Detergent, step aside. I found soap berries!

I read it takes less water to make a powdered detergent than a liquid one.

So we tried out some different powder detergents, and I’d still like to try making our own. (Another thing on my list I’d like to do. That sounds like fun!)


When I washed with liquid or powder, it made little difference. No matter the brand, it made little difference. Clean clothes jumped out of the machine but the powder did go a bit farther. I’m just so thankful I don’t have to wash them down in the river with a soap board like our grandmothers did. Or wash everything out by hand to save money like when I traveled across continents.

We tried Borax. Not a cleaner by itself. It’s supposed to “boost” the wash. It didn’t boost jack. I decided it worked better as a cleaning agent for the toilet and bathtub.


Then our used washer started to go out.

Good and bad.
Bad: We have to buy a new washer. 😦
Good: Now we could get one of those HE (high-efficiency) washers that use 123 kWh per year. Estimated yearly operating cost is around $13 based on eight wash loads a week. Well, even with cloth diapers, I’m running nowhere near eight wash loads a week. And it uses so much less water!

Then Momphotographer told me about Eco Nuts, an organic laundry soap made of dried berry shells from the Sapindus mukorossi (soap berry) tree in Asia where they’ve used the soap berry to clean clothes for centuries. Oh geez, I sound like a commercial.


They are a fully renewable and sustainable resource according to what I’ve read. This brand claims to be nut allergy safe, 2-in-1 Fabric Softener, no added fragrance or dyes. Safe for septic and gray water systems.

And they work. What a surprise! I was not expecting that. (They even have a write-up about how to use them when you wash cloth diapers.

1)  They come in a box, without plastic. The canvas-type bag can be used over and over.

2) Once the pieces disintegrate, they can be thrown in the compost.

3) They work. (Though they are not perfect and I do sometimes have to wash a bib or a milk stained outfit more than once. It’s not the end of the world and I simply throw it in with the next wash–the heavier/super soiled load. I have never had to wash an entire load more than once. And shouldn’t have to!)
4) The tiny box takes up very little room rather than the big, bulky laundry containers.
5) The berries don’t leave a strong fragrance behind.

1) I’ve found they don’t clean soiled clothes like my husband’s work clothes very well. The directions say to pre soak the berries (in the canvas bag) in hot water for a few minutes for heavily soiled clothes and then start the wash. I’ve started doing this and the clothes DO come out clean now. However, when you do this, the soap berry shells disintegrate faster.
2) If you don’t pull the canvas bag out of the wash as soon as the wash finishes, whatever the bag of soap berries are leaning against will stain pink.
3) To get the poopy diapers clean, it requires a prewash. So really, I’m washing the diapers twice. But boy, do they come out white and clean! Much more so when I washed them with plain detergent. Granted, they soak in Oxi-Clean in the kitty litter bin until it’s full enough for a load. They may sit there a week but that made little difference with the detergent. They always came out—not very white, you know? Even when I put in a cup of vinegar. With these, I don’t have to put in anything.

Well, there’s just a solution for everything, now isn’t there?

(Not being paid to endorse. I just found something I like that works and I want to share it with you. I wouldn’t have heard of these if Ewa hadn’t told me. There are other brands too–Fornya, Green Virgin, NaturOil, Greenwill, Petra, etc. Eco Nuts is the only brand I’ve had a chance to try, but I don’t think the brand matters here, I’m just talking about the soap berry.)

I found them on Amazon, but I’m sure they could be found in most green, eco-friendly or health food stores. If nothing else, look them up and read about them. So interesting! You can compare prices yourself but the brand I bought was about $10 for a 100 load lot. In bulk, they’re cheaper. Since they work, I’m switching over to the soap berry.


6 responses to “Detergent, step aside. I found soap berries!

  1. I’ve heard of the soap nuts, but haven’t tried them out yet. I’m not sure it would work for me if they stain when left to sit, because I usually do laundry overnight to take advantage of the cheaper rates, but I would still like to try them at some point.

  2. misswhiplash

    Sounds like a good idea..lets give it a whirl

  3. I must try these. Thanks for the smashing post, Jen!

  4. I grate my own soap and put it with ‘washing powder’ and for reasons I can’t articulate I’ve not tried soap berries despite being aware of them. Your drawbacks do concern me a little, but the whiteness factor is VERY attractive!

  5. fine discovery. a ray of sunshine under stormy skies here.

    having raised 3 children both in Europe and in the states entirely by hand washing, rivers and all, i know how true white is precious..i had tried borax with very little success..but it did provide better results on miner’s jeans. i left them to soak overnight to soften the heavy grime.

    for baby’s clothes, i used olive soap shavings, grated with a cheese grate and soaked overnight as well. men’s t-shirts were the reticent items..arm and hammer was my soda i have a machine, i pre-soak in baking soda for an hour or so, scrub the neckline and rinse in vinegar water.
    i do miss the hillside stream at my grand-mother’s..and my boys grew up just beautifully (thanks to colored t-shirts).
    you deserve the soap berries for your lovely girl…i want to try them.

  6. Heidi, MissWhipLash, Shannon, Sarahn, Nadine—thanks for the responses!

    @Heidi–I know. I used to do my laundry at night too. Not too happy about that.

    @Nadine and Sarahn–I’m going to try your ideas too!

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