This week marks the 1st anniversary of when I embarked on the next phase of my natural health journey, reducing the amount of synthetic chemicals I used around the house and in personal care products. My rationale behind this decision lay in the thinking that if I could reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals that my body was exposed to then it wouldn’t have to work so hard. Therefore I would hopefully be providing a cleaner environment so my body could heal faster.
The catalyst for making these changes came about after I stumbled across this video . Prior to this I had never given much thought as to how things were be absorbed through the skin. The garlic experiment in this clip was an eye opener as to how fast something could enter your bloodstream via your skin. Although I realise that many molecules are far too big to penetrate the skin I felt that applying synthetic chemically laden products such as body lotions, fake tans and cosmetics etc on a daily basis probably wasn’t doing my skin any favours. With that in mind I started off by switching to more natural alternatives for my beauty and personal care products including going ‘no poo’
It was a little while after this overhaul that I included household cleaners and laundry products in my cull and switched to more natural alternatives.
Researching his subject I learnt that the synthetic chemicals in laundry products and household cleaning products in general are known irritants , endocrine disruptors that mimic oestrogen. Some studies have even linked some of these chemicals to health issues such as cancer, developmental and respiratory issues. There are many articles listing the chemicals found in this every day cleaning product. Knowing that the chemicals in these product are also environmental pollutants of waterways and subsequently harmful to aquatic life was another great reason to go natural.
Prior to gaining this knowledge, I like the majority of people was happily washing my clothes with the usual stain busting big brand detergents following up with a fabric softener that promised to bring spring freshness to laundry for an ever increasing amount of days. Both as a child and as an adult I found as the brand name states ‘comfort’ in these freshly washed aromas. In hindsight I now realise that all I was doing was copping synthetic chemicals I could do without. These days after a year of using more natural methods I find the smell of these products overwhelming and I can’t quite see why I used to love them so much.
When I announced that I going to be turning to soapnuts for my new laundry cleaning method I think that my friends thought I’d gone completely nuts. By this stage they we’re fairly used to my radical, sometimes less than conventional approach to improving my health but I think this was possibly a step too far for most. One friend commented that I would be filtering my own wee through the gusset of my tights. I didnt have the heart to say if it improved my health I’d give it a go!
It took about 4 months before I became convinced that these little gems from nature were actually able to meet the standards of my traditional detergent. For the those first few months every time I opened the washing machine door I was sceptical of the results, expecting stubborn stains to remain and every time I was proved wrong. These wizened nut shells gave my big brand detergent a run for its money and even proved man enough for my youngest son’s grass stained rugby kit.
What are soapnuts?
Soapnuts are actually soap berries, a dried shell from the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree and are totally organic and natural. When the fruits ripen they drop from the tree and are collected, cleaned and dried by the sun and the seeds saved for replanting. They are pretty ugly little fellas- all wrinkly and dark brown but their shells are coated in saponin, a natural soap which, as I have discovered is more than capable of cleaning all your laundry .
How do you use them?
I live in a hard water area so I use 4-5 soapnuts. I simply pop them in a sock, tie a knot and bung them in the machine. As the nuts do not contain any enzymes or whiteners to break down stains I often add a tablespoon of soda crystals or borax in the washing machine drawer with a few drops of essential oils for fragrance. This combination has never failed to remove any stain. Soapnuts can also be placed in water to soak and create a household cleaning liquid.When your soapnuts have finished they are biodegradable and can be used a compost in the garden.
How many washes?
I get roughly 4 washes out of each ‘sock’ of nuts. This is in a hard water area and washing at 40 degrees. soapnuts leave your clothes soft so there is no need to add any fabric softeners. When dry, clothes come out smelling, well smelling of nothing, just a lovely clean smell, a bit like line fresh washing. I often add essential oils for a delicate fragrance. Soapnuts also work out to be very economical . I buy a 500g pack that gives me approx 240 for £7.99 making it cheaper than traditional powders and liquids.
Reasons to use soapnuts.
- Kind to the environment
- Suitable for people suffering from eczema or psoriasis