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Soapberries / Soapnuts

Soapberries, also called soapnuts, are actually a small fruit. They are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which is found naturally growing in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.

Unlike commercial chemical and processed soaps, organic soapberry saponin is perfect for your skin. It creates a lather that is pH balanced, moisturizing, and gently cleanses your skin and clothes.

They are hypoallergenic, antibacterial and antifungal.

There are a few different saponin filled soapberry trees, all in the Lychee family. They are native to warm temperate and tropical regions. Mukorossi, also known as Indian Soapberry, contains the highest and most effective concentration of natural plant saponin and is the most widely grown soapberry tree. It grows naturally in the Himalaya region and is highly sustainable, requiring minimum intervention, and each tree produces 30-35kg of fruit per year.

How do you get the saponin from the Soapberry? When ripe, soapberries are harvested from the trees. The seed in the middle is the effective, saponin containing part.

How to use soapberries?

Place 5-8 in a small cotton bag in the washing machine and use your normal cycle. See 'hot/cold' paragraph, below. You can leave soapberries in the wash for the full cycle including rinse, as they make a great fabric softener as well. We sell these natural, organic berries in bags of 250g for £4.95 which is enough for at least 75 washes, 6.6 pence per wash.

It doesn’t feel very soapy, there isn’t a lot of lather. The appearance of abundant lather is important to commercial chemical soaps, to give us the sensory impression that it’s working. This bold lather is actually misleading characteristic of modern commercial soap. To achieve it most soaps and bodywashes use artificial foaming agents to produce the visual appearance. These agents don’t increase the effectiveness of the product, they just introduce more chemicals into our washing and wellbeing routine. Soapberries work effectively without this misleading excessive foam. Aren’t soapberries just for laundry? No, where they grow naturally, soapberries have been used for centuries to wash skin and hair as well as clothes, they are good for washing everything, but particularly bodywashing as they are so skin-compatible and totally chemical-free. They have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and have mild anti-bacterial and insecticidal properties, making them a perfect solution for preventing headlice.

I have eczema / psoriasis / sensitive skin, can I use them? Can I use them for my baby? Because they are so mild and natural, soapberries are a healthier soap for everyone. They are particularly good for babies, children and those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies and psoriasis. They have been used to treat these skin conditions and many people report great improvements once switching to a soapberry bodywash or handwash. They are ideal for baby’s delicate skin and are perfect for cloth nappies and baby clothes.

Are they environmentally friendly? Studies have shown soapberries are not only compatible with all septic and grey water systems, they are actually beneficial to the surrounding environment. They are totally biodegradable and compatible with wildlife. Not only are soapberries the most natural soap for us, there are good for the plants and soil around us.

Hot Water or Cold Water? Soapberries will work best with hot or warm water, however, hot water will reduce the number of uses you can get from one soapberry. Washing your clothes purely with cold water is not guaranteed to give the best results, so it is better to first soak the soapberries in hot water beforehand for several minutes and then putting both, the soapberry pouch and the water in the washing machine.

Are Soapberries Strong Enough Detergent to Remove Stains? Soapberries are perfectly suitable for daily laundry needs, but for tougher stains, you might need to pre-treat and soak your clothes. You can use washing soda as a laundry booster and soak the clothes in the washer for several minutes before completing the cycle. While this might seem like more work, it is a small sacrifice to make for a more chemical-free future.

What About White Laundry? Soapberries are especially good for washing coloured woollens, silk and other coloured clothing. Because they are completely free of chemical brighteners and bleach, bright white clothing will eventually take on a more natural colour, however colours will keep their brightness for longer. White clothes will not have the same chemically white appearance when washed with soapberries, but you can achieve a comparable result by adding a laundry booster to your load, such as a washing soda, or lemon juice.

Smaller Footprints is not sure whether ‘commercial’ laundry detergents are designed to create a lather for the purpose of sensory affect / persuasion that the detergent is working, this is the view of Green Frog Botanic, the suppliers of the soapberries.

Though Nat seems sure that she likes them:

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