What Are Soap Nuts and How Do You Use Them?

Mother Earth just never runs out of things to surprise me!

what are soap nuts

Our new favorite ingredient is SOAP NUTS! These are fruits of Sapindus Mukorossi (Soapberry) tree that are native to the Himalayas. Although these berries are new to us, soap nuts go way back in history — especially in India where the tree is abundant. Indian households widely use these in their laundry. So, what really are soap nuts and how do they work?

What Are Soap Nuts?

what are soap nuts

Contrary to its name, these are actually berries! These dried shells – or husks – of soapberries contain a natural cleaning agent that works like a detergent called Saponin. Saponin works as a surfactant. Surfactants are a common ingredient even in commercial detergents. But unlike chemical surfactants, these are 100% natural and biodegradable making them an amazing alternative to store-bought detergents.

Surfactants, or surface-active agents, lower the water’s surface tension making the particles slipperier and helping remove dirt from your clothes.

What are Soap Nuts’ Advantages Over Commercial Detergents?

what are soap nuts

All-Natural, All-Organic

One notable characteristic of soapberry trees is that they grow even in hard conditions and don’t need fertile soil or any kind of chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides to grow. Meaning they are grown organically!

Since they are harvested fresh from the trees and are dried directly from the sun, they do not undergo any chemical process and are guaranteed to be 100% natural.

With these being all-natural and all-organic, it makes a great substitute for various chemical-filled cleaning products (not only detergents).

Mild and Gentle

Soap nuts are very mild and gentle on the clothes and on your skin, making them perfect for those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies, psoriasis, and even babies.

Soap nuts are nut allergy-safe since they are only berries after all! Soap nuts have been successfully used by people that are allergic to nuts. However, it is still best to take proper precautions and do a patch test especially if you are prone to allergies, have sensitive skin, or have a compromised immune system.

Because soap nuts are low sudsing, they can be used with high efficiency (HE) washing machines.


Production and processing of these nuts are all done organically which means it does affect the environment in any negative way. In fact, it even protects areas in which they are planted from the risk of erosion. Also, using these in household cleaning is deemed to be environment-friendly.

With the “suds equal clean” false advertising, commercial detergents use artificial foaming agents that are not good for the septic and greywater systems. Soap nuts, on the other hand, do not produce lots of foam yet are just as effective in cleaning.

Clean Smell

I love how my clothes smell after using soap nuts. They’re not covered in an artificial fragrance that makes my brain feel foggy. They smell sharp, fresh, and clean.

How to Use Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are so easy to use! For Simply Earth Soap Nuts, you can place the bag right inside your washing machine (just remove the label).

With this method, be sure you use a hot water cycle. This will allow the soap agents in the berries to be extracted to clean your laundry.

You can use 1 bag of berries for about four wash cycles, or until you notice that their color has faded. When their color has faded, that means the saponin has been removed from the berries.

Don’t want to use hot water for your load of laundry? No problem, check out our Liquid Soap Nut Laundry recipe below!

With this recipe, you can wash your laundry at any temperature. You also don’t have to fish the bag of berries out of your clothing before loading them into the dryer or keep track of how many loads of laundry you’ve done with them.

Wanna know more? Check out this Free Laundry Essential Oil Workshop just for you!

Liquid Soap Nut Laundry Recipe

Soap Nut Liquid Laundry Detergent


  • 1 oz (~8 ct) soap nuts

  • 2 cups water

  • ½ cup vinegar

  • 20 drops essential oils


  • Combine soap nuts and water in a pan. Bring them to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Allow the soap nuts to simmer for 1 hour or until the soap nuts turn a light color.
  • After the soap nuts have finished simmering, turn off the heat and allow them to cool. Strain out the soap nuts and discard the soap nuts. 
  • Stir in vinegar and essential oils with the soap nut-soaked water. 
  • To use, store in a sealable container. Add 2-4 Tbsp per load of laundry.


  • This recipe uses water and no preservatives. It’s shelf life is approximate. To preserve this recipe, add 120 drops (a little less than 1 ¼ tsp) of Geogard ECT Preservative to the finished recipe and shake well to mix.
  • Tip: Have you tried using our natural solubilizer? This product allows your essential oils to be distributed throughout the mixture. To use our Natural Solubilizer, add ½  tsp of Natural Solubilizer with the essential oils and mix thoroughly. While stirring, slowly add the water and vinegar mixture from step 2 to the oils.

Check out this Soap Nut Liquid Laundry Soap recipe!

Say Hello to Chemical-Free Laundry!

So many options for this fun take on a laundry recipe! Let us know how the soap nuts work for you, we’d love to hear about it on social media with @fromsimplyearth and in the comments below!

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