Soap nuts - well technically they don’t contain soap and aren’t nuts!
Soap nuts are native to India. They are the dried fruits or berries of the Reetha tree and contain a natural substance called saponin. The saponin in soap nuts gives it surfactant properties but without the chemicals and so for generations have been used for skin, hair and home care.
Here are four ways you can use soap nuts and cut down the chemicals in your life
1. Laundry Detergent
Just throw a handful of soap nuts in a muslin or a thinly woven cloth pouch and throw it in the washing machine along with the clothes. For better results use a hot water cycle. As the bag spins with the clothes, saponin which is a natural cleaning agent begins its work. Saponin works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away.
Soap nuts are gentle on both clothes and skin, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies, and psoriasis. They are totally mild which make them perfect for baby clothes and even cloth diapers.
Regular detergents contain chemical surfactants which cause scum and buildup while soap nuts are natural and has no buildup. Unlike commercial detergents that have artificial foaming agents, soap nuts do not produce lots of bubbles or foam. While commercial detergents have marketed heavily around that visual, foam is not an indicator of cleaning power. Low foaming also means less use of water at rinsing, and that’s always a good thing.
With no artificial fragrances clothes washed in soap nuts also have a natural, earthy fragrance.
Boil a handful of soap nut berries and cool. Crush them coarsely and let the pulp sit in the water for a while till the saponins seep in the water. Use the seeped soapnut water like shampoo. The saponins act as an excellent cleanser removing all the grime and dirt and leave your hair clean. The vitamins A, D, E, and K found in the soap nut betty leaves your hair shiny and smooth.
Soap nuts are antimicrobial in nature, they also are great for curing bacterial and other scalp conditions including dandruff.
You can also add your favourite essential oil to give it a natural after shower fragrance.
3. Skin care
Boil a handful of soap nut berries and cool. Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil and use it as your homemade face wash. If you prefer a more creamy face wash, blend the pulp liquid in heavy duty blender for a few minutes and the liquid blends into a creamy foam.
Soap nuts have natural conditioning properties that prevent dryness and keeps your skin moisturized. As it is antibacterial and antimicrobial, it is also safe for people with sensitive skin. Soap nuts even out your skin tone and can also help you get rid of stubborn pimples and blackhead.
Loaded with vitamins and antimicrobial properties, soap nuts are also safe and can help in skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, etc.
4. All-purpose Cleaner
Boil a handful of soap nut berries and cool. Strain the liquid and add more clean water to have a light consistency. Add a few drops of essential oil like citronella or neem. Pour the soap nut liquid into a spray bottle. Now, spray the liquid on the desired area and wipe it with a soft cloth.
It is antibacterial and antimicrobial and along with the neem and citronella properties works best to keep insects and mosquitos away as well.
While it does look like it is a one size fits all solution, it actually is. The composition of soap nuts is such that it is incredibly versatile and easy to use. As it is not really a nut but a fruit it is perfectly safe for people with nut allergies as well. Loads of vitamins in it and its mild cleansing properties makes it perfect for people with sensitive skin.
So, don’t wait, ditch the chemicals and go nuts!