European Youth Portal

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The sustainable washing powder

There is a washing powder that does not contain chemicals, can be used with any kind of textiles, decays perfectly, is environment and budget friendly – it is called soap nut!

What is the soap nut?

The soap nut is the crop of a tree that belongs to the soap tree family which is native of Southern India and Indonesia. In these places, the soap nut has been used for centuries, but in Europe it only started being known a few years ago. Initially, it was popular only with ’the greens’, but with the spread of environmental consciousness the news of the soap nut started spreading, too. In England, it is even possible to buy a soapnut tree, even if it requires a lot of special care.


Why should we use it?

The saponin that can be found in its shell reacts with hot water and it starts foaming, thereby manifesting its natural degreasing and cleaning effect. The soap nut fully decays in the nature, does not contain any harmful materials, is skin-friendly, has an anti-allergic effect, does not harm the fabric of the clothes, neutralizes smells, protects the colors of the clothes and softens water.


Washing with soap nut

When washing clothes, you should put 3-5 pieces of soap nut shells into a cotton container and place it into the drum of the washing machine. One piece of soap nut shell can be reused another 2-3 times. You can use it for washing white or color clothes at 30-95 degrees. No detergent needs to be used, the clothes will turn soft and smell nice from the soap nut. When washing white clothes, it is advisable to use washing soda as well, because the soap nut alone does not have a whitening effect. Moreover, more contaminated clothes need to be pretreated, exactly like with the old washing powders.


It is important that if we want to switch from washing powder to soap nuts, we should do an empty wash with vinegar first. This will remove the contaminations and chemicals from the washing machine. If this step is not done, the soap nut will wash out sediments, but they will end up on the clothes instead of in the drain.


What else can it be used for?

The soap nut is multifunctional: it can be used to make a general cleaning product, shampoo or handwash liquid. It can be used as a face or body wash, for washing fruits, to deter pests, against black flies, for washing pets or for washing up dishes.


Where can I get hold of it?

The soap nut can be bought in half or one kilogram packages at organic shops and drogeries, but in a few places, also sample packages lasting 4-5 washes are available too. Its big advantage is that it lasts longer than washing powders or washing liquids bought for the same price. Calculating with 2-3 washes per week, the 1 kilogram package is enough for one year.


Soap nut at home

I was sceptical at first, I only dared to buy the sample package. The nuts are smaller than I initially thought, but they are very efficient. Unfortunately, I made the big mistake of trying it without doing the empty wash with vinegar first, some towels saw the result, but they have cleaned out since. The nuts did a good job, I am really satisfied with them, the clothes smell good and are softer without the use of fabric softener. We should not expect miracles from the soap nut, it is not capable of any more or any less than the washing powder. However, the thought alone that through its use, the environment and our bodies become less harmed makes it worth the effort!


Tranlated by Judit Molnár