DIY “Washer Fan”) is the #1 service problem for front-loading and HE washers in the US. The “Washer Fan” is a pretty cool idea ($70). It would have to help. IMO there should be one built-in on all front-loaders in the first place. However, detergent and additive residues, plus pent up moisture are the culprits behind the odor problem. A lack of routine cleaning is also high on the list. Thoroughly cleaning our washing machine is only a slightly more frequent task than “spring cleaning” in most households that I know. And this now takes us to the heart of the matter: The laundry soaps / detergents, softeners, and other additives used.

Due in part to our big top-loaders, we’ve grown to love seeing suds. We’ve also been taught to equate cleaning with suds. (Yep, there’s even a post here about it.) It was a long-running marketing strategy that backfired (big time) on the detergent producers with the onset of the home front-loader models. And one they are still struggling to overcome. Most Europeans never developed such a love affair with suds. You can’t easily watch the suds in a front-loader.

Apparently we have a bit of a dilemma in the US with front-loaders. Like Ms. Mok, most of us hate them. At best it’s a love-hate relationship for the eco conscious. However, there is a very simple remedy for most of our problems. – And it requires no extra work nor significant lifestyle change.

Residue and corrosion on washer heater element.

Residue and corrosion on washer heater element.

NaturOli began in 2007 as a formulator of olive-based natural products (mainly personal care). Hair care plus home cleaning products followed after we began working with saponin which is derived from soap berries. We discovered soap berries (aka soap nuts) about a year or two after we launched nationally. (BTW: They’re not nuts at all. There’s a whole article here regarding that issue, too.) Soap berries contain saponin which is a natural surfactant that leaves no residues or build-ups as all the chemical surfactants do. The detergent developers just can’t seem to produce a “clean” chemical surfactant. Saponin however will nearly purge washers of old build up and all the associated nasty molds, odors, etc. (I should say saponins for it is a family of them, but we’ll leave that for another day.)

Given the large number of comments from Europeans to the TreeHugger article, it should be noted that Germany has been and remains the largest importing nation of soap berries in the world. It’s also noteworthy to mention that the Swedish manufacturer, Electrolux, developed and won a 2007 Design Lab award for a prototype washer that uses soap nuts exclusively.

For years we’ve been getting rave reviews and feedback from users who had terrible problems that are simply GONE. Nasty musty odors are GONE. The mold, mildew, and detergent residues are GONE (or have lessened dramatically). Use of saponin is the best and easiest remedy – by far – to resolve these problems. It’s that simple.

Being free of toxic chemicals, saponin is a “greener” remedy. That’s a given. Again, that’s not what this article is about though. Saponin works better than the standard or all the psuedo-green products. Even if you don’t care about that, being healthier is a certainly a nice bonus. Thousands who suffered with skin sensitivities due to today’s commercial detergents are now living irritation free lives again – and there’s tons of testimonies here to support what I write. (See Reviews and Testimonials here, on the NaturOli site, or on Amazon.) It was humorous to read a commenter’s input regarding fragrance tablets as a remedy for the musty odors. No thanks. I’m not one to spray perfume on a pig. Solve the problem. Don’t try to hide it. Yuk.

Overstuffing loads is a common problem. Understandably.

Overstuffing loads is a common problem. Understandably.

There are other articles on SNP about the inherent mechanical design issues with HE washers and front-loaders, plus discussions about the plethora of problematic detergents and additives on store shelves. These troubling issues are only compounded further by common “human” errors – i.e., overstuffing loads. It appears that the mainstream machine technology has surpassed that of the mainstream detergents being produced – causing lots of problems in the process. The chemical product producers have yet to find good viable solutions, and equipment manufacturers are now being hit with the lawsuits. I’ve yet to see an owners manual that the average person will likely read completely. Most folks won’t get beyond the basic functions, or will find a YouTube video for a quickie demo.

The manuals are loaded with “don’t dos”, while failing miserably to communicate all the “dos”. The only thing covered well is their indemnification: Basically stating that virtually all typical problems will be your fault. What a mess and joke! It’s no wonder that there’s lawsuits in the works.

We found a viable, effective solution to this mess years ago – while winning TWO international awards in the process. And frankly, we’re only scratching the surface of the iceberg we found.

After California loosened up on some building codes, the LA Times wrote about our soap berries and saponin-based cleaners in the “Top 4 Best” grey-water safe detergents. Note for our green friends: Regardless of washer type (HE, top-loader, front-loader, or the kitchen sink) use of a grey-water system ranks as one of the greenest things you can do at home. The majority of home water consumption is grey-water – not sewage. Hence, that beloved big old top-loading Maytag no longer wastes ANY water! And when using soap berries and saponins – your lawn and gardens will love you for it.

It’s all quite amazing what saponin will do. Putting it simply, cleaning up your washer is a no-brainer. Washing machine technicians have even written us commenting about never seeing machines so clean before. The internal plumbing, gaskets, heater elements, etc. remain cleaner than they’ve ever seen when servicing the machine of a soap nut user.

So, soap nuts / soapberries are key. There’s different techniques in using them. All are discussed here on SNP. However, front-loaders are the most challenging in obtaining optimal results because they fall short in agitation and even more importantly – adequate water flow for the proper dispersion of the saponin. So, here comes the only sales pitch from me:

Use our flagship formula: EXTREME 18X.

NaturOli EXTREME 18X soap berry liquid concentrate, 8oz with micro-dose pump.

NaturOli EXTREME 18X soap berry liquid concentrate, 8oz with micro-dose pump.

In these past years we’ve become the largest importer and distributor of soap berries and saponin products in the US and Canada. Our EXTREME 18X is effectively a pure saponin extract. Angele Sionna of Examiner.com’s “Early Child Parenting” column put it as “Soap Nuts in a bottle” in 2009 – shortly after we unveiled it. That’s a darn good description. (Today, both the bottling and liquid look nothing like the original in 2009. We’ve come a long way since then.) But EXTREME means extreme for a reason! A tiny 8oz bottle will wash 96+ HE loads. You can stop lugging big jugs around. You need so little that it comes with a micro-dose 2-ml squirt pump to dispense it properly.

Hands down, EXTREME 18X is best for front-loaders. It’s a one squirt and done. Traditional methods of using soap nuts are not as effective due to that lack of adequate water flow, and circulation is problematic. Due to the typically tiny front-loader drum space, many folks over stuff them, and that’s the worst thing you can do (regardless of detergent type) if you want clean laundry. As a very potent liquid, EXTREME 18X disperses immediately and thoroughly. Alternate methods require more effort and care for best results. (See the post on “Common Problems” for more details.)

Incredibly, saponin is also a natural fabric softener. And does so without any residue left behind. There’s no “wicking” of the fabric fibers. This is why cloth diapering moms were one of the largest market segments to first embrace soap berries. Cloth diapers came out so soft, and diaper rashes disappeared. (This must almost sound too good to be true, huh? But it IS true. It actually works – and works very, very well!) Simply refer to the user testimonies. They are real folks, with real stories.

EXTREME 18X comparison

Sorry for the cliche, but I can’t resist: “A picture says a 1000 words.”

Here’s just ONE recent feedback posted on 12-11-13 that you can find yourself in NaturOli’s feedback on Amazon: “I was skeptical about the promises made by this cleaner but it is great. I have 2 kids with eczema and I only used all free and clear before. This uses so much less and I have noticed the scaly buildup in my HE front load washer is almost gone. I’m not a “green” fanatic but this product really works.” – Carrie L., Bangs, TX. There’s literally been thousands of such comments since the formula’s unveiling.

I could write all day about this. We won’t mask the problem with fragrance – we eliminate it. Plus save you lots of extra work in the process. We guarantee it.

Soap berries have been around for ages. Various species grow across the entire globe. I’ve written many articles about why they are not well known in the US. For this post, let me simply state that nobody can patent an apple, an olive, or an orange. They’re fruits. If anybody was to have a patent, it would be Mother Nature, but she’s not profit motivated like P&G. So, figure it out yourself. It’s doubtful that P&G wants us growing our own soaps and detergents in our back yards. Plus, they certainly don’t want one small-footprint product out there that decimates the need for all their ancillary product sales. Ouch.

There’s some 30+ articles here on SoapNuts.Pro, and you can learn more at NaturOli.com. You’ll also find us on Amazon, iHerb, and scattered amongst select specialty stores across the US, Canada and abroad – plus with more and more dermatologists, homeopathic doctors and their like. For the greatest selection and options, you’ll find them in NaturOli’s Online Store. Ordering direct is currently the only way to obtain large sized refills, plus up to gallon sizes in the online Warehouse Department.

We do not seek mass merchandisers. Sorry, no Walgreens or Targets for us. That’s not our way. We like it the way we are.

We think you will, too.

Sorry, but due to recent technical issues, the comments link below may not be displaying and functioning properly. We are working to resolve this issue. If not working, please feel free to send your questions and/or comments to [email protected] – They will be responded to.

CAUTION: Don’t miss the updated post about China-grown soapberry seller(s) found in violation of U.S. Federal law, USDA regulations – and carrying a high risk of contamination. Many grandiose claims, and statements of being tested safe are made – however none (not a single one) has ever been substantiated. Online and third-party availability only. No address or phone is provided for the seller. The berries are characteristically soft, slimy and oily while having a dark reddish purple to black color (like old, dirty motor oil). Commonly noted is the scent of petroleum. Best to return (if possible) or discard in an environmentally friendly fashion.
(See full post in left-side column for the latest info.) – Just say “NO” to China-grown.

• Soapberries & Saponin: Here to Stay!

Soapberries – The Future of Natural Organic Soaps and Cleaners.

Finally, I’m becoming comfortable calling “soap nuts” for what they actually are – berries.

It’s been six years since I began writing about soapberries and the potential they offer us as a genuine, viable, sustainable and renewable, safe and environmentally friendly alternative to commercial, chemical-based detergents and cleaners. You may have just recently become aware of them. You may still be wondering if they really work, or if they’re just another gimmick or fad. Believe it – they work. They’re for real.

USDA Organic - Award Winning - soap nuts - soapberries

USDA Organic Sapindus Mukorossi Soap Nuts / Soap Berries: Two-time Green Dot Award winner. The jury proclaimed, "NaturOli green detergents' and cleansers' use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs."

The whole key is that the family of sapindus plants produce fruits containing saponins (natural surfactants / i.e., soap) in high enough concentrations that they are being recognized as a marketable commodity of significant value. Many plants contain saponin (such as agave, yucca, soapwort, etc.), but only soapberries contain enough of the precious saponins to make them a practical, sustainable, and economically viable source of it. It’s actually the combination of the tree’s prolific fruit bearing capacity, and its hardy nature that make annual harvesting possible. Other known saponin producing plants don’t produce enough saponin to make them viable or sustainable as a resource.

As most of my readers probably know, I’m particularly fond of the mukorossi species. That’s a very large tree with a big fruit. It’s like a big, juicy cherry, except golden colored. They’re very fleshy with lots of pulp. Hence, it’s the reigning king species of soap nuts. However, sapindus plants vary greatly. Some grow more like shrubs. I should say “weeds” because wherever they take hold (be it tree or shrub like) they tend to flourish! As you would expect, the fruits vary accordingly. Some are small with thin pulps and skins.

There are species that grow well in almost every climate and elevation, hence various species are found worldwide. Regardless of species, they are all sustainable saponin producers. Research is in progress to isolate all the differences in the saponins. In time, we will know much more. But just like different apples, oranges, corn, etc., the usefulness of each species will be determined. Surely we’ll even have hybrid soapberries someday. It’s inevitable.

Anyway you shake it, soapberries and saponin are here to stay – and the fruits and market will only get better with time, study and experience. I see no risk of over harvesting. Virtually all are growing wild today, and are under-utilized. We’ve barely even begun commercial tree farming. Supply in the wild is bountiful right now! Imagine what can and ultimately will be done…

The future points towards a world with less chemical production of soaps. More green forests and trees. Less chemical processing plants and pollution. More farming and harvesting. Procter & Gamble will fight this transition to be sure. They’ll kick, scream, plot, and execute strategies with every tool and penny in their box. But, they’re a dinosaur – and their end (as they function today) is nearing.

Mother Nature has made it so that the best and strongest will always survive. No amount of money on Earth will change that. Nature’s way and our ultimate destiny won’t be changed by the conglomerates. They will only slow our progress towards a world without them.

Saponin has made this all possible. It has opened this crucial gateway for us. All we need do now is walk through it – and start playing on the other side!

I hope you enjoy your visit with SoapNuts.Pro. Please visit often. We have an in-depth approach to soapberries (soap nuts) with an emphasis on education – almost 40 pages of information and “how to” tips. We explore science, testing, botany, history, and a plethora of uses – plus FAQs that are second to none (over 10,000 words in our FAQ page alone). This is not a store. But you’ll learn the ins and outs, the pro and cons, plus how to use them, buy them, and even sell them. You’ll learn to find good, honest sellers in a marketplace full of rather cagey opportunists – so you’ll never get taken, scammed, or ripped-off. You’ll learn how to get the best product – and great deals! You’ll learn what they will do, and what they won’t do. No sales hype or BS allowed.

Most importantly, you’ll discover the facts about soapberries – the truths.

Quick Links: (Our most popular pages.)

• FAQ

• Soap Nuts Scams – EXPOSED

• Common Problems

• Soap Nuts with Seeds

• Sustainability

• How to Buy Soap Nuts – The 12 Tips (Note: This is very detailed page. The “Tips” are in order of priority. It’s a lot to digest in any single session. Much like our FAQ page, it’s updated often. Such pages remain timely with the most current info. We suggest visiting them often.)

• Many Uses Part 2 – Shampoo

• Many Uses Part 1 – Beyond Laundry

• Many Uses Part 3 – Liquid

• Reviews & Testimonials

• Welcome (About SoapNuts.Pro)

• Soap Nuts and Suds

• Why from the USA?

• Just Say “NO!” to China

• Storage

Storing soap nuts and/or preserving soap nut liquid is simpler than you may think.

This is touched upon in FAQs and various soap nuts related articles, but warrants its own post. I am frequently asked about the shelf life of soap nuts, so here you go.

Let’s break this into two kinds of storage: Storage of the raw, dry soap nuts and preserving soap nuts liquids.

Raw soap nuts:

Whether whole, pieces or dry soap nuts powder, this is very simple. First remember that a soap nut (soap berry) is a dried fruit. They are originally sun dried, and then continue to dry during open air storage (unless it’s very humid, of course). How long will a dried fruit last? A very long time – years. No preservatives are needed. The soap nuts should be stored in a stable, relatively dry environment.  Just for reference, the perfect conditions are approximately 20 to 30% humidity and cool to room temperature. Avoid direct sunlight due to the heat created. Nothing special needs to be done by the average user for short-term storage (less than a year). Use common sense. If you are in a very moist environment use of an airtight container may be helpful. Be mindful of temperature changes and possible condensation. Silica packs can be helpful to dry out excess moisture in some cases. (You can find packets in many products you buy, such as electronics or anything where the manufacturer wants to avoid condensation and moisture. These work great.)

Lots of soap nuts in muslin bags.

Lots of mukorossi soap berries in muslin bags. Photo: Private collection.

We do not have any culinary use for soap nuts; hence we do not need to be concerned with them becoming stale. The active ingredient, saponin, does not evaporate – but the moisture will. Potency may decrease if very old, and particularly if very dry or very moist from improper storage. (If sealed when overly moist, you’ll end up with a black gummy mess.) So, plain old-fashioned, dry-cabinet storage will be most peoples’ soap nut storage solution. The more stable and moderately dry the environment remains, the more they will continue to resemble the soap nuts on the day you put them away.

For long-term soap nuts storage, the basics are the same. However, use an airtight container becomes much more important. Vacuum sealing is a great option if you have the capability. I personally have soap nuts that are three years old and they are still effective and look good. The trick is to have them just a little pliable and slightly tacky – neither too dry or too moist before sealing them up.

It is common for soap nuts to change in color over time. That pretty golden color from a fresh new harvest will only last for a few months. They will continually deepen in color over time. Color is often your best indicator of age. When buying soap nuts, I recommend buying the freshest ones you can get. The reason being: Why not? I’ve often seen soap nuts that were new out of the box, but obviously a year or two (or more) old. They’ll work, but I’d much prefer big, plump soap nuts (preferably mukorossi soap berries) to ensure I’m getting the maximum level of saponin content.

Soap Nuts Liquid:

Storing soap nuts liquid is an entirely different story. Shy of being professionally preserved, there are two age-old ways to go: Freezing or canning. Period. Unless you really know what you are doing, don’t bother with at home preservatives (e.g., citric acid, tea tree oil, rosemary, etc). These are not full spectrum preservatives and will have limited usefulness. You may be able to extend the shelf life of the soap nuts liquid a little, but not enough to make much of a difference. If you are purely preserving the liquid (that is, strained of the soap berries), I suggest making soap nut liquid ice cubes. These are very convenient to use. Melt them as needed, or just toss some in with your laundry. If you are making other soap nut cleaners, melt as many as needed for the solution. Don’t make up more than you’ll use in a week. Having “ready to use” soap nuts liquid doesn’t get much more convenient.

Canning is another great option – particularly for long-term storage. It’s great if you are preserving the whole soap nut “stew” to play with another day. Most likely you either know or don’t know how to “can” food products. I won’t spend time here explaining how, but it is very simple. If you want to learn, there are many sites that will teach you step-by-step. Grandma could can her garden tomatoes and fruits, so you can do the same with your soap nuts.

So now, how difficult is it to store or preserve soap nuts regardless of form? Not at all. I’ve received emails from people that actually seemed overly concerned about the shelf life of their homemade soap nuts liquids. That’s a bit silly. Any unpreserved plant, fruit, vegetable or food product will go bad over time – particularly if in water. There’s no need to be afraid of it. If it goes sour, you’ll know it. You may still use it in compost or to water plants with it. My plants seem to love soap nuts regardless of state or condition.

Professionally preserved soap nut liquid is available, and also available in a very highly concentrated form. See NaturOli’s Extreme 18X soap nuts liquid cleaner for a highly concentrated formula with a two-year shelf life. You can also find it on Amazon and sometimes on Ebay. It can be used for laundry or a plethora of household cleaning needs, and is to be diluted as desired. I highly recommend it – and it has a long shelf life. Do be aware that there are numerous ways to extract saponin from soap nuts. Some processes use harsh chemical solvents. It’s fast and cheap. Needless to say, that’s not what most of us want to see for it defeats the purpose of safe natural liquid. Look for only products using a water-based saponin extraction process.

Go enjoy your soap nuts for a long time to come. Larger sizes cost less per ounce.  So, I hope this will help you to take better advantage of those significant savings on soap nuts.

• Best High Efficiency (he) Detergent

Hands down soap nuts (a.k.a soapnuts, soap berries, wash nuts, etc.) are the best HE (high efficiency) detergent or laundry soap available anywhere at any price. Period. Soap nuts actually accomplish everything that the HE chemical detergent producers are still trying to accomplish – and soap nuts do it even better  completely naturally – and totally green.

Typical he front loading washer.

Typical he front loading washer. Stock photo.

Soap nuts release precisely what the chemists at the major detergent producers are struggling to develop. Soap nuts simply accomplish it naturally and synthetic chemical free. A low sudsing, effective surfactant is the objective of any good HE detergent. Such is saponin – the all-important active ingredient that the soap nut releases to produce the “soaping” effect.

(Just in case: A surfactant is an agent or substance that reduces the surface tension of liquids so that the liquid spreads out, rather than collecting in droplets, hence allowing easy water flow through the soiled fabrics and facilitating the removal or release of dirt, oils, grime, etc.) Saponin does precisely that!

Soap nuts also come with some truly major extra benefits. They are naturally anti-fungal, antimicrobial, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. Plus to top it all off, used properly they are by far less expensive than the commercial chemical detergents. Geeez…what more can we ask for? See the article on affordability.

Virtually everything written in this article applies to all front-loading washers. Front loading washers are essentially HE washers by design. Newer front loaders that are called HE are simply more efficient than older units. They use tumbling as opposed to agitators to clean your laundry and use less water. Tumbling the laundry is the ideal way to agitate the soap nuts. It further enhances their release of saponins.

A very interesting point to be noted is that most HE washers have a maintenance cycle that is required to be run to keep the machine operating at peak efficiency. I very recently wrote an article specifically about purging and cleaning your machine using soap nuts (regardless of machine type). See the article on cleaning up washing machines with soap nuts for more detail. Soap nuts do not leave the residues and build ups that chemical detergents do (even the so called “green” ones). They actually break down such residues. Given that much less water is used in HE washers, a good “flushing” of the detergents, residues and additives out of your laundry and your machine is not achieved. Hence this newly found need for a maintenance cycle to help clean it out periodically.

Chemists are struggling to keep up with the washing machine technologies, and not doing a good job of it. Most of those I speak with that own HE and front-loading machines are not happy at all with the commercial detergents. As the founder of NaturOli, I speak to a lot of people every day about different detergents and the effects of using soap nuts. I routinely hear stories of these nasty odors and gross build-ups – and how well soap nuts work to eliminate the problems.

So, if you have a new or old HE washer (either top or front loader) simply try using soap nuts. It’s my bet that you will be totally astounded. You’ll love what they do for your laundry, your machine and your pocketbook, too!

Electrolux 2007 Design Lab winner. Soap nuts washer prototype. Photo courtesy of Electolux.

Electrolux 2007 Design Lab winner. Soap nuts washer prototype. Photo: Electrolux.

I’m certainly not going to try to address every single machine out there. They all don’t operate alike. Fundamentally they are the similar, but there are differences. It is very important to realize that the machine manufacturers are working with the chemical detergent producers and writing their manuals accordingly. They are certainly not addressing soap nut usage. Soap nuts are not even on their radar screens. As of 2009, it appears that only one European manufacturer, Electrolux, has actually demonstrated their foresight and vision by addressing soap nut usage.

Soap nuts are a 100% natural alternative to the synthetic, chemical detergents. Using soap nuts in a wash bag is such a radically different way to wash laundry, some experimentation on your part is going to be needed for you to determine the best method to achieve the best results using soap nuts in your machine. But, that’s part of the fun of them. Soap nut liquid and powder are used much like you would use any other liquid or powder detergent.

When using the wash bag method just forget about the compartments. Even if using liquid or powder, I recommend not using the compartments initially. Simply add the soap nuts (in whatever form) directly in with your laundry. Experimentation over time is the only way to know what works best for YOU. Since washing machines function differently the compartments and their dispersion methods introduce variables. As any good scientist will tell you, if you want to learn more and learn faster, minimize variables. Forget about the fabric softener department, too, since you normally don’t need fabric softeners when using soap nuts.

If you are using soap nuts in the traditional method (soap nuts in a wash bag) and washing in cold, definitely make a cup of soap nut “tea” and pour the tea and bag right in with your laundry. Heat helps to activate the release of the saponins. The starter “tea” method works great. You usually don’t need to make the tea again when doing loads back to back. Alternately, just boil some soap nuts and make a liquid, or grind them to a dust-like ultra fine powder. How you use soap nuts is purely a matter of personal preference. All methods work.

An exception regarding compartments: If you are using EXTREME 18X, dilute it as instructed to whatever amount of liquid is typical for your machine. Use both the wash and pre-wash compartments. It is very pure and void of any oils, hence it works great using the compartments – and immediately starts to work clean up your machine’s internal plumbing.

All in all, simply use good old-fashioned common sense. Know that heat and agitation help to release saponin from raw soap nuts. Using powders and liquids are simply convenient alternative methods. Many people really enjoy producing their own homemade detergent concoctions.

What’s most important to know and understand is that you have available to you (right now) the absolute very best HE detergent you will ever find – soap nuts. Soap nuts are the perfect HE detergent in every way – and again – more affordable, too! I guess Mother Nature is a little smarter than all those laboratory chemists. Why am I not surprised?

• 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.

• Laundry Use: The Wash Bag Method

Let’s get to the age-old, traditional method of soap nuts (soapberries) laundry washing. That is, using the dried soapberries in a wash bag. It is extremely simple, but the most difficult method to wrap our brain around. It is simply such a different and unique way to wash laundry. Never use soap nuts without a wash bag. That would be very wasteful, plus you would likely get bits and pieces of the soap nuts in your laundry. Do not put soap nuts into the detergent compartments (either loose or in a wash bag). Doing so will not permit the agitation that helps the soap nuts release their saponin – their all-important active ingredient.

With traditional soap nuts wash bag usage, forget about your washing machine’s compartments entirely. Put five or six soap nuts (approximately a half an ounce) into a muslin or cotton wash bag. Tie it closed and simply toss the wash bag right in with your laundry. Period. That’s it. It doesn’t matter whether your machine is standard, HE, front-loading, top-loading or whatever. All we want to do is get the wash bag to be “washed” right along with the rest of your laundry.

NOTE: Be sure that the soap nuts do not contain seeds. (You can tell very easily if they do. The seeds are large, like a seed in a cherry. There are some soap nuts being sold on the market that are not de-seeded. The seeds are big, very hard and black as coal. They have no cleaning benefits at all, and can potentially leave spots on your laundry. This is not to mention that since you purchase soap nuts by weight, the seed will weigh about as much as the shell (the part that produces the saponin). Beware of very cheap prices.

VERY IMPORTANT FUNDAMENTALS:
Certain things are necessary to understand how to use soap nuts traditionally and to achieve the best results from them. Some basic points:
1) The dried soap nuts must become saturated with water. The dried fruit will become softer when it is releasing saponin at a desirable rate.
2) Heat is a catalyst that can be used effectively to more quickly soften the soap nuts and facilitate a faster release of the saponin.
3) Good water flow in and around the soap nuts and laundry, plus agitation are key factors to effective and ongoing release of saponin throughout the wash. Overstuffed laundry loads will not produce desirable results.
4) Cold water merely reduces the degree to which the saponin is released. There is no need to remove the soap nuts during the commonly cold rinse cycle. Saponin is so benign that a little in the rinse cycle has no negative effect whatsoever.

The traditional method of soap nut usage is the most economical method of use. Soap nuts’ cost per load is far less than most commercial detergents – particularly the so-called “natural” laundry soaps. Plus you will need no fabric softener or dryer sheets anymore. You will typically get around five loads per half an ounce of soap nuts. When washing and rinsing in cold water or when using an HE washer, you can often extend that to 6-7 loads. Tip: If you choose to, you can remove the wash bag prior to the rinse cycle and that will also extend the useful life of the soap nuts. This is not necessary at all. It may simply get you an extra wash or two per soap nuts wash bag.

If using a cold-water wash cycle, it is best to soak the bag of soap nuts in a cup of warm water first. Make a soap nut “tea” so to speak. That will help to stimulate the release of saponin from the soapberries. Then pour the cup of liquid and the bag right into the machine, add your laundry and start washing. If you have a pre-wash cycle, that’s fine. It won’t make a difference. Many people do not do take this extra step, and get great results. Water hardness and the exact water temperature are other variables. One person’s cold can be many degrees different than another’s. Softer water will allow the soap nuts to begin working more quickly, too. Hence, it is best to simply experiment to determine what works best for you.

Overstuffed laundry loads is the #1 reason for less than desirable results - regardless of detergent type.

Over-stuffing laundry loads is the #1 reason for "less than desirable" wash results - regardless of detergent type.

Be certain not to over-stuff your loads. If water is not flowing adequately through the fabrics, no detergent of any kind will work well. You should always be able to see your laundry intermixing and moving about. If nothing appears to be moving about freely, then your  laundry load is packed too tightly. Overly packed loads may save water, but at the price of having laundry that has not been properly cleaned.

Once you begin using soap nuts you will quickly understand just how simple they are to use. I feel that much of what I write is not because we need to learn so much about how to use them, but rather to explain the many things that we have come to believe about doing laundry that are just plain wrong. Given the fundamentals above, you would figure most of this out for yourself through trial and error. However, I hope that to help shorten your learning curve, bring clarity to certain issues about using soap nuts, and minimize any confusion that occurs during the course of changing our ways of doing laundry.

Through the course of business I meet many people in the laundry business. As one professional specialty laundry cleaner of many years put it, “Most people shouldn’t do their own laundry.” He stated that there are just too many things that most people do not fully understand about what actually causes the proper cleaning of their laundry. That’s very interesting, don’t you think?

We learn more about soap nuts and saponin every single day. The list of benefits that the soap nut offers us and our environment gets longer all the time. It is ultimately my goal to move on to addressing all these wonderful benefits and the many other soap nuts uses. Mother Nature handed us a remarkable gift when that first soapberry tree took root. I look forward to sharing all I have learned from soap nuts. They will change our lives forever.

• Soap Nut Trees

Soap nut trees are one of nature’s greatest gifts.

Sapindus mukorossi tress with ripening soap berries.

Sapindus mukorossi tress with ripening soap berries. Note the yellow to golden brown colors of mukorossi berries that are ready for harvesting. This coloration will last for only a few months at most. They are rarely seen like these by Western consumers.

Man has used soap nuts since ancient times – primarily in Far East lands. They go by many common names such as soap berries, washing nuts, soap nut shells, wash shells, soapberry nuts, Ritha nut shells, Chinese soapberry and many more. Until recently, they have been obscure and virtually unheard of by most. There are logical explanations for this obscurity – many are sad and tragic, but true. However, what is most important is where we go from here. Integrating the benefits of soap nuts into our daily lives will be one of the greatest accomplishments of our age.

Soap nuts are more appropriately called a soapberry. I will use both terms. There is no difference whatsoever regardless of the term used. To visualize a soapberry, think of a golden colored cherry while still on the tree – they are very similar type fruits in appearance. Being more specific, the soap nut that we use for cleaning purposes is actually the pulp and skin of the dried soapberry. The seed is not used for cleaning. It is for cultivating new trees. Research is being conducted for other uses of the soap nut seed, but no other benefits have yet to be documented. Please note that all soap berries are not alike. This will be discussed in detail.

This pulp and skin contain an extremely important natural substance called saponin. Saponin is a truly natural soap (in effect at least). More precisely, and MOST importantly, it is a 100% natural surfactant. By definition a surfactant is an agent, chemical, drug or substance that reduces the surface tension of liquid. It is this reduction of water surface tension that makes cleaning easier. Soap nuts contain this all-important saponin that makes our everyday cleaning needs not only easier, but much healthier, safer and totally free of synthetic chemicals.

So, a soap nut is the vehicle that releases this highly effective, 100% natural substance that is the best alternative to the synthetic chemicals used in the virtually all commercial detergents and cleaners. Even today’s supposedly “natural”, “organic”, and “green” detergents and cleaners mainly use synthetic chemicals as their primary active ingredients. Saponin is the only all-natural substance known that works as effectively and diversely as synthetic surfactants – and therefore is one of the greatest re-discoveries of our age.

I state “re-discovery” because soap nuts are far from new. There are many ancient and Ayurvedic treatments that soap nuts have been essential in producing. They are still commonplace and the primary cleanser used in many remote regions of the world.

They key here is that Mother Nature has freely provided us a substitute for the man-made chemicals that have been coming out of the factories and labs of many of the largest companies on earth. This simple all-natural substitute has profound health and environmental benefits for all mankind. With only a little thought, it is easy to understand why soap nuts are not well known. What does man crave and Mother Nature cares nothing about? Money.

People across the globe are taking a hard, close second look at all the hazards and problems created by exposure to and release of all the synthetic chemicals in our world. Soap nuts are now in the right place at the right time. Soap nuts will be one of the leaders of the new, green age that lies ahead. Their time has come.

Mature mukorossi tree beginning to flower for the upcoming year's bountiful berry harvest. Note: Long distinctive leaves of the mukorossi species.

Mature mukorossi tree beginning to flower for the upcoming year's bountiful berry harvest. Note: Long distinctive leaves of the mukorossi species.

A few facts of interest:
– The mukorossi species is indigenous to China. They are still listed on the books as an “alien” species in India and Nepal, but this is splitting hairs. (The term Chinese soap berry is antiquated at best.) For thousands of years the invasive species migrated southward through eastern Nepal and northern India. Today they are far more established in India and Nepal as agriculture products of international commerce and community incomes – their Fair Trade markets becoming well developed after years of work by local villagers and Southern Asian exporters. China recently began exportation after recognizing a potential for profit. Agricultural products are only a scant few percent (at best) of China’s GDP due to their reputation for low quality control, lack of regulation, common use of toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, excessive pollution of both water and air, plus persistently being plagued with worldwide news of hazardous contamination outbreaks.
– They are exceptionally prolific fruit producers. See post on Soap Nuts Sustainability to learn more.
– When growing, patience will be needed. They make take up to 9 years to bare their precious fruits.
– They’re big trees! Can grow to 90′. Allow room.
– Once established, expect them to be live a long time – commonly a century!

Growing Soap Nut Trees from Seed:

(Courtesy L.R. Sacks, www.Soap-Nuts.info)

Initial Note: It is extremely common to see a ring of moldy-looking “white fuzzy stuff” around the umbilical area of the soap nut seed. This is perfectly normal. It does not mean the heart has become rotten nor will it affect germination in any way. No need to wipe it off – and it may even be a good thing.

1. Scarify the seed. Because the soap nut seed coat is so hard, the plant embryo inside cannot breakthrough the seed coat on its own. You must help it by damaging the seed coat. You’ll have to be a little creative. One option is to use a nail file and wear down a notch in the seed coat. I found the seed coat to be so tough that sand paper and fine-grained files did not leave a mark. Another option is to hammer the seed. Be careful not to crush the seed; we just want to weaken the seed coat. I gave about a dozen hard whacks to my seed against concrete, and felt like I was weakening it, but did not see any visible change. Another option is to soak it in hot water. Don’t use water that is actually boiling, but it can still be very hot. I boiled a kettle, let the hot water sit for five minutes, and then filled up a vacuum insulated thermos with the seeds and water, and let it soak for 24 hours. The thermos will keep the water quite warm throughout that period. I used all three methods (filing, hammering, soaking) and it worked ok, but I’m sure there are other good methods too. Soaking is particularly important though, as the water is what activates the germination. If you choose the hammer method be careful not to fully break the outer shell of the seed because once it’s in damp soil it may begin to rot. Remember sapindus mukorossi (and many species  of soap  berry trees) grow in rough rocky mountainous soil not in wetlands so don’t over water.

2. You need to plant the seed. I would do this in spring or early summer in a pot either outside or in a greenhouse. Choose a pot that is deep, as soap nut trees send down vertical taproots. If you don’t have a deep pot, a 2 liter plastic bottle works well – cut off the top and drill several holes in the bottom. Bury the seed in potting soil (not dirt – use good quality potting/germinating soil) to about three times the seed’s depth. Put it in a place where it will not be in direct sun, and where it can catch some rainfall. Water the pot if the soil starts to dry, but don’t water if it is still moist – that can promote fungal growth. Also, avoid fertilizing the soil before germination occurs – high levels of nitrogen in the soil can actually inhibit germination in general.

3. Wait. Your soap nut seed may take a long time to germinate. It could be 1 month to 3 months, perhaps even more. Not all of the seeds will germinate, but if you follow these directions, you should get 80% or more to grow. Once it does begin to grow, it will shoot up fast. About 1 foot in 1 month should be about right, then it will slow down a little. Give it plenty of full sunlight, and water when soil begins to dry. Again, remember these trees grow in rough rocky mountainous soil not in wetlands so don’t over water.

4. Taking care of the tree. My trees are still very young, so I cannot provide a lot of personal experience. I will be growing mine in progressively larger pots, keeping them on a sunny patio. They should be moved inside once freezing weather begins next winter. Since they are mainly grown in northern India and southern China, they may or may not be able to sustain freezing temperatures. Soap nut tress are known to be and appear generally quite hardy, so should not need a high level of care once well established.

• Soap Nuts & Soap Making

To make soap or grow soap? That is the question.

Soap making within ancient civilizations (primarily Roman, Greek, Babylonian and Egyptian) can be traced to Biblical ages (centuries B.C.). Animal fats, tallow, vegetable oils, clays, ashes, salts and numerous ingredients were commonly used. For this article, the different types of soaps are not relevant to soap nuts. Only the fact that they were man-made is very significant.

The soaps used by most of mankind throughout history were not picked from a tree, as are soap berries. Hence, soap producing berries are exceptionally unique. Just the idea of a fruit producing soap is tough to grasp. However, once embraced it becomes very intriguing. The level of excitement in people continually amazes me once they begin to see all the possibilities soap nuts offer us.

Soap was originally produced in large part as a medicinal product. Centuries later it became recognized as a cleanser. The early ancient Romans used olive oil for personal hygiene – not soap. A mixture of olive oil and sand was applied and scraped off in order to cleanse and exfoliate the body. Ancient Greeks also used exfoliation by other means as their primary method of cleansing and maintaining personal hygiene. At some point during the height of the Great Roman Empire soap (Latin: sapo) became widely recognized as a personal cleaning product. A soap making facility and soap bars of man-made soap were uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii. Soap nuts were not in the picture – at all.

There is little evidence that any form of soap was used in cleaning fabrics during ancient times. Water and agitation were the primary means of washing laundry. I’m certain that we’ll never go back to water and rocks for doing laundry, but this indicates just how little we know about how to clean fabrics properly – even today. A surfactant (such as soap nuts or any soap) would have simply made laundry day a little easier.

Sadly, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the importance of personal hygiene took a major dive throughout the lands ruled by the Empire. It is suspected that this decline in personal hygiene resulted in many of the major plagues in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was man’s greed that led to this decline.

During the centuries after the fall, European soap making began to really take off. It began being produced at commercial levels. In the 1600s, English King James I granted the exclusive rights to a single manufacturer in exchange for huge annual payments. It was even taxed and essentially became a luxury item. Soap was not readily available to the average consumer due to its high cost.

Bottom line: Man-made soap has been a major moneymaker for ages. Fortunes were made then – and still are still being made today. For all of Europe and the new western hemisphere the stage was set. There was no incentive for businesses to look for a natural soap – particularly something like soap nuts which abundantly grows on trees. Many powerful people had a great thing going. People were getting rich, and nobody wanted to change a thing – with the exception of making the businesses even more profitable via producing cheaper commercial soaps, detergents and cleaners.

Soaps, as we know them today, did not appear until around the early 1800s – not far off from when P & G first opened their doors. (Old-fashioned, glycerin-rich soap is nothing like what comes out of the factories today. Ask any true soap maker sometime.) For a great article about what man did with soap to trick us, visit: http://www.naturoli.com/mission/powermarketing.html

Does anyone find it ironic that one of the earliest known sources of a cleansing medium was naturally growing on a tree (olives), and today we are discovering another totally natural cleansing medium (soap nuts) growing on trees – over 2,000 years later?

Thankfully, a huge grassroots movement – the GREEN movement – emerged in this century and has placed an enormous emphasis on safe, chemical-free alternatives to today’s chemical laden products. In many ways the re-discovery of soap nuts is a direct result of this newfound emphasis and energy. Soap nuts are, as the “Green Dot Award” jury put it,  “…possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday cleaning needs…” Soap nuts will change what and how we think about soap. And also what we DO when it comes to cleaning.

Important note: In no way is this article to cast a shadow on today’s handmade soap making – quite the contrary. Real soap making is an art and a science. Soap-makers are a very special, wonderful breed that cares about healthy, nutrient rich formulations. Some small businesses and people at home are making genuinely fabulous, luxurious soaps – nothing whatsoever like today’s commercial soaps. At NaturOli we still hand pour pure, glycerin-rich soap bars and produce amazingly effective, moisturizing, chemical-free liquid soaps and washes. Most true soap-makers I know embrace soap nuts and saponin. Soap nuts make for another wonderful ingredient that can be used in soap making, plus they are appreciated for their myriad of other uses. Soap nuts will never replace true, pure, chemical-free soaps. Such soaps are a must-try if you have never experienced the quality and richness of them.

• Get Best Results: Washing Machine Types

It’s time to look at how to use soap nuts (aka: soapnuts, soapberries, wash nuts, etc.) in your particular type of washing machine. Depending upon the type (and some other factors), the way you use your soap nuts will vary. This post is an introduction purely to get some fundamentals out of our way. We will drill much deeper into all the little nuances of soap nuts and your specific machine later.

Let’s start with a look at these basic machine types. We don’t need to bother discussing the size of machine. Regardless of size they will all work similarly to their bigger or smaller brothers and sisters. There are top-loaders and front-loaders. There are standard and high efficiency (HE) washers. Basically, that’s it. (Okay, somebody is still using a washboard with rollers somewhere, and I’ll even get to that some other day.) Please note that any front-loader is essentially a higher efficiency unit simply due to its design. It is simply that extra water and energy saving features have been incorporated into the newer models.

Electrolux 2007 Design Lab winner. Soap nuts washer prototype. Photo courtesy of Electolux.

Electrolux 2007 Design Lab winner. Soap nuts washer prototype. Photo courtesy of Electolux.

No washing machine of any type currently on the market addresses the use of soap nuts in either their designs or owner’s manuals. Only Electrolux to my knowledge has a soap nuts washer on their drawing board. Some soap nuts (saponin) based detergents are being developed to be used in similar fashion to the typical commercial detergents (supposedly natural or not). That is the path of least resistance in reaching the average consumer. Given that the popularity of soap nuts is spreading like a wildfire, it is only a matter of time before more machines are designed to utilize them, and manuals will specifically address their usage.

For the soap nut users that prefer the traditional method of soap nuts in a wash bag, I suspect it will take a bit longer to be addressed by manufacturers. It is simply so different in the way they are used it will be more difficult for to address. Ironically, it is probably the easiest way. (Soap nuts used properly in the traditional method is the most economical – and even fun – way to wash laundry.) Let us be aware that there are strong relationships built between the hardware manufacturers and the detergent producers – similar to the relationships between computer and software companies. They need and help each other. Given that, the fruits of the soap berry tree are not likely to be embraced by the makers of Tide, Gain, Clorox, Cheer (or whomever) anytime soon, the traditional users of soap nuts are going to be left to information such as this (and their common sense) for the best guidance in the meantime.

The numerous benefits of the soapberry are now being found in soap nuts (saponin-based) liquid and soap nut powder detergents that can be used in very similar fashion to the commercial brands. I highly recommend soap nuts liquid for many reasons. See the upcoming post on “Powder vs. Liquid” for in-depth information and rationale. For the sake of brevity, let’s just leave it at this: Liquids are cheaper and simpler to use regardless of machine type. There are more variables that must be considered when using powder. Soap nuts liquids are essentially a no-brainer.

Possibly the most important thing to realize from this post is that when it comes to soap nuts – in any form – are fantastic for every type of machine. Don’t get hung up on the newer HE models that discuss using only appropriate HE detergents. All they are really saying is to avoid high sudsing detergents. Soap nuts are naturally low sudsing. Due to their very nature, soap nuts work equally well in all machine types – and far better than the chemical-based detergents for many reasons. Don’t get hung up on how to use soap nuts in the machines that have various compartments. Some will be used and some won’t be required at all. That stated it now becomes a matter of how to improve upon the way we use soap nuts, and ultimately obtain the very best results from each type of machine. Have no concern. It will all be addressed in great detail in separate posts.

• What are Soap Nuts?

Are they soap NUTS or soap BERRIES? A little botany:

Soap nuts are not “nuts”. Of course you can take that a few different ways, but I am referring to only the botany. A soap nut is not a nut at all. It is a berry – a fruit. This has confused many people. Most consumers have never seen a soapberry growing on the tree. Most only see the dried fruit. Being hard and crinkled it looks like a nut. It erroneously began being referred to as a soap nut, and the name stuck.

One can become very confused when trying to determine what is rightfully a “nut”. It is a very broad term. Using some definitions, a soapberry could be referred to as a nut or seed. Botanically speaking, a nut is a dried fruit with one seed. That fits for a soap nut. However, the BIG catch is that with a true NUT – the fruit cannot be separated from the seed. A freshly picked ripe soapberry will resemble a cherry. They vary from species to species, but they have a large single seed in each berry and a juicy pulp and skin. Of course, some can get nit-picky here because some nuts have shells, hence they can be separated. However, those “shells” were never a fruit-like pulp. They are woody – nothing like the pulp of a cherry. A soap nut is NOT a nut. It IS a fruit.

Even in India, the soapberry exporters refer to them as soap nuts because that is what most people call them. This does not help the situation. Most all sellers call them and brand them as “nuts”. It is common to see both the one and two word versions of each name to further complicate matters. As usual, the consumer is left confused. I use all the terms interchangeably mainly because “nuts” is so ingrained now, but would prefer for readers to think of them as berries. Again, think of them much like a cherry – a de-seeded (hopefully), dried cherry at the consumer level.

Many different species of soapberries grow around the globe. Simply visit Wikipedia searching under the genus sapindus for some of the many types of soapberries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapindus

Be they shrubs or trees, we know that soapberries come from sapindus vegetation. We know the species differ significantly. A great deal more study is required to isolate all the differences.

Please be wary of what you read. As stated on Wikipedia, “Common names include soapberry and soapnut, both names referring to the use of the crushed seeds to make soap.” This statement is VERY misleading. It is not the crushed seed that produces soap. It is saponins (the natural substance within them) that produce soap. If it helps, think of saponins as soapberry juice. Saponin predominantly is derived from the pulp and skin of the fruit. The seeds have yet to be determined of significant value.

Personally, I feel much of the confusion is semantics. Much is written by those other than botanical experts and then copied and pasted over and over. I try to write to how I believe most of us think. Is a cherry a fruit or a seed? That depends upon HOW you think. However, most of us think of it as a fruit or berry. It has a big seed inside and we eat the pulp and skin. It is with THIS mindset that I describe soapberries.

I have read claims that soapberries are closely related to the goji berry or wolfberry. This is a little troubling for they VERY different in most of their characteristics. Goji berries are more similar to tiny tomatoes, and often are for culinary and nutritional use. They do not come from the same order of the plant kingdom – and you DO NOT want to eat soapberries.

One seller (that I am not yet permitted to disclose) will soon launch a massive campaign that may earmark a turning point. The soap nut may begin to become more rightfully known as a soapberry. In the meantime, don’t get confused. Regardless of the term, they are all a fruit, and there are different types that yield different results.

That is all that the average consumer NEEDS to know – for now.

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• Nut Allergies? No Worries.

Have nut allergies? No worries.

A soap nut is not a nut. It is a fruit – a berry to be precise. Many, particularly those in Eastern countries, more appropriately call it a soap berry. While on the tree the soap nut is similar in physical characteristics and appearance to a cherry. So, if you have nut allergies, do not be concerned.

A soap BERRY is a far more botanically accurate description of it. Throughout this site you will find the use of each of these terms, but do not be confused. I am referring to one thing.

Nobody really knows when or where soap nuts caught on as the most popular term for them. When they are de-seeded, dried and ready for use they have a crinkled nut-like appearance. This is how most consumers first see and experience them. Very few people see the soap nuts while still on the tree. If more people did they would be more commonly referred to as soap berries.

Given that the possibility of an allergy is the gist of this article, remember that virtually everyone can be allergic to something. From experience and hard data from NaturOli, I’ll have to put soap nuts close to olives as far as human sensitivity to them. Out of thousands of known customers and users (as of July, 2009) we have documented only two individuals that experienced an allergic reaction. In both cases they resulted in a mild, itchy rash that lasted a short period (less than 24 hours).

If you knowingly have high sensitivities and many allergies, it is always a good practice to do a small patch test. Take a patch of cloth, get it wet and soapy by rubbing the soap nuts, and then place it on your arm or leg. You don’t need to leave it on for long, but let it dry on your skin. Don’t rinse or wipe it off. Your skin will absorb the saponin. It is the saponin that would be the cause of an allergy. Saponin is the active ingredient in the soap nut.

Allow an hour or two to see if you experience any reaction. If you have an allergy to soap nuts, this test will show you, and do so with minimal discomfort. Most likely the treated area would become red and itchy. Possibly small bumps could emerge. Of course at this point you should wash the affected area. It is only prudent to state that if there is any reaction more serious than described, you should consult your physician.

As we get into much more depth be aware that a soap nut is not just a soap nut. There are many varieties. There are specific articles on this topic. When being referenced in articles and posts the vast majority of the time the soap nut being discussed is the Sapindus Mukorossi variety (the highest quality and most highly valued of the many varieties).

Given that there are numerous species and differing saponins, there is a possibility to be allergic to one particular species and not another. This is very unlikely, but a possibility. Much more study, research and testing of all the varieties of soap nuts is required.

There is a recent 2009 toxicology test that compares ocular irritation from a saponin-based detergent relative to other popular commercial brands. (See Soap Nuts Ocular Toxicity Test) It should be noted that in this independent laboratory test the saponin detergent was the LEAST irritating of all brands tested. Particularly given that this was an eye irritation test (eyes being very sensitive), It is a good indicator of the very benign nature of soap nuts and saponin.

The odds of having an allergy to saponin (soap nuts, soap berries, etc.) are very remote. You should be able to freely partake in ALL the incredible wonders and benefits that soap nuts offer us.

• Saponin Toxicity Test

Soap nuts are demonstrated to be less of an irritant than mainstream detergents – even the “so called” Free and Clear products.

In vitro (test tube) ocular testing of soap nuts/saponin has recently (2009) been conducted via a US independent laboratory. A non-disclosure agreement limits me at this time from providing all the specifics regarding who conducted the tests, plus the patented processes that were utilized. No animal testing of any kind was involved.

The tests were conducted using cultured human cells from the cornea. The tests evaluated the level of irritation that exposure to soap nuts/saponin-based and mainstream commercial detergents would develop. It is significant to note that ocular testing is possibly the best measure of toxicity due to the sensitivity of the eye.

For the saponin detergent a variation of NaturOli’s Extreme 18X was used. It was reduced to a level of potency equivalent to that of the other detergents it was compared to. Given the high concentration of Extreme18X, adjustments needed to be made to have a true apples-to-apples comparison.

Note: Triton X-100 is not a commercial or retail “brand” detergent. It is a non-ionic surfactant commonly used for laboratory testing. It is used as a proper control sample for such testing.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triton_X-100 for more information.

The study is quite complex, but the net of the net is the following comparative results:

NaturOli’s Soap Nut Liquid Laundry Soap – “minimally irritating”

Triton X-100 (the control sample) – “mildly irritating”

2X Ultra Tide HE Free Detergent – “moderately irritating”

Seventh Generation HE Natural Free and Clear Detergent – “mildly irritating”

Method Green 3X Concentrate Free and Clear – “severely to extremely irritating”

Very significant to this testing is that each of the detergents selected for comparative study are the detergents marketed as the “greener” and more natural of each brand.

There were no surprises to me in the results of this testing. I have intentionally put tiny amounts of saponin and other detergents in my eyes to personally experience the results first hand. These results are consistent with my experience. I’ve tried many others, too. Soap nuts liquid and saponin is very gentle relative to everything I’ve personally tested.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please do not even think of trying this yourself. It’s not fun – at all. It hurts, and you could cause yourself serious harm. Even “moderately” is an understatement in my opinion, and “extremely” doesn’t come close to doing it justice. Wow! OUCH!

It should be noted that NaturOli’s Soap Nut Liquid Detergent contains only vegetable glycerin, olive leaf extract and “food” grade preservative as additives to its saponin extract. NaturOli uses a proprietary aqueous extraction process (water based) that is also very safe and benign. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are soap nut liquids that utilize very hazardous chemical extraction processes. Not all saponin extracts are alike. Hence, this test does not imply that all soap nut detergents will produce the same results.

• Sustainability

Soap nuts are a fully renewable and sustainable resource – offering us future forestation potential. Hands down, they are the best green alternative to synthetic / chemical detergents, laundry soaps and cleaners. They are quite possibly the single most earth-friendly gift Mother Nature has ever provided us.

Only half or less of the Sapindus Mukorossi soap nuts from the Doon Valley region of the Himalayans are being consumed / utilized today. Most end up decomposing in the soils – a terrible waste of a valuable resource and economic stimulus for the regions. The trees are exceptionally prolific fruit producers!

Himalayan-landscape

Himalayan Mountains. Northern India. Approx. 250km N/E of New Delhi. Directly adjacent to Nepal.

Mukorossi soap berry trees may also be cultivated across vast regions of the world, typically those areas of higher elevation, steeper slopes and poor soil conditions. Other soap nut tree species such as trifoliatus and saponaria thrive in a wide range of elevations and climates from tropical to near desert terrains. Mukorossi trees are extremely hardy and live an average of ninety years. They prolifically produce fruits for roughly eighty years of their lifespan. Vast regions around the largest mountain ranges on nearly all of the continents in the world presently have lands that offer little environmental or ecological benefits. Many of these regions would be ideal areas for cultivation of Mukorossi soapberry trees.

Hence, soapberry trees offer the world forestation potential of many otherwise unproductive and often virtually useless lands across the entire globe. They flourish in poor soil conditions and reduce unwanted erosion. The forests of Mukorossi trees in Nepal and India are actually alien to those lands. They originated in China and migrated naturally into these regions over thousands of years. With adequate demand for soapberries, there will be good reasons and financial incentives for cultivation and forestation of countless other lands that are presently not being utilized for maximum environmental benefit.

The question is quite simple: Do we prefer CO2 reducing green forests, or soap / chemical processing factories that are polluting our planet? Regardless of political, religious, philosophical, or socioeconomic persuasion, there will be an overwhelming consensus in the answer. The desire to live a healthy life is inherently our human nature.

Changing from toxic, synthetic chemical detergents and cleansers to those developed from safe, natural saponins would have a positive environmental impact on our planet of the likes the world has never seen.

Synthetic chemical processing plant.

Synthetic chemical processing plant.

Not only will soap nuts be an answer to many chemical problems that plague us today; they will tremendously reduce the carbon footprint created by commercial detergent and soap manufacturers. And also provide us with a natural resource across the globe that will help decrease the levels of Co2 due to increased forestation in appropriate regions. As demand grows for soap nuts, many will follow to ensure supply is met. Having quality soap nuts grown geographically closer to their areas of use will even further reduce the carbon footprint caused by global transportation.

The size of the carbon footprint on our planet caused by the production of the synthetic chemicals used in nearly every detergent and cleaner today is difficult to comprehend. That is not even mentioning the pollution of our water supply caused by these same processes and factories. The global transportation factor alone of these chemicals and then delivery of the final products is overwhelming.

Soap nut’s saponin can be highly concentrated. It was recently demonstrated that a mere 8 ounces of concentrated soap nut liquid extract will replace over 17 POUNDS of commercial detergents, softeners and dryer sheets. The reduction of the carbon footprint due to the transportation needs alone of moving such large amounts of conventional products is ABSOLUTELY STAGGERING.

Let’s not forget about all the packaging involved with that 17 POUNDS of products – all the big high-density jugs, boxes, labels, etc. It all can be replaced with one light-weight, thin, eco-friendly, 8 ounce PETE bottle. Are the earth-friendly benefits beginning to add up? The NaturOli extract is produced with only water, heat and pressure, hence keeping it’s carbon footprint to a bare minimum. No chemical solvents are used. There are ZERO non-biodegradable by-products produced.

We hold soap nuts in our hands as a true gift that can improve the quality of live on earth forever. The impact is mind boggling considering we are only changing something as simple and fundamental as our everyday washing and cleaning habits. Some of the world’s largest companies started by simply making soap. If mankind would have been using soap nuts for the last 2000 years, the difference in our world today is almost impossible to imagine.

It is difficult for this author to think of anything – ever – that has the total combined eco-friendly benefits that soap nuts offer us. Soap berries and saponin will play a major role in making our planet the greener place it will soon be.

*For more info about the actual mukorossi trees, see post Soap Nut Trees.

• Soap Nuts: Reviews & Testimonials

The following are reviews from journalists, columnists, writers, bloggers, and consumer testimonials. Product reviews from customers using soap nuts (soap berries) and/or other natural, organic laundry and cleaning products are continually updated. Scroll to the bottom for the most recent testimonials.

RECENT PRESS RELEASES:

PEORIA, AZ – (PR Newswire) September 13, 2013:
A special recognition appearing in the July, 2013 issue of Organic Spa Magazine published by Oceans Publishing Company. NaturOli was selected for the following honor: “2013 Skin Care Guide: BEST Natural & Organic Brands In The Market”

LOS ANGELES, CA –  MAY 19, 2012:
NaturOli Soap Nuts selected by LA Times as a “Top 4” gray-water safe detergent! Plus tied for #1 for lowest cost per load!

PEORIA, AZ – AUGUST 7, 2011:
NaturOli has been honored by Organic Spa Magazine for its selection as a “2011 Leading Personal Care Company” in the natural & organic marketplace.

The Green Dot Award Press Release:
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 9, 2010:
NaturOli Beautiful, LLC of United States was Awarded Honorable Mention for the entry titled,  Soap Nuts and Saponin. In the jury’s own words,
“NaturOli green detergents and cleansers. Use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs.”

“The jury selected winners from thousands of entries from over 25 countries. The Green Dot Awards strive to reward and promote forward-thinking businesses that create environmentally friendly products or services, and to reward revolutionary green proposals. Recognizing that human activity is causing dramatic environmental change, we must ensure that we act today to protect tomorrow’s environment. Businesses and organizations have become especially aware of the impact that their practices have on the well-being of the planet and many are acting to adopt more sustainable attitudes. The purpose of the Green Dot is to reward those who practice excellence in environmental responsibility. Although the Green Dot Awards are worthy onto themselves, they are also a consumer guide to excellence in environmentally-sustainable practices. A business with a Green Dot Award is a business that can be trusted by consumers with stewardship of the environment. Recognition from the Green Dot Awards allows businesses to promote their products and services as items that are manufactured and delivered in an environmentally friendly manner.”
The Green Dot Awards were juried by top experts in the industry:
Kyle D. Brown, Ph.D., Director, John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, California State Polytechnic University – Daniel D. Chiras, Ph.D., Author of The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy, The New Ecological Home, The Solar House, The Natural House, Superbia! 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods, and The Natural Plaster Book – Peo Ekberg, Environmental Consultant for Sustainability and LifestyleCO2 Adviser – Dave Evans, Author of Cool Green Stuff: A Guide to Finding Great Recycled, Sustainable, Renewable Objects You Will Love – Steven Foster, President of the Steven Foster Group and commercial consultant for eco-sustainability – Christine Mason McCaull, Co-founded GoGreen Online, and Go GreenTV – Shelagh McNally, Editor at Green Living Online & Green Living Enterprises.
Green Dot Awards

“An easy way to help the planet and your family at the same time is switching to eco-friendly laundry detergents. If you’re into cloth diapering, you need to use products that don’t leave residue so the diapers perform at their best as well. I did a test washing three identical towels in three of the best eco-friendly detergents on the market. Here’s what I found… My favorite are the Soap Nuts by NaturOli. They’re eco-friendly by nature. Soap nuts grow on trees. They’re 100% natural and very easy to use. An added bonus: They have dozens of other uses as well for other natural cleaning solutions around your house! NaturOli says about it’s soap nuts: “This natural detergent leaves laundry amazingly clean, fresh, and soft, plus provides a plethora of other truly green household cleaning uses. Whether you are an allergy sufferer, have sensitive skin, use cloth diapers, or just want to do your part for a greener earth, soap nuts are a dream come true. Soap nuts release an extremely effective, hypoallergenic, biodegradable cleaning agent with no added synthetics, chemicals, toxins or artificial perfumes.” In my towel test, the soap nuts left the towel the fluffiest of the three and completely fragrance free. You do not need to use any fabric softener with soap nuts. They leave things soft, fluffy, fresh and clean without adding anything else.”
Author: Angele Sionna
Web site: www.examiner.com
Column: Early Childhood Parenting Examiner
Article: The Best… Eco-friendly Detergents

Date: October, 2008
Link: http://www.examiner.com/x-608-Early-Childhood-Parenting-Examiner~y2008m10d1-The-Best-Natural-Detergents

“Soap Nuts are an incredible green/natural product that continues to fascinate me the more I learn. God supplied us with a fruit from His creation that cleans our laundry with no additives! It grows on trees! Just a simple dried fruit placed in a small bag and thrown into your laundry! I am in awe of how He beautifully supplies all we need without any harsh chemicals. Soap Nuts clean effectively without the addition of softeners. 100% natural, chemical-free, fragrance-free, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. Extremely low cost per load! I love how you can convert these soap nuts into a liquid detergent or a powder detergent or just use as they are  whatever method you prefer. Soap nuts are definitely the most natural and frugal laundry detergent option on the market! I have tried two different brands of soap nuts, I cannot even compare the two. Maggie’s are packaged overseas whereas NaturOli’s are carefully inspected and packaged in the States (without any plastic, I should add). Maggie’s came to me all sticky, broken and in a plastic bag, whereas NaturOli’s were beautifully dried and carefully selected – a far superior product. Another bonus – NaturOli’s are more reasonably priced!”
Author: Lindsay Edmonds, Vancouver, Washington
Web site: www.passionatehomemaking.com
Numerous reviews and posts
Date: June, 2009
Link: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2009/06/soap-nuts-giveaway.html

“Soap nuts as you have read, if you’ve followed my blog posts, are one of the most environmentally friendly all purpose green cleaners available, not to mention all of the other great ways to use soap nuts to replace chemical based packaged products in the home…I have used soap nuts for just over a year now and although you would expect I would no longer be amazed by what a phenomenal natural laundry detergent they are. I just cant help but smile every time I remove another load of laundry from the washing machine. Summer clothing and laundry demands present greater challenges than most seasonal clothing. Most people spend more time outdoors, perspire more heavily, and for those with oil skin their bodies produce even more oil. All of that means major laundry challenges, especially related to odors in your clothing. Let’s talk about the wonders of soap nuts as a natural laundry detergent in bit more depth. With heat and perspiration the pores of the skin dilate which means that those who are sensitive to synthetic chemicals and fragrances are even more prone to skin irritation. That means an additive free natural detergent has even more value and benefit to them during the summer months. So what else is important to know about the natural laundry detergent benefits of soap nuts? Well their ability to cause the release of soil, perspiration, and odors in particular. If you have a sensitive nose you may have noticed that your linen closet or dresser drawers have a faint smell of rancid oil to them over time. That is caused by the oils from your skin coupled with the natural skin bacteria becoming embedded in your linens and shirts in particular. Regular synthetic laundry detergent does not significantly change the surface tension of either the water or the fabric enough to cause a full release of those oils and bacteria. Soap nuts do though, which is why soap nuts leave your clothes clean, soft (no built up residue embedded in the fabric) and also cause natural fibers to become more absorbent. Soap nuts actually unclog the fibers and the longer you use them as a natural laundry detergent the more you will notice that your clothes get softer with each wash. Hard to believe I know, but it’s true…”
Author: L. R. Sacks, Orlando, Florida
Web site: www.soap-nuts.info
Numerous reviews and posts
Link: http://www.soap-nuts.info/2009/06/29/soap-nuts-natural-laundry-detergent-benefits/
Date: July, 2009

“I need to let my readers know up front that my opinion cannot be bought. I am not paid by anyone to do positive write-ups. When I write about a special product it is for one reason only. It is a special product. NaturOli products are special. They are nontoxic, safe, paraben free, alcohol free, lanolin free, PABA free, SLS free, talc free, dye free, synthetic fragrance free, petroleum free, mineral oil free, formaldehyde free, and cruelty free.  …Extreme 18X Saponin Laundry detergent is the liquid form of soap nuts. It can be used as a laundry soap and household cleaner. Some use it as a carpet cleaner. Highly concentrated, 1 Teaspoon or less per load, this product will save you money. Apparently it takes some getting used to using so little of the product. People who have been using it say you can really dilute it a lot. Soap nuts are the dried shells (or husks) from the soapberry (or soap berry nut). These berries are the fruit from a quite unique tree species. These shells contain a substance called saponin that produces a soaping effect. Saponin is a 100% natural alternative to chemical laundry detergent and cleansers. It can replace many chemical detergents such as those containing sodium laureth sulphate (SLS) that are becoming well known by consumers for being a skin irritant and health hazard. The name saponin is derived from the Latin word sapo, which means soap. There are many plants around the world that are saponaceous (meaning that they contain saponins) but only a few, are known to produce appreciable amounts. Hence, this is why soap nuts are so very special in their ability to be an effective cleanser  directly from the tree. Sapindus mukorossi trees have been found to produce the highest and most consistent quality soap nuts. …Their website and product guide are great educational resources. I love that! These products will be with me for life. They are that good. Great mission, great product, great bottle/packaging, great website, great award! Congratulations!”
Author: Heather Ferris, East Hampton, Connecticut
Web site: Nuture Nature

Numerous reviews and posts
Article: Green Dot Award Winner: NaturOli Laundry Detergent Concentrate
Date: March, 2009

“If you’re looking for an easy, natural way to clean your laundry without all those chemicals and no need for fabric softener to get fluffy clothes, you’re going to want to check out NaturOli’s newly released detergent – Extreme 18X. I’ve been using this on my laundry all week – everything from cloth diapers to baby clothes to towels and the rest of the laundry – and I’m loving the results. You simply use 1/2 teaspoon of this super concentrated stuff to clean a whole load of laundry. No need to add fabric softeners either. When they come out of the drier, they smell clean but not fragranced and soft. This stuff is basically soap nuts in a bottle, which just makes it more convenient. In a natural detergent test I did in the fall, I found NaturOli’s soap nuts to be the best eco-friendly detergent around. And their new concentrated bottled version is even better because it’s easier to use for both cold and hot loads of laundry. NaturOli’s soap nuts and it’s concentrated extract (saponin) were called “possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs” by the Green Dot Awards panel. Pretty cool.”
Author: Angele Sionna
Web site: www.examiner.com
Column: Early Childhood Parenting Examiner
Article: New natural laundry detergent wins Green Dot Award for its eco-friendliness

Date: February, 2009
Link: http://www.examiner.com/x-608-Early-Childhood-Parenting-Examiner~y2009m2d25-New-natural-detergent-wins-Green-Dot-Award-for-its-ecofriendliness

“I am a huge fan of the simplicity and safety without excess waste of using soap nuts for all my laundry needs (including those cloth diapers)! Soap nuts grow on trees! We have discussed all the wonderful benefits of using soap nuts here and from our previous giveaway here, and now we want to introduce you to the liquid version! As I shared before, Soap Nuts are the only laundry soap that grows on trees, thus giving us the most sustainable and natural option out there. It is 100% safe and natural for the most sensitive skin. Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree. They contain saponin, a natural cleaner. They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun. Great for hard water and high efficiency machines. It is biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, brightens colors, low sudsing, and contains a natural fabric softener. Now NaturOli offers another product that makes it even more simple and convenient to use soap nuts  enter Extreme 18X liquid detergent! You only have to use 1/2 teaspoon per load of laundry as it is a highly concentrated 18x potency. I have been experimenting with the Extreme 18X liquid detergent and I really love it. It cleans well, smells fresh and produces soft clothing. My tip: make sure to use a measuring spoon to measure it out per load. It is so easy to use too much when you simply squirt it into your washer. Extreme 18X works in your dishwasher as well! Simply squirt about 1/2 teaspoon in your dishwasher dispenser and away you go! I have also diluted it with water in a spray bottle for a gentle and effective household all-purpose cleaner with great success. This is a multi-purpose all natural alternative that avoids excess waste. See that picture on the left? Compare that weight and packaging and see how much better soap nuts are for our environment…”
Author: Lindsay Edmonds, Vancouver, Washington
Web site: www.passionatehomemaking.com
Numerous reviews and posts
Date: August, 2009
Link: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2009/08/soap-nuts-liquid-detergent-totally-extreme18x-giveaway.html

“Environmental degradation has been a matter of concern for human species for over centuries now. Ecologist, biologists, and many other are engaged in a very tedious job of coming up with products which are less harmful to the human beings and the nature. Our ever increasing dependence on the technical advancements has left us on a verge of an era where, we can see our destruction owing to the fall of nature due the human atrocities. Day in and day out, we use products which not only harm us but also our Mother Nature by disturbing the balance in the ecosystem. Water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution and so many others in the queue are a constant threat to us. A few decades back, it was established that the simple laundry detergent that we use for cleaning our clothes are actually harming us and in the long run destroying our clothes! These detergents contain harmful chemical, dyes and artificial fragrances which are left behind in the clothes even after they are washed. These harmful chemicals later percolate into our blood causing various types of diseases. When we try to see from the nature’s perspective, we find that the water running away after the clothes are being washed, contain harmful chemicals which disturb the aquatic ecosystem! However, to give a sigh of relief, there is one natural product that can not only replace these harmful chemical detergents but also protect us and also our precious nature. It is quite possible that you have not heard about this gift that nature has in its store to give us. Soap Nuts, the natural soap grows on trees and has the ability to replace the laundry detergents. Growing on a tree called Sapindus, the soap nut is found in the jungles of India, Indonesia, Nepal and other South Asian countries. They have a natural substance called Saponin which comes out when the soap nut comes in contact with water and enables water to penetrate the fabric of the cloth and clean it. If we try to speak about the environmental aspect of the soap nut then, it is better to queue them up for an easier and clear understanding.

  • 100% vegetable detergent, the soap nut is scentless and is biodegradable and does not compromise with cleaning the cloth.
  • People with allergy and skin diseases are advised to use the soap nut for bathing because of the anti-microbial properties of the Saponin.
  • Soap nuts are economical and do not come up with any harmful environmental wastes on decomposition.
  • The presence of less chemical agents does not pollute the water courses.

In short we can term soap nuts as a blessing to mankind and we must all strive for making a better use of this wonderful gift given to us by Mother Nature.”
Author: M. Johnson
Web site: www.Ezine.com
Date: 2008

“SoapNuts Rock! I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I stumbled on Soapnuts for the first time. I had done a lot of research on the web and I came to the conclusion these things were too good to be true. I really didn’t believe they would work, so I went to their website and ordered 2 trial size pouches with enough to do 5 loads each for a couple of dollars and waited for their arrival. I had 5 loads to do the day my package arrived and these things produced SOAP! I couldn’t believe it. I watched the washer for a couple of minutes and you could tell the nuts were really releasing soap. It’s not a foamy soap, like a lot of people are use to due to phosphates in regular detergents but they really work. I went to Amazon.com the very next day and ordered the 5 lb box of pieces (there are a lot of high quality nuts in the “pieces” bag, and with 1 oz. of nuts doing 5 loads of laundry it will do almost 800 loads before I run out of nuts. The only thing I wish NaturOli would have done with this purchase is send a couple of more canvas bags for the nuts. I only received one with the shipment. I gave away my dryer sheets and fabric softener too, with the use of soapnuts the only thing I have found one needs is a small amount of vinegar in a Downy ball for the rinse cycle, (one gal of vinegar costs me 2.00 vs. almost 6.00 for trad. fabric softener) my clothes have never been so soft or so clean. I take the used soapnuts once they are “used up” and let them dry out in a Mason jar and compost them in my compost bin. No more plastic laundry detergent bottles to recycle either…It’s a win win for my family and the planet.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: March, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-Soap-Nuts-PIECES-Mukorossi/dp/B001NU2L8U/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1245296349&sr=8-3
Courtesy of Amazon

“These soap nuts can’t be beat! Great company! These are by a big margin the absolute finest quality soap nuts I have ever purchased. Almost all whole nuts. Seem to soap up better than the any other brands I’ve tried. They have great color and VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY CLEAN. Not moist, gummy or nasty looking like many I’ve received. No junk mixed in with them!!!!!! More often than not, soap nuts I’ve gotten before looked like they were shoveled off the ground and just dumped into the bag or box. Yuk. I have literally had to dump them out, clean them up and repackage others that I’ve bought. These are packaged in the US, not overseas. I think that’s the BIG difference. Obviously they are TRULY inspected and selected for quality. Also, NaturOli has a very knowledgeable and some of the warmest and friendliest customer service people I’ve ever dealt with. Here’s a funny story. The shipping box stated “100% GREEN PACKING” and when I opened it I saw peanuts! That upset me, so I called to make a complaint. Then I was asked to put one in my mouth. They were made from corn starch and just melted! I didn’t know there were biodegradable peanuts. Duh… lol! Totally cool people and totally professional company. This was one of, if not THE best, online transaction I have ever had. I’m an avid soap nut user (yes, kind of a treehugger, too) and have had many, many soap nut dealings. I’m so glad to have found NaturOli. It’s nice not to have to be concerned about what you are going to receive anymore. They are WAY under-priced. I know I shouldn’t state that, but it’s the truth and I just want to be fair about it. I can’t recommend them any higher.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: December, 2008
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-Soap-Nuts-Hand-Sort-Detergent/dp/B001DU6SAM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245297044&sr=1-3
Courtesy of Amazon

“The only all natural laundry soap! For years, I’ve used free and clear laundry detergents, due to sensitive skin. After I had a baby, I started looking into alternative products due to detergents causing build up on his cloth diapers. I came across Soap Nuts in Mothering Magazine. I was a bit skeptical at first because they sounded too good to be true, plus the initial cost seemed a bit high. However, after doing just one load, I was SOLD! Soap nuts eliminate the need for fabric softener and stain removers. Our clothes and diapers are soft, sparkling white, and couldn’t smell better. Soap nuts are wonderful because they’re not just a one time use. We can reuse soap nuts about three times on hot wash for diapers, and 5-6 times on cold wash for clothes! I would recommend these to ANYONE, sensitive skin or not. You’ll be amazed at what they do for your laundry. You can also use these to remove stains. We had a stain on the carpet from a spilled drink, so I wet a soap nut, scrubbed, and the stain was gone. Don’t let the cost deter you, these are the best thing you can do for your clothes.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: July 2007
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Soap-Nuts-load-tub/dp/B000OJX6YY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245298867&sr=1-4
Courtesy of Amazon

“When I first tried Soap Nuts I was skeptical to say the least. I have been using them exclusively for a few months now and I am amazed every time! My clothes always come out clean. When I saw the liquid I couldn’t wait to use it even though again, I was skeptical. What a product! I can wash a whole load of laundry with just ONE teaspoon of Soap Nuts Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent – EXTREME 18X. It stores so easily in the small bottle, it’s easy to use (I’ve even used less than one teaspoon and it works!), my laundry smells so fresh and clean but most of all it’s so much better for the environment than the chemical commercial detergents. I’m even taking a small bottle on vacation with me so I can pack less. Anyone who hasn’t tried it – you really need to.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: March, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-EXTREME-18X-Detergent-Concentrate/dp/B001U3PS8A/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245301550&sr=1-8
Courtesy of Amazon

“You gotta try these! I researched these soap nuts a lot and so was prepared for what was in store when I purchased them. Yes, they are a little smelly before you use them, but they do not make your clothes smell weird. No, they are not all sudsy like regular detergent and it won’t leave your clothes smelling like fake lavender. What you get with this product is good ole fashion pure, natural clean! My clothes come out clean and soft and I have had no problems with this product at all! I do add a little bit of borax to my wash to help out, but I used to do that with my regular laundry detergent anyway. I think my clothes are actually in better condition and are softer now than before. And now I don’t have to worry about chemicals that might aggravate allergies and hurt our environment.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: May, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Soap-Nuts-load-tub/dp/B000OJX6YY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245298867&sr=1-4
Courtesy of Amazon

“NaturOli Soap Nuts Liquid Laundry Soap – AMAZING! Extreme 18X is amazing!!!!! Soap nuts liquid laundry soap, and it is a soap, is so convenient to use. It’s so concentrated I use half the recommended amount and get super soft, clean, and fresh clothes. I love that NaturOli doesn’t make me pay for water!!!! This company really understands green. They only put in what’s necessary and they tell you every single ingredient. I wish more companies would embrace the creative possibilities of soap nuts. People who think it’s complicated to switch to green products are going to love this new soap nuts liquid laundry detergent, no more excuses for not going green.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: April, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-EXTREME-18X-Detergent-Concentrate/dp/B001U3PS8A/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245297650&sr=1-8
Courtesy of Amazon

“Soap nuts liquid detergent that’s in a league of its own! Soap nuts EXTREME 18X is a phenomenal product! I have never tried anything like it. It is so concentrated and the results are out of this world. Follow directions. It really is THAT potent. Add a few DROPS to a little water in a small bottle and shake it. You’ll see! I’ve been a soap nut user for a long time, and NaturOli just blew EVERYTHING out of the water with this new soap nut product. It’s fantastic for laundry and many cleaning needs. Preserving my own soap nut liquid has been a challenge. With EXTREME it makes it so simple. A tiny amount goes so far! Soap nuts liquid that’s been stabilized and given real shelf life. PERFECTO! I love that it’s so pure. Results are as good or better than normal use of soap nuts. There’s no oils or fragrance at all. My laundry is just as clean, soft, fresh and absorbent as ever – or better. My hat’s off to the NaturOli lab! Great work! It’s exactly what was needed. Thanks for saving in shipping cost, too! Don’t confuse this product with other typical soap nut based detergents. I’ve tried about all of them. This is really “soap nuts in a bottle” as I read in an article about it. It’s in totally in a league of its own – and a home run! Hands down, NaturOli’s EXTREME 18X is the only TRUE soap nuts liquid detergent and soap!”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: March, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-EXTREME-18X-Detergent-Concentrate/dp/B001U3PS8A/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245297650&sr=1-8
Courtesy of Amazon

“Incredible! Let’s see, the only thing I can compare a soap nut to is a date. It’s wrinkly, sticky, and the same size of a date – and even kind of smells like one too. The scent is not very strong, it’s a really mild fruity smell. You can use soap nuts for a variety of things: laundry soap, shampoo, body soap, pesticide, glass cleaner, the list goes on. The informative flyer it came with even said it can cure athlete’s foot – so I’m soaking my feet in soap nut water every day! The second I received my soap nuts, I started making my own liquid soap. All you need is 1 part soap nuts, 4 parts water – you can boil the soap nuts or let them soak over night. Then you just run the liquid through cheese cloth and viola, you got liquid soap! I used my liquid soap as a shampoo. It was a little difficult to tell if I was using enough since the liquid soap is well, liquidy. So I poured some on my head and rubbed it in to my scalp and through my hair. It almost felt sticky when I was rubbing it into my hair and I was a little disappointed since I was expecting it to make my hair soft. When I got out of the shower though, my hair and skin were really silky. I don’t think my hair ever felt so smooth, even with the really expensive shampoo and conditioners I use. It made my hair more bouncy too, like it had a lot of volume. I have used the soap nuts in the cotton sack for my laundry about two times so far, but I still haven’t figured that one out yet. I think I need to put a little more soap nuts in the cotton sack because my fiance’s clothes are really dirty since he works construction. But either way, the soap nuts seem to be doing their job! These soap nuts are really incredible. They don’t leave a strong scent, they’re natural, they don’t make my skin itchy (like some soaps do), and everything they touch gets clean and silky. I am thinking about buying these boxes in bulk (which are available through Amazon too!). I’m so happy to have this alternative to soap since I don’t like the idea of chemicals (even if they’re supposedly harmless) on or near my skin. Thanks!!”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: August, 2007
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Soap-Natural-Laundry-Loads/dp/B000OJC5QE/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245299355&sr=1-7
Courtesy of Amazon

“When NaturOli decided to develop a green natural detergent, they turned the entire industry on its ear. Nothing even compares to it. There’s a new sheriff in town! 96 incredibly clean, soft and fresh loads of laundry from only EIGHT ounces! You have to experience “soap nut” cleaned to appreciate it. It’s wonderful beyond words. AND just imagine the HUGE environmental impact of not transporting all those great big heavy jugs of detergent all across the world! It’s no wonder NaturOli has received a very prestigious green award. As the green experts state, “NaturOli green detergents and cleansers. Use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs.” I concur – big time! Wow!!!!”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: March, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-EXTREME-18X-Detergent-Concentrate/dp/B001V32UFI/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245298351&sr=1-7
Courtesy of Amazon

“Great natural soap nuts. The soap-nuts are as good as it states. It works well and I will not go back to liquid detergents or other natural laundry detergents. I have skin allergies with many things but I haven’t had any problems with these nuts. I am sorry I had not discovered the soap-nuts earlier. I have used non-petro-chemical detergents for almost 30 years but never knew about soap-nuts until I saw it on Amazon. Thanks Amazon! Just want to point out that I don’t use the dried soap-nuts into the wash as it states. Rather, pre-soak the nuts in some water in a large jar. I don’t soak all the nuts at once but add to the jar as I use up the old. I use some of the liquid along with the nuts.I can normally do 3 large loads with 4-5 soaked soap-nuts and some of the liquids. The liquid will be light brown but does not stain clothes. It is the color of the nuts. I love this stuff. If you don’t pre-soak your nuts as I do, you can throw some nuts into the little cotton bag provided and use a little hot water in your wash to start the activation process. Remember that the nuts are dried so it needs pretty warm to hot water to activate the soap. I leave the bagged nuts through wash and rinse cycle. If the little bag of nuts goes into the dryer accidentally after the rinse cycle, don’t worry, the nuts just gets dried up in the dryer but does not harm anything, just throw away the parched nuts. This is all natural and you can’t hurt it but keep away from children. ENJOY!”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: April, 2008
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Nuts-Natural-Laundry-TreesTM/dp/B00158N0R6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245299942&sr=1-1
Courtesy of Amazon

“The first soap nuts I ever bought came from Maggie’s a couple years ago. They were very nice and worked great. Soap nuts have been a staple in my house ever since. They’re a good substitute for all kinds of cleaners. The only reason I didn’t buy from Maggie’s again was because of the price. I’ve had a couple bad experiences, but nothing like this. I have gotten some full of seeds and others that were tiny and didn’t last long. They were very cheap ones, so I figure I got what I paid for. I’ve read some of Soapnutspro and learned a bit. At least I understand why they all aren’t the same, and know basically what to look for and what to avoid.

As soon as I opened the box, a strong odor like stale beer about knocked me down, but that was the least of the problems. The soap nuts feel like grossly rotten, sticky prunes. Just getting a few out of the plastic bag was tough. I had to squeeze them out and they got squished trying. Yuk. The little paper packets of silicant were soaked with juice. Juice isn’t the right word. It’s like a greenish-black, gluey syrup. They’re coated with it. They are so sticky that the gooey syrup gets all over everything. My hands and fingers became so gummed up that I had to wash them several times to get it off. Dark spots got all over our dish towels, and they still haven’t completely washed out.

There’s no way I would even consider using them in the washer. I put some in the wash bag and sudsed them up in the sink to see if they’d work. They soaped up fine, but the bag became badly stained right away. Then it got hard as a rock after it dried. I don’t get that at all. I have never seen any do that before. In all fairness, I thought that maybe this was a bad batch or something, so I asked around. Apparently, this isn’t uncommon for Maggie’s. That surprised me. I feel bad about the one-star rating since I started with Maggie’s, but these are really that bad. I’m glad I have had some experience with soap nuts because if these were the first ones I had ever bought and used I am almost certain I would not be using soap nuts today.  I will never recommend Maggie’s, and I’m returning these.
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: August, 2010
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Supplier-Harvested-Processed-Preservatives/dp/B00158N0R6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Courtesy of Amazon

“The Best Soap Nuts Ever!!! I was turned on to soap nuts when I ordered a sample from Maggie’s. So I bought more. The large bag I purchased from them were in a cellophane bag (inside a linen bag) and were a complete messy, sticky glob. I thought that’s just how soap nuts were. Yes, they seemed to do an adequate job in the laundry, but were not very fun to touch. Then I tried Naturoli. These soap nuts are dry, clean, packaged in linen bags without the un-earth-friendly cellophane and do an amazing job at cleaning laundry. The price is good, packaging is superior, all literature is beautifully printed. Compared to Maggie’s, it’s like night and day. Choose the light – choose Naturoli! Great for the environment and great for your laundry.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: May, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-Soap-Nuts-Hand-Sort-Detergent/dp/B001DUBYKQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245297241&sr=1-5
Courtesy of Amazon

“Great Detergent Alternative. I’ve been searching for a solution to my detergent-sensitive eczema and stumbled across soap nuts as a detergent alternative. After just one wash, I noticed a difference in the condition of my skin. Even sweaty clothes came out smelling completely clean.”
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW
Date: February, 2009
Link: http://www.amazon.com/NaturOli-Soap-Nuts-Hand-Sort-Detergent/dp/B001DU4XPY/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1245298437&sr=1-6
Courtesy of Amazon

Soap Nuts testimonials courtesy of NaturOli:

“I used the soap nuts for the first time this past week-end and I was astonished at the performance. By far, out of all of the organic cleaning products I have used, the soap nuts took first place. The colors were extremely vivid, the fresh scent was surprising and I was completely satisfied with this product. Natures has given us everything in it’s rightful place, and I need not look any further to understand what has been provided for us to use for our personal cleaning regiment. Thank you again.”
Margo M., Lake City, Florida

“I just wanted to say thank you. My mom is dying of cancer and I am taking care of her. I originally bought the soap nuts as I heard they could remove terrible odors. I was having to wash my mother’s clothing and bedding 2 to 3 times to remove urine and vomit odors. The soap nuts are a God send. They truly cleaned the odors and stains from her articles in one wash. You will never know what that means to me. It lightens my work load a great deal.  Thank you so much for making soap nuts of this quality available. They and you have made a very difficult time a little easier. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can not say those two words enough. God Bless you, and I will make sure I tell everyone I know about NaturOli’s amazing little soap nuts.”
Heidi P., Homewood, Illinois

Please note: A day later Heidi’s mother passed away. She emailed the following to myself and the NaturOli team with a thoughtful quote. Please keep her in your prayers.
When caring for a very sick or dying loved one, the care taker needs all the help they can get. The soap nuts were definitely a big help. Live and love today like its your last. Be that way everyday. Everyday, let those you love know you love them, even if they tire of hearing it. God Bless and thank you again.
Heidi

“It is easy enough to be pleasant when life flows by like a song. But the man worthwhile is one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong.”
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“This is my second time ordering soap nuts within two weeks. I was so impressed after using the soap nuts that I gave samples out to family and friends and needed to order more. Very wonderful green product!”
Kamela W., Jacksonville, Florida

“I like soap nuts so much I put a link to you on my Facebook account. I want to encourage my friends to use these wonderful products. They are better for them, better for the environment and also better for me if I don’t have to inhale horrible chemicals and fragrances. I have been asked to write a paper or blog to share how I have overcome my extreme food, environment and chemical sensitivities. I will send your the NaturOli newsletter to my friends in the US and UK and include your products in my list of safe products for people with allergies. Happy that I have found you!”
Kathryn G., Roanoke, Virginia

“I have washed several loads of clothes with my new order of soap nuts, and I have to say this is a fantastic product!! The thing I noticed most is the soap residue is gone from the things I’ve washed, especially sheets and towels. And no “fragrance” left behind! We have very hard water and the clothes are coming out very clean. I would recommend this product to anyone with allergies.”
Larry L., Saint Joseph, Minnesota

“I’m very happy with the soap nuts I purchased. NaturOli has only top quality products. I love that only a few soapnuts in a small bag can do at the least 5 loads of laundry and that I am doing something for mother earth. I do recommend an oxygen whitener when doing the whites or heavy soiled clothes. Thank you!”
Cathryn M., Bountiful, Utah

“This is really awesome. I love these soapnuts! For trying to go greener and leave a smaller footprint these are wonderful. They do not leave a scent behind it just gets your clothes clean! No your husband or son does not walk around smelling like flowers! Someone said it does not get out stains, try a bit of Baking Soda as a paste on stain or 1/2 cup in wash! I’m so impressed!”
Carol B., Yigo, Guam

“The soap nuts work great! I washed some of the kids stuffed animals with it that the dog had ‘marked’ as his, and I only had to run it through once. Happened once before and it took TWO washes with the strongest scent of Tide. I will be coming back soon!”
Misty V., Plano, Texas

“I can’t believe the difference in my laundry with using your soap nut products. I am one happy camper because I used to have be so careful with what I used because of allergies. Thank you!”
Anonymous, Twin Falls, Idaho

“Really great product. I ordered both the Maggies and the Naturoli and was blown away by the quality of Naturoli. I just put in an order for more!”
Kelly T., Tehachapi, California

“Hooray! I received the soap nuts a few days ago, used it on my cloth diapers, and my son’s diaper rash has cleared up (it was a particularly nasty rash that has lingered for weeks now, and nothing helped). Thank you!!! So now, it’s time for me to order a larger bag of the soap nuts. 🙂 Once again, thank you!!!!”
Sarah K., Santa Fe, New Mexico

“I’m the biggest soap nuts fan! My son’s mysterious skin rashes are completely gone and my laundry has never been softer, My husband loves the fresh clean smell of his clothes and we both praise God for a healthier, natural soap – and it’s cheaper to use, too! We average 11 cents per load! My previous ECO laundry detergent was 47 cents per load. Wow!”
Heather Z., San Diego, California

“After reading about soap nuts and telling my husband all about this laundry soap that grows on trees, we decided to try them out and we love them! My family has incredibly sensitive skin (even switching brands of dye free, perfume free soaps would break them out) and we have not had any problems. I am looking forward to using your new soap nuts liquid and soap bars soon!!”
Mrs. J. H., Tampa Bay, Florida

“I am a huge fan of the simplicity and safety without excess waste of using soap nuts for all my laundry needs (including those cloth diapers)! Now NaturOli offers another product that makes it even more simple and convenient to use soap nuts – enter Extreme 18X liquid detergent! You only have to use 1/2 teaspoon per load of laundry as it is a highly concentrated 18x potency. I have been experimenting with the Extreme 18X liquid detergent and I really love it! Extreme 18X works in your dishwasher as well!”
Lindsay, E., Vancouver, Washington

“I heard of soap nuts before but didn’t understand them. This website has given me helpful information to see how they work. I’ve been wanting to make the switch to a more natural green life for our family, especially since my husband has very sensitive skin and my son has psoriasis. I like how you can use it for clothes, dishes, cleaning, and it so many other uses. Amazing!”
Misty A., Chicago, Illinois

MORE TESTIMONIALS, Updated March 8, 2010:

Allergy sufferers rejoice! All-natural soap nuts are great for those sensitive to the dyes, fragrances, and preservatives found in traditional detergents. This is especially true for those that live in hard-water areas where traces of detergent may be left behind on clothes. Although soap nuts will leave your clothes clean and smelling fresh, do not expect a great amount of suds because no chemical sudsing agents are added as in most detergents. But they really work fabulously! – Alex. K. – Modesto, California

Hi! I am highly impressed by soap nuts – the excellent type of soap nuts, not the seecond rate ones. – Cythia M., Sheboygan, Wisconsin

I had to write in and tell you about how very pleased with my 18X Soap Nuts liquid laundry detergent. I have just bought a new front load washer and dryer, and was quite concerned about everything I had read regarding mold and musty smells in these washers. I decided to try your soap nuts detergent in the hopes of avoiding this problem, as well as avoiding some of the issues caused by the use of dryer sheets in my new dryer. For me the magic amount seems to be 3/4 of a teaspoon. This is just enough detergent to ensure clean clothes, a fresh natural smell, and enough softening to bring them static free from the dryer. What really impressed me is that for the first time in years my dish cloths actually smell clean when I launder them. And so far, there is no musty smell in my new washer. This is an incredible product that I will tell all my friends about! – Josette B., Aldie, Virginia

Both of my kids and myself suffer with some Eczema. My girl had it by 5 weeks and my son had it very bad at 5 months and I suffer off and on with it on my hands. I was using so-called natural laundry soap, but it wasn’t good for eczema. I love these soap nuts, they are all natural and I know I’m not adding anything more to my septic system and environment. I found that all our clothes are softer and there is no smell of harsh chemicals or added scents (which can sometimes affect me). You put the nuts into a little bag they provide and one little bag with 4 soap nuts will wash 4-5 loads of laundry! It works out to be fairly inexpensive. If you are concerned about the environment or what your kids are exposed to, I recommend that you give them a try. If the idea of the soap nuts doesn’t interest you; they have made it into a soap nuts liquid that is 18x concentrate. – Tara V., British Columbia, Canada

Soapnuts are great. Will probably never use anything else. No dryer sheets. Clothes are soft and smell fresh and clean. It took that funky smell out of all my kitchen towels. Gave some to family and friends to try. – J. S., Sylacauga, Alabama

I am so pleased with soap nuts and have started showing my friends 🙂 No one thought these would work! But I load up my washer and let it run. A GOOD chemical alternative! Even my husband is impressed! That says a lot! – Claire, B., Belvedere, California

I love that only a few soapnuts in a small bag can do at the least 5 loads of laundry and that I am doing something for mother earth. I do recomend an oxygen whitener when doing the whites or heavy soiled clothes. – Cathryn M., Bountiful, Utah

I can’t believe the difference in my laundry with using soap nut products. I am one happy camper because I used to have be so careful with what I used because of allergies. Thank you! – Anonymous, Twin Falls, Idaho

No more sneezing! No more itching! I almost gave up looking for a solution. I don’t think I knew what clean even smelled like! Everything is so soft! Like better than new. My towels are fluffier and seem to absorb more. I don’t get it, but I sure am loving it! What a fantastic product. Forever, your greatest fan! – Maria H., Bridgeport, Connecticut

Really great product. I ordered both the Maggies and the Naturoli and was blown away by the quality of Naturoli. I just put in an order for more! – Kelly T., Tehachapi, California

I’m the biggest soap nuts fan! My son’s mysterious skin rashes are completely gone and my laundry has never been softer, My husband loves the fresh clean smell of his clothes and we both praise God for a healthier, natural soap – and it’s cheaper to use, too! We average 11 cents per load! My previous ECO laundry detergent was 47 cents per load. Wow! – Heather Z., San Diego, California

After reading about soap nuts and telling my husband all about this laundry soap that grows on trees, we decided to try them out and we love them! My family has incredibly sensitive skin (even switching brands of dye free, perfume free soaps would break them out) and we have not had any problems. I am looking forward to using your new soap nuts liquid detergent and soap bars soon!! – Mrs. J. H., Tampa Bay, Florida

I run a specialty green cleaning service and use soap nuts in many ways – liquid soap nuts, powdered soap nuts, whole soap nuts, you name it! My cleaning business has been rocking and my clientele are extremely fussy and particular. You have been more help to me than I can even describe. I’ve wasted so much time and money over the years on inferior brands. You helped me survive these difficult times while I watched other cleaning companies drop like flies. You have helped me and my business in SO many ways! – Charles J., San Jose, California

Highly Recommended! I’ve been using liquid soap nuts for two months now and I’m very pleased with the results. After my first load, I emailed with questions …the soap did not sudse, so I wasn’t sure if I was using enough. I received a prompt and informative response, and FYI it’s normal to have no suds. EXTREME laundry soap even cleaned a load of very dirty rags and dog towels beautifully. I love the clean scent. – Jayne A., Neburyport, Massachusetts

I have a front loading HE washing machine and have tried numerous detergents (both supposedly green and not). Nothing worked all that great imo, but soap nuts have been working fabulously! I’m getting a LOT more loads for the money, too. My laundry has never felt so soft and smelled so totally fresh and clean EVER! In warm and hot washes I just use the wash bag right in with my laundry. In a cold wash I’ve been making the soap nut tea per your directions and that works great. My machine was also getting a bad moldy odor and it was looking dirty. Since using the soap nuts for a few weeks it smells and looks like new again. I couldn’t be any more impressed. The fact that it actually is 100% natural – no chemicals at all! – astounds me. – Jamie S., Potomac, Maryland

I love soap nuts! My skin issues are clearing up. I’m so grateful for this natural alternative to laundry detergent! – Amanda M., Fort Collins, Colorado

Extreme 18x soap nuts liquid detergent is an absolutely wonderful product! It leaves the clothes, clean and soft without that pseudo clean chemical feel and look. No need for fabric softeners anymore. And with 3 people in the house I’ve had the bottle for almost 2 months and there is still 1/4 of the bottle left! The earth needs this! We need this! – Joy M., Chappaqua, New York

I really appreciate your explanation in dealing with my concerns. I will now be better able to use soap nut laundry products more wisely, and will encourage others to do the same. Keep up your good work! – Bob W., Fairfield, Iowa

WOW – I love this stuff! I bought the soapnuts to try and was briefly chastised by my husband for it. Then he saw the results and I’ve heard nothing but praise from him since! My clothes are cleaner than ever! Will try soap nuts liquid on windows today! I’ve convinced family and friends to try it too, and they are all hooked now! – Gina C., Davison, Michigan

I ordered soap nuts 10 lbs about a month ago. I ordered for my household personal use and business and think they are great! I have also changed to soap nuts for all the laundry at the motel and it is working great, too. It is also our dish washing detergent with a little salt and I am experimenting with it as an all purpose cleaner. – Kathy G., Wilmington, New York

Customer Service with Naturoli has been so WONDERFUL. I’ll be sure to pass it along. Thanks again! – Kari C., Boston, Massachusetts

I tried soap nuts two days ago for the first time and I absolutely love them. I purchased the 2 lb bag with extra pouches and ended up passing some off to my Mother to try. I know she’ll love them, too. My whites have never been whiter, and my towels have been left so soft and fluffy. I’ll pass the word. I cannot go back to regular detergent. A wonderful product!!! – Danielle B., San Diego, California

Soap Nuts are an incredible green/natural product that continues to fascinate me the more I learn. God supplied us with a fruit from His creation that cleans our laundry with no additives! Soap nuts are definitely the most natural and frugal laundry detergent option on the market! – Lindsay E., Vancouver, Washington

Soap Nuts are great for front-loading washers! I got a front loading washing machine about a year ago, and I loved it except for when I washed towels. They never came out clean-smelling. That ALL changed when I started using Soap Nuts. Now my towels and ALL my other laundry come out smelling and looking cleaner than ever! These are wonderful! – C. L., Holly, Michigan

Soap Nuts / Soap Berries Customer Reviews – Courtesy of Amazon.

Updated May, 15th 2012:

Wow!! What a great product. I am sold on Soap Nuts. My laundry is unbelievable!! Cleaner than with any other product. Softer, without using fabric softener. So much cheaper than commercial laundry products. I LOVE this product, and will never use anything else. Thanks so much to Amazon for selling such a remarkable product that is environmentally safe and does a great job.
Cynthia M., Bremerton, Washington

I truly love these products. have been using both the wash bag and 18X. They make clothes soft and they smell so fresh without all the chemical/artificial odors. Would definitely recommend to friends and family.
Laura, F., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The soap nut shampoo is fabulous. I purchased it after finding out about the poison in my shampoo. My twin granddaughters that are 4 and have long hair were so excited that their hair was left so SOFT and the shampoo did NOT burn their eyes. I would have liked a little more information about nut shampoos, but no need. Our hair is Wonderful, Brighter, Lighter and Nana’s scalp does NOT itch!
Linda C., Pocatello, Idaho

We love these as they are groundwater safe. You can throw them in your yard, compost, or herb garden when they are done as they will not hurt anything. A nice way to clean clothes and keep the environment safe.
Robin W., St. Helens, Oregon

I have been using Soap Nuts for several months now and I use them to wash all of my baby’s clothes. It is MUCH cheaper to use these over special baby detergents. I do pre-treat any heavily soiled clothes with stain remover, let them sit for about 5 minutes, and then run the load. I have a front-loader HE machine, and I use about 4-5 soap nuts, and reuse the bag 4-5 times. This is a great product!
Jen V., Butler, New Jersey

We were skeptical at first how well this would work. My wife has very sensitive skin, so we figured we didn’t have much to lose. It worked GREAT! The clothes come out nice and soft, no more need for fabric softener. No more god-knows-what chemicals touching her skin now.
Dennis M., Grand Prairie, Texas

My first order of soap berries for was the small amount so I could try them and see how they worked. Tried them and they did a great job on my clothes. I work on cars and can get my clothes quite dirty. The soap berries did a way better job than regular soap!
Grant W., Salt Lake City, Utah

So glad to find soap nuts to be a cheaper, better alternative to detergents!
Susan S., Sequim, Washington

AMAZING product, as ever! I use NaturOli Extreme 18x soap berry liquid as a household cleaner and the soap “nuts” for laundry. Superb shipping. We live overseas and received our merchandise less than a week after we ordered! I LOVE working with Donna and her crew!
Kristen D., Overseas US Military Base

I LOVE Naturoli products! I haven’t found one yet that I didn’t like and this was no exception. Always fast and friendly with great products. What more could you want!
Ann S., Warrens, Wisconsin

I have to say I was more than a little skeptical about this product’s claims about “one squirt is all it takes” to do a full load of laundry but, guess what…18X works GREAT!
David S., Boones Mill, Virginia

Hello and Happy Holidays! My skin is wonderful after trying your Dead Sea salts and your dead sea soap is remarkable. Have spent a fortune searching here and in Europe for a good soap for delicate skin that has a deodorant. Way to go! Finally after 20 years I get the perfect soap! Beautiful stuff AND because of soap nuts – no more rash from detergents and my clothes are soft and clean. All in one place! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Blessings in the new year.
Sharon N., Santee, California

Have done 3 loads now with soap nuts. I have to say — I LOVE THEM!!! Another customer talked about stains??? I don’t think she read the instructions. These nuts give the clothes a very gentle, fresh smell. I love them. I’m totally excited about all the money I’m going to be saving. I will definitely DEFINITELY buy again!!
Amy G., Conyers, Georgia

I will never go back to regular laundry soap. Soap berries get my laundry cleaner, no icky perfumy smell, then even get my daughter’s cloth diapers cleaner than regular laundry soap.
Casandra R., Virginia Beach, Virginia

Soap nuts are an amazing product – recommended by my son – a way to have clean clothes, in a healthy way, for a reasonable price.
Judith A., Kailua, Hawaii

LOVE LOVE LOVE NaturOli’s soap nut shampoo!
Cynthia T., Sierra Vista, Arizona

EXCELLENT PRODUCT. MY CLOTHES WAS VERY NICE AND SOFT AFTER WASHING THEM. NICE AND FRESH SMELL TOO. WILL BUY MORE.
Adik, D., Sacramento, California

Completely satisfied with NaturOli’s service and product. Have used soapnuts over a year now for laundry and cleaning after researching “green laundry products” will keep on using them.
Joyce S., Sylacauga, Alabama

I put in the wrong shipping address, having just moved, and NaturOli was kind enough to ship it out to me again at no charge. Their soap nuts are the best; I use it on all our laundry, and we are a family of 4. I don’t have to drag home huge bottles of detergent and I am not damaging the environment. It’s a win/win. Thank you NaturOli.
Channa, S., New York, New York

Love this product. I’ve been buying soap nuts since Oct ’09 and still have great things to say about them. NaturOli has an awesome product and excellent customer service.
Douglas D., Arlington Texas

Great! Grea! Gre! Gr! G! Gr! Gre! Grea! Great Soap Nuts!
Andrew M., Austin, Texas

I started using soap nut products and I don’t have anymore rash!
Sara B., Portland Oregon

I have been using soap nuts from NaturOli for a while now. I absolutely love both the soap nuts and NaturOli. I received my shipment early (within 2 days). I have already made cleaners with the soapnut pieces. It is probably one of the best cleaners I have used. Even my husband was impressed. Every order from NaturOli has arrived early & exactly as promised. Thank you so much!!
Sue M., Seymour, Tennessee

This is my 2nd order of soap nuts from NaturOli. I’ve been using soap nuts for a year, I will never go back to laundry detergents. The soap nuts are great, my cloths come out clean with a fresh smell. I use Oxi-clean when cleaning my whites because after several washes they are not as bright as I want them to be. I also use baking soda and vinegar in every wash. The savings is great too!
Sandra B., Brandon, Mississippi

Can not say enough good things about soap nuts. Always order a little more to share them with friends. The nuts arrive promptly and as described. No complaints, only praise.
Connie S., Indianapolis, Indiana

I recently heard about soap berries and decided to order based on the reviews – they were right! These Soap Nut Pieces are awesome! They even get the smell out of cloth diapers–yay! I would highly recommend soap nuts.
Claire A., Fairburn, Georgia

Soap Nuts are even better than I imagined! Thanks for making me that much greener!
Amanda P., Cincinnati, Ohio

Natural Laundry Detergent | Organic Soap Nuts | High Efficiency Detergent

• The Truth about Suds

The truth about suds and cleaning:

Many people are skeptical that something as low sudsing as saponin can be an effective cleaning agent  – but it is. For generations we have been programmed/taught to equate the amount of suds to the degree of cleaning power. Today’s new, high-tech, HE washing machines prove this is not the case.

Suds do not equal cleaning power. But that’s how most think. Commercial soap and cleaning product manufacturers even developed specific synthetic chemicals that continue producing suds throughout an entire wash cycle or bath. Why? Because they keep telling us to equate those suds with cleaning action. We like to see something happening, so they provide us with a show. That’s all it is – one overly long show.

As we learn more about the harmful effects of long-term exposure to synthetic chemicals, we now know that many have their origin in the surfactants for cleaning and producing suds. (Yes, infamous SLS is one that’s at the top of the list.) In addition there’s a myriad of other chemicals produced for a variety of other purposes. These chemicals can be difficult to flush out of fabrics. A long list of commonplace ingredients are now linked to a host of skin irritations, ailments and many forms of cancer. Our skin absorbs them, and ultimately they enter our bloodstream.

The good ole' sudsy top loader.

The good ole' sudsy top loader.

Because there are toxic chemicals in so many things, our bodies become overloaded resulting in the development of sensitivities (some severe) to commercial detergents, soaps, cleaners and synthetic fragrances. Many now even suffer from MCS (Multiple Chemical Syndrome). Only in recent years was this determined to be a real physical problem. (I’m getting off track. Sorry. So, back to suds.)

Detergents work because of the presence of a surfactant. By definition: sur-fac-tant, n. An agent, for example, a detergent or a drug, that reduces the surface tension of liquids so that the liquid spreads out, rather than collecting in droplets. (Courtesy of Encarta World English Dictionary.)

Surfactant combines the words – surface active agent. Surfactant molecules have two distinct parts, one end attracts water, the other end repels water and attracts oil. Water molecules tend to stick together (hydrogen bonds form), hence water creates surface tension. Surfactants break down this tension which improves the water’s ability to “make things wet”, and spread evenly. Surfactants allow oil to be emulsified and dissolved in water so the oils and dirt in the fibers of clothes can be removed and washed away. If it helps, you can simply think of it this way, too: A surfactant allows oil and water to mix.

Getting to the heart of the issue here, to see suds persist throughout a wash cycle is unnecessary for thorough cleaning. Those added extra suds-producing chemicals are more of a function of marketing than out of need for effectiveness.

Why do we think suds equal "cleaning"?

Why do we think suds equal "cleaning"?

This phenomenon is a big part of why it is difficult to find a good HE detergent. The extra suds produced by chemical surfactants in many commercial detergents will gunk up that new HE washer. The hardware has certainly surpassed the software (so to speak), and the chemical detergent producers struggle with the problem.

A vast number of surfactants in commercial detergent products and even personal care products are chemically derived. Their production and use are major sources of the pollution in our water supplies today.

Soap nuts are hands down the best HE detergent on the market. They produce saponin – a highly effective organic surfactant that is low sudsing – by nature. They don’t pollute ground water. They’re biodegradable. They’re even excellent for septic systems. The chemical producers are a long way off from finding something non-polluting that works as well. This is why many people complain of moldy and musty odors in HE washers (and essentially all front loaders). The excessive suds from surfactants and other additives leave residues that become quite nasty over time. Saponin actually breaks up and disperses these chemical residues.

I hope I’ve not confused the issue too much!! Suds are not bad! Saponin will create suds – and a whole lot of them. I had an empty bottle of EXTREME 18X that I tried to fill with water. This bottle was bone dry empty. It took me four times filling and rinsing it out before I could fill it to the top without suds pouring out everywhere. I barely got an inch of water in it on the first attempt before the suds began overflowing.

Standard detergents and front loaders don't mix.

Standard detergents and front loaders don't mix.

Soap nuts release an amazing surfactant (saponin) with tremendous cleaning power. They do so with the presence of natural suds rather than a chemical soup of surfactants and other synthetics that create such a suds “side show”. Given their tenacity and persistence, it’s almost impossible to remove these chemical suds from the machine –and your clothes, hence the common irritations many suffer from.

It’s amusing to see how the detergent producers of today are now balancing themselves on the tight-wire of their own creation. The advent of today’s far-better HE washing machines threw a big wrench into all their teachings. Those suds from standard detergents can actually damage a new HE machine. The owner’s manual will warn you of this.

Change is so difficult. It took me a long time, and lots of personal experiences and experimentation to get all the falsehoods about suds out of my head. I highly doubt any big company is going to come out and ever admit the truth. Surely we’ll never hear, “Sorry, we were totally wrong about suds. (It did help us sell a lot of soap and detergent though.”)

There’s been little reduction over the years in use of the massive number of chemically derived surfactants in commercial detergent products and even personal care products. They remain the top ingredients even in most new “green washed” products. Supply follows demand, so we must change our thinking. We must change our paradigm regarding suds. Product changes begin with us – the consumer. Our demands will make a difference.

Again, the production and use of chemical surfactants are major sources of the pollution of our world’s water supplies. They are an ongoing health hazard, and a cause of widespread skin ailments and human suffering. That’s a tragedy when there is such a simple alternative – SAPONIN.

• Liquid Detergents

Important information about soap nuts in liquid form:

Soap nuts truly natural laundry detergents and cleansers are beginning a new age in safe, green, healthy household cleaning solutions. Soap nut liquids are convenient and effective for many uses, plus also simpler when doing cold water washes. However, there are potentially serious health issues regarding the liquid form of soap nuts that consumers must be aware of.

Recently, soap nut liquids began showing up on the market. When there is demand, supply will follow. Hence, a race began. The race for the next “new thing” is amusing. The inherent problem with a “race” though is that speed often leads to errors and mistakes. The race for soap nut liquids led to some serious problems.

Although we have growing concerns about all the possible health hazards of commercial chemical detergents and cleaners, soap nut liquids present reasons for concern, too. As with any botanical liquid, a pure soap nut liquid will go rancid within days unless preserved properly. One US seller who must have been in a big hurry to get a soap nuts liquid to market stopped selling it within weeks. I bought some. It became rancid within a month. I keep samples of soap nut liquids from the main producers to evaluate their shelf lives. I open them and then tightly re-close them. They are kept at room temperature. Nearly all have become contaminated. They visibly show cloudiness and coagulation. In the worst cases they have developed black spots of bacterial growth and/or fungus floating on the surface.

"NaturOli green detergents' and cleansers' use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs." -Green Dot Awards Jury

"NaturOli green detergents' and cleansers' use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs." -Green Dot Awards Jury

So, be wary of soap nuts liquids. My review of an official MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) that was provided by an India/Nepal exporter was frightening. It read like a poison. This particular soap nut liquid is very well preserved, but why use it? Apparently, in the big rush to develop the liquid, the exporter used less than eco-friendly, synthetic chemical solvents in the saponin extraction process, plus loaded the solution with cheap chemical preservatives. The precious saponin’s inherent healthy, green characteristics were totally destroyed. All the benefits of using soap nuts were undone.

Most soap nut exporters and sellers are not up on their chemistry, and have little to no prior experience in genuine natural product formulation. They just don’t have the mindset for developing natural, eco-friendly, safe and healthy botanical liquid detergents. It’s not a skin care product or for consumption of which may have necessitated deeper study and more precautions.

IMPORTANT: Very little is required to be disclosed to the consumer. A seller can simply label a product with saponin or soap nuts liquid extract and be on safe legal ground. There are no laws requiring companies to tell you hardly anything. There are no FDA requirements for complete disclosure for soap nuts, detergents or other cleansers. To worsen the problem, many soap nut liquids will be produced, bottled and labeled overseas. It is – by far – the cheapest way to produce it. Don’t expect the label to explain any of this. It will only speak to what you want to hear. Avoid imported soap nut liquids or any of questionable origin. Buyer beware!

Use great care in preparing your own homemade soap nut liquids. It’s exciting to see people experimenting and developing their own concoctions. Although saponin is naturally anti-fungal and anti-microbial, once liquefied it becomes highly susceptible to microbial and bacterial growth that can quickly pose serious health risks. A 100% pure soap nut liquid will have a shelf life of only a few days. Refrigeration helps, but not much. Freezing is a good way to preserve a homemade soap nut liquid. Beyond that, a common sense approach to use of well-studied, high quality, safe preservatives is required to extend the shelf life properly. Citric acid simply does not do the job effectively. It takes time and very lengthy testing to ensure the integrity of a soap nut liquid. If you want to be 100% natural with soap nuts – and remain 100% safe – stick with the traditional methods of soap nut usage or experiment with powdered soap nuts.

(Although this is not the topic of this article, on the note of shelf life: Never expect any truly , “natural” skin care or cosmetic product to last years. Formulas designed for topical application that ultimately enter your bloodstream should be used within six months for maximum benefit. Discard after one year.)

High quality, safe soap nut (saponin) liquids and concentrates are available – some are phenomenal. Do your homework. Labels are often very deceptive and misleading, but check the ingredients. If it does not clearly spell out quality ingredients or show adequate preservatives – move on. Questions the seller. Move along if your questions are not answered to your total satisfaction. Don’t be shy about requesting a MSDS. There is no rating system for detergents and cleansers as there is with cosmetics. Hopefully there will be one someday.

For truly green, chemical-free, natural product formulators, saponin is the Holy Grail of ingredients. Conversely, for chemical formulators, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is an inexpensive yet effective foaming agent; hence it is one of the most common (and often the primary) active ingredients in commercial detergents and cleansers today. SLS is a highly suspected skin and lung irritant with potential toxicity to other organs. The soap nut’s saponin eliminates the need for all such hazardous ingredients.

NaturOli has developed a concentrated soap nut liquid laundry soap and cleaner that utilizes a proprietary saponin extraction process requiring no chemical solvents. It is a water-based extraction producing a quality “cosmetic grade” saponin of extremely high potency. Safe “food grade” preservatives are used to obtain a two-year shelf life and ensure the consumer’s safety. Other ingredients are healthy, natural ingredients used to enhance the formulation. The professional chemists and formulators in the NaturOli lab are developing effective, yet safe formulas that as free as possible of all potentially hazardous chemicals. The same standards and care that apply to their skin care formulations apply to their soap nut detergents and cleansers. The label clearly spells out the facts with no hype.

Bottom line: A soap nut liquid must be thought of differently than soap nuts in any other form. Additional concerns must be considered, and extra measures taken. Be prudent and use good judgment. Be safe – not sorry.

Update:
For Immediate Release –
FEBRUARY 1, 2010: EXTREME 18X Soap Nuts Liquid Detergent Concentrate wins NaturOli its second “Green Dot Award” for the unprecedented reduction of the carbon footprint, toxic chemicals and waste products created by the manufacture, packaging and transport of detergent products.

• Variations

All soap nuts are not created equal.

Soap nuts are a fruit that comes from a genus of trees and shrubs known as Sapindus. It is their remarkable ability to produce truly all-natural soap (saponin, the natural active ingredient) that makes them very special and unique. Saponin is the ideal natural, organic detergent and cleanser. (When I state “organic”, I am using the term synonymously with natural – from the earth.) However, all soap nuts are not the same. They vary greatly – and the results you receive from them vary accordingly.

As a consumer, you receive soap nuts as dried fruits with their seeds removed (hopefully since they are sold by weight). If they were not dried they would rot, as would any fruit. Think of soap nuts as you would a bag of dried fruit snacks or big dry raisins. They remind me of cherries. They have a very large seed and relatively thin pulp and skin. While fresh off the tree, a small slit and little squeeze will pop the seed out. The pulp and skin are then left to dry in the sun. When made wet again and agitated the saponin is released creating the suds you will see.

However, as an apple is not just an apple, and a grape is not just a grape, a soap nut is not just a soap nut. Do you think a vineyard cares about the type and quality of the grapes they grow? You bet. If all is not right, an entire harvest could become worthless. A grape is probably the most extreme example I can think of to make my point. Such is the beauty of extremes – they make points easy to understand. It is such fundamentals that we will apply to soap nuts. This article is to provide some basics to assist you in becoming a more informed consumer of soap nuts.

Premature pre-harvest sapindus mukorossi berries developing on the tree.

Premature pre-harvest sapindus mukorossi berries developing on the tree.

As with grapes the varieties run from A to Z. A vineyard is extremely particular regarding the grapes they grow. Different grapes produce different wines. With soap nuts, we don’t need to go to quite that extreme for there are no culinary aspects. The value of a soap nut distills down to one thing – its saponin content (the natural surfactant). A surfactant is what reduces water’s surface tension and allows the water to effectively penetrate fabrics and loosen dirt and grime.

Consider 100% pure saponin as having no variables (other than those caused by the extraction process or method of use). It is what it is, and does what it does. It is the concentration of the saponin contained within the soap nut that we are concerned with. From species to species across the globe, soap nuts vary greatly.

Without going into all the different soap nut species in detail, the Sapindus Mukorossi species are relatively large and contain the most consistently high level of saponin. It is the most prized and highest valued of the many varieties. The Mukorossi soap nut tree grows wild throughout an immense region around the Himalayan Mountains extending from southern China, through Nepal and into northern India. It is called the Chinese soapberry because its true origin is China. It is officially an alien species to the Doon Valley region of the Indian Himalayans where it flourishes today.

Alternately, Sapindus Marginatus as one example (aka the Florida soapberry) is a soap nut, but it does not seem to work as effectively or consistently. The same goes for Sapindus Trifoliatus, a smaller tree from mainly from southern India and Pakistan. They both produce soap nuts, but the quality of the berry is not as consistently high. This appears to be the case for most or possibly all other varieties currently known. There are numerous variables to consider and many data gaps. In this author’s opinion, Mukorossi reigns supreme if you do not want to do a lot of experimentation to get good results.

Fully ripened sapindus mukorossi soap berries still on the tree in India. This is a great depiction of Mother Nature's propensity towards variations. The berries vary greatly in both size and color making thorough sorting vital. The large golden berries will be of highest value. The very dark red berries will be either left on the trees to fall, rot, enrich, and seed the Himalayan soils. If harvested they will be steeply discounted at market for they will become undesirably dark early in the season. Mature trees are very prolific producers, hence allowing harvesters to be highly selective in obtaining the premium quality "yellow/golden" soap berries. It's estimated that only half of the fruits produce actually make it to market (and our homes).

Fully ripened sapindus mukorossi soap berries still on the tree in India. This is a great depiction of Mother Nature's propensity towards variations. The berries vary greatly in both size and color making thorough sorting vital. The large golden berries will be of highest value. The very dark red berries will be either left on the trees to fall, rot, enrich, and seed the Himalayan soils. If harvested they will be steeply discounted at market for they will become undesirably dark early in the season. Mature trees are very prolific producers, hence allowing harvesters to be highly selective in obtaining the premium quality "yellow/golden" soap berries. It's estimated that only half of the fruits produce actually make it to market (and our homes).

Most people have no clue as to what a soap nut looks like. The name implies that it looks like a nut. Even those of us who see and use soap nuts routinely are not always able to immediately determine one species from another. For example, a prematurely harvested Mukorossi soap nut would look similar to a mature Trifoliatus soap nut once dried. And as with all things in nature variations are common. From soapberry tree to soapberry tree even of the same species every soap nut is not identical. Size varies, color varies, saponin content varies, etc. And then there are always those mutant soap nuts. I’ve seen some very unusual looking soap nuts. As a former tree farmer, Mother Nature never ceases to have her inconsistencies. Let’s not rule out evolutionary changes and possible cross-pollination for increasing the variables with soap nuts.

Complicating this further, it is impossible without laboratory analysis to determine the soap nut species once in liquid or powder form. Given the increase in popularity of soap nut liquid and powder, it is only reasonable to assume increased usage of the less expensive varieties to produce these soap nut products.

The color of soap nuts naturally changes as they age causing more confusion. This is normal. Mukorossi soap nuts are initially golden in color and change to reddish and ultimately blackish. Color is mainly a gauge of the age of the soap nut. If properly stored, the color will not alter the soap nuts’ effectiveness. However, if improperly stored (either too dry or too wet) they will prematurely show signs of age and may lose saponin content or worse – become contaminated. Although soap nuts are naturally anti-fungal and antimicrobial, they are not bulletproof, so to speak.

Again, this article is to help consumers understand that a soap nut is NOT just a soap nut. As the market evolves we see more variants in the market. Cheap, slimy black mukorossi berries from China have popped up in the past year. They’re purported to be better because of “rich dark” color meaning that they have high saponin levels. Nothing could be further from the facts. Wise consumers need to have a basic understanding of these things. As illustrated clearly in the pictures above, color has nothing to do with saponin content. Never assume a seller knows exactly what they are selling. Never assume they are being wholly honest about their product either. For novices, these are common mistakes. I have seen it many times. In some cases, what was sold was anything except what it was claimed to be. Do your own homework and ask questions. I try to help you ask the right questions.

Sadly, whenever there are data gaps and uninformed consumers, people will step in and take advantage of the situation for personal gain. I hope that everyone who tries soap nuts gets the experience that high quality berries provide. The biggest crime occurring in the soap nut business today is unknowing consumers having unsatisfactory experiences because an uneducated or unscrupulous seller sold the customer an inferior quality product.

My goal is to minimize such experiences from happening.

• Welcome to SoapNutsPro

PREMISE: Information contained throughout SoapNuts.Pro is product specific – not brand specific. Data and facts are provided (plus my opinion as moderator, as well as those from readers). You’ll notice minimal mention of any brands. Brands are only occasionally mentioned when necessary to clarify a specific discussion, or when a proprietary soap berry product or process requires it. Maintaining objectivity is vital to our mission. Of course, my articles are subjective in that I put forth my opinions. However you may read SoapNuts.Pro with confidence in its fundamental neutrality. Without letting it get too boring, I maintain Joe Friday’s (Dragnet) approach of: “Just the facts, ma’me.” All conclusions and decisions are yours alone to make.

Welcome!

SoapNuts.pro has two primary goals:

1. To shed light where it is needed. Soap nuts (aka soapnuts, soap berry, soapberries, Chinese soap berries, wash nuts, laundry nuts, wash shells, etc. for only a few common names) are often misunderstood due to large data gaps, poor quality articles and inaccurate information that spreads like a virus across the Internet. You will find honest, thoughtful answers to your questions about soap nuts here.

2. To increase consumer awareness of soap nuts, and to expand the knowledge base surrounding them. Soap nuts and saponin are in our future as a better, healthier way to clean – plus soap nuts will have a positive environmental impact of historic proportions. Consumer awareness and understanding are the keys.

SoapNuts.pro is dedicated to provide a reliable source for only well-studied, accurate, useful and beneficial information regarding soap nuts (soapberries). Expect no sales pitch or hype. There is no copy/pasting of the same stuff as commonly found online. All content is original. There is no store to purchase soap nut products here. Expect only quality information and facts. Some may surprise you, and rightfully so. You will find so many soap nuts reviews, comments and FAQ that I have made efforts to eliminate redundancies so they are not overwhelming for readers. I try to keep info timely and up-to-date on events and topics.

Both PROS and CONS about soap nuts are presented throughout this site. I hope to have one or two articles that distill and outline as many of them as possible for you in a simple, logical format. As with everything, of course there are pros and cons. That’s life. However, preparing a good presentation is a daunting task (to say the least). The uses of saponin seem endless. As we continue to discover more new uses, more issues and questions follow. As I make just a few edits here and there tonight (9/2012), I view “laundry room” use today as merely the tip of and iceberg – that keeps growing. So, as I continue to write and expand upon the “hot” topics of the day, and tweak things here and there to remain timely and accurate – the TRUTH is what is SoapNuts.Pro is really about. It will always be my focus.

SoapNuts.pro is not intended for everyone. It drills very deep, and is very broad in scope. Please excuse any redundancy. Articles are intended to be meaningful when read alone. Hence some redundancy is impossible to get around to make each article a whole unto itself.

Soap nuts offer our generation and future generations an amazing array of benefits that have the power to change our world in huge ways – much more than as only a natural detergent. At this time, that is what soap nuts are mainly used for. This alone is enormous, however there is much more.

The natural detergent and laundry soap aspects of soap nuts will be covered at length, but it merely scratches the surface of this iceberg. We will drill to great depths and expose other monumental benefits to mankind. Soapnuts.pro is a live entity that will continually expand and evolve. It will help people in every way possible to maximize the life altering alternatives that Mother Nature freely handed us when she grew her first soap nut tree.

The prestigious Green Dot Awards recognized NaturOli Beautiful, LLC of Peoria Arizona with this quote: “NaturOli green detergents and cleansers. Use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs.”

One more time, “…POSSIBLY THE MOST SIGNIFICANT GREEN INNOVATION IN HISTORY FOR EVERYDAY HOUSEHOLD CLEANING NEEDS.” That says a lot and marks only the beginning of recognizing all the benefits of soap nuts – for us and generations to come.

I am the founder of NaturOli, Christopher Sicurella, a true natural skin care formulator and handmade soap maker who had no clue a few years ago that I would be writing so much about soap nuts and saponin. I discovered something special and extraordinary about soap nuts. I assume you did, too. This is not a “sales” site. You can’t purchase soap nuts here. I bring to this forum my professional knowledge and personal experiences to enrich and broaden the scale and scope of SoapNuts.pro – to share what I know.

SoapNuts.pro welcomes input, information, comments and questions from professionals, sellers and consumers. We all have much to learn. I only ask to never be spammy. That’s taboo here. If you are a professional, please introduce yourself. After that contribute something of genuine value about soap nuts that we all may benefit from – and that is not that you sell soap nuts. All of us involved in the business of soap nuts are colleagues and allies. We must work together to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of soap nuts. Together we can show the world a healthier, better place – a world without Proctor and Gamble (and their like) controlling how we think.

As consumers, the floor is wide open. Questions are critical to learning. Ask away! Share your thoughts, experiences and things you have learned about using soap nuts. As soap nut consumers and users – you are the greatest asset to this site. You are where the rubber hits the road.

Again, welcome to SoapNuts.pro

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