What are Soapberries?
Soapberries, are the husks (pericarp) of the fruit of the tree called Jaboncillo (“little soap”) in Central America. The active ingredients in soapberries are saponin and ASOGS, which are natural, fully bio-degradable hypoallergenic, low-sudsing cleaners. Saponin’s and ASOGS works as a surfactants, separating dirt from your clothes in the same way as other soaps.
Using soap berries as a laundry soap frequently helps those with sensitive skin or chemical soap related allergies. They are great for baby clothes, including cloth diapers.
Soapberries are not just for laundry, but can be used for a wide variety of cleaning needs from skin care, to household cleaning and beyond.
Is this for real?
It is fair to assume that a person who has never tried soapberries will be a bit skeptical. There must be a downside, right? Are you serious? Some people are going to decide that soap berries aren’t their “cup of soap”, so to speak and that is fine. The idea of washing your clothes with seed pods takes some getting used to.
There are some legitimate questions that you might have about soapberries. These are good questions that are worth answering.
What about soap allergies?
Soapberries are hypoallergenic and are very popular with people who have problems with most soaps. Soapberries have no chemicals that provoke allergies and don’t tend to leave a residue that might be a problem. We have never heard of anyone who has had a problem using soapberries. But, to be on the safe side, if a person is very allergic to a lot of things, then the same precautions used before trying any new product are a good idea. In our experience people who have allergies have found relief by using soapberries.
Do they spoil?
Soapberries are a natural product, with no preservatives. They will keep for a long time as long as they are kept dry. I We have seen a viable shelf life of at least 5 years. But, it is important to keep them dry before using them and allow the pouch to dry out between wash days. If you let them sit in moisture, they will eventually get moldy. If you make the liquid cleaner from the berries, it will get rancid after a few days. It will keep a bit longer in the frig. If you want to keep the liquid for any length of time, the best idea is to freeze it. You can do a load of laundry with an ice cube or two of soapberry liquid.
What about the smell?
A soapberry can smell a little vinegary. Some seem to have a bit more odor than others. Some don`t seem to have any particular odor at all. The important thing is that they don`t leave any odor on your clothes. Your clothes will just smell clean. For some people that is a problem, because they like their clothes to have a bit of fragrance. Some people like adding fragrance so that their cloths smell like something. You can add scent if you want. Some people add just a bit of fabric softener to the rinse cycle and that seems to do the job. You don’t need to add fabric softener because the soapberries act like a natural softener in the rinse cycle, but if you want a fragrance, that is a simple solution.
How many do I use?
The biggest problem we often we have had with soapberries is deciding how many to use and how long to use them. Most sources suggest 5 pods will do 5 loads. That is a good place to start, but the truth is that it depends on several factors; how hard your water is, if you use hot or cold water and the quality of the berries. Washing with soapberries is not an exact science. A little experimentation will help you know how many to use and when they no longer are releasing those wonderful little saponins and ASOGs that wash your clothes.
Can I use less water?
If you want to use less water in a regular washer you might wonder how well soapberries will work. Soapberries in the little pouch need three things to work well, agitation and good water flow. It is important to not overload the washer. You don`t need an exaggerated amount of water, but if the clothes are packed too closely together, the berries can`t do their job. If conserving water is very important to you, then you might find it interesting that the low-sudsing quality of soapberries means they do not leave a residue and some people don`t find they even need to use the rinse cycle.
What if I have an HE washer?
If you have a high efficiency washing machine you might wonder if soapberris will work for you. Soapberries in a pouch work great in HE washers. Some people recommend cooking up some liquid from the berries for better results when using front loading washers.
I keep losing the little pouch!
We have figured out how to grind soapberries into a very economical powder. The powder works just like the powdered detergents you may be used to, except that you only need one teaspoon for a regular load of laundry. If you don’t want to hunt for your little pouch you can buy the powder, which also has a number of other uses. However, if you like using the whole berries this seems to be the worst problem that people have. They like how they work but it is frustrating to always be looking for that little bag. It will sometimes go through the dryer before it is found. The best solution that I have found is just to have two little pouches. If you lose track of one, then just use the other. The first one will show up when you pull the clothes out of the dryer, if not before. I don’t have a dryer, so if I lose a little pouch, it shows up when I am hanging out the clothes. Sometimes it is hard to remember how many times you have used the berries. Since it isn’t an exact science, a bit of guess work is just fine. They will look a bit grey when they are ready for composting. My bottom line answer is that if the biggest problem that you face in the day is finding your soapberry pouch, you have an awful lot to be thankful for.
Soapberry products are non- toxic, but they are strong natural surfactants. They are not for dietary consumption and should be kept away from the eyes. Soapberry products are in general good for the skin, however if skin irritation develops discontinue use. Soapberries are a completely natural agricultural product. They are not evaluated by the FDA, and no statement is intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease, nor replace responsible and competent medical care. All organic products have potential to cause unexpected or unintended consequences and should be used responsibly and with due caution.
Sapindus Saponaria is related to the Sapindus Mucorosi, but is a distinct species. These have all been called soapberries, or soap nuts, or natural soap. They contain non-ionic surfactants, which are natural cleansers,and function very well as hypoallergenic laundry detergents, Eco-friendly cleaners, and entirely natural soaps. They are environmentally friendly detergents and environmentally friendly soaps. Completely biodegradable, they are non-contaminating. They contribute to re-forestation and clean water, soil conservation, and sustainable economic development