What are Soapberries? Here’s everything you need to know about adding them to your eco-friendly home.

Soap nuts, soap berries - Helen Turner

Drowning In Plastic…..

As you may have noticed from previous posts on my Instagram account, I'm gradually trying to reduce the plastic waste I produce in my daily life. I am now using shampoo bars rather than shampoo in a plastic bottle and make sure I always carry a glass or metal water bottle and reusable bag with me when I go out. Next on my list was to see if I could stop using cleaning products that come in plastic bottles. I kept seeing Soapberries (or Soap Nuts) on my social media so thought I would give them a try. I also wanted to be able to buy them in bulk rather than just a month or so supply at a time, and came across a company called That Red House that sell soapberries in bulk alongside other natural laundry products. Their soapberries come in canvas bags of 500g or 1kg (the soapberries are very light and last for 4-5 washes with each bag of 5 berries). Anyway, let’s find out more about soap berries…..

What Are Soapberries?

Soapberries or soap nuts as they are otherwise called, are the berry like fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which is native to India close to the Himalayan mountains. The skin of the fruit contains saponin, a natural gentle soap that has been used for hundreds of years to clean skin and clothes. Saponin works as a surfactant, which means it breaks the surface tension of the water to create a lather that lifts dirt and grease. It creates a lather that is pH balanced with the skin, and cleans away dirt in a gentle way. Each tree produces 30-35kg of soap berries per year. They are naturally antibacterial, anti fungal and hypoallergenic.

About That Red House.

That Red House is a company built on the foundation of striving for a sustainable, organic, zero-waste, chemical free, eco-conscious and healthy way of life for all. Their soapberries are proudly vegan, raw and paleo. That Red House aim to inspire, educate and convert people to using 100% certified organic, waste-free laundry detergent and complementing natural laundry products; 100% Australian Wool Dryer Balls and Laundry Tonics. People can reduce their chemical exposure, improve their health and save money by using That Red House products. It is important for That Red House as a company to make alternative cleaning solutions affordable. That Red House soapberries are certified organic by USDA; one of the world's leading certification organisations. Their conditions are strict and inspections are frequent to ensure the best standards and conditions are met by our growers, harvesters and packers.

How To Use Soapberries

  • Place 5 - 6 soapberries in the small cotton bag which comes with your purchase. Place the bag inside the drum of your washing machine WITH your clothes. Each bag of berries lasts around 5 loads. They work fine in cold water but warm water draws more soap out of the berries, so turn up the temperature on your machine if you have a particularly dirty load. Once the cycle has finished be sure to remove the wet bag of berries from the machine. Do not leave the bag in direct contact with fabrics (particularly light colours) for a prolonged period of time. Once the berries have expired they will lose their structure and feel broken and brittle (like dried leaves). You can then throw them in you compost or on your garden to break down naturally. 

  • Soapberries are suitable for all types of washing machines including front and top loaders. Because they leave no residue on the fabrics, they can be used without activating the rinse cycle, saving water. Soapberries work in all different temperatures, but if you use hot water, the berries will not last as long. They are just as effective at higher temperatures, but you may need to discard/compost them after 3 washes instead of 5. The saponins are released more effectively in warm water (40 degrees is ideal). Alternatively, if you use them in cold water, they may not activate as quickly as they will in warmer water. 
    *Handy hint - Soaking your soapberries in hot water for 5 mins prior to a cold wash will soften the shells and activate them.

  • Soapberries are fragrance free, but leave your clothes feeling fresh and clean. If you like a fragrance in your washing, simply add a few drops of our laundry tonic or essential oil to the small cotton wash bag before you pop it into the wash and your clothes have a gorgeous fragrance to them. Using Soapberries for baby clothes, bedding and nappies is safe and using them as a bath wash is also gentle and effective. Many people have used soapberries to wash not only their clothes, but by using the shampoo/body wash recipe, have noticed their skin conditions improve or disappear completely.

  • Soapberries will clean your clothes of everyday dirt, but for tougher stains you will need to treat them prior the washing.

  • Regular laundry detergents use chemical 'optical brighteners' to make your whites 'appear' whiter. These are harmful to your health and the environment. Our soapberries will clean your whites, but because they do not contain optical brighteners, they will not give the same appearance as the chemical based detergents. You can add washing soda or lemon juice to your load if you want to whiten your clothes more. We also suggest you remove your white clothes from the machine as soon as the cycle has finished, as the wet soapberry bag should not be left in direct contact with white fabrics for an extended period of time.

  • Soapberries will create suds when activated, but they will not create the same foam that conventional detergents and soaps produce. This foaming action in conventional products is a chemical additive used to give the 'illusion' of cleaning and has no bearing on the effectiveness of cleaning action. 

  • Soapberries can be boiled to release the saponins, then strained and put in a spray bottle for use around the home. Add some eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the liquid, and you will have a potent multi-purpose cleaner. Because it is antibacterial and anti fungal, it will help with the removal of mould and germs around the home.

    They actually work well with septic tanks and if you are using grey water in your garden, there really is no better choice than soapberries. 

  • Unused soapberries will last indefinitely as long as they are kept free from moisture. We do however recommend using them within two years to ensure maximum freshness. In between washes, store your used soapberries in their little cotton bag in a dry place - on a hook in the laundry is best, or hang it out on the line with your clothes.

  • Soapberries can be boiled to release the saponins, then strained and put in a spray bottle for use around the home. Add some eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the liquid, and you will have a potent multi-purpose cleaner. Because it is antibacterial and anti fungal, it will help with the removal of mould and germs around the home.

My Review Of Soapberries.

I have been using them for a couple of months now and am a big fan! With any stains I still need to soak and add baking soda, and I use the natural oils on the dryer balls to give a subtle clean scent. As I am used to using unscented laundry detergent I did not really notice any different from using laundry liquid but for those of you who are used to a stronger scented laundry detergent it might leave you feeling like your clothes do not smell ‘clean’. So for me I am super happy that I can remove another plastic bottle from my household!

 Well, I hope this has inspired you to think about ways you can reduce plastic waste in your own home, without having to compromise on cleanliness or quality. To see all of That Red House's products click HERE or check our their Instagram account HERE. 

Now, onto my next goal of making my own toilet cleaner and dishwasher tablets! I'll let you know how I get on!

Have a great week!