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• 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

• 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.

• 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.

• Varieties & Quality

Soap nuts were originally discovered and used by locals as a cleansing medium. They were primarily used for bathing and personal hygiene and a plethora of cleaning uses. They make an exceptional jewelry cleaner for example. Soap nuts were also used in numerous medicinal treatments and worked as an effective, yet safe, chemical-free pest repellent. These same uses prevail today – PLUS there is a long list of NEW uses in our modern age.

The botanical term Sapindus is derived from the Latin word “sapo” (soap) and (Indian) indicus, referring to its lather-producing fruit. It is this genus of tree that produces soap nuts – and there are many varieties. Saponin is found in many plants such as yucca, agave, soapwort, and others. What makes the soap nut SO special is their extraordinarily high concentration of saponin (the active ingredient and natural surfactant in soap nuts). Extracting enough saponin from other plants would simply not be feasible. However, Sapindus trees produce a fruit that not only makes it feasible, Sapindus trees make it easy AND SUSTAINABLE.

Soap nuts are a common name for the ripened and dried fruit harvested from a Sapindus tree. There are two primary species being harvested today: Mukorossi and Trifoliatus. Both are found mainly in Southeast Asia. Both are of the family Sapindaceae. I am often asked why does NaturOli use only Mukorossi soap nuts. The Mukorossi species consistently produces the highest level of saponin of the many soap berry varieties. Hence, consumers get the best possible experience from them. Also, other than Mukorossi and Trifoliatus there is no infrastructure and supply chain for the other varieties. When ordering tens of thousands of kilos, the Southeast Asian exporters are the only suppliers that can meet the demand. With time, increased consumer awareness, and increased demand this scenario will change. In decades to come, we will find suppliers in many regions around the Rocky, Andes, Sierra, Appalachian and other mountain ranges. Most likely it will be the Mukorossi variety being grown and harvested.

Sapindus Mukorossi is a large soapberry tree growing primarily in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains of China, northern India and Nepal. It is a prolific fruit producer and lives around ninety years. It is native to China and considered alien to the Doon Valley in India where it flourishes in poor soil conditions. It aids in the reducing soil erosion in these regions. The soap nut flowers are small, white and grouped in panicles (clusters). The fruits are round, yellowish berries that become gummy and wrinkled as they ripen. It produces large, colorful and glossy soapberries compared to other species. It is the most highly valued species.

Sapindus Trifoliatus is a smaller soapberry tree typically found in Southern India, Pakistan and numerous countries in Southeast Asia. It prefers lower altitudes and warmer climates. It produces a smaller soap nut (about half the size of the Mukorossi soap nut). It contains saponin as do all Sapindus fruits, however not as high of level as Mukorossi soap berries. Harvesting and de-seeding the smaller soap nuts is more difficult. Being sold by weight makes Trifoliatus less desirable in many ways. There is more work for the harvesters for less money. There is less money involved per kilo for the exporters. And they are of lower quality and effectiveness for the consumer. Trifoliatus soap nuts are certainly a valuable resource for saponin. HOWEVER, they are also the primary species sold deceptively to be its far superior cousin, the Mukorossi soap nut.

Local villagers, farmers, families and co-ops harvest the soap nuts after the fruit falls from the tree. Properly processed, the seeds are removed and the shells are dried in the sun. They are then sold to the exporters. Currently only about half of the Mukorossi soap nuts available are harvested annually. The rest go to waste. Harvesting provides an economic stimulus for these economically depressed regions. Increased global demand will provide additional stimulus and encourage more cultivation.

Many other varieties of these remarkable soap nut trees grow around the globe with differing data with regards to their fruits. There are actually many types of saponin, too – also with varying properties. We will be studying these soap nut varieties and their individual properties for many years to come. We have much to still learn. The consensus at NaturOli is that the further we drill into the benefits of soap nuts and saponin the more we continue to discover. Who knows how deep this rabbit hole goes?

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• Facts & Events

Important information and events about soap nuts:

– Saponin is the active ingredient in soap nuts and is responsible for all of the soap nuts’ benefits. A soap nut is a fruit or berry (much like a cherry) and the pulp and skin is the source for the saponin.

– Soap nuts have been used by man for thousands of years yet remained obscure throughout the ages. Due to the “green” movement and the search for alternatives to synthetic chemicals, coupled with the Internet and Information Age, soap nuts have re-emerged as the ideal alternative.

– Soap nuts and the work of NaturOli was recognized by the Green Dot Awards jury as, “…possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs.”

– A June 2009 independent US laboratory efficacy test has determined the cleaning power of saponin to be equivalent to that of the mainstream commercial detergents utilizing synthetic chemical cleaning agents.

– Soap nuts are a real answer and solution for sensitive skin types, and also sufferers of eczema, rosacea and psoriasis that are commonly irritated by commercial detergent chemicals.

– Recent independent US laboratory toxicology testing has determined in ocular tests that saponin is “minimally irritating”. When compared to to major leading detergent brands the saponin-based was the least irritating of all tested.

– NaturOli wins a “Green Dot Award” for their work with 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.”

– Soap nuts are gentle enough for infant skin and fantastic for laundering diapers and removal of odors.

– Although soap nuts are known to be an aid to healthier hair and scalp, there is no hard evidence of it preventing hair loss.

– They have been virtually unknown outside of Southeast Asia, yet can dramatically and positively impact the entire global environment.

– Soap nuts are naturally anti-fungal and anti-microbial.

– Saponin is an extremely effective and safe and chemical free pesticide and insect repellent.

– Soap nuts are hypoallergenic. Many people develop skin irritations and have allergic reactions to detergents due to the hazardous synthetic chemicals and fragrances in commercial detergents and additives. Continued exposure to such chemicals has led to new conditions such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). This ongoing chemical exposure is affecting our immune systems in ways we may not fully understand for decades. Soap nuts are free of all such synthetic chemicals.

– Soap nuts are extremely versatile. They can be used for laundry, personal care and numerous everyday-cleaning needs.

– Soap nuts are easily converted to powder or liquid forms at home for a multitude of uses.

– The shelf life of non-preserved homemade soap nut liquids is very short. Care must be taken to prevent homemade liquids from becoming rancid. Freezing is one of the best options.

– Highly concentrated soap nut liquid (saponin) extract is available. It has an absolute minimal carbon footprint with tremendous natural cleaning power.

– Based upon study of Material Safety Data Sheets some Asian soap nut liquid producers have been reportedly using less than environmentally or healthy saponin extraction processes. Such processes will typically involve use of powerful and hazardous chemical solvents that will contaminate the liquid.

– NaturOli unveils EXTREME 18X. This is a saponin-based, ultra-concentrated liquid laundry detergent and cleaner. As little as one-half teaspoon is required for a typical load of laundry. This is the most concentrated detergent presently on the market available for consumers.

– Soap nuts virtually eliminate the need, and the expense, for laundry additives, fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

– Soap nuts are far more economical per load than mainstream commercial detergents and particularly so-called natural detergents.

– Being so mild, soap nuts help maintain fabric structure. They are highly effective, yet very gentle. They naturally help reduce static cling. Ideal for fine fabrics, silks and wools.

– Shelf life of raw, dried soap nuts is extremely long (many years) when properly stored (simply kept dry or sealed in an air-tight container).

– Soap nuts do not pollute water; resolves issues of grey water and are great for septic systems. They are 100% biodegradable and excellent for composting.

– Neither fossil fuels nor chemicals are used to grow soap nuts, or to process saponin extractions – essentially no energy is required. Soap nuts grow in the wild and are fully sustainable.

– NaturOli unveils the first cold-processed, hand-poured, saponin and olive soap bar for retail sales.

– Since soap nuts are primarily a resource from emerging nations, increased demand will provide a needed economic stimulus in these areas.

– Soap nuts trees grow in typically undesirable and often useless lands with poor soil conditions. Increased demand will encourage increased cultivation elsewhere in the world.

– The forestation of near barren, unproductive lands with soap nut trees will aid in the reversal of Co2 accumulation.

– Although time tested for safety for thousands of years, soap nuts and saponin are just beginning to be studied in depth to determine all their potential natural benefits. We will still be learning for decades to come and are only scratching the surface of all the potential benefits and uses.

– Paramount Pictures chooses NaturOli’s EXTREME 18X to be included in their care packages to be distributed to the homeless and communities in needs in the Los Angeles, CA area as part of their 15th annual Viacommunity Day.

– Selling soap nuts has been reported to be in the top 100 new business opportunities.

– Some exporters and sellers of soap nuts have been discovered falsely representing and selling sapindus trifoliatus as “certified organic” sapindus mukorossi. The inferior variety was also found to not be de-seeded. The seed is approximately half the weight of the soap nut and has no cleaning value. The organic claim has not been able to be verified.

– Soap nut tree saplings are beginning to be found offered by various tree farms and tree retailers in the US. Demand has far outweighed supply and most sellers offering the soap nut tree saplings have waiting lists.

– Sapindus Mukorossi trees typically take nine to ten years to begin producing fruits.

– Five US universities have begun offering saponin-based detergents in their laundries as a genuinely natural alternative to typical commercial detergents for the rapidly growing number of health and environmentally minded students.

– Use of soap nut liquid as a dishwasher detergent has had mixed reviews. Most of those reporting good results have taken additional steps and used additives. The type of dishwasher and the viscosity of the liquid used appear to be important variables.

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.

• 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.

• 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.

• FAQ

Note from author:
Consumers have many questions about soap nuts. The most frequently asked questions (FAQs) are answered concisely, but in enough detail to hopefully be helpful. Basic soap nuts use is as much an art as it is a science. Experimentation is part of the joy of using soap nuts. There are MANY variables. I love reading and hearing of all the things people think of and do with them. Many are quite ingenious. Try not to get hung up on being too precise. Let your mind go free. Let end results guide you. When experimenting with soap nut powders and soap nut liquids think of it more like cooking. Depending upon your desired purpose, you may do things differently. It is difficult to do something wrong (aside from not properly preserving a soap nut liquid). Take your time, and dial in what works best for YOU. How you use soap nuts may be completely different than someone else.

PREMISE: 1) If you are still learning and have not yet purchased soap nuts, please first review the post called “Soap Nut Scams – EXPOSED”. It will give you a quick overview of the biggest mistakes and common marketing traps new buyers often fall victim to. 2) For a far more in-depth and detailed post, visit the “12 Tips on How to Buy” in the posts in the right side column.) If you just started using soap nuts and are having any problems, try “Common Problems”. It’s brief, easy to understand, and covers questions we get asked routinely. Use of saponin (either via old-school, or modern methods) takes a bit of mental adjustment. All-natural products have a few nuances to become familiar with. After understanding them, it’s downhill all the way!

What should good quality soap nuts look like?
This is a great question for I’ve been getting a lot of emails about what good and what’s bad, and how to tell the difference. Let me first state that a bunch of Internet myths are being spread around. I think these start when a retailer has soap berries that look one way or another, and then gets creative. All of a sudden red ones, yellow ones, big ones, small ones, etc. are better for one reason or another. One seller was trying to tell consumers that seeds helped to agitate the berries, hence better. Wrong. Recently retailers of China grown berries are praising “dark, rich red color, and dripping with saponin…more soap” Wrong again. (I guess when newly harvested yellow berries are in season again they’ll just rewrite the erroneous descriptions. Then yellow will be better. Geesh… Why do people have to lie??? The truth is so much better for consumers. Let’s dispel this myth right now. )

Example close-up pic of ideal soap berries / soap nuts. (In roughly mid-season).

Example close-up pic of ideal soap berries / soap nuts. (In roughly mid-season).

A few questions below is a more detailed answer about wetness, so please read that. Too wet (i.e., very slimy and sticky) is excessive moisture (water) – not more saponin. The reality and truth is that soap nuts change naturally over time. It is a harvested fruit – not plastic. Just like a banana that goes from green, to yellow, to brown, to black and totally rotten – soap berries go through a similar process (just much slower). Note: soap berries don’t go “rotten”, but if too wet and not stored properly – you’ll end up with a disgusting mess. In extreme cases mold is possible (especially if grown / processed in areas with high pollution issues), but saponin helps inhibit mold and fungal growth (unlike bananas and most produce).

So, anywhere from yellow to dark brown in color is fine. Mukorossi (the preferred species) will on average be about diameter of a US nickle or quarter (3/4 – 7/8″ / or approx. 2cm) in size. Ideally they should have just a little tackiness. You can adjust the moisture content easily. They can be sun/air dried if too wet, and/or steamed / misted to moisten. The saponin content is a constant. If told otherwise, it’s all baloney. There are a few caveats that I’ll address later (i.e., premature harvesting, green soap berries), but hopefully this will completely resolve the color and saponin content issues for you. See photo for excellent quality soap berries approximately 3 months after harvest. They will turn dark red after about six months, then dark brownish towards the end of the season. After a year they’ll turn black. Good companies will turn their inventory annually. By late spring (May to June) in the US golden colored berries typically mark the beginning of the new harvest.

What’s the cost per load when using soap nuts?
This is an excellent question. And soap nuts can save you hundreds of dollars per year – or much more! Those that actually give you definitive answers to this question are being rather foolish or disingenuous about the facts. Don’t confuse sales hype with reality. The reality is fantastic already!

Wasting money on laundry.

"Laundering money" now has a whole new meaning... Washing laundry (with traditional detergents and additives) is far more expensive than you may think. Start adding up your costs - ALL of them. Using soap nuts will slash your expense to a mere fraction. You'll be amazed.

I know, there’s a seller online repeatedly claiming “9-11 cents per load” (yep, the same one using the magical math to get 100 and 360 load boxes). Ironically the same seller is expensive once you figure out what the cost “per ounce” and/or actual cost “per load” equals. (Just don’t pay attention to “loads” claimed. It’s ridiculous to think that anyone can estimate the loads achievable. We are all very different, and we all deal with very different circumstances.) Let the uniformed newbies fall for such stuff if they don’t want to use their brains. Frankly, I’ve achieved a cost per load of under FIVE cents (with some extra effort, while factoring average prices for top-shelf, seedless mukorossi in the 2-3 lb size range), but I don’t advocate proclaiming that. We need to trust our common sense. Using soap berries requires a paradigm shift. You need to adjust your way of thinking a bit – and there’s much more than laundry loads that should be considered. However, let me simply state this: Using soap nuts properly will cut your costs for typical laundry supplies by half or better. – And we’re just getting started…

When do I remove the wash bag from the washer?
I recommend leaving it in until all the wash and rinse cycles are complete. The only reason to ever remove it early is to extend the life of the soapberries. Saponin, the natural surfactant (soap) in the berries, leaves no residual build up on fabrics, so there’s nothing that needs to be rinsed out. Also, saponin helps to soften fabrics and reduce static – hence no fabric softener or dryer sheets are needed. I recommend using your presoak cycle and allowing the soap nuts to become well saturated, and kinda’ jump-starting the whole wash. Soapberries are very affordable relative to commercial detergents – especially the so-called “greener” ones. Being overly frugal to extend the number of loads seems “penny wise and pound foolish” to me. Sometimes sellers recommend removing the wash bag prematurely to help justify claiming higher numbers of loads. I understand the rationale and marketing aspect of that, but again, I want simplicity and good results. I don’t want to hassle with trying to find the small wash bag in a machine full of wet laundry. No thanks. I certainly don’t want to keep tabs on when cycles change either. That’s a major pain. The “normal/casual” wash is 56 minutes in my HE unit. It’s 72 minutes with the pre-wash cycle enabled. (Which I typically use unless in a hurry.). Either way, once started, I forget about it until it buzzes at me – finished and ready for the dryer. I get plenty of great, clean loads out of my soap nuts (usually using 5 or 6 dependent upon size, and getting 5 or 6 good washes before replenishing the wash bag). If you’re trying to squeeze out 10 loads before replacing, you’re being silly – and making extra work for yourself. Your last loads likely won’t be well washed either. There’s FAR simpler, better ways to optimize use of the saponin. I’ll get into that later. For now, just hang on to all your used shells (store them dry). You’ll be amazed at all we’ll do with them!

Do soap nuts really work? They seem too good to be true.
That’s precisely how the commercial detergent and cleaner producers want you to think. To be perfectly clear: SOAP NUTS REALLY WORK! They are new to us because throughout history money has been greasing all the wheels of commerce. Soap nuts would have thrown a big wrench into those gears. (Addressed in detail later.) A friend of mine who served in Vietnam, recalls locals gathering berries from the jungle to wash and clean. This was strange to him, but they worked great. These berries were soap nuts. Do they work? Oh, yea…

Should soap nuts be “wet” or “dry”? What’s better?
Superb question! And an important one, too. People are often confused about this. If you think of them as dried fruits (berries) it will help immensely to understand. When they are first harvested, mukorossi will be yellow to golden in color and very moist (juicy). That’s why they are dried (often sun-dried initially) to make them manageable for processing and de-seeding. Imagine the gummy mess that tons of fresh cherries would turn into after being handled for weeks or months. We are NOT talking refrigerated produce here. Everything “juicy” is due to water content (moisture) – not saponin. It’s outright BS to think of berries “dripping” with saponin as a good thing. That’s utter
nonsense – and nasty, too. See pic at right.

An example of very wet, dark red berries. Hazardous contaminants from China are our primary concern, but as simply put by a verified buyer, "They're gross."

An example of very wet, dark red berries. Hazardous contaminants from China are our primary concern, but as simply put by a verified buyer, "They're gross."

Easy proof: Saponin can be dehydrated – NO moisture. Don’t confuse this with soap nut powder (ritha) which is simply the ground shells. I’ve only seen this pure dehydrated saponin in NaturOli’s lab. But even regular ritha powder is very potent if pure (without fillers) – and very dry. 2) A liquid 200X saponin extract is about as dense as tar or tree sap. The only thing wet soap berries have is more water – and unwanted excess weight. My preferred soap nut has just a slight tackiness – not sticky, gummy, or slimy – just a noticeable tackiness. Then I can store them to stay that way, or dry further. Lighter color is better only from the standpoint of indicating freshness. General rule of thumb: Lighter, fresher. Darker, older. Most folks don’t ever see them when still yellowish. They darken to a reddish color by the time they are ready for resale (maybe 90 days from first harvested). If you noticed the comparison picture with some really light brown berries in the post about “China-grown” soap berries. The light ones look to me like what should have been discarded or put into the “grinding bin” to become powder during sorting. When harvested there’s always some oddballs like that. Such is Mother Nature.

I bought soapberries stating certified organic, but what I received had no organic seal? I was told they don’t need to be marked.
Wrong – and this is commonplace. I’ll try to make this quick because I delve more deeply into the issue in other questions and posts – in particular regarding the scams from new Chinese sellers. They are relentless scam artists. Odds are 99.9+% that you’re being lied to (otherwise, they are completely ignorant of the law, which is highly doubtful). Many sellers use “organic”, and/or “certified organic” in product names and descriptions that are in direct violation of USDA regulations. They’re usually small fly-by-night sellers (or possibly new, and just don’t know any better). Genuine USDA “Organic” agricultural products are strictly regulated to ensure they’re chemical free. Violations have stiff penalties. Organic approval comes at a price (both time and money) that the scammers will never pay. Return them for refund, and report the seller to the National Organic Program (NOP). Just mentioning the NOP should make getting your money back easier. btw: I’ll try to prepare an article about all the fraudulent organic certificates being forged these days to scam buyers. It’s incredible! And predictably, most that I’ve seen are from our “China-grown” soapberry sellers. Learn more on reporting an organic violation.

I bought soap nuts that I believe are from China. Is there a problem?
Yep. And you probably found them on Amazon, eBay, or some other auction-type site. They were really cheap, so you tried them. First let me apologize. I wanted to finish a new post prior to addressing this FAQ (I’ve been getting similar questions since 1-2013). Hopefully it’s not to late for you to remedy the problem by returning them for a refund. Both Amazon and eBay do have buyer protection return policies that may prove very helpful – particularly Amazon if they fulfilled the item.

China grown soap nuts

China grown soap nuts: The worst of the worst. These are pictures known to be used by sellers of China grown soapberries. Jan, 23, 2014: US Dept. of Agriculture enforcement agents concluded a 6-month investigation finding them in violation of US National Organic Program regulations. The seller's web site was shut down. They are currently still found on third-party web sites usually undercutting prices of reputable sellers. The list of grandiose and wholly unsupported claims made by the seller(s) is long and forever changing. Evidence shows operations out of a residential apartment in S. Carolina and without proper business licensing. These represent the "black market" for soap nuts. They are brought into the US from China. It is unclear if smuggled or through the proper channels of US Customs. - They potentially carry hazardous chemical and biological contaminants.

Please see the post about “China-grown” soap berries. It’s quite thorough, and I did a lot of research for it. My opinion: Return them or trash them. Period. They’re so cheap that IF you need to return them, you may not financially come out ahead. That will be your decision. Looking at the bright side, you’ll be much better informed after reading the new post. Given the cost, consider yourself lucky. – Your tuition bill should be low.

Quick update: The new Chinese sellers are shrewd. Recently I’ve seen some raise their prices. They just jack up their “regular price” to appear less “bargain basement” priced. It’s just a shell game to throw buyers off. They’re very good at their game. YOU just have to be smarter.

Do soap nuts need to be “sterilized”?
Not at all (unless they’re from China – and if so, trashing them or using them for compost would be a far better option). I’ve had a little flurry of questions about this since a company pitched potential investors on a TV show. As one of the investors pointed out, in marketing it’s important to differentiate your product. We all know that. What’s crucial though is for us to separate what’s meaningful and/or beneficial from what’s just “marketing” as I refer to in the “12 Tips”. Marketers in all industries strive hard to create distinctions for their brand. (i.e., “Ours is better because…”) In the past five years that I’ve been studying and writing about soap nuts, and of the meta-tons I’ve seen sold worldwide, there’s been ONE documented case of contaminated soap nuts reaching store shelves or consumers (and that was in powdered form found in Canada that was packaged overseas.) Batches were recalled. You can see the post “Why from the USA” for more info on that incident.

This is common sense for most that use natural and/or organic products. Be it shea butter, lavender buds, eucalyptus branches, or even the food products from your local organic market there’s certainly no need for sterilization. Wild crafted products that are responsibly harvested by reputable farmers and suppliers under sanitary conditions are free of both hazardous chemicals and natural contaminants. Of course there can be exceptions like mentioned above. We even have a rare meningitis outbreak in the US currently – and that was traced to have come from a sterile drug lab.

“Officially Certified Organic” is tough and expensive to acquire. ALL Ecocert and USDA Certified Organic companies must pass stringent testing in order to maintain their certifications. Products are traceable down to specific batches and lots. Imported agricultural products to the US (and worldwide) are carefully monitored, scrutinized, examined and routinely tested. The regulations and procedures are VERY strict. I’m very pleased that Official Organic Certification has been acquired by reputable exporters, suppliers, and retailers.

Outrageous and irresponsible as it may be, all evidence points to this sterilization process being solely a sales driven marketing “feature” – nothing based upon any consumer need at all.

Apparently caught off-guard by a backlash of inevitable inquiries and comments that consumers raised on Facebook, the company seemed to struggle with their responses – the most interesting relevant questions and comments kept being deleted. It got so bad that Facebookers were asking them to not delete their questions. (I’ve never seen anything like that before…) Two people that I know personally are even blocked now. Everything negative, controversial or potentially revealing or problematic is now ALL GONE.

Commercial sterilization equipment. Not exactly practical (or even usable) for soap berries.

Commercial sterilization equipment. Not exactly practical (or even usable) for soap berries. Imagine 20 tons of soap nuts being sterilized with such equipment – no way.

What I found very interesting in my preliminary research is that there is a list of “acceptable” methods of post-harvest sterilization for Certified Organic products authorized by the National Organic Program (NOP) Rule. It’s primarily for food products and ingestibles, but the approved methods involve use of:
– chlorine
– ozone
– peroxyacetic acid
– acetic acid
– ethyl alcohol
– isopropyl alcohol
– ammonium sanitizers
– bleach
– detergents
– hydrogen peroxide
– and/or ethylene.

Surprised? I was… So, draw your own conclusions.

As mentioned before, this whole issue is counter-intuitive, even counter productive. Claiming a need for sterilization is a very clever marketing scheme to be sure: Just scare consumers away from using any another brand. However, being based upon some unfounded, unverified, and undocumented “claim” –  that’s unconscionable. It crosses all ethical bounds – even worse than the most underhanded of political tactics we’re seeing so much of today!

Frankly, I’m quite happy to stick with all-natural, chemical-free Certified Organic soap nuts. The above “approved” list of chemical cleaning agents appear to be taking a big step backwards from my goal of having a more toxin-free home and lifestyle.

>>> Please read the NOP Rule for yourself regarding postharvest handling and operations. <<<
(Courtesy of the Arizona College Of Agriculture and Life Sciences)

AN ASIDE: Regarding that TV show presentation. The company made many false (downright delusional) claims that they were quickly called out on. The company was literally laughed off the set. Horribly embarrassing… On the upside though – the concept of soap nuts was recognized as having significant potential, and likely to continue its rapid growth. The potential investors clearly saw that – in spite of the poor marketing and questionable presentation. Most disappointing was that only one brand was presented. Incredibly, saponin was never even mentioned. As I state in my “Welcome” page, what needs to grow is consumer awareness. The crucial issues were never presented: – that saponin is a 100% natural surfactant, – that soap berries are an abundant and sustainable source for saponin, – that saponin is a safe alternative to toxic sulfates and numerous hazardous chemical surfactants. There was no mention that soap nuts have won TWO Green Dot Awards, and proclaimed as “possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs”. The opportunity to convey these vital points was lost. Another opportunity will surely come along. Hopefully the important messages will be presented next time. What good does any “sizzle” do – if you forget to serve the steak?

What are the “pros” and “cons” to soap nuts?
Awesome question. Impossible to properly address in an FAQ format. Throughout all the pages, posts and plethora of topics covered in this site, I try to touch upon BOTH “pros” and “cons” sensibly and realistically – one by one. Boiled down to the sheer essence of what soap nuts are, I could say that they are a source for a safe, natural surfactant, or an eco-safe alternative to sulfates and a myriad of other toxic synthetic chemicals, but I’d rather just state that they are Mother Nature’s own personal “soap” – at least for now. That’s a BIG “pro”. (If they’re good enough for her, they’re good enough for me.) Now, will they do everything for everyone when it comes to cleaning needs? Of course not. There’s numerous “cons”, or things that they won’t do. ALL will be addressed here in time. For the moment, what strikes me as the biggest “con” is in our mindsets – it’s in how we think, even in how we define what “clean” really is as individuals. Now, this is a far cry from a specific answer (if an answer at all), but the answer will become much more specific and detailed as we drill deeper. The very last thing I want to do is to offer some TV-commercial type answer to what is a VERY important question. This entire site is a STUDY into ALL the pros and cons. It’s not to merely sell you something. I hope it does far more than that. As for the single biggest “PRO”, it’s that soap nuts/saponin offer the means and potential to improve the lives of our generation, and ALL those that will follow. This simple little gift from nature has provided us much: It’s self sustaining and grows wild across the globe. It can’t ever be patented by “big business” (no more than a peanut can be). It’s something that significantly benefits our health, that remedies many chemically-based based problems many suffer from – and that simply improves the overall quality of life on this planet – and our everyday lives. The “Green Dot” jury stated “the most significant green innovation in history…” The more I learn and understand, the more I realize that was an actually an understatement. What we do with them/it is up to us. Will we see it – and recognize the full potential? I hope so…

Can I buy soap nuts here?
No. SoapNutsPro is not a store. It is a guide for you. Please refer to the “Welcome” page for much more about the site’s mission and goals. You’ll also find more about my background, experience and qualifications in this business. For both consumers and sellers alike, I like to think of my responsibility as writer and moderator not as one to simply catch fish for you, but rather, to teach you how to fish. – Like the saying goes, doing the latter will allow you to eat for a lifetime.

I have nut allergies. Can I use soap nuts?
Excellent question! Absolutely. Soap nuts are not NUTS at all. That is simply a popular common name for them. They are fruits of the berry families – not of the nut family at all. To see a Mukorossi soap nut before it has been de-seeded and dried, it’s soft and looks like a big yellow cherry (outer skin, juicy pulp and big seed). A more appropriate common name is soap BERRY.

Are Eco Nuts and Soap Nuts the same thing?
Yes, both are dried, raw soapberries. “Eco Nuts” is simply a retail brand name – the most retail-oriented of the brands I know. The brand received national publicity due to a pitch on Shark Den. (The presentation was poorly prepared, and an embarrassment to those of us who take saponin seriously. They received no offers of investment, and essentially were laughed off stage. The boat was missed completely. In marketing though it’s said that there is no such thing as bad press. Thankfully the sharks focused their dislikes at the brand – not the concept. The myriad of saponin’s major health and environmental benefits weren’t addressed at all. That’s was sad to see.) Anyway, being boxed, they are stackable, hence carried in more brick and mortar stores due to retail shelving logistics. I believe selling from store shelves to be their main business strategy and model. They tend to be extremely high priced per ounce, hence why marketed mainly by “loads” as opposed to weight, and as a laundry detergent alternative. There’s no consistent correlation from loads to weight between sizes available, and only a few sizes are offered. I view “Eco Nuts” as a first-time buyer’s introductory product. They are de-seeded mukorossi which is good, but anyone with any experience would never pay so much for so little.

Are Laundry Pods the same as Soap Nuts?
No. Be careful with this one. I’ve been seeing various “pod” or “nugget” type products that are nothing at all like soapberries. You’ve seen the obvious (typically very colorful) “pods” put on the market by major brands like Tide’s new Pods. However, there are others that are not quite so obvious. There’s even “plop-plop-fizz-fizz” types. The Vitamin Shoppe carries a “detergent pod” that’s basically just an Oxyclean in a nugget form. Such singe-dose delivery systems are simply that – new delivery systems. They have nothing whatsoever to do with soapberries or saponin. You must read the ingredients. The names are clever and can cause confusion. Btw: Per my last price check typical brand name single use “pods” cost 30-50 cents per load. Soap nuts cost a scant fraction of that.

Caveat emptor (buyer beware). Soap nuts "as advertised" compared to actual product received.

Caveat emptier (buyer beware). This is an image of "100 load" bags of soap nuts as advertised – and as received. Each of these little plastic bags sells for around $12 plus shipping. Each bag holds 3.5 oz in weight (approx. 35-40 loads realistically). You get ONE – not two. The bottom photo was sent to me by a reader who bought and returned an order. The seller received rather scathing negative feedback. Things to note: 1) The wash bag was terribly chinzy and torn up the seam. 2) The soap nuts were all pieces (only a few unbroken). As my regular readers know, there's nothing wrong with pieces. They're very economical. However, the photo as advertised is totally misleading. It doesn't show pieces. 3) The "bonus tracking system" is the safety pins with instructions on how to clip them on and off to keep count of loads. (I've heard some dumb ideas, and this one goes to the top. I really want to end up with sprung cheap safety pins hiding in my laundry. Ouch!) 4) YES. That IS a long black hair. Looks human per the buyer. - Need I state more?

Are soap nuts another scam?
Not at all. Soap nuts work – and work well. It’s common to see many searches for this, but those are only searches for folks are wondering – nothing more. It’s to be expected, which goes right back to the “too good to be true” question above. I have yet to find even one article that discredits the benefits soap nuts offer. An occasional negative review doesn’t discredit anything, nor make them a “scam” in any way. Some folks won’t even like them, and will prefer commercial chemical products. So be it. That’s normal. Soap nuts have won numerous awards in the “green” products arena, and have been recognized as highly effective by journalists and writers around the globe. NaturOli has won TWO coveted international Green Dot Awards. One for their work with soap nuts and saponin, plus one for their EXTREME 18X formulation (a saponin liquid concentrate). A Green Dot Award’s press release went as far as stating (and I quote), “NaturOli’s green detergents and cleaners’ use of saponin, which is derived from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs.” – I think that about covers the scam possibility… Just recently (2012) they were even selected by the LA Times as one of the “Top 4” grey-water safe detergents – plus ranked as THE most affordable. Soap nuts have more than enough strong credentials to remove them from any scam list.

Now, with that question answered allow me to drill a little bit deeper into this:
Are there scams WITHIN the “soap nut business”?

Absolutely! – And there’s many.
It’s almost inevitable that some scammers and unscrupulous creative marketing people/companies are going to find lucrative opportunities in any new market. I have (and will continue to) call them out every time I see one. I avoid naming names, but I give enough information that you should be able to figure out who the scammers are yourself. See the “12 Tips” on How to Buy Soap Nuts” to avoid the most common ones.

Deal with reputable sellers. The public is still learning. Only as consumers become smarter and more aware of the tricks, will the soap nut scams will fade away. You should note that the vast majority of the scams and exaggerations come from only a handful of companies – and they’re ones with histories of making blatantly false and often grandiose claims. It’s pretty easy to sort them out.

Are soap nuts safe for those with sensitive skin or problem skin conditions?
Completely. Soap nuts are highly recommended for those with allergies or sensitive skin. They are 100% natural, free of synthetic chemicals, and hypoallergenic. Soap nuts are wonderful for use by those who are sensitive to the dyes, perfumes and chemicals used in most commercial detergents and cleansers. Most people who are irritated by such commercial products find soap nuts their ideal solution. Sufferers of eczema, rosacea and psoriasis commonly report tremendous relief. Aside from leaving laundry free from chemical residues, the new found softness is a wonderful experience.

I bought a 16 ounce box claiming 360 loads, but am not getting that many washes. What am I doing wrong?
Absolutely nothing. What’s wrong is merely the claim. Retailers will sometimes overstate or exaggerate reasonable expectations in order to appear as if a better value than competitors. The problem is NOT YOU – it’s just various marketing tactics. Believe me, I’ve seen far greater exaggerations. I reference and picture one directly above that I found very recently. Geesh…It’s twice as bad as this claim. Guess some sellers are getting even more aggressive. Remember they are COMPETITORS for your money. All want to appear to be a better deal. Expect approx. 10 loads per ounce – regardless of brand – and you’ll have far more realistic expectations to start with, regardless of whatever “claims” they make. Think for yourself and do you own math. See the “12 Tips” for buying soap nuts for more on this issue. – The “#1 Tip” is to “Buy by Weight”.

When you buy almost anything, how do you quantify what you’re buying? Most smart shoppers will seek the lowest common denominator that is NOT subjective. When buying frozen or canned foods, you don’t rely solely upon the number of stated “servings”. Right? (Wow, I sure couldn’t do that in my house! I’ll usually eat two or three “servings” myself.) There’s no difference here. We usually use the “servings” as a guide for nutritional analysis. It may state “X number of servings”, and then we look at the number of units per serving (usually the ounces or grams). Only then can we calculate and compare the nutritional values – and costs – per unit with other brands – NOT what someone else arbitrarily thinks is an average serving size. This is pure common sense. So much so, that for costs, most major stores due the math for us. Those little “cost per X” hang-tags are great time savers. The critical number is always the non-subjective measurement – the net weight.

Note: It’s very common to see numerous small third-party retailers of soap nuts marketed in such fashion. You’ll find them on Amazon, eBay, small retail web-stores, and even in some local brick and mortar neighborhood stores.  Why? – BIG profit margins. Less actual product equals lower cost. It’s another no-brainer. I believe sometimes the retailers and store owners truly don’t know any better – yet. I noticed a very reputable E-Store recently pick up such a brand – but then dropped it like a hot potato! – That should tell you something… Consumers always figure things out sooner or later. The last thing good, honest retailers want are complaints, returns, and unhappy customers.

Think BEFORE you buy soap nuts. Never - EVER - rely upon any seller's claims of "loads".

Think BEFORE you buy soap nuts. Never - EVER - rely upon any seller's claims of "loads".

Common packaging “CLAIMS” worth a closer look:
“360 LOADS”  from a 20.5 oz box. (210-290 loads is closer.)
“360 LOADS”  from a 16 oz (1 lb) box.
(160-200 loads is realistic.)
“100 LOADS”  from a 6.5 oz. box. (65-80 loads is closer.)
“100 LOADS”  from a 5 oz. box. (50-60 loads is realistic.)
“10 LOADS”  from a 1/2-oz box. (5-8 is more like it. Particularly when new to soap nuts  who are usually those buying such trial sizes.)

These are ALL exaggerated and “best possible case scenario” types of claims that are misleading. Watch out for such claims. The actual product weight is typically downplayed (and sometimes difficult to find). Sometimes only the shipping weight may be mentioned and that can fool buyers. There’s a BIG difference – and it’s an easy thing to overlook. Much like a “Venus Flytrap” seeks out new prey, for many new and unknowing soap nut users the end result is NOT a happy one.

I don’t see suds. Are the soap nuts working?
Great question! (But difficult to explain.) After numerous generations and billions of dollars spent to teach you that suds equal cleaning, it is not easy for me to change that perception in a few sentences. Suds indicate the PRESENCE of a surfactant – most of which are chemical surfactants (like the infamous SLS). A surfactant is something that reduces water’s surface tension allowing the water it to break up dirt, grease and grime from fabrics (or anything). Think of it as something that would enable oil and water to mix. It improves cleaning results. It is also VERY rapidly consumed by the dirty substances (it’s doing its job). Standard detergents are formulated with additives that CONTINUE to produce suds – not because they are needed, but rather because you WANT to see them. You want to see them because you’ve been brainwashed to equate them to cleaning. Continued sudsing is NOT required for effective cleaning – not at all. Today’s new HE washers prove this! They REQUIRE detergents that produce very little suds. Suds can actually damage an HE washer. This is why soap nuts are ideal for these high-tech, more efficient washers. I find it interesting to watch the commercial detergent producers trying to walk this tightrope that they put themselves on. See the article on “Soap Nuts and Suds” for much more detail.

I bought soap nuts full of seeds. What do I do with them? Do I use the seeds?

Mukorossi soap nuts with seeds as advertised by Nepalese exporter. Don't expect to ever see such a picture from a retail seller. Most retail sellers won't disclose this for they add weight and dramatically reduce the product's value. Photo courtesy: SS Herbals.

No. Planting the seeds is the best (greenest) thing to do with them. This is becoming a big problem. Please read the post on “How to Buy Soap Nuts” carefully. It will explain a whole lot in more detail. The seeds are a way for sellers to bump up the weight of their soap nuts and reducing their cost at the same time. Usually it is the people that are new to soap nuts that buy these. Don’t feel bad at all! It’s common and happens to many. Many sellers don’t accurately spec their soap nuts, and newbies don’t know the difference. A bad scenario. You probably didn’t pay a lot for them, so that’s a good thing. Important: Be sure to de-seed them before using in the wash. Use only the soap nut “shell” (the pulp and skin). The seeds are as black as coal, and if left in contact with wet laundry for long, it’s very common for them to leave dark spots and stains on your laundry. That would be very bad. If you can return them without a hassle or a big loss of money, I certainly would. Otherwise, it’s a good lesson learned. You’ll know to be sure next time.

Can the wash water be used to water my garden after using soap nuts?
This is a very important question for it actually is addressing the bigger issue: “Greywater” Gray-water (or graywater – I keep seeing it spelled differently) systems are on the rise as one of the most ecologically friendly systems we can have at home. It’s amazing how much water (from laundry, dishes, shower/bath, etc.) can be reclaimed for irrigation and other purpose not requiring potable water. Officially that’s about 60-75% of the water we use! Gray-water systems are quite simple relative to treatment of black-water (sewage). I won’t get into this in detail, but even plumbing codes have been being updated in order for us to better utilize our natural resources. Soap nuts are like a dream come true for gray-water systems. Probably the biggest issue with effective gray-water systems is linked to high levels of toxic chemicals in our household cleaning products. These toxins can be harmful to vegetation and impair seed germination. And they don’t break down. However, soap nuts are 100% biodegradable! Even beyond that, your garden and lawn will become healthier! I’ve read loads of testimonials that attest to this. Since I’ve been using soap nut wash water on my own plants and yard they are greener and lusher than ever before. Albeit, there is little hard science to support this yet, I believe there are both anti-fungal and pest repellent properties inherent to saponin. Hence, vegetation is provided a natural level of protected from fungus, infestation and likely many common plant diseases. I look forward to more research being conducted in this area. Be sure to use the spent shells in your garden soil (or compost them). Your plants will appreciate it! – SEE RELEVANT PRESS RELEASES BELOW:

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! (Gray-water is basically ALL “non-toilet” water!)

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 9, 2010:
The prestigious Green Dot Awards announce NaturOli Beautiful, LLC of United States to be 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.” (That’s “everyday household cleaning needs” – NOT JUST LAUNDRY!)
– It should be noted here that the following year (2010) the Green Dot Awards awarded NaturOli a Winner (3rd place) for their EXTREME 18X soap nut liquid super-concentrate. Some 500 companies from 25 countries competed for this coveted prize.

Can soap nuts be used in my high efficiency (HE) washer?
Yes. Because soap nuts are low sudsing they work EXCEPTIONALLY well in these washers. You may use the wash bag method (putting it directly in with your laundry) or use soap nut powders or liquids. Both liquid or powder can be used either by adding it directly in with your laundry, or by using the appropriate dispensing compartment (same as any other HE detergent). Frankly, I consider soap nuts to be the best high efficiency detergent available. Saponin leaves no nasty residual build-up which is the #1 cause of service problems with HE machines. NOTE: For best results when using the “wash bag” method it’s important to use your pre-soak cycle. A brief 5-minute pre-soaking can dramatically improve results.

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

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

With the unveiling of NaturOli’s Extreme 18X Soap Nut Liquid Concentrate and its pursuant two-time Green Dot Awards, I suggest giving that a good look. It’s an impressive product and is the easiest way to obtain consistently excellent results. Don’t let the small bottle fool you. A single 8-oz bottle will wash around 100 loads – or more! One or two squirts and that’s it. Btw: If you dilute only ONE oz with 16-20 ounces of plain tap water (nothing else), you’ll have the best glass cleaner you’ll ever find. You can tweak it as desired to replace the vast majority of cleaners in the home. Absolutely fascinating…

Inherently all HE washers will use less water, hence water flow and circulation are reduced. As discussed elsewhere in detail, the dispersion of saponin through your loads is vital. Therefore, a liquid will typically yield the most consistent results.

You can make a homemade “tea”, boil up batches (best to freeze as like ice cubes for later use), or use Extreme 18X. (Don’t expect to get anywhere near as concentrated as 18X when making liquid at home. You are limited to just a low-concentration without commercial equipment and processes. The shelf life is very limited for home-made also.)

There are other “soap nut detergents” available in liquid form such as those from Almawin, Econuts and Greener Living. However, only 18X is actually close to 100% pure saponin (the active ingredient). It’s more of an extract rather than a pre-scented detergent formulation. All others I’ve tested are similar to what I can easily make at home. Why ship all that water when buying ready-to-use?

Should soap nuts be “sanitized”? – (As distinguished from “sterilized”.)
Certainly not good quality ones. See FAQ above on “Sterilization”. This a new question popping up recently, and frankly, it’s a total joke. Ironically this term began being used by the seller (or sellers) of the soapberries from China. There’s a whole articles on those, and the potential for serious contamination they carry. I’m guessing there has been so much heat, doubt regarding their quality, and public outcry over the dangers of chemical and biological contamination that Mr. R. got creative, and came up with the new term to try to calm the consumer concerns. (The strategy didn’t work out very well, as Mr. R. continually underestimates the average American’s IQ.) Per the dictionary:
Sanitize:
(vb.)

1. To make sanitary, as by cleaning or disinfecting.
2. To make more acceptable by removing unpleasant or offensive features from.
3. To make less offensive by eliminating anything unwholesome, objectionable, etc.

Obviously, the term is vague, ambiguous and useless in this context. I must laugh. Don’t ya’ love salespeople? Hopefully Lysol is not involved.

Can soap nuts be used in my front loading washer?
Absolutely. See above about HE washers – it’s a very similar Q&A. By design, all front loaders are actually HE washers to some degree. Soap nuts are superb in front loaders and will surprise you at how they will keep the machine cleaner than ever before. The process of tumbling the laundry for long periods is equivalent to top-loading agitators in so far as the agitation of the soap nuts. This long period of tumbling facilitates the release of the soap nut’s saponin. However, water flow and circulation are compromised. A good pre-soak will help a lot to fully saturate the berries. Be very mindful of the cycles used and make adjustments accordingly. As discussed above, using liquid is the hands-down simplest way to get all the benefits of soap nuts – without taking the extra steps to ensure proper saturation, circulation, and agitation.

Do I remove the bag of soap nuts before the rinse cycle?
This is asked a lot! ! No need to at all. If you do, you may get more uses out of the soap nuts. Saponin is so benign that if there is any residual saponin (which would not be much) it will not be problematic, and is totally non-irritating to your skin. Interestingly, depending upon how dirty the laundry is, many soap nut users skip the rinse cycle entirely to save energy and water. Simply experiment for yourself. There are so many variables in doing laundry. It’s hard to do anything really wrong when following basic instructions. Always let the end results always speak for themselves. When you are happy with the results, you’re home. Your personal taste and objectives are key. Just use your best judgment, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

I bought soap nuts that are plantation grown from China. I’m told they are organic. How are these different from others?
Good question & timing. A few have asked recently. I’m basing my answer relative to comparison with India harvested mukorossi berries. It was only a matter of time before we would see soap berries from China. So far, there’s only a couple sellers. “From China” isn’t exactly an appealing selling point in the West. Usually they’re very cheap. After some research & making some calls, here’s both some thoughts & opinions that may be helpful. For far more detailed info about soap berries from China, see the in-depth TWO-PART series of recent articles.

FIRST THOUGHTS:
1 – They are certainly not USDA Certified Organic. Sellers claiming “Certified Organic” have been found in violation of Federal law after investigation by enforcement agents of the USDA National Organic Program. As discussed many times, the term “organic” has little value anymore – unless it’s USDA Certified.
2 – They may be of the mukorossi strain, for it’s indigenous to China. But so are other species. Hence, I don’t know what you have for certain. Numerous species grow in China.
3 – I find “plantation grown” to be rather humorous. It sounds like just another silly marketing spin to me. It likely wouldn’t be a privately owned plantation (tree farm) as we Westerners think of them. And to my knowledge, no plantation has BEEN GROWN to maturity in recent years. That’s impossible (sans being genetically modified) since it takes up to a decade for mukorossi to become fruit bearing. The soap berry is a relatively insignificant fruit to the Chinese people. They’re very common there (with emphasis on use in personal care). Hence, this whole phenomenon just seems like a “cooked up” marketing scheme to me. I think somebody (or some people) from China simply saw a very lucrative business opportunity in the US – and just jumped all over it. It’s such a no-brainer, easy start-up business. And by using a Chinese supplier, one would have a VERY significant cost advantage. The only trick being somehow getting past the huge China “turn-off” factor that’s so prevalent in the US and West in general. That would be a major hurdle.
4 – When speaking with a seller, my questions were met with vague & incredulous answers. I don’t think they were prepared for such specific & pointed questions. Not one question regarding ports of entry, customs inspections, nor any inspection of any kind was answered definitively – very unprofessional. So, how did they get here?

ADDITIONAL OPINIONS:
1 – I’m not fond of the notions of “plantation grown” or “from China” while we have wild-crafted trees in such abundance in India & Nepal. Supply still far outweighs demand for the fruits. Megatons of surplus berries currently rot away on the ground each year. Only in years to come will there be benefits.
2 – I don’t believe the “plantation” hype, nor do I think there’s an upside presently. I see far more potential problems than possible good coming from it.
3 – Very frankly, I just don’t trust products from China. We’ve seen more than our fair share of US banned Chinese products in order to justify this sentiment. I don’t trust that the fruits are free of pesticides and/or anti-bacterial chemicals. I have no trust in that they’re properly stored in sanitary facilities and free from contamination by God knows what.
4 – There is primarily one thing that China truly excels at: Exporting cheaper products. And history has shown us that there seems to be little to no regard for consumer safety and quality control.
5 – Akin to the above, we also have Fair Trade issues. In India, there are strict labor laws. Wages in China are some of the lowest in the world, and we can only wonder as to the working conditions, and the facilities required to have a viable supply chain.
6 –  I’m doubtful that there is any major harvest/processing/exportation infrastructure in place in China. Whatever small amount there is that reaches the US market is likely acquired “under the radar”. That’s not conducive to providing good product.

BOTTOM LINE:
I want nothing to do with soap berries from China – regardless of price. I will remain loyal to our trusted Asian Indian and Nepalese exporters. I will not expect them to compete with “China’s prices”. My standards do not have a price tag – and they’re not determined by a low bidder.

Do I use my machine’s detergent compartments?
Yes and no:
Yes – if you are using liquid or powdered soap nuts. Use the appropriate one if your washer has compartments for both powder and liquid type detergents. Your washer will properly disperse it for you. A nice benefit to using the compartments is that the saponin will actually begin cleaning both the compartments and your machine’s plumbing as well. Commercial detergents can really leave a lot of nasty “gunk” and residual buildup. With a little time you’ll a big difference as your machine becomes purged of all that crud in it. If your machine has a musty odor, you’ll notice that going away, too. I’ve heard many service technicians rave about how soap nuts remedy the common mold, mildew and odor issues that plague HE washers. Note: If using powder, be sure it is ground very fine (dust-like fine) and any large chunks have been sifted out. You won’t need to use a lot either. Start with just a teaspoon for an average load, and adjust according to results.
No – if you are using the wash bag method. Just toss the wash bag in directly with your laundry. For best results, I can’t emphasize enough the two key factors: Agitation and circulation. When using the wash bag method, there would never be enough of either with the wash bag just sitting in the compartment. You want it saturated and tumbling about throughout the cycles. Get in the habit of using your pre-soak cycle, and don’t overload your machine. Just a little extra time goes a long way towards optimizing results. I leave the wash bag it through the rinse cycle, too. There’s no need whatsoever to remove it. Saponin doesn’t need to be rinsed out of the laundry as commercial laundry soaps do.

The two big brands of soap nuts seem to be Maggie’s and NaturOli. What’s the difference?
I try to avoid comparing specific brands – particularly when discussing the raw berries. The post “How to Buy Soap Nuts” was written to provide lots of objective data in order for readers to make informed decisions. However I must answer your question honestly. So first, technically, Maggie’s & NaturOli soap nuts are of the same species (Mukorossi) and de-sseded. That’s good, but it’s where all similarity ends.

Here’s the main difference: NaturOli processes and packages the soap berries in the US. Maggies are packaged in Indonesia. Overseas processing and packaging is cheaper, hence why many sellers choose that option. The problem with overseas (usually Southeast Asian) packaging is quality control. It’s lacking by comparison. Years ago, Maggies were nicer: Big, good color, little tacky – ideal. Now (2010), they’re older, black, gummy – a turn off for new users. I can’t really explain why it is the case. See the “How to Buy Soap Nuts” article.

– 2012 UPDATE: Maggie’s is no longer in business. Guess that tells the story.

Can soap nuts or Extreme 18X be used as a body & face wash, or shampoo? I only find info for cleaning & laundry.
I’m working on this. The uses are simply so vast that’s it’s difficult to discuss all of them. But YES! Soap berry based shampoos have just recently become exceptionally popular. Given that 18X is a essentially saponin extract enhanced with glycerin and olive leaf extract, that automatically throws it into the personal care arena. Soap nuts (saponin) were used for skin and hair care long before ever used for other cleaning purposes. Throughout the ages the uses just grew and grew.

All-natural Soap Nut / Soap Berry Shampoos

Soap Nut / Soap Berry Shampoos. These are some of the hottest selling all-natural shampoos in the USA today. Just check out the reviews on Amazon!

Marketing comes into play a lot here. Consumers tend to want one thing for one purpose. (We have 150 years of P&G brainwashing to thank for that.) NaturOli does not “line extend” more than needed (quite contrary to the typical marketing tactics), but selling the idea of a “one product does all” – and crossing over the lines between entire industries! – is a tough one for average consumers to grasp. But you are on the right track – big time. I tell folks all the time to pitch the rubber gloves when household cleaning with soap nuts or 18X. You’ll see what I mean. Your skin will actually feel silky soft and nourished after use.

More and more people are “getting it” when it comes to all the uses. It just takes time. I have heard of virtually every use imaginable – laundry, household, skin care, infant care, hair care… into infinitude …even toothpaste (of which some rave). If it works for you, go for it. Your imagination is your only limitation when it comes to EXTREME 18X. Don’t get hung up on what it says it does, imagine what it can do. Particularly, if tweaked to achieve your specific results desired. Think of it as a very strong foundation or base. What you build on it will be up to you. Just use that brain that obviously is functioning quite well.

I’m beginning a series of articles to address soap nut usage “Beyond the laundry room”. Be sure to check for new pages and posts.

How do I start using soap nuts?
For laundry there are three primary methods:

  1. The soap nuts in a wash bag method. Put the wash bag directly in with your laundry. A half-ounce (that’s about 5 average sized de-seeded whole soap nuts) will typically wash 5+ loads.
  2. Use soap nut liquid concentrate. Dilute as desired and use as desired.
  3. Use soap nut powder. Powder is the least economical method for laundry, but it is easy. Due to differences in machines, and variations in fineness of the grind, use care when using soap nut powder in dispensing compartments. Be sure it’s very fine with no large pieces, or simply add powder directly in with your laundry.

For everything else: Your imagination is your only limitation. People are really catching on to how versatile soap nuts are. They are finally leaving the domain of the laundry room. The soap berry makes for a 100% natural alternative to the majority of household cleaning products and even hair/skin care. Even for those who have learned of simple natural cleaning alternatives like vinegar and baking soda, saponin is a surfactant. It’s a big missing link! We’ve never had a natural surfactant available before. Be them used raw, powdered, or as liquid – I highly encourage you to experiment. You’ll be amazed!

Do soap nuts work better in one form than another form?
Excellent question but difficult to answer simply. The big variable is YOU. Proper usage regardless of form is what is key. One of the most important factors leading to good results is adequate water circulation and agitation. This applies to doing laundry in general. Overloading a washer is one of the biggest mistakes people make. I will add these points:

  1. Soap nuts used traditionally in the wash bag method is the MOST economical way to use them (lowest cost per load).
  2. Soap nut powder can be wasteful due to a lot of saponin just going down the drain. Many folks use far more than is required. Use a teaspoon for measuring – never that big old scoop!
  3. Soap nut liquid concentrate is the most CONVENIENT method for most people, and best method for cold water washes.

My front-loading HE washer smells bad. Will soap nuts help?
Absolutely. This is a very common problem with HE and front-loading machines. I suggest using soap nuts to purge your machine of these foul odors caused by build up from use of commercial and chemical HE detergents. Do a few hot/hot washes with old rags first. You will soon notice your machine smelling much better. You will notice that residue build up will begin to dissolve and disappear. Many report that their machines becoming like new again after changing to soap nuts. Here’s a great article on this: http://ezinearticles.com/?Give-Your-Washer-a-Fresh-Start—Remove-That-Foul-Chemical-Residue-With-Soap-Nuts!&id=1785470

Can I use soap nuts in cold water?
Absolutely – If the soap nuts are high quality soap nuts with a high saponin content they should be fine right from the start. They should feel a little tacky. If they are dark and dry you should prime them so to speak. Soaking them or making a “tea” may be needed to facilitate the release of the saponin. It is also very helpful to break them into smaller pieces to further facilitate rapid saponin release. For laundry in general – regardless of temperature or detergent type – a little time pre-soaking will produce better results. If using soap nut liquid concentrate, water temperature is a non-issue.

I have very sensitive skin. Detergents cause me irritation. Will soap nuts help?
The odds are exceptionally good that soap nuts will be like a dream come true. I have found that nearly all experiencing irritation from commercial and even the “so called” natural detergent brands find soap nuts to be their total solution. There are many chemical ingredients in virtually all detergents, softeners and dryer sheets that can be causing your problems. Soap nuts are void of all such chemical ingredients.

I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). Will soap nuts help?
Yes. This is an increasingly common condition due to the enormous amount of synthetic chemicals used in detergents, laundry additives and cleansers that people are continually being exposed to. All the synthetic fragrances being used today have also been identified as a large contributor to the condition. Continued exposure to all of today’s chemicals is destroying on our natural immune systems. Soap nuts and saponin are a dream come true for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) sufferers. Soap nuts contain no synthetic chemicals or fragrances. I strongly recommend using soap nuts for as many cleaning purposes as you possibly can – even skin care. You will experience relief very quickly if you do so.

What are sterilized soap nuts?
For the time being. let’s just consider it marketing hype and efforts to differentiate products. It’s intent is to “scare” you from other unsterilized brands, or to get you to part with more of your money. Soap nuts are mainly wild crafted (harvested from the wild) and they may or may not then be Certified Organic. Some retailers try hard to think of ways to differentiate themselves from others. Ironically, the only brand that I’ve ever seen claim this is supposedly Certified Organic, too. That’s totally counter-intuitive to me. Organic AND sterilized? And they’re NOT for human consumption! That’s silly. They would have to be either/or in my book. Hence, it’s just unsubstantiated “BS” imo. MUCH MORE is to come on this question.

Should I use whole soap nuts or pieces?
As far as “whole” SELECT or PREMIUM soap nuts vs. PIECES: (By “whole” I mean de-seeded. This is a term that people often get confused over. “Whole” often means with seeds. So, “whole” should be a red flag, and you need to inquire further. Never buy soap nuts with seeds. You get far less for your money (unless you want the seeds to grow trees, but even then you can just buy seeds separately and they’re very inexpensive). But anyway, it’s a matter of personal preference. Pieces are good option for a few reasons: 1) Cheaper per pound. 2) They release their saponin faster due to becoming saturated faster and they are more thoroughly agitated. 3) Excellent for those grinding powder or making homemade liquid. (Note: Soap nut pieces are not always available. They can be seasonal.) The only drawback to “Pieces” that I can think of is that you may not get as many loads from one wash bag because they will become depleted of saponin more quickly. So that makes it sort of a “wash” regarding cost per load. (Pun intended. lol!)

Do seeds help the soap nuts release saponin better?
I’ve seen a few sellers try to make that case, but I don’t buy it at all. Of course the folks stating this are selling the ones with seeds. I will only say that it’s pretty good creative thinking – but quite a stretch. Once the soap nut becomes saturated, the seed isn’t bouncing around in the soap nut. If anything, the seed is more likely to inhibit the water flowing through the pulp which is what we want. I’d just chalk that one up to some clever marketing – far from reality. I’ll state it again: Unless you intend to cultivate new trees, avoid seeds. Period. They can be difficult to remove, potentially cause spots or stains, and do absolutely nothing but add lots of weight.

Will soap nuts be as effective in hard water? Should I use more soap nuts in hard water?
Let me first ease your mind in that the vast majority of the water in homes across the globe is technically hard water. VERY hard water will affect the effectiveness of any  kind off surfactant (detergent). Ironically saponin (the soap nut’s active ingredient) is a natural surfactant with inherent water softening and conditioning properties.

Sometimes online you will come across information that isn’t quite the whole story. If you read all the emails that I answer everyday, you’d quickly see that many folks still need to learn the just basics of doing laundry properly in the first place. Albeit “rock hard” water may prove to inhibit saponin’s effectiveness, same as any other surfactant, but it is far from negating its cleaning ability. (Personally, I have significantly hard water. Calcium deposits build up rapidly in my house, and I have no problem using soap nuts at all. Even making no tweaks to my water, my laundry comes out clean, fresh, fluffy and extremely soft.) Only a few seem to have problems and point to their hard water as the culprit. A few may be right. More often though I find other things they are doing that lead to less than desirable results.

In VERY hard water cases, some of those “tweaks” I just mentioned are use of sodium carbonate, washing soda (NOT baking soda), soda ash, borax, vinegar and some salts (Be VERY careful with salts. Be certain it is a water softening salt – most are not. Morton’s has 3 or 4 types that are good for water softening.) In bad cases any or all of these additives can help.

A far as using more soap nuts, why change anything until there becomes a need? About a half-ounce is the best place to start. That’s about five average size mukorossi soap nuts or the equivalent in pieces. Just adjust more or less depending upon the results you are getting.

I need an antifungal laundry detergent. Are soap nuts antifungal?
Yes. Soap nuts are naturally antifungal in all forms. Saponin deters the growth of most fungus and bacteria, too. For an exceptionally anti-fungal detergent I must recommend NaturOli EXTREME 18X – not only do to its extraordinarily high saponin content, but it has additional antifungal ingredients that are FOOD quality preservatives.

How do I add scent if I want one?
Avoid adding any essential oils into the wash water. The oils will cause fabric “wicking” and actually undo many benefits soap nuts offer. Doing so also increases the possibility of staining laundry. Some oils can leave spots. The best method is to apply your essential oil of choice to an absorbent cloth and use it like a dryer sheet. I recommend a very thick, bulky and absorbent (preferably a cotton – not a synthetic material) cloth so that you minimize any possibility of the oil coming in direct contact with your laundry.

I did not remove the wash bag, and the wash bag was dried in the dryer. Is this a problem?

No – not at all. Simply get the soap nuts wet again, and you are ready to go again.

Are soap nuts good for fine fabrics and natural sustainable fabrics?

Yes – superb! You can either use a gentle wash cycle or hand wash. Soap nuts make the best fine fabric detergent possible. Not only is saponin excellent for fine cashmeres, wools, silks, etc., but it is, hands down, the ultimate cleaner for natural sustainable fabrics such as hemp and bamboo.

Can you be allergic to soap nuts?
Soap nuts are hypoallergenic, however virtually anyone can be potentially allergic to something. I have documented only two persons out of thousands that had any sort of negative reaction to saponin, and it was a minor rash. If you have a history of high sensitivities and allergies to natural substances or plants, let common sense prevail. Do a simple patch test on yourself to determine if you have any reaction.

Will soap nuts remove stains?
Most of them. There are many variables. Soap nuts will remove average stains as well or better than most detergents (independent laboratory efficacy studies have proven this), but they do not entirely replace the need for some solvent-type stain removers – particularly on heavy grease stains. If you have badly soiled and stained laundry, reduce the size of the load to increase the water to laundry ratio, allowing more water flow through the fabrics to help break up most common stains. Allow your laundry to soak in the machine for 20-30 minutes (longer than a typical pre-wash cycle. A wonderful thing about soap nuts is that if you must use a harsh chemical solvent to remove a stain, the soap nuts’ saponin will go to work to break down that solvent helping to eliminate it and leaving your laundry chemical free. You can use a soap nut liquid concentrate to spot treat tough stains, too.

Are soap nuts good for washing cloth diapers?
Totally! Soap nuts are the best cloth diaper detergent – and will minimize diaper rash. I first learned of soap nuts from mothers using them for cloth diapers. Commercial detergents and soaps contain chemicals that build up in the diaper. These chemicals break down the fibers of the material and produce “wicking” of the fibers causing diapers to lose absorbency. Such chemical residue can be irritating to your baby’s skin. Also, soap nuts are very effective at removing odors and cleaning typically soiled diapers. Never use any fragrance, essential oils, or talc. All are potentially hazardous to infants.

Will soap nuts cause spots or stains?
Poor quality ones could. Seeds definitely can. Important to remember: Don’t over stuff loads for the wash bag can get wadded up with laundry leaving them wet and in contact with fabrics for too long. Give the wash bag room to circulate about, and don’t leave it in wet laundry for long periods. Discard any wash bags that have become heavily spotted over time. With good quality, and proper usage, you should never have a problem. If you’re washing your absolute finest white shirts or linens, I’d just use liquid to be 100% sure of zero possible problems.

I see very little suds when washing with soap nuts. Are they cleaning my clothes?
Yes! Absolutely! Suds should not be equated to cleaning power. We have been brainwashed to think this way through generations of marketing and advertising. The foaming you see with most detergents is because of the chemicals and fillers used. A surfactant is what facilitates cleaning – effective surfactants do not need to be high sudsing. Soap nuts produce very little suds, yet are working VERY effectively. Your laundry will come out cleaner, fresher and softer than you have ever experienced. You will not see many suds at all. The wash water will appear a bit cloudy, and you sure will see the dirt and grime being released from the fabrics. That’s what matters. Let the end result speak for itself. If your FIRST load using soap nuts is not satisfactory, reread the directions for soap nut use CAREFULLY and make adjustments accordingly. You will learn why.

Can soap nuts be used to clean down feathers and expensive fabrics?
Big time. I know a VERY expensive hemp clothing manufacturer that will use nothing other than soap nuts. Here’s a personal regarding DOWN and soap nuts. I love down. Have been washing down pillows and comforters for 20 years. I could not believe the results from my first soap nut washing. I used Extreme 18X and washed four down pillows. NEVER have I seen or felt them come out the way they did. The delicate down feathers were loose and easily plumped up – typically they are clumped together after washing. They dried in HALF the time usually needed (using a dryer on low temp). I did not even use a gym shoe (an old trick), as I typically do to beat them up and soften them. My pillows and comforters feel BETTER than new. I was amazed.

I see a few soap nut liquid detergents available. What’s the differences?
Most are virtually identical from what I’ve seen. They are about the same strength and usually scented. NaturOli’s EXTREME 18X is the one exception. It’s in a league entire of its own – a true extract. VERY concentrated! It’s used for all-purpose cleaning as much for laundry detergent. Follow directions when using. As hard as it may believe, you don’t need much at all. Just a squirt or two for laundry. I mix 16 parts water to one part 18X for the best glass cleaner I’ve ever used – with no vinegar (I hate the smell of vinegar!). Fight your instincts and let results speak for themselves. Fascinating stuff… It’s only unscented as of now. If you want scents, use an essential oil of choice.

Can I make my own liquid as strong as EXTREME 18X?
Let me just say this: I’ve tried without getting anywhere close. I started with a pound of soap nuts once, and boiled and simmered and strained them for many days trying. I ended up with something like a dark molasses with a strong pungent smell, not clear and watery like EXTREME 18X at all. (btw: I didn’t care at all for that smell that permeated my house during the cooking process either.) Guess there’s limits as to what can be done realistically make when working in the kitchen. NaturOli’s saponin extraction process remains a trade secret.

What other uses are there for soap nuts?
Saponin, the active ingredient in soap nuts, is a highly effective alternative to many common synthetic cleaning chemicals. This includes cleansers for household and personal hygiene. The known cleaning properties are wide and diverse. They are superb for not only laundry, but can replace many cleaning products in the average home. From dishes, to car wash, to fine jewelry and glass cleaning – soap nuts provide natural, effective solutions. Being so gentle, saponins are excellent for shampoos, and many personal care needs, too. Finally, there’s a good cleanser that won’t leave your hands rough, dry and scaly. Soap nut powder is the best scouring powder I have ever used. A soap nuts liquid used in your carpet cleaner will amaze you. Carpets come out like new. You can stop using rubber gloves, too. The list of soap nut uses is ASTOUNDINGLY long.

Do soap nuts work in dishwashers?

The public is split on this one. About half report that soap nuts work great, the other half report unsatisfactory results. Those reporting good results seem to be the experimental types who have worked out how to get good results from soap nut usage. Consider all the variables, such as the machine type, the form of soap nuts used, how the consumer used them, the dispersion method of the washer, etc., etc. Unquestionably, we will see a fantastic soap nut dishwasher detergent in the near future. It is so great for glass and dissolving so many substances that is only a matter of time. The results when hand washing with soap nuts and saponin is excellent. So, either be patient and wait, or experiment yourself. It’s a flip of the coin. Watch for NaturOli to unveil the first great saponin dishwasher detergent. EXTREME 18X is already fairly close. NaturOli’s expertise with saponin and their technology are, hands down, light-years ahead.

Are soap nuts good for pets?
Absolutely! Many people use soap nuts liquids for bathing their pets. The odor reducing properties of the soap nut makes for a remarkably effective pet shampoo. It will also deter fleas and other pests. I cannot recommend them more highly. Animals are exposed to an extraordinarily large number of horrible synthetic chemicals – and they are no more biologically immune to these chemicals than we are. If you own horses I strongly recommend making a liquid or use diluted EXTREME 18X to wash them down. Not only will their coats become absolutely gorgeous, but also it will deter the flies. Soap nuts are an absolute must for my equestrian friends.

Do soap nuts work as an insecticide and insect repellent?
Yes. Studies show that saponin inherently has exceptionally positive attributes as both. A soap nut solution will deter pest from your plants, pets and yourself. Soap nuts are an absolute must on your next camping trip! Imagine using a safe, natural, chemical-free, biodegradable insecticide. Amazing!

Are soap nuts treated with chemical or pesticides?
Obviously, I can’t speak for all soap nuts grown in the world. But let’s remember that the soap berry produces saponin that is a natural insect repellant. There is no need for any such treatment. Most of the highest quality soap nuts are wild-crafted (grow in the wild), hence only Mother Nature cares for them. As always, stick with well-known, knowledgeable and trusted suppliers to be assured you are receiving properly harvested and stored soap nuts. If soap nuts are plantation grown, it is difficult to know if any fertilizers may have been used. I avoid plantation grown soap nuts.

Do soap nuts prevent hair loss?
Soap nuts are certainly good for the hair and scalp. However, there are no real clinical studies that validate soap nuts as a solution for hair loss. There are historical references for its use for healthier hair, similar as there are with olive oil. There are reported benefits of soap nuts for healthier hair by many consumers, but few to none that claim prevention of hair loss. This is simply a “cant hurt” scenario. It would be irresponsible or misleading to outright claim that soap nuts prevent hair loss.

Does it matter that some of the soap nuts are pieces instead of whole?
No. “Select” grade soap nuts are properly inspected and sorted by hand to ensure consistent quality of your soap nuts. All small pieces are removed. Such hand sorted soap nuts will be de-seeded and mainly whole which makes measuring easier. However, since agitation is a catalyst in releasing the saponin, small pieces will work fine and even release the saponin faster. Do not hesitate to break up the soap nuts into smaller pieces if desired, (this is beneficial for cold water washes when using the raw soap nuts in a wash bag). Don’t be concerned if they become broken during handling and storage. NOTE: When available from a reliable trusted supplier, you can sometimes purchase sapindus mukorossi soap nut pieces. They are typically discounted and can save even more money.

Soap nuts have a vinegar-like scent. Will my laundry have this scent?
No. The scent of the soap nut does not transfer to your clothes. Amazingly, clothes come out of the wash smelling totally fresh and clean – like a clean, clear spring day. There is not even a trace scent of the soap nut when your laundry is dry. A pure soap nut liquid has an unpleasant scent also. It will not transfer to your laundry either, nor will it leave a scent after other cleaning uses. If you prefer a scent, you can some essential oil of choice to the soap nut wash bag before dropping it in the wash. The scent of the oil will remain. Alternately – AND EVEN BETTER – is to put the essential oil on a clean and absorbent cloth, and toss it in the dryer (like using a dryer sheet). This method is superior because any oils in the wash water can leave unwanted residue, and even undo some of the soap nuts’ benefits.

I use bleach in my whites. Are soap nuts a substitute for bleach?
No. If you desire to bleach your whites, adding your bleach of choice will not affect the cleaning power of soap nuts. I would only use an oxygen bleach. Better yet, try sea salt, baking soda and vinegar as more natural additives for brightening. These are much greener choices. A good long pre-soak also does wonders for whiter whites. Proper color sorting is obviously a major prerequisite.

If the soap nuts stay in the wash through the rinse cycle, do they keep releasing soap?
Soap nuts continue to release saponin during the rinse cycle. And that’s totally fine. Unlike chemical detergents there is no need to rinse saponin out. Soap nuts leave little to no residue in your laundry, so you can actually reduce the length of your rinse cycle and save water and energy costs, too. Many people report not using ANY rinse cycle at all when washing laundry that is not very dirty with great results. That’s a HUGE savings of both water and energy – very green!

Do I use soap nuts in addition to my regular detergent?
No. You could, but why? Soap nuts do a great job of cleaning your laundry by themselves. They are a natural alternative to chemical detergents. Use of them with a chemical detergent would be negating their primary purpose and benefit.

Should I use a fabric softener or dryer sheets with soap nuts?
Soap nuts naturally soften your laundry and reduce static. A great benefit of soap nuts is that they can eliminate use of additives and dryer sheets. I highly recommend using none at all. Due to certain combinations of fabrics and water conditions, sometimes additives may be desired, but the need will be dramatically reduced.

Is there anything that I should concern myself with in using soap nuts?
Soap nuts are not for consumption and would be unpleasant if eaten. Nausea would likely result. Given their “date like” appearance in raw form, a bag of soap nuts could look like food to a child or pet. Given their absolutely horrible taste, it’s quite unlikely that any child or pet wouldn’t gag at the taste, but I recommend using good judgment and common sense in the storage of them. As with all chemical detergents or cleansers, they should be kept out of reach of children and pets.

How do I store my soap nuts?
Keep them out of reach of children and in a dry environment. Moisture is the biggest enemy. It can lead to early saponin release and possible mold or mildew. They can be kept in an airtight container, but that is not essential. Many keep them stored in their original muslin bags. If you do a lot of laundry and keep them in the laundry room where there is a lot of moisture, then it would be best to use a “Tupperware” type of container. I put the whole muslin carrier bag in such a container. The wash bags should be left in open air and allowed to dry between laundry days. IMPORTANT: Soap nut liquids made at home will have a very short shelf life – a matter of days. The liquid definitely should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated (or even frozen) to extend its shelf life longer than a few days. You can add citric acid to help a little, but not much. If you are storing any homemade soap nut liquid for more than 4-5 days, freeze it.

Should soap nuts be sticky?
This is another question where there are many variables. Overly sticky soap nuts have typically been stored improperly unless they are yellow or golden. If yellow or golden they are very fresh and will naturally be stickier. To some degree soap nuts should have just a slight tackiness although they are fine if dry. The tackiness is often indicative of a high saponin content. The saponin is what is sticky. If very sticky or gummy after they have become darker, allow them to dry out to prevent potential growth of molds or mildew. The saponin will not evaporate. Being a little dryer will help extend shelf life, too. Be wary of very small and dry soap nuts. These are often lower quality varieties (such as Sapindus Trifoliatus) being sold.

The soap nuts I bought have a lot of seeds in them. Is that okay?
No way! Since soap nuts are sold by weight those seeds add weight that has no use unless you plan to grow soap nut trees. I’ve seen them where they have not been de-seeded AT ALL. This is a plain and simple rip-off. The exporter saves labor cost and you pay for it anyway. Return them if you can. Typically ones with a lot of seeds are also lower quality soap nuts. A seed here and there is no big deal. Do remove them. Those black as coal seeds can cause dark spots on your laundry. Not good.

I have had soap nuts of different colors and they change color. Does this indicate anything important?
A dark soap nut will work just as well as a light colored one. It primarily indicates the age of the soap nut. The early harvests are yellow to golden. As they age, they redden and deepen in color. They will ultimately turn very dark brown. The most important thing to realize is that the saponin is present during all stages. Hence, do not allow the color to be a gauge of quality. The main exception here is if they have been improperly stored and cared for. This can cause for premature darkening indicating poor quality. At the end of the year soap nuts will be naturally darker. New harvested will start showing up in late winter and early spring. The exporters will typically fire sale the previous years’ harvest to make room for the fresh new harvest. Pay close attention to prices particularly during these months. Ask questions. Many seemingly good deals on soap nuts during the spring months are not the good deals you think they are. The new harvest will be much more highly valued.

Do I need to do one load after another until the soap nuts are used up?
No. At ANY point simply allow the bag of soap nuts to dry out between laundry sessions. This is a big myth that I’ve seen on the Internet, too. I wonder how some of these silly things ever get started.

Can soap nuts develop mold or fungus?
Of course – if left sitting in water or stored wet. All botanicals will. Even though soap nuts have natural anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, remember that a soap nut is a still an unpreserved dried fruit. Simply treat it as such, and use plain old-fashioned common sense. Just because a lemon – which is totally loaded with citric acid – does not mean it won’t ever rot.

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

How do I prolong the shelf life of my own homemade soap nut liquid?
The average person does not have the chemical background to properly extend the shelf life for long and ensure safety. You can refrigerate it and add sea salt to help, but this will not greatly extend its shelf life beyond a matter of a few days. The best way for you to safely preserve your homemade soap nut liquid is to freeze it. Period.

What’s bad about soap nuts? Why would someone not want to use soap nuts?
Great questions! There is nothing bad about soap nuts. There is no reason not to use them unless you are one of the EXTREMELY rare people that has an allergy to them. Other than that, there are a couple good explanations as to why some people may not WANT to use them. Firstly, resistance to change. Change is on of the most difficult things we humans ever do. Some people are not (and may never be) ready to change everything they know about how to wash laundry. Changing generations of habits will not be for everyone. Secondly, there are those in the world who have an extremely high admiration for American made products. I’ve seen this primarily in those who are not native to the US. These people have lived their lives thinking of and hoping to live the American dream. For them, to use Tide is symbolic of success and accomplishment in their lives. We all must follow what leads to our personal happiness. If using Tide brings you happiness for such reasons, this author wishes you my most sincere and heartfelt congratulations for your achievements.

Why are soap nuts imported when we have soap nuts growing here in the USA?
That’s a superb and thoughtful question! I address it in some depth in the post, “All Soap Nuts Are Not Equal”. There are two main reasons:

  1. The quality of the soap nuts.
  2. The availability of the high quality soap nuts.

Please read that post. It boils down to the fact that we do not have premium quality Mukorossi soap nuts (or any equivalent quality species) readily available in large quantities in the Western Hemisphere. I believe it is only a matter of time before we do.

Are there soap nuts that are packaged in the USA?
Absolutely. I recommend only soap nuts that are packaged in the USA. If packaged in Asia for retail, there is no way for the consumer to be assured of receiving high quality. The quality control over sorting and packaging is much higher in the USA. MANY sellers have their soap nuts packaged overseas due to lower labor costs. Period. For an extra buck or so – if that is even the case – it is worth it to only purchase soap nuts that are sorted, inspected and packaged in the USA.

Should I buy organic soap nuts?
I love this question! ALL are and also are not. By strict definition, all soap nuts are organic (from the earth, so to speak). In many cases the soap nuts are called “organic”, but it means nothing. There is virtually no regulations, good or consistent criteria, supervision or enforcement of “What is organic?” outside of FOOD products. Misuse of the official USDA and Ecocert (the international certifying agency) organic certifications carry severe penalties. There are also strict usage guidelines. Hence, this is some assurance to buyers that they are legitimate organic certifications. But there have been very poor practices reported regarding many so-called “eco” or “green” associations providing certifications. The thought of profiteering, corruption and plain old sloppiness in such associations and organizations that are supposed to be providing a certification that consumers can TRUST is very sad. It’s so easy to get almost anything “eco-certified”. Submit a sample and pay the fee. Surely we all have noticed all the “eco” and “green” certifications that just came out of the woodwork in recent years. There are clever people making loads of money by taking advantage of the current scenario. We have all heard of “green-washing”, and are turned off by it. Many of these certifications are simply tools of the “green-washer’s” trade. Don’t get sucked into or be influenced by such scams. Just use common sense. Don’t believe everything you read. The best quality soap nuts (the mukorossi variety) are wild-crafted, and mainly grown on public lands. Mother Nature is the only one who cares for them. By their own nature, soap nuts are repellant of insects and pests. There is no need to treat them. Not much more than gathering and packing is done before being shipped. Bottom line: If you want the added assurance of being truly organic (grown and processed without use of any chemicals), stick to the major certifications such as USDA organic and Ecocert. Take the many others with a grain of salt.

Are Soap Nuts Fair Trade certified?
Yes and no. Soap nuts are certainly not “blood diamonds” to be sure. Obviously, I cannot speak for every resource, but can shed some light on the subject. Most soap nuts are harvested by villagers and families and sold to exporters via co-ops. In such cases the raw soap berries certainly are Fair Trade whether “certified” or not.  Most US and Canadian sellers other than two that I know of for sure (or affiliates of those two) have their soap nuts packaged for retail overseas. (It’s cheaper.) In the cases where they are packaged overseas it is difficult to say what the work conditions are at the packaging companies. If they are packaged in India, however, India has very strict labor laws that are enforced. One very reputable exporter in India explained to me that they have not received a “certification” because they did not want to spend the 329,000 rupees ($7,000 USD) to the certifying organization annually. Given the strict laws and their adherence to them, they feel as though it is a rip-off. So, if the packaging is in India, the US or Canada and the company is legitimate, you can be almost certain of proper working conditions. If packaged in Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and others in the region, it is more questionable for the laws are vague and enforcement is obscure. (More research is needed.) Wash bags are typically part of the picture in soap nut use also. Printed boxes and other carrier bags of different types are also involved – and a major parts of the whole process. The bags and boxes can come from MANY different sources in any of these countries. If there is any violation of Fair Trade, it would be more likely to be found with the bag or box manufactures and printers – again particularly if produced in these other countries. (Don’t ever expect to ever know for sure where they come from, either.) I know of NO soap nuts, bags or boxes that have been genuinely Fair Trade “certified”. I’ve made it no secret regarding my feelings about “certifications” in general. However, my research indicates that the genuine “Fair Trade” certification is very reliable. To be best assured that you are only purchasing soap nuts that have virtually a zero chance of getting to your home with only proper work conditions involved in the processing (end-to-end), stick with soap nuts from India that are packaged in the US or Canada.

How do I know what are the best soap nuts to buy?
This is kinda’ humorous to me… I’ve tried hard to provide Pro readers good tips to help make informed, wise decisions. There’s many factors to consider. Of those factors, some may or may not be important to a buyer. What’s most important is up to the individual. Price is always a factor, but I think that’s FAR from the most important. There’s no way around the fact that a little study is required. Seek first to understand, and use your head. – It’s all downhill from there.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ABOUT CERTIFICATIONS:
When looking for green, organic or eco-friendly, sustainable products OUTSIDE of FOOD PRODUCTS, do yourself a favor and just cut through all the green-washing right from the start. Aside from the USDA and Ecocert, pay little to no attention to third party certifications and “green seals”. There are literally hundreds of them and certification is quickly becoming an industry of its own. Many are so new that they don’t even have logos or seals for them yet. If you want a couple major “eye-openers” just check out these Consumer Report links:

  1. http://www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels/reportLabelCategory.cfm?labelCategoryName=General%20Claims&mode=view
  2. http://www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels/label.cfm?LabelID=275&searchType=ProductArea&searchValue=Laundry20Cleaners&refpage=productArea&refqstr=ProductCategoryID%3D328%26ProductAreaID%3D348

I could bury you in similar links. They are almost all identical. It’s outrageous. After doing a lot of homework, even the DfE (the EPA’s “Designed for the Environment” program) is of very little value for the consumer. Many companies are scrambling to become DfE certified. It sure sounds good doesn’t it? I’m going to leave you with this: I’ve studied the ingredients used in many DfE “approved” products. EWG’s (the Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep Database would rate them as “high hazard”. Go figure… Don’t you just love to see our tax dollars being put to use to help the marketing department at Method (and the many others like them) come up with more sales hype for us to weed through. Geeesh…

DID YOU KNOW? (Courtesy of Consumer Reports, Eco-Labels)
The “free-range” label doesn’t necessarily mean the animals went outdoors.
“Fair Trade Certified” means more than paying producers a fair wage.
Meat labeled as “natural” can contain artificial ingredients.

Final Author’s Note:
Answers often lead to more questions. I totally realize that. Write to me about specifics. I’ll do my best to help. Soap nuts are not difficult to understand, but you will need to change many things you have come to accept as facts. Invest the time to learn and keep an open mind. If you do so, you’ll soon become a soap nut expert. You will also gain a new and heightened awareness of what is happening all around us. You’ll become more cognizant of the difference between the sales hype and the truth.

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