I’m wholly nuts about Soap Nuts!

Similar to so many cloth diapering mommas, I have attempted pretty much every method of laundering to remove the “stinky” from Asher’s diapers (and cloth wipes, though they hardly take the beating diapers do) since his birth when Jesse and I started the cloth diapering.  I’ll go into our rationale for using cloth diapers in lieu of disposables in another post.  I have found success with several methods of cleaning; however, these methods required numerous washings and rinsing—a big no-no for a house lady on a budget.  Cue the soap nut and angelic ‘ahhh’…

Soap nuts by Greener Living Products LTD

My soap nuts voyage

My soap nuts journey began with a former [male] coworker with whom I spent a lot of time chatting amid work—in particular about parenting philosophies, breastfeeding, cloth diapering…and how best to keep them clean.  Side note:  my very manly coworker is a very involved father of his two wonderful children to say the least and was a tremendous blessing to me since I learned a lot from him and his wife.  We discussed soap nuts several times, but I wasn’t convinced of my need to try them until he and his wife heard the owner of a local cloth diaper store in Columbus, Georgia swears by them.  Of course, this secondhand information prompted an investigation that led me to believe soap nuts are truly God’s gift to the frugal homemaker!

Naturally, my next step was to hype them up to my husband and sister—eh, maybe a little trial should come about before for next super product?  Next I scoured the web for the cheapest soap nuts, which led me to putting a bag in my ever-filling Amazon shopping cart.  There they sat for months until I found a 1.1-pound box by Greener Living Products LTD for about $8 less at MaMa Jean’s Market.  BO-nus because I wholly support local stores, especially this one, and I didn’t have to wait for shipping!

Theory tested…and approved!

The following day I entered my trial period for my glorious soap nuts.  I threw about five nuts in a provided muslin bag and ran them through a fairly heavy wash cycle using the extra water feature on warm (or was it cold?) then dried them in the dryer as usual.  When I threw them in the dryer, I did my typical sniffing for stinkies and they smelled remarkably clean—better than ever before even with my hypersensitive smeller (thank you, pregnancy hormones)!  Wow, I must be dreaming!  After they finished drying, I discovered I had actually been dreaming…they smelled awful!  Ugh!  All my touting and fantasizing of the soap nuts was down the drain with that load.

After four uses, they're still going strong!

After four uses, they’re still going strong!

As my husband could testify, I’m not one to easily give up on things like this—I did give up on homemade dishwasher detergent after a few attempts while I was still working full-time (and only a part-time homemaker), but now that I’m a newly commissioned, full-time homemaker, I will try, try again someday…when we get a dishwasher.  I digress.  Instead of giving up on my soap nuts, I added a couple more nuts to the bag and threw them back in the wash for a second, heavier washing.  After finishing drying this time, they smelled great—not as great as they’ve been in the past with a different washing method, but a whole lot better than the first attempt.

My final trial-and-error session concluded the next washing, which now includes the soap nuts and occasionally a few drops of tea tree oil in the wash.  Ba-zing!  Our cloth diapers are cleaner and smell better than ever at a fraction of the cost.  I’m convinced my first run was a fluke and caused by build-up in the diapers—I also might have washed them on cold, which is a soap nuts no-no.  Apparently there’s a soap nut soak out there you can use to wash in cold, but I haven’t tried it.

Some quick info on soap nuts

–   They come from the berry-like fruit of the Sapindus Mukorrosi tree (yes, I’m looking into growing my own—wholly money saving potential!)
–   They produce Saponin, a natural soap compound found in soap nuts which I like to refer to as God’s soap
–   You do not need a fabric softener when you use them
–   You use 4-6 per bag in the wash, remove the bag before drying and reuse the soap nuts until they run out of soap and turn gray and mushy (4-6 times)—you can test their soapiness by shaking them in water in a glass jar to see if they produce suds still
–   If you accidentally dry them with the clothes, you can still reuse them
–   They’re the most natural detergent on the planet and are safe for everyone and everything
–   You can use them to make a multitude of other cleaning such as a mosquito repellent, shampoo, liquid laundry detergent, an all-purpose cleaner, a window & glass cleaner and in the dishwasher, which I will do…as soon as I get my dishwasher[1]

–   There is a ton of skepticism out there (I certainly was), but I’ve yet to read anything other than reviews from people like me who are entirely blown away by the efficacy of the soap nut

I have yet to use them on our normal laundry since I’ve still got some of my pricier detergent, but they’ll work…if they can clean the crap out of a diaper (sorry, I had to use the pun), they can certainly clean anything!  I think the key is to not give up if they don’t initially work and just find the right combination of wash cycles and essential oils as necessary.  Hopefully, you’ll find the soap nuts to be as much a blessing to your frugal homemaking as they are to mine!




Matt Johnson, G. L. (2013). How to Use Them. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from http://www.buysoapnuts.com: http://www.buysoapnuts.com/how-to-use-them/