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What Are Soap Nuts and Should You Try Them?

A person holds a bowl of soap nuts.
Monika Wisniewska/Shutterstock.com

When you think of alternatives to traditional liquid detergent, your brain might go to a DIY powdered detergent. The last thing you would probably think of is . . . soap nuts.

Soap nuts aren’t nuts at all, but berries from Sapindus mukorossi trees. When their outer shells absorb water, they release saponin, which is a surfactant that can remove dirt and stains from your laundry.

There are a few reasons why soap nuts are appealing. First, they’re environmentally friendly. They don’t require the processing it takes for companies to create traditional detergent which reduces the amount of energy used to wash your clothes.

Secondly, they’re inexpensive: at this writing, you can get half a pound for under $17. Finally, while soap nuts are most well-known for being a laundry detergent alternative, they also work in the dishwasher.

NaturOli Soap Nuts

A fragrance-free, natural way to wash laundry and dishes.

Ashley Abramson over at The Kitchn uses soap nuts to wash her dishes. She just puts four in a small muslin bag, places it in the silverware rack, and then uses the “Tough” setting for a strong clean. When the cycle is done, she says her dishes are cleaner than they would be with a detergent pod. Plus, soap nuts last for up to four cycles.

While you wait for your soap nuts to arrive, how about a DIY detergent?

[Via The Kitchn]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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