“What on earth are soap nuts?!” you ask.
I wondered as well after I won some at a cloth nappy gathering I attended during Cloth Nappy Week .
So, my first try at using them was that day, I think (endless cloth nappy and child laundry!) I didn’t have a great experience with them, though, and my clothes stunk. Not ideal! I stopped using them and there they sat.
As I was nearing the end of my cloth nappy detergent, I started researching how I could avoid the smell and I came across a couple helpful blogs (here and here) and comments that made me keen to try it as a liquid rather than the soap nuts straight in the bag in the washing machine.
So, one day while mom was visiting, I got out the saucepan, popped 6 shells into the cotton bag, tied it shut, added 4 cups of water, and turned the element on and started the process!
I then let it get to boil, mashed the bag a little to release more suds, and then turned it down to simmer for
thirty sixty minutes. Then I prodded it a few more times, and it then sat in the pan for a couple hours overnight before I poured it into a plastic container.
I was also out of shampoo by this point, so I HAD to make it. I have been trying to replace things with stuff I already have around the house. See my Baking Soda and Coconut toothpaste post coming soon.
Here’s how it’s been going…
As a shampoo-
I’ve only used it twice so far, so the jury is still out on it. I did learn the first time that I needed less than I used, but it’s hard to gauge as it’s not sudsy like “normal” shampoo. I poured a little into my hands, put it onto my head, massaged it through my hair (kinda guessing because you can’t really feel it!) and did a little in my hands and added that to the ends of my hair. Then I stuck my head under the water and massaged it all in a heap more, trying to make sure that it spread out evenly.
My hair definitely felt different (probably because it’s not full of chemicals!), but afterwards seemed super heavy and greasy, but felt clean and soft within an hour of drying it. I tried it again this morning and used half as much or less and it still came out appearing greasy, but now (14hrs later) actually looks even better than it did when I got out and dried it. Weird. I’ll have to do an update after using it a bit longer!
As laundry detergent-
I love it as a liquid- especially once I learned that it helps to add it to warm water first and then pour it in. Absolutely no smell problems now, and they definitely seem cleaner than ever. You use only a tablespoon or two of the liquid, so it’s super duper economical! See here for a price comparison.
I didn’t intend to try it out like this, but after I made the liquid, I had the bag sitting by the sink and it was turning a bit brown from the wet soap nuts, so I went to rinse it out and got heaps of suds! So, I set it aside again and with the next lot of dishes, I just squeezed the bag a few times and had my dish soap! AWESOME! Dishes came out as clean as usual and I am quite keen to carry on doing that.
So as you can see, it’s a very versatile product and I’m excited to see how we go over the coming months! I’ll be sure to update this or link back to it as my uses continue to vary and I see the longer term results- pros and cons.
Please do share your experiences and tips on how they’ve worked for you!
**Update April 2015- So I didn’t end up using it as a shampoo for long. I am sure it was cleaning well enough, but I wasn’t quite there in my crunchy journey to give up my sudsy, luxurious feeling shampoo. I still used it as a laundry soap until just the other day, but only because I was trying something new with the cloth nappies. The soap nuts weren’t the problem- I think it is more of my routine that is the problem. 😉 (laziness!)
I would still highly recommend using them for laundry and dish soap!**