How to Use Soap Nuts
Soap nuts can be used whole, or made into a liquid. Soap nuts leave no chemical residue, so there is no detergent build up and you can safely use the grey water on your garden. It is safe to use soap nuts with delicate fabric types, including wool and silk. The most effective laundry whitener is sunlight, so hang your clothes outdoors when possible.
Soap nuts can be used in both top and front loading washing machines.
Using Whole Soap Nuts
If using whole as a laundry detergent, put 4-6 whole soap nuts (depending on the load size) in the small calico wash bag supplied with purchase. Tie the top of the bag and place in the machine with your load. This same bag of soap nuts can be used 4-6 times, depending on the water temperature and whether your water supply is hard or soft. Soap nuts are ready to discard when they start to take on a slightly transparent appearance and no longer froth up when rubbed with water. Used soap nuts can be composted in your garden.
Whole soap nuts are most effective when used in warm or hot water. To get the best use in cold water, make a liquid according to the instructions below.
Soap Nut Liquid - Making and Using
Bring to the boil 6 cups of water and 10 soap nuts in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for half an hour, during which time the water will reduce. Strain the liquid through cloth and compost the nuts. In hot weather, liquid can go rancid as it is completely natural and contains no preservatives, so we recommend making small batches (once a week or fortnight) to avoid this. In warmer climates you can extend the life of your soap nuts liquid by refrigerating it.
Here at Pure Revolution, we use soap nut liquid as a laundry detergent (30-60mL depending on load size), in a spray bottle as a general household cleaner, and as dishwasher detergent (fill the dispenser). We know of others who use the liquid as a head lice treatment, an insect repellent, a glass cleaner, a jewellery and silverwear cleaner and as a hand wash, by putting the liquid in a foaming hand wash dispenser. It can also be used as a glass cleaner by diluting further with more water and a splash of vinegar.
Adding Fragrance to Soap Nuts Liquid
Society has become accustomed to synthetic fragrances making our clothes smell pretty, and so when you first start using soap nuts it can be an adjustment to learn that clean smells like absolutely nothing! Having said that, there is nothing wrong with adding a few drops of essential oil to the water in your wash if you prefer your loads of laundry to be fragranced. Take care to not apply directly to your clothes as the oil can stain.
Soap nuts themselves have a mild cider vinegar smell, however this is not transferred at all to your clothes. After washing with soap nuts you will find your laundry is scent-free.
Soap Nut Powder - Making and Using
Some people prefer to use a powder in their washing machine or dishwasher, and find that grinding soap nuts in a coffee or nut grinder can help do this effectively. If you use cold water only, make sure you dissolve the powder in a cup or two of hot water first as this will help draw out the saponin.