More and more people are becoming aware of the adverse environmental effects of chemicals found in cleaning products and cosmetics.
Moreover, given the rise in eczema and other skin conditions, more people want to limit their exposure to the irritants and allergens found in those products.
As a result, there has been a recent trend toward using natural cleaning products. One natural alternative that has garnered attention in recent years is soapnuts, which can be used in place of common household cleaning supplies and cosmetics.
Read on if you want to make your cleaning supplies and cosmetics more environmentally friendly! In this article, we’ll dive deep into what soapnuts are and how to use them at home.
What Are Soapnuts?
Soapnuts, also known as soapberries or Indian soapberries, are the dried shells or husks of the soapberry nut. Despite the confusing name, soapnuts are berries from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, mainly grown in India and Nepal.
While soapnuts have recently received a lot of attention, they’ve long been a staple in many Indian households. Soapnuts are naturally antifungal and antimicrobial and have traditionally been used as an expectorant and a treatment for eczema and psoriasis. To this day, many Indian households use soapnuts for cleaning purposes.
The cleaning agent in soapnuts is an organic chemical compound called saponin. In general, saponin is an effective cleaning and foaming agent, making it a natural detergent.
While saponin is found in many organic products, soapnuts have the highest concentration. That’s what makes them so effective.
That said, it’s important to note that the saponin in soapnuts isn’t poisonous. It can, however, cause stomach upset. As a result, consuming soapnuts isn’t advised.
What Makes Soapnuts Environmentally Friendly?
One of the main reasons soapnuts are environmentally friendly is that they’re 100% natural and biodegradable.
Still, some people may prefer greener or homemade detergents instead of conventional detergents. Even those, however, generate waste.
When you use soapnuts, on the other hand, you leave no waste. If you have any leftover soapnut shells that you won’t use, you can always compost them.
What’s more, the Sapindus Mukorossi tree can thrive in harsh environments. As a result, it protects the areas where it grows from total erosion. It’s also disease resistant, so it doesn’t require chemical pesticides, which can harm the soil and water sources.
As a result, soapnuts are an excellent natural substitute for traditional detergents and synthetic soaps.
How to Use Soapnuts at Home
With a few simple recipes, you can make a soapnut alternative to clean everything around the house, including yourself.
Cleaning Product Substitute
Soapnuts can replace almost any household cleaner, detergent, and soap. But first, you must create the soapnut cleaner you’ll be using. You can use loose soapnut shells, liquid soapnut, or powder soapnut.
Loose Soapnut Shells
You can use loose soapnut shells in your laundry. All you need to do is to deseed four to eight soapnuts and place them in a muslin bag. Then before you do your laundry, put the muslin bag in the washing machine drummer.
After the cycle is finished, remove the muslin bag and hang it to dry. You don’t have to throw away used shells because they can be reused up to four times.
Keep in mind that boiling water is what activates the saponin in soapnuts. So, if you’re doing a cold cycle, you should use liquid soapnut instead.
Liquid soapnut has a wide range of applications, including:
- Washing detergent
- Laundry detergent
- All-purpose cleaner
- Dishwashing liquid
- Plant pesticide
- Mosquito Repellent
Here’s how to make liquid soapnut:
- Put five soapnuts in a small muslin bag.
- Place the muslin bag in a saucepan with two cups of water.
- Reduce heat after you bring the water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add a cup of water and simmer for ten more minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside until the liquid is cool enough to touch.
- Add essential oils (optional).
- Squeeze out the muslin bag with the soapnuts until they start to sud.
- Pour the liquid into a container and use it within a week.
You can make your chemical-free soapnut powder to replace cleaning products in powder form.
Here’s how to make powder soapnut:
- Put a handful of soapnuts in a blender.
- Blend the soapnuts on high speed until they’re finely ground.
- Activate the suds with some boiling water before using the soapnut powder.
- Place excess soapnut powder in a sealed glass jar and store it in the fridge.
This soapnut cleaner is most commonly used as laundry powder. However, powder soapnut can also be used as a dishwasher powder. Mix two tablespoons of grated castile soap and one cup of baking soda. Then, place the mixed powder in the dishwasher’s dispenser.
Cosmetic Product Substitute
Soapnuts can also be used in place of some cosmetic products.
Soapnut Shampoo and Body Wash
Shampoo and body wash can be harsh for some people. In this case, you can make your soapnut products to soothe and nourish your skin and scalp in just a few simple steps.
You’ll need around five to six soapnuts and two cups of water. If you don’t have sensitive skin or allergies, add two to three drops of essential oil to the shampoo to add fragrance.
Follow the same method to make liquid soapnut, then pour the liquid into an empty shampoo container. Because this shampoo doesn’t contain any preservatives, store it in the fridge and use it within a week.
Soapnuts naturally repel pests such as fleas and lice because insects dislike the taste of saponin. As a result, washing your pets with soapnut shampoo can be a great alternative to traditional pet shampoos.
Just keep in mind that many essential oils are toxic to pets. So, if you added any essential oils to your soapnut shampoo, it’s best to make a separate essential oil-free shampoo for your pet.
Soapnut Shaving Cream
If you’re out of shaving cream or prefer a gentler option, you can make your own with soapnuts and a little olive oil. It’ll leave your skin smooth and moisturized after you’re done shaving.
To make soapnut shaving cream, you’ll need to:
- Bring 15 soapnuts to a boil, then let them simmer for 20–30 minutes.
- Blend the soapnut flesh, one tablespoon of olive oil, and three tablespoons of the soapnut boiling water into a paste.
- Pour mixture into a bowl when it reaches a shaving-cream-like consistency.
You should use this natural shaving cream right away because it’ll split if left out for too long.
Who Should Use Soapnuts?
People who want to use a natural cleaning product are one of the main reasons soapnuts have grown in popularity in recent years.
Aside from being antimicrobial and antifungal, soapnuts are also hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin. Several people have found that switching to soapnuts helped them with eczema.
Aside from eczema and psoriasis, soapnuts are great for people with the following:
- Dry skin
- Sensitive skin
- Delicate skin, such as that of babies and toddlers
- Mature and aging skin
- Acne-prone skin
- Any skin conditions caused by allergic reactions
Soapnuts Patch Test
That said, even if soapnuts are hypoallergenic, it’s crucial to do a patch test to rule out any potential allergic reaction.
Here’s how to do a patch test:
- Thoroughly wash and dry the upper part of your inner arm, usually at the crook of the elbow.
- If you’re patch-testing soapnut powder, combine it with a bit of water to make a paste.
- Apply a small amount of the soapnut paste or liquid to your inner arm.
- Cover the area with a bandage.
- Keep the bandage in place for 24 to 48 hours, making sure it doesn’t get wet.
If you’re sensitive or allergic to soapnuts, the area where the soapnuts were applied may redden, burn, itch, or experience any other reaction within the first 24 hours.
During the patch test, if you experience any irritation, you should remove the bandage immediately and thoroughly wash the affected area with water (and soap if you’re not sensitive).
If, on the other hand, you don’t see or feel any irritation, you’re probably not allergic to soapnuts and can use them safely.
It’s best to patch-test your family or housemates to ensure no one has an allergic reaction.
Even though soapnuts have always been a part of Indian culture, they’ve only recently gained popularity everywhere else in the world. So, questions like “what are soapnuts?” and “how to use them at home?” have also increased.
In a nutshell, soapnuts are berries containing saponin, an organic chemical with a foaming effect similar to that of soap. What’s more, saponin from soapnuts has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
As a result, soapnuts are used as a completely natural alternative to laundry detergents, cleaning products, and even shaving cream.
Just make sure to do a patch test on yourself and your family member before using soapnuts around the house. This way, you can prevent any allergic reactions.