I have a confession. I have not always cared about “green cleaning”. I grew up thinking bleach was the end- all and never gave a second thought to how chemicals in the home could affect your health and well being. This is until I had a home—and children—of my own.
When my son was born, it became evident very quickly that his skin was extremely sensitive. We tried every laundry detergent we could think of, especially those marked suitable for baby’s sensitive skin; nothing worked. I began researching various “natural” detergents, and was disappointed to find that many differed very little from the typical brands. With resolve, I began making my own laundry detergent, but was less than thrilled with the time and effort it took, and the poor quality results.
Then, I discovered Soapnuts. Soap nuts, or soapberries, are literally the fruit from the Sapindus trees. These berries contain saponins, which is a natural soap that has been used for thousands of years for everything from washing hair to washing clothes. The berries are harvested and either dried for later use, or cooked to render the saponins in a concentrated form. I first heard about them through a green living blog I had begun to read, and honestly thought there was no way these little berries could clean my clothes. The more I read, however, the more intrigued I was. I ordered a sample.
I must say I forced myself to remain skeptical throughout my “trial period”. It was hard. These little guys not only did the job, they did it well. My clothes had literally never been as clean. What stuck out the most was the change in my towels and my husband’s undershirts. I had a love/hate relationship with my towels prior to using Soapnuts. No matter how much detergent I used, how many dryer sheets, my towels always came out of the wash smelling musty. I just could not get rid of it. That all changed when I began using Soapnuts; the difference was substantial. My towels actually smell clean! The other big change was in my husband’s undershirts. These white t-shirts developed yellow stains in the underarms from his deodorant, and even after being washed, the fragrance of his deodorant would still be there. Again, Soapnuts performed above and beyond; the stains began to diminish and the smell was gone; his t-shirts smelled clean. I have used both the dried berries as well as the concentrated, and while I prefer the concentrated, the effectiveness of both cannot be understated.
More importantly, this is the one laundry detergent I’ve used that does not aggravate my son’s skin. Not only my son’s, but mine as well. To find a laundry detergent this gentle, yet this effective is worth it’s weight in gold.
Andrea Sutton is a stay-at-home wife and mother who blogs about the joy she finds in those areas, at Loving the Ordinary.