Would You Wash Your Laundry with Nuts & Berries?

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Have you ever considered the amount of chemicals in your laundry detergent? Most of the chemicals in detergents actually stay in your clothing and on your skin for hours. It’s no wonder we are dealing with so many skin conditions in our society!

Recently, I heard of a completely organic way to do laundry — and it didn’t include a powder or a liquid. It was something totally different — it was NUTS. Actually, they are dried berries that contain a natural ingredient called saponin. Saponin is a natural surfactant, an organic chemical that works to change the way water works. It simply lets the water work better so that dirt can be removed from your laundry more easily. Surfactant is one of the main ingredients in most cleaning products. “Soap nuts” contain a natural surfactant that has been used by native peoples in Asia as well as North and South America for thousands of years. Today, these dried berries offer a natural, organic way to clean laundry. These are some steps for using them:

Step 1: Place 5-6 berries into a clean muslin bag and tie it tightly. As you are placing them in the bag, you’ll notice that they smell slightly like vinegar. Don’t worry — your laundry won’t smell like vinegar when it comes out of the washer. If you are washing whites and want to add a little booster, add a tablespoon of oxygen bleach in the bleach dispenser.

Step 2: Put all your clothes in the washer and place the bag of soap nuts on top of the clothes. Soap nuts will work in either a top or front loading washing machine.

Step 3: Wash your clothes with the same settings that you would normally use with your regular laundry detergent. Check out your clothing during the wash cycle. You will actually see bubbles from the soap nuts.

Step 4: Don’t bother removing the canvas bag after the wash cycle. Let the bag of soap nuts stay in the washer and continue through the rinse and spin cycles. They won’t hurt a thing.

Step 5: Try to remove the canvas bag of soap nuts before you transfer your laundry to the dryer. If you happen to forget, nothing will happen to your clothes or the soap nuts. Removing the bag would just give the soap nuts some extra time to dry before the next load of laundry, as the nuts can get soggy and mushy.

Step 6: Soap nuts do not leave a scent in your clothing, which is perfect for people with chemical sensitivities. For those of you who enjoy a scent in your clothes, you’ll have to add it during the drying cycle. A muslin bag filled with dried flowers – like lavender — can add a nice, natural scent to your laundry.

You’ll notice that your clothes will become softer the more you use soap nuts. This is because the surfactant is completely rinsing out of the clothing. I like to use soap nuts for fine washables as they are very gentle on fabric.

Who ever thought you could wash your clothes with just nuts! I hope you don’t think I’m nuts for trying it! Let’s keep our minds open and learn from the past. Thousands of years of experience from our ancestors can’t be that wrong.

Photo credit: Leslie Reichert

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