Soapnuts {Laundry Detergent Update}

I told you before about a making homemade laundry detergent that worked. My only complaint was the space involved in storing the detergent. Part of my motivation in making the detergent was to save money, but I wanted simplicity too.

I like the benefits of homemade items and saving money with coupons, as long as doing so helps me enjoy the rest of my life even more.

So as I used my {very effective} homemade detergent, I started reading more about soapnuts. The biggest appeal to me was how little space was needed for the storage of these little dried berries. When I found a package deal on Open Sky, I ordered a starter kit.

The soapnuts are the little dried berry husks you see above. You just put 3-5 of them in the little muslin bag with your clothes in the washer. You can use that same bag for several loads. You can even add essential oils to give the laundry a fragrance of your choosing. They are sold by weight, and the 100g bag you see above lasted me 2-3 months.  They naturally soften clothes, but you can always add a little vinegar to you machine to help for items like towels. I like to add a little oxygen cleaner to brighten the whites at least every couple of months as well. After soapnuts have been used several times in the muslin bag, you are left with a pile of dried and broken shells that can be added to a compost pile.

Or you can use them to make a liquid cleanser!

The problem I encountered when researching this method of using soapnuts, was that the recipes all indicated that the resulting liquid could go bag if not stored properly. One of my readers commented that she overcame this by freezing the cleaner into ice cube trays, adding 1-2 cubes per load. Since my freezer is on the opposite side {and floor} of the house, I knew that was not going to work for us.

Then I found this recipe which preserved the liquid with a canner.

Since I canned several foods last summer, this truly was simple for me. I was able to stretch the use of both my canning supplies and the soapnuts. Not only does this stretch my original expenses across more loads of laundry, but it is simply being a better steward of the resources we have.

The liquid cleaner made from soapnuts can be used for laundry detergent or general household cleaner.

Start by bringing water to boil in the water bath canner and a large pot. The second pot of water will be used to fill the jars.

Place about 1/2 cup of used soapnut pieces into each jar

When water is boiling in both pots, add enough boiling water to the jars so they are filled, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims and add lid and ring, as you would for regular canning.

Process for 30 minutes in water bath canner then remove to cool until you hear that wonderful POP of your lids sealing. Before using the liquid, make sure to filter out the soapnut pieces and discard.

According to Laundry Tree, “Soapnuts are a totally natural dried FRUIT with natural cleaning properties. You can use them to clean your laundry! Yep, it sounds crazy — but it’s TRUE! Soapnuts aren’t actually a nut at all, they are simply the fruit of a tree (Sapindus Mukorossi), found primarily in the Himilayas. And they are an EXCELLENT alternative to traditional laundry detergents and cleaners.”

While I waited for the water to boil, I got out the rest of the supplies and reloaded my dishwasher. While the jars processed in the canner, I worked on other household tasks. My actual time at the stove to make and clean up from this was not more than 15 minutes. The jars fit easily in the drawer under the washer, taking up 1/3 the space the previous homemade liquid used.

How do you stretch your dollars at home?