Sodium lauryl sulfate. Dioxane. Nonylphenol ethoxylate. Phosphates. What on earth are these things?? They are powerful and dangerous chemicals found in commercial laundry detergent. If you look at the ingredients list on your detergent you likely won’t even see these words because the companies aren’t required to list all the ingredients contained in these products. That seems odd, right? It turns out laundry detergent is one of the most toxic products in your house. Yikes!
If you do research on these chemicals you’ll find out that they are linked to things like respiratory problems, skin irritation, disrupting our hormones, and can even contribute to cancer. Detergent is bad for our health because it coats our “clean” clothes with these chemicals that touch our skin, thus entering our blood stream. The chemicals also pollute the air in our homes. Each time we inhale the “fragrance” in the air or on our clothes we are affected by these chemicals. (source) That “fresh air” scent on your clothes is anything but fresh.
Liquid detergent has become the norm to us since about the 1960’s. These detergents waste tons of plastic bottles for packaging, pollute the air as well as our waterways making it terrible for the environment on top of the health concerns. Detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, etc. are also expensive! Especially when you do multiple loads per week and have kids!
So what’s my solution for a cheap healthy alternative for cleaning laundry?! SOAP NUTS! I talked about soap nuts awhile back when I wrote 10 Natural Hair Washes. Soap nuts are an actual nut from a tree that grows in India. The shells of this nut contain natural “saponins” (like soap!) which release when they’re put in water and they actually clean things and foam up like real soap! But its all coming from a nut shell! I know this sounds completely and entirely absurd like I just made it up, but lemme tell you… soap nuts are LEGIT! I have been using them to wash my hair once a week for a few months now (I boil them in water and the water gets white foamy bubbles all in it- its so fascinating!) and I’ve also been using them for our laundry for about a month or two, too and wouldn’t go back! Here’s a few reasons I love soap nuts:
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will earn me a small commission but won’t cost any extra for you. 🙂 I only link to products I love and use myself!
- CHEAP! For $23.95 on Amazon, I bought 2 pounds of soap nut shells. (Buy them HERE!) That’s a LOT. I use about 5 shells in a little drawstring bag in my laundry and I use that bag of nuts 6 times before switching the nuts out. So lets just say the two pounds I bought will probably last me a year at least. (I use them for my hair too, as I said, which is another reason I bought this many!) 🙂
- All Natural– Does it get any more natural than water and some nuts? I mean there’s nothing unsafe about this at all unless you eat the nuts…you’re not supposed to eat them by the way. Other than that, it is perfectly safe and healthy to wash anything (including yourself and your hair!) with soap nuts.
- No Waste! Besides the thin plastic bag that the nuts come in, there’s absolutely no waste made by using these. The used nuts will decompose naturally.
Well that about covers it- SUPER simple!
To use soap nuts for laundry: Put 5 nuts in the bag, tie the drawstring so the nuts don’t escape, throw the bag in the wash! Reuse the nuts for 5-6 loads before replacing them with new ones.
You’re probably thinking, “Seriously? I’m supposed to believe that these nuts are gong to clean my clothes? You haven’t seen my husband’s filthy work clothes or my kids muddy play clothes…etc.”
I was skeptical of how well the soap nuts would work at first but after reading lots of rave reviews on Amazon I decided to try it.. I did have to convince Ryan though. He didn’t believe for a second that his gross work clothes would smell clean after washing them with the soap nuts so I told him we’d just try it- If either of us thought the clothes didn’t seem clean, then I would look into other options. So he agreed.
Flash forward to after using the soap nuts! I used them for several weeks and asked Ryan “Have you noticed any difference with the clothes?” He seemed confused so I asked him if they seem clean like normal…he said yeah. So I told him I had been using the soap nuts for the past couple weeks. 😉 So these are skeptical-husband-approved. At least in our house. Haha
If you have some type of stain that would normally need to be treated, you’ll still need to treat it before washing. I’ve found that scrubbing a stain with cold water and soap with a scrubby brush usually does great! Then pop it in the wash with the soap nuts.
Once you’ve washed your laundry with the soap nuts, hang them out on the line to dry, or throw them in the dryer with some wool dryer balls (Learn how to make them yourself HERE)! Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the dryer balls for a fresh natural scent if you wish and you’re done! Naturally clean and fresh clothes that costs you pennies. 🙂
Let me know what you think in the comments! Even if you think I’m nuts.
(Haaaaa…Pun intended.) 🙂