I have written about soap nuts as a potential variation on homemade laundry detergent earlier. The most typical question you get about these “nuts” is almost invariably: do they really work?
In short, yes they do. At least on moderately dirty laundry – which is what most modern people are washing most of the time anyway – the results are perfectly adequate.
But don’t take my word for it.
Nadiah from Playing Fair has done an extensive experiment on comparing fair trade soap nuts to regular detergent. Her conclusion is that:
“New Internationalist’s Soapnuts are at least half the price of normal laundry detergent, and they are natural, organic, biodegradeable, compostable, and WFTO recognised Fair Trade. Soapnuts also perform just as well as normal laundry detergent for most stains, and perform only slightly worse for bike chain grease. Consequently, the author recommends the use of soapnuts as an ethical and effective alternative to normal detergent for ordinary laundry washing.”
It should be perhaps be mentioned that the “ordinary” detergent she compares to is an eco friendly, fragrance free alternative so exactly how the nuts compare to some of the more mainstream detergents isn’t evaluated in this test.
But it is nonetheless a very good indication on what can be expected when using soap nuts on a daily basis.
If you want a second opinion (or is it third in this case?), Cityhippyfarmgirl has done a similar test. Answering the question whether soap nuts works like this:
Yep, they do. The clean just as well as any other laundry liquid I was using. There is no lingering soapy smell. There is a tiny and pleasant clean, fresh smell when I first get the washing out of the machine. You have to really stick your nose in the fibres to get it though and nothing residual once the clothing as dried. They also leave everything quite soft. No need for any fabric softners, (if you use it.)
If you want to find someone who has something negative to say about soap nuts I’m sure you’ll be able to find them. But it seems people in general are often quite happy with this eco friendly alternative.