What are soapberries?
Soapberries are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree. The fruit is picked, the seed removed and the shell dried. This dried shell is full of a substance called ‘Saponins’ which are a natural soap. Saponins reduce the surface tension of water, releasing dirt and grime from fabrics and surfaces. The tree grows in the Himalayan region of the world and the berries are used for many different cleaning applications. They are naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal and hypoallergenic.
How to use Soapberries
- Place 5 – 6 soapberries in the small cotton bag (included)
- Put bag inside the drum of your washing machine along with your clothes, linens etc. This bag of 5-6 berries will do about five loads of washing.
- They work fine in cold water but warm water is recommended as it draws more soap out of the berries. Turn up the temperature on your machine if you have a particularly dirty load.
- Once the cycle has finished remove the wet bag of berries from the machine. Do not leave the bag in direct contact with fabrics (particularly light colours) for a prolonged period of time.
- Once the berries have expired they will lose their structure and feel broken and brittle (like dried leaves). You can then throw them in your compost or on your garden to break down naturally.
Which washing machines are soapberries suitable for?
Soapberries are suitable for all types of washing machines including front and top loaders. Because they leave no residue on the fabrics, they can be used without activating the rinse cycle, saving water. Simply pop 5 berries into the small cotton wash bag provided and pop them in the drum of your washing machine with your clothes.
What is the ideal temperature to use soapberries in the laundry?
Soapberries work in all different temperatures, but if you use hot water, the berries will not last as long. They are just as effective at higher temperatures, but you may need to discard/compost them after 3 washes instead of 5. The saponins are released more effectively in warm water (40 degrees is ideal). Alternatively, if you use them in cold water, they may not activate as quickly as they will in warmer water.
*Handy hint – Soaking your soapberries in hot water for 5 mins prior to a cold wash will soften the shells and activate them.
Do the soapberries need to be taken out of the machine for the rinse cycle?
Soapberries do not leave any soap residue in the clothing fibres as they break the surface tension of the water and draw the dirt out and away from the fabric. This means there is nothing to rinse off. You can therefore TURN OFF the rinse cycle if you machine will allow you to do so, saving water and power. If your machine will not allow you to do this, then leaving them in for the rinse cycle will not affect your wash.
Do they have a fragrance?
Soapberries are fragrance free, but leave your clothes feeling fresh and clean. They are antibacterial and anti fungal, killing odour causing bacteria and germs. If you like a fragrance in your washing, simply add a few drops of our laundry tonic to the small cotton wash bag before you pop it into the wash and your clothes have a gorgeous fragrance to them.
Are they safe for use with sensitive skin?
Soapberries are ideal for people with all kinds of skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and allergy sensitivity. They are extremely hypo-allergenic and we recommend using them if you suffer from any of these conditions. Using Soapberries for baby clothes, bedding and nappies is safe and using them as a bath wash is also gentle and effective. Many people have used soapberries to wash not only their clothes, but by using the shampoo/body wash recipe, have noticed their skin conditions improve or disappear completely. See our recipes page for instructions on how to use them for such applications.
Do they remove stains?
Soapberries will clean your clothes of everyday dirt, but for tougher stains, you will need to treat them prior to the washing.
Will they ‘whiten’ my whites?
Regular laundry detergents use chemical ‘optical brighteners’ to make your whites ‘appear’ whiter. These are harmful to your health and the environment. Our soapberries will clean your whites, but because they do not contain optical brighteners, they will not give the same appearance as the chemical based detergents. You can add washing soda or lemon juice to your load if you want to whiten your clothes more. We also suggest you remove your white clothes from the machine as soon as the cycle has finished, as the wet soapberry bag should not be left in direct contact with white fabrics for an extended period of time.
Do they ‘foam up’ when I use them?
Soapberries will create suds when activated, but they will not create the same foam that conventional detergents and soaps produce. This foaming action in conventional products is a chemical additive used to give the ‘illusion’ of cleaning and has no bearing on the effectiveness of cleaning action.
Are they safe for compost, septic and grey water?
Yes! They are completely natural, biodegradable and safe for use in those applications. In fact, being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, they actually work well with septic tanks. If you are using grey water in your garden, there really is no better choice than soapberries.
Are the soapberries safe for those with nut allergies?
The soapberries are sometimes called soapnuts, but they have no relation to nuts. They are perfectly safe for use by those with nut allergies, and are in fact great for those with sensitive skin.
Can we use them to clean in the bathroom and kitchen too?
Absolutely! Soapberries can be boiled to release the saponins, then strained and put in a spray bottle for use around the home. Add some eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the liquid, and you will have a potent multi-purpose cleaner. Because it is antibacterial and anti fungal, it will help with the removal of mould and germs around the home. See our recipe page for directions.
How long do they last?
Unused soapberries will last indefinitely as long as they are kept free from moisture. We do however recommend using them within two years to ensure maximum freshness. In between washes, store your used soapberries in their little cotton bag in a dry place – on a hook in the laundry is best, or hang it out on the line with your clothes.