I first heard about Soap Berries (AKA as Soap Nuts) about a year ago, and I was immediately intrigued by the notion. Soapberries are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which grows in several different regions around the world, but is most prevalent in the Himalayas. Naturally high in saponin (nature's soap!), Soapberries are used in place of regular washing/laundry detergent. 

Emporio Organico carries them in two sizes, the 250g & 500g bags, so you can opt for the smaller size first if you want to give them a go!

Not only are Soap Berries a more cost-effective option than traditional detergents on a per-use basis, but they are so much more eco-friendly. For one, they are 100%, completely and utterly natural. That Red House Soapberries are also Certified Organic, so you aren't washing your clothes in harmful, toxic chemicals. Secondly, they are completely compostable, grey water safe and septic safe
Thirdly, because the soapberries leave no residue on fabrics, there is no need for a rinse cycle. Which means saving more water!

Regular laundry detergent contains a host of possibly harmful ingredients - just like cosmetics. Synthetic fragrance is one of the biggest offenders (with possibly over 300+ individual chemicals, synthetic fragrance causes endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity). 1,4 dioxane which is a by-product of detergent manufacturing and can contaminate the finished product, 1,4 dixoane is highly toxic. It is also estimated to contaminate up to 40% of cosmetics and personal care products through other ingredients - mostly petroleum by-products that require high levels of refining.

Other concerns in regular detergent include Phosphates & EDTA. These to make detergents more effective in hard water, and to help prevent dirt from settling back on clothes when they’re washing. These chemicals have long been associated with environmental damage, particularly in our streams and waterways. They cause algae blooms that damage ecosystems. Many detergents have eliminated these, but they’re often using ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) in its place, which does not readily biodegrade, and has been found to be toxic in animal studies.

I know what you're thinking, because I wondered the same thing at first.
Do Soapberries really work? 

Using them is as simple as placing 5 of the shells into the drawstring bag provided, and throwing it in the wash with your laundry. They are good for up to 5 washes. 

I've used the Soapberries to wash everything from a regular clothing load, to household linen and sweaty work-out clothes. I wasn't too surprised when a light clothing load came out clean and fresh, but I wasn't too sure whether the Soapberries would handle clothing (work out clothes, socks etc) or linen that required a more thorough wash.

I'm pleased to report that the Soapberries wash everything thoroughly, and leave it all smelling, and feeling fresh, soft and clean!

I should also note that I only use cold water to wash.
The Soapberries release the saponin more readily in hot water, and you can soak them in hot water for 5-10mins prior to washing to help them release the saponin, but I've never bothered doing this as they wash so well as it is. If I was washing a heavily soiled load, I would probably give them a soak first to give the load an extra boost.

I will also mention that I usually have the machine set to 3 rinse cycles due to the water the house is on (we're rural, so no town water), but I've knocked it back to 2 cycles using the Soapberries, and everything is still as fresh as a daisy!

The Soapberries are also multi-purpose, and you can make a multi-purpose liquid from them, that you can use for anything from a shampoo to a household cleaner!
I haven't tried the liquid as a cleaner yet, but I have been using it in the dishwasher. 

To use as a dish-washing liquid

  1. I simply put a heaped tablespoon or two of bicarbonate soda into the dishwasher
  2. Fill the rest of the detergent cavity with the Soapberry liquid and wash!
It cleans everything exceptionally well. If I do have a heavy-duty load (something very greasy or baked-on), I'll either run the dishwasher on an extra hot cycle, or use an eco-friendly dishwasher tablet/detergent instead.

To make the multi-purpose liquid

  1. Simply place 10 whole soapberry shells (or equivalent) per litre of water into a pot
  2. Add water (ratio 10 soap berries per litre)
  3. Boil for 15-20mins
  4. Strain the cooled liquid through a fine sieve, gently pressing the soapberries with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bottle and store!

That Red House recommend preserving the liquid by adding citric acid to the hot liquid after boiling and straining the soapberries. Add 1 tsp citric acid per 500ml liquid and stir until dissolved. Because the soapberries are a natural product, the liquid will need to be preserved, or it will spoil over time. Citric acid is a natural preservative which is edible and available at all supermarkets in the baking section. They recommend making enough to liquid to last you no more than 4 weeks. I've stored mine in the fridge to help preserve the life of it. 

So, what do you think? Are you going to give Soapberries a go?
You can purchase SoapBerries online or in-store at Emporio Organico in Australia, and you can get 10% off with discount code WBM10 until 31 January.

Kelsey xx
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