I recently discovered the most glorious sack-o-nuts—not on a man, but at my local co-op.
Never did I imagine that a sack-o-nuts could change my life, but it did. And after replacing my laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, dish detergent, shampoo, doggie shampoo/flea and tick repellent, I was hooked. I have been nutting over it ever since.
As a sustainability consultant, it was my job for years to research sustainable alternatives—to everything. And this is one tip that affects almost everything we encounter on a daily basis, so it hits home quite literally.
Most of our household cleaners are actually worse for us than the germs they kill. They’re full of chemicals and dyes that are proven to deteriorate our bodies and our insides. Yet, most people use them on everything—all the time, every day—without even reading the label. Even many of the eco-friendly alternatives have harsh preservatives in them.
The answer? Soap nuts.
These little pellets of pure, soapy beauty are actually what soap used to be derived from in the olden days, when earth was still a young spring chicken and hadn’t been fracked yet.
Soap nuts, aka sapindus or soap berries, grow on small trees and are a member of the lychee family. The “nuts” are actually the fruit of the tree, containing a couple seeds in the middle that are usually removed. They grow in warm climates and are an organic surfactant right off the limb.
They’ve been used as a cleaning agent and an organic insecticide since the Native Americans and ancient Asians. Soap nuts are deseeded and dried before getting to us and are ridiculously cheap. For less than 20 dollars, a bag usually lasts me about six to eight months!
The best part? When you’re done with them, you can compost them or just toss them outside. There is literally zero waste.
This recipe is as simple as it gets—just add water and boil. Yes, that’s it. Soap nuts plus boiling water, and you have yourself a multi-purpose cleaner of the gods that the earth will nut over. (And you will too!)
Below, I’ve listed my favorite liquid-soap recipe, directions, and the many uses this fantastical concoction has. You can also just use the nuts, as is, right in your laundry machine and not even bother making it a liquid (those directions are on the bag they come in).
Organic liquid soap recipe.
>> 16 organic soap nut shells
>> 7 cups of water
In a slow cooker, combine soap nut shells and water, then turn on high for 1.5 hours. Let it cool down, strain out shells, and add your favorite essential oils. Then, put into a laundry detergent/spray bottle/shampoo bottle.
Or: In a stove-top sauce pan, combine soap nut shells and water, and then turn on medium heat to simmer for 40 minutes. Let it cool down, add your favorite essential oils, and transfer liquid into laundry detergent/spray bottle/shampoo bottle.
Note: This organic, liquid cleaner stays fresh for about two to four months. It will keep best in the refrigerator, but does just fine for me in a cool spot. Liquid does expire after a bit, so just use your sniffer and replace if it starts to smell a bit off.
Where to buy.
Check your local co-op or natural grocery store first—but if you can’t find them locally, these nuts are all the rage and can be found here.
It doesn’t get any easier, cleaner, healthier, or nuttier than that, folks. In my experience, this is the absolute best way to clean your life while honoring Mama Earth. Your insides (and your wallet) will thank you.
Happy nutting, y’all!
Author: Liz Brenna
Image: Flickr/Lisa Brewster
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina