What are Soapberries Or Soap Nuts? The Ultimate Guide To Soap Berries Australia
What Are Soapberries Or Soap Nuts?
If you are thinking Soapberries are just the latest buzz word in cleaning, you are wrong. These babies have been around for hundreds of years and have so many uses! I absolutely LOVE a product that is super versatile and 100% natural, so much so in fact, that I have collated absolutely everything there is to know about Soapberries in this one blog. I am pretty sure you will be surprised what a little berry can do! Not only that, they are one of the most natural and most cost efficient alternatives to mainstream laundry detergents. Plus they are a great Kitchen, Bathroom and Household Cleaner, not to forget a Stainless Steel Cleaner and Glass Cleaner, a Pre-Stain Remover, plus a Shampoo, Hand Wash, Shaving Cream and Baby Wash!
How are Soapberries made?
Soapberries are often called 'soapnuts', but they are not nuts at all. They are in fact a berry like fruit. Soap berries are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which grows in several different regions of the world, but are most prevalent in the Himalayas, which is where That Red House Soapberries are harvested by small local communities. The fruit is picked from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, the seed removed and the remaining outer shell is dried. This dried shell is full of a substance called 'Saponins' which is a natural soap. The berries are used for many different cleaning purposes, and are naturally antibacterial, anti fungal and hypoallergenic.
How do Soapberries work?
The dried Soapberry shell is full of a substance called 'Saponins' which is a natural soap. When agitated in water, the Saponins reduce the surface tension of water, releasing dirt and grime from fabrics and surfaces.
Are Soapberries ethnically sourced?
The harvesting of That Red House Soapberries plays an integral part in the economy for Himalayan communities. Growers and harvesters are well cared for, and set their own wages to ensure they are happy with their working conditions and salaries. The building is almost brand new, clean and comfortable for all staff, and is 100% off the grid and run entirely on solar power!
By purchasing That Red House Soapberries, you are giving health care to the women of Nepal through 'Open Heart International'(OHI), an Australian based charity, as That Red House donate a portion of money from the sale of every soapberry bag to OHI.
That Red House is a 100% Australian owned company, and their Soapberries are the only ones on the market that are 'Certified Organic' by the 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 growers, harvesters and packers.
Are Soap Nuts Sustainable?
Soap Nuts are 100% sustainable and their use ensures that deforestation is reduced in the Himalayas. No pesticides, fertilisers or chemical treatments have been used in the growing or storing process. This ensures that nothing but 100% natural organic products are used in your home. Traditional soaps and detergents contain a cocktail of chemicals, which reside in clothing fibres and can be absorbed into the skin. Soapberries are also:
- Raw, vegan and paleo
- 100% waste free
- Completely chemical free
- Grey water safe
- Septic safe
- Fully compostable.
- Certified organic
- Reduce pollution
- Not tested on animals.
Why are Soapberries not made in Australia?
The 'Sapindus Mukorossi tree', commonly known as the soapberry tree, is not a permitted species in Australia and therefore we are required to import them from the Himalayas. That Red House Soapberries are shipped to Australia by sea to ensure a low carbon footprint. They take much longer to arrive than if they are shipped by air, but it is the best way for the environment. The products are then inspected by quarantine officials on arrival and approved for entry.
How long do Soapberries last?
Unused Soapberries will last indefinitely as long as they are kept free from moisture, however it is recommend to use 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.
Used Soapberries will last approx 5 wash loads, depending on water temperature and wash cycle. A wash load is 5 whole shells (or equivalent) so the 250 gram bag will do 90+ wash loads, and the 500 gram bag will do 180+ wash loads.
New vs Old Soapberries
What can you use Soapberries for?
- Soapberries are a fragrance free natural alternative to traditional laundry detergent and fabric softener. Soapberries eliminate the need for fabric softeners as they leave clothes feeling soft and fresh. They're naturally hypo-allergenic - Perfect for babies and those with allergies or sensitive skin. Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
- Pre-Stain Remover
- Household Cleaner
- Kitchen Cleaner
- Bathroom Cleaner
- Household Cleaner
- Stainless Steel Cleaner
- Glass Cleaner
- Body Wash
- Hand Wash
- Shaving Cream
- Baby Wash
Are Soapberries expensive?
Soapberries cost around 10c per wash load (for a 1kg bag). Approximately 1/3 of the cost of chemical detergent.
How do you use Soapberries?
Soapberries are most commonly used as laundry detergent, and the process could not be easier!
- Simply add the equivalent of 5 whole shells to the small wash bag provided, and throw in the wash with your clothes!
- Handy hint - The saponins are released from the berries more effectively in hot water. For a faster release, use a warm wash setting, or soak your small bag of soapberries in hot water for 5 minutes, before throwing them in the washing machine to do their job!
All-natural, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and re-use those same shells again in four more loads! Soapberries perform well in cold water but if you have a particularly dirty load, turn up the temperature on your machine to draw more soap out of the berries.
Soapberry liquid provides the base for all the recipes.
- Add approx 10 whole shells (or equivalent) per litre of water and boil for 15-20 minutes.
- Use the back of a large spoon to gently press the soft berries to squeeze out extra saponins. Be sure not to break them...
- Strain the cooled liquid through a cloth (the small cotton bag provided is perfect, or an old sock/stocking is fine too) so the sediment does not clog up your spray bottle.
- To extend the life of your liquid in all its different applications, we recommend adding citric acid to the hot liquid after boiling and straining the soapberries. Add 1 tsp citric acid per 500ml liquid and stir until dissolved. Because the soapberries are a natural product, the liquid will need to be preserved, or it will spoil over time. Citric acid is a natural preservative which is edible and available at all supermarkets in the baking section. We recommend making enough to liquid to last you no more than 4 weeks. But hey... making all of your own organic cleaning products once a month is dead easy, and better for you and the environment. Just think of all the chemicals you will be eliminating from your life! Brilliant!
- (Hint: storing your Soapberry liquid in the fridge will significantly increase its lifespan!)
Soapberries are naturally anti-bacterial and anti fungal, so are perfect for treating mould in bathroom areas, and for general cleaning around the kitchen and home.
- Make sure the Soapberry liquid is strained of sediment, and add to a spray bottle.
- Add your choice of Laundry Tonic to the liquid to give a fresh smell and boost the anti-bacterial properties of the cleaner. We recommend 'Clean Linen' to give the fresh scent of squeaky clean!
Soapberry shampoo/hand wash/body wash
Soapberries are perfect for babies, and those with sensitive skin or allergies. This shampoo is gentle and extremely effective!
- After straining your boiled soapberry liquid, add guar gum to thicken.
- Add 2-4 tsp of guar gum per 500ml. The viscosity of the liquid is a personal choice, so experiment with what works best. We add 2 tsp per 500ml to reach a viscosity similar to that of conventional shampoo.
- If you do not have guar gum, you can supplement with cornflour or agar agar. Both are available from health food stores.
- If you have a hand-held blender, mix the guar gum through the liquid to remove all the lumps and incorporate properly.
- 'Citrus Fresh' Laundry tonic makes for a great fresh smelling scent. Add your desired amount to the thickened mixture.
- The mixture will be frothy and full of tiny bubbles to begin with, but when left to stand, the bubbles will disappear.
- Be sure not to get the mixture in your eyes when using.
Soapberry shaving cream & moisturising baby wash
Soapberry shaving cream is fresh and moisturising, and can also be used as a moisture rich wash for babies.
- Use your thickened soapberry liquid, and drizzle olive oil (or any other safe moisturising oil) into it. 1 tbs of oil per 100ml of the thickened shampoo liquid.
- Add drops of Laundry Tonic prior to blending. 'Clean Linen' is perfect for moisturising calming baby wash as it contains lavender. 'Earth Spice' is good for shaving cream as it is soothing, antibacterial and contains Cloves and Tea Tree.
- Using a blender to mix the oil and liquid together to form an emulsified cream.
- The cream will be soft and suitable for shaving, and will be a perfect moisturising baby wash for delicate newborn skin.
Soapberry Pre-wash stain remover
Often stains need an extra bit of attention to remove. These stain remover recipes are perfect for taking care of the dirt and grime that is especially evident with young children's clothes! Soapberries are fantastic, but as with any other conventional detergent, stains need to be treated.
- Soapberries will work as a pre-wash stain remover in two different forms depending on the type of stain:
- 1 - use your liquid in the spray bottle, and spray directly onto the stains. Give them a rub, and throw them in the wash.
- 2 - For more stubborn stains, use a thickened soapberry mixture with eucalyptus oil added. Apply directly to the stain and gently rub until stain is released from the fabric, then add to your wash as per usual.
Stainless steel & glass cleaner
Soapberries are the most amazing glass and stainless steel cleaner. Simple, yet totally and utterly effective and 100% chemical free!
- Simply mix 2/3 soapberry liquid with 1/3 vinegar and a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle.
Buy Soapberries from Neatspiration here.