I certainly was skeptical that these dry little nuts could effectively clean my laundry. But I was having trouble locating liquid laundry that was either refillable, or not packaged in plastic. powder detergents just weren’t dissolving in my washing machine, at least not at the eco-warm temperature setting.
I had heard about the versatility of soap berries for a while but wondered how they would clean laundry in a High Efficiency (HE) machine. I noticed a few things, depending on the temperature of the water setting, you may need to adjust the way you use soap berries. In other words, unless you’re using the soap berries with hot water, it might not get as sudsy as it should.
Soap berries as laundry detergent has been helpful for many with allergies or eczema, as its free of perfumes and additives, and quite gentle on skin.
As a laundry detergent, there are two methods to use the berries: one uses the whole berry in its natural, dry state, the other is a liquid detergent that is made from soap berry tea (recipe below).
However, like most soaps, soap berries are no good to ingest, so keep them out of reach from little ones and pets.
Laundry Detergent (whole berries)
1.) Take 5-6 soap berries and place in a washer-safe cotton tote bag:
5 Soap Berries
2.) Toss them in a reusable, washable bag like this cotton tote that came with the berries. I have several extra of these though, so if you need one, e-mail me.
3.) Wash on normal settings. But for this method, hot water is ideal.
**Note** You can also add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or 1 tablespoon or baking soda to the wash, vinegar helps enhance fabric colors and baking soda helps remove odors.
Soap Berry Tea (liquid detergent)
If you find your soap berries aren’t lathering up in the wash, don’t lose hope! Try making a “soap berry tea.” This is comparable to liquid laundry detergent and should definitely sud up, even in eco-warm water.
There were several different recipes for this, so I went with the most basic and modified it a bit to be effective in my machine.
- 3 cups of water
- 7-8 soap berries
- 1 cup vinegar (optional)
1.) Bring the water to a boil and stir in the soap nuts, reduce to simmer and cook for an hour.
2.) Allow the liquid to cool and strain out any solids before pouring into your laundry detergent container. (All solids can be composted.)
Optional: To enhance the color of your clothes, you can add an optional 1/2-1 cup of vinegar. Wait for the solution to cool before adding the vinegar. You can also enhance the aroma of your soap berry tea by adding natural herbs like lavender, lemon or lime peels, or natural essential oils that don’t irritate your skin. Add them to the boil water, and make sure to strain and compost any solids before using as a detergent.
**Note** If you want a thicker detergent, mix in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch while the water is still boiling.
For multi-purpose spray:
Add a few drops of tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic and deodorizer. This is also a great opportunity to get a second use out of citrus peels: just slice them and add them to the spray solution for a bright and cheery fragrance!