My last review from the expo is a non-edible product from the Olive Shoot Institute called soap nuts, which are a 100% natural, gluten and sulfate-free alternative to chemical laundry detergent and cleansers. I was so impressed with the idea after reading their literature that I ended up purchasing a 1/2 pound bag, and they did not disappoint!
Despite the name soap nuts, they are not actually nuts at all. They are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which is found mostly in the Himalayas. The saponin in the outer shells of the fruit is released when they come in contact with warm or hot water, enabling soap nuts to clean just as well as traditional detergents, complete with antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. The saponin is released when it comes in contact with warm or hot water. They require no manufacturing, are completely biodegradable, fragrance and dye free, and come from a sustainable resource.
The Olive Shoot Institute has a full line of products made from the soap nuts, including liquid laundry detergent, soap, shampoo and conditioner. You can use the soap nuts in your laundry, and they also come with instructions for making your own household cleaner, shampoo and hand wash.
So far all I’ve used them for is laundry. They come with a little muslin bag that you place about 5 soap nuts in, and they can be reused anywhere from 3 to 7 times according to the instructions – they are spent when they turn gray and lack a slippery feel. There is no need for fabric softener when using them.
I’ve done two loads with them and was very impressed with the results. All of our clothes came out clean and fresh, even my stinky workout gear! I love the idea of something small and reusable instead of buying those giant jugs of liquid detergent. They sell a 1/2 pound bag, which will handle 80+ loads, for $16.95, or a full pound for $22.95. If you compare load for load the cost is right on par and potentially even cheaper than regular commercial detergents, and you’re getting an organic product (bonus – it works in high efficiency machines too).
I am planning to make some cleaner out of it next, since my bottle of Seventh Generation is about finished, but in the meantime it’s definitely going in every load of laundry I do!