Using soap nuts for washing clothes

Recently I started thinking about more ways we can save water, because there doesn’t seem to be any rain on the horizon. One way I came up with is to somehow cut out the rinse cycle in the washing clothes procedure. Thinking about it, I decided that the reason we rinse clothes after washing is to remove soap residue. Following that logic I decided that I needed to find a way to wash without adding laundry gel.

Several options popped up in my Google search;

Laundry eggs using ceramic beads

Soap nuts

Magnetic laundry balls

I decided to go with the soap nuts option, because that was the cheapest (and it is plant based, which I like and understand). I searched online and found a company that sells soap nuts and are based fairly close to me; Biome soap nuts

The soap nuts came in an attractive little calico bag and includes a tiny little calico bag for plonking into the washing machine.


I read the instructions carefully, popped five nuts into the little bag, threw it into the first load of washing and hoped. There was a very small amount of froth, maybe from the residue left in the clothes. The clothes came out of the spinner looking and smelling clean.


The soap nuts turned into mush in the bag after seven loads of laundry. So five nuts washed an entire week’s worth of clothes, towels and sheets. I am impressed by the economy of soap nuts.


I pegged them out and folded them when they were dry (all in the same day!!). The soap nuts do clean the clothes, I saved about 100 litres of precious water and I am satisfied that I now have another dry weather strategy for saving water. I wonder if I could use them to wash dirty fleece?


The tree responsible for the miracle that is soap nuts is Sapindus Mukorossis; the soap tree. It is an Asian subtropical tree so should be fairly easy to grow at the humpy. I haven’t had any luck finding seeds though. I will continue to search for seeds or a seedling tree to plant here, it would be amazing to be able to pick our laundry and washing up liquid from the garden.

6 thoughts on “Using soap nuts for washing clothes

  1. Cool, thats awesome and an amazing amount of swings on the water!!

    I use to use these all the time and then our local organic place stopped selling them and it was too expensive to have them shipped from anywhere else. But they’ve just started getting them in again so returning to the soap nuts soon 🙂

  2. There’s a Sapindus mukarossi tree at a botanical garden in my area that makes a nice crop of fruit every year. They’re a little smaller than the commercially sold soap nuts, but they work just as well. This tree has survived winter freezes down to -7C undamaged. Apparently it also grows into the equatorial tropics, so it’s a widely adapted tree. I love the fragrance the fruits have – they smell clean!

    • They should grow well here. I would love to get hold of one. A friend sent me a link to a supplier who sells Australian grown seedlings today so I will be saving to buy some.

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