Sunday, March 2, 2014

Soap Nuts & Dryer Balls

Laundry!  Can you think of anything more unfun?  Okay, I am sure you can but still its yuck with a capital Y! So time consuming and boring.  I hate it!  A few weeks ago I hated it even more.  I had been making my own laundry soap using 1 bar of Zote, 1 Cup Borax and 1 Cup Washing Soda and then something went wrong!  I developed an allergic reaction to the soap. Not the I have a rash, my skin is red and I itch reaction but the  lymph node swollen, joint pain, skin rash uncontrollable itching go to the hospital and get a bunch of IV meds kind.  I figured out that it was the laundry soap because I woke up one morning and had a smoothie, became cold, put on a jacket and WHAM! out popped the welts after just a few minutes.  I was relieved but frustrated because I had to buy new laundry soap and wash EVERYTHING I own.  I am 99% sure that it was the Zote soap that did it.  I am 100% sure that I never want to do it again so after reading several blogs and reviews I decided to give soap nuts a try.

What the heck is a soap nut you may ask?  Well apparently, according to Wikipedia it is the fruit of a small tree or shrub that has been used for cleaning things for cleaning things for thousands of years.

I ordered my soap nut sample on ebay here.  Not because of any particular reason except that they cost $2.99 and it was free shipping. So now onto the experiment.

After reading 2 blogs Kitchen Stewardship & Becoming Peculiar I learned that because I use cold water that it is best to put my little nuts in the sack and soak them in warm water before I commence laundry doing.

So after that I decided to squeeze them and see if they really do make "soap". Guess what?  They do!

I tossed them into the wash and started the machine.  I wasn't sure if I was supposed to remove them during the rinse cycle.  I still don't know but I think I removed them twice and one load I forgot all about them.

Wash, wash, rinse, rinse!  The load was finished and I took the clothes out and they looked clean and smelled like nothing.  Nothing is good.  I then tossed them in with my dryer balls.  Yup folks I said dryer balls.  They are felted wool balls that you can make yourself or buy.  I got mine here.  I use six. Just toss them in and my clothes dry so much faster and come out soft.  They still have static but I am not willing to chance it and use fabric sheets after my reaction to chemicals, I also toss in some distilled white viniger to the fabric softener dispenser.

After that more washing and more drying happened. I decided to test the soap nuts for effectiveness and how you do that is see if they still bubble up and they did after two loads.

Then it was time for the true test.  Stained handkerchiefs.  I use them like a non quirky person would use paper towels.  They have avocado and spirulina stains on them from smoothie making.

Into the washer they went and the result was...

Not perfect but not bad either.  I am not worried that they are still a little green.  They are my sustainable paper towels for Pete's sake.  They are as clean as they ever came using my old soap.  You can use an eco friendly pretreater or Oxyclean to help with stains.  I didn't because, like I said with these I am not that worried.

After I was finished with laundry I took the soap nuts out of the bag and dried both.  No one told me to do this I just thought it made sense.

So what do I think of soap nuts?  I like them so far.  I even bought some more from here to test them out even more.  I will post an update in a few weeks and let you know how it's going.  For now soap nuts get a thumbs up from this Quirky Urban Girl!

Have you used soap nuts?  Please post your results in the comments.


  1. Awesome! I like that you tested them out by soaking and squeezing to check for bubbles. Good thinking! That would make me feel more confident, too.

    And I doubt any detergent could do a better job on the avocado stains. That stuff is hard to get out!

    1. Thanks for your comments Kathleen! I just love your blog!