Category Archives: Cleaning

Soap Nuts: A fruit that cleans your laundry and more

Soap Nuts are a FRUIT that will get your laundry clean. It’s TRUE! Soap Nuts are the fruit of a tree (Sapindus Mukorossi), found primarily in the Himalayas, and they are an EXCELLENT alternative to traditional laundry detergents. There are two main varieties: sapindus trifoliatus (The Small Soap Nut) and sapindus mukorossi (The Large Soap Nut). The Large Soap Berry is the most commonly used in cleaning, but both varieties are quite effective. How are soap nuts prepared for use in your wash? They are simply harvested then dried in the sun. They are 100%, totally natural. They are organically grown and are free of harsh chemicals, so they are incredibly gentle on clothes AND skin.They are especially great for those with sensitive skin—including babies and those that suffer from allergies, eczema, and psoriasis! They’re totally biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment than regular detergent,and they’re antimicrobial, so they’re even good for septic and gray water systems! Soapy substances called saponins are found in the outer shells of soap nuts. These saponins have the effect of soap when mixed with water. Each fruit of the soap nut tree contains one, two or three seeds and the fruit itself has a leathery texture and a yellowish or blackish color. They are used frequently, both medicinally and as detergents. If you hear any expert talking about renewable detergents, then it is soap nuts that they are referring to. These tiny fruits that grow on soap nut trees are actually very useful for many purposes.

The End Product Still Goes Down the Drain. Does That Hurt the Environment?

No. Soap nuts are antimicrobial. This means that they actually help in breaking down the gray water in your septic system. Also, you do not have to do a rinse cycle when you use them. This can save gallons of water every wash cycle. Don’t worry, though; if you forget to stop your machine before the rinse cycle they are just as effective. The amount of saponins left in the rinse cycle will just leave your clothes feeling soft. They are 100% environmentally safe.

Will They Clean Difficult Items?

Yes and No. They are one of the best soaps get rid of bad odors. Musty towels and wash cloths, even cloth diapers, come out smelling fresh and new. Stubborn stains, though, such as blood & red wine, require a stain remover to help the cleaning process. You can also use ½ cup lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to help brighten your white clothes.

What About Allergies to Soap?

Most allergic reactions to soap are due to added chemicals and fragrance. Soap Nuts grow on trees and are chemical free. This may help those with eczema and other skin problems because there are no chemical additives. Soap Nuts are 100% non-allergenic.

How do I use Soap Nuts in my Laundry?

For Natural Laundry Soap, you can use them in one of two ways:

  1. Toss 3 or 5 Nuts in a small muslin bag (provided with most orders) and throw it in with your laundry. (Make sure that you take them out before putting your clothes in the dryer). The nuts will do 4 or 5 loads, (use until they feel squishy).
  2. Heat 12–15 whole Soap Nuts in 1 gallon of water for 3 hours. Use a lid to cover pot. You do not want this to boil; bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to a low flame. Turn off heat; then let sit in the covered pot until cooled. Strain out the soap nuts. The liquid you have is now a concentrated, chemical free soap. The leftover shells can be placed in your compost. Use ¼ cup of this soap with each load of laundry. High efficiency washers will need less. This allows you to do approximately 30 loads of laundry. Also works great as a pre-treatment for stains.

Soap nuts are perfect for HE (high efficiency) and front load washers as they do not create many suds! Just remember to put whole soap nuts,in a cloth bag, in the drum of the machine. Soap nuts liquid can go in the detergent drawer.

Preserving your Soap nuts liquid.

FREEZING:

You can freeze the liquid in ice cube trays. Depending on the size of each cube, use 2 or 3 per load of laundry. If each cube holds about 1 Tbsp. Use 2 cubes.

PRESERVING:

Use clean quart jars. Place the equivalent of 7–10 soap nuts in each jar. (it’s better to use smaller soap nut pieces). Fill with boiling water but leave a ½ in. space at the top. Place the lid on securely. Then process (see below).

WATER BATH:

Place the jars in the boiling water. Make sure to cover the jars completely. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 30 minutes. Remove jar from boiling water and let cool.

PRESSURE COOKER:

Place the jars in the canner, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions for 15 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure.

Can Soap Nuts be used for More Than Just Laundry?

Yes. They can be used, in the liquid form, for cleaning just about anything.

DISHWASHER:

Fill the soap dispenser with the liquid. Make sure to scrape the dishes clean first. Add vinegar to the rinse dispenser and your dishes will sparkle.

ALL PURPOSE CLEANER:

Keep the liquid in a spray bottle and use to clean the bathroom, kitchen, floors etc. Add a few drops of essential oil to make different scents.

STEAM CLEANING SPOT TREATMENT:

Add 3 Tbsp.To 1 gallon hot water and use in a portable steam cleaner. Great for getting out urine smells and stains.

WINDOW & GLASS CLEANER:

Fill a spray bottle with 1 Tbsp. Vinegar and 1 Tbsp. Soap nuts liquid fill with water. Polish with a dry cloth or newspaper.

CLEANING JEWELRY:

Soak your jewelry in the liquid for a few minutes. Use a old soft toothbrush to gently remove debris. Rinse with clean water and polish with a dry cloth.

HAND WASHING SILKS and DELICATES:

Add 1 or 2 tsp. Soap nuts liquid or powder to warm water. Gently wash your delicates. Rinse with warm water and hang or lay flat to dry.

MOSQUITO REPELLENT:

Spray liquid on your hands and rub onto bare arms, legs or face. Safe and gentle to use for babies and children.

LIQUID HAND SOAP:

Fill a regular or foaming pump bottle with the liquid and use to wash your hands. It will not create tons of lather, but will clean hands well. Add a few drops essential oils to make a germ-killing soap.

SHAMPOO:

Use the liquid instead of your regular shampoo. Leave it on your scalp for 5–10 minutes, rinse as normal. Will not lather much, but cleans well.

FOR PETS:

Use the liquid to wash your pet’s fur. Will leave the fur soft and manageable. Also can be sprayed directly on pet to help repel mosquitoes.Soap nuts make an excellent natural laundry soap. Unlike the harsh detergents that are sold commercially by many manufacturers, these natural soaps are effective, as well as gentle. They do not contain bleaching agents. You can use them safely with white or colored clothes. Laundry done with them is chemical free. The laundry also comes out odorless. Can you believe that a product that grows on soap nut trees can actually be used to get your clothes clean? Fine wool,linen, silks, cotton, they work well on all. The next time you have a tubful of dirty clothes, just grab a bag of soap nuts. You will have freshly washed clothes free of harmful chemicals.

For medicinal purposes:

They are also used to relieve conditions like eczema and psoriasis. They do not contain any chemicals that irritate the skin. Soap nuts are frequently used by people with extremely sensitive skin. They have a unique anti-microbial property that helps kill germs and reduce skin problems. What’s more, soap nuts are also used as cleansers and in homemade shampoo to remove lice and for hair loss.

Soap Nuts are available in our store here.

Wash dishes the earth friendly, economical way

Use our bar soap! (Plain Jane or 100% Olive Oil work well) and brush or sponge…

Lightly rub wet brush on soap. Put water in largest dirty container or dishpan. You want hot water; but don’t waste water running it too hot. People used to keep water on the stove for the first burst of hot water. Clean container. If it has lots of icky stuff, drain that water and put in some more hot water. If using a dishpan… Using the brush/soap method clean all dishes. Put aside, you will rinse them at the same time to avoid wasting water.

The economical earth-friendly way of rinsing is a dishpan of clean hot water. Swish dishes in rinse water set aside to dry.

Clean dishes while not wasting gallons of water….What can be easier. Keep the bar of soap in a bowl or other container. Any soap that melts then is saved and can be used.

You can also use this method with our Dish Soap, but it does have a little decylpolyglucoside (oldest, safest) surfactant. I prefer the bar soap method.

Shampoo Chemistry

How Surfactants Are Made

This is for everyone who would like to know how those “other” soaps are made!
Some of this information is from The American Cleaning Institute web site.

SURFACTANTS IN DETERGENTS

A detergent is an effective cleaning product because it contains one or more surfactants. Because of their chemical makeup, the surfactants used in detergents can be engineered to perform well under a variety of conditions. Such surfactants are less sensitive than soap to the hardness minerals in water and most will not form a film. Detergent surfactants were developed in response to a shortage of animal and vegetable fats and oils during World War I and World War II. In addition, a substance that was resistant to hard water was needed to make cleaning more effective. At that time, petroleum was found to be a plentiful source for the manufacture of these surfactants. Today, detergent surfactants are made from a variety of petrochemicals (derived from petroleum) and/or oleochemicals (derived from fats and oils).

Petrochemicals and Oleochemicals

Like the fatty acids used in soapmaking, both petroleum and fats and oils contain hydrocarbon chains that are repelled by water but attracted to oil and grease in soils. These hydrocarbon chain sources are used to make the water-hating end of the surfactant molecule.

Other Chemicals

Chemicals, such as sulfur trioxide, sulfuric acid and ethylene oxide, are used to produce the water-loving end of the surfactant molecule.

Alkalis

As in soapmaking, an alkali is used to make detergent surfactants. Sodium and potassium hydroxide are the most common alkalis.

How Detergent Surfactants Are Made

Anionic Surfactants

The chemical reacts with hydrocarbons derived from petroleum or fats and oils to produce new acids similar to fatty acids. A second reaction adds an alkali to the new acids to produce one type of anionic surfactant molecule.

Nonionic Surfactants

(this includes those made with glucose and coconut oil)

Nonionic surfactant molecules are produced by first converting the hydrocarbon to an alcohol and then reacting the fatty alcohol with ethylene oxide (ethoxylated). These nonionic surfactants can be reacted further with sulfur-containing acids to form another type of anionic surfactant.

—– Ethoxylated—–

Surfactants that have been “Ethoxylated” have been chemically combined with the compound “ethylene oxide”. When you see the word ‘laureth’, it means it is ethoxylated. Tear-free shampoos are all ethoxylated.

These ethoxylated surfactants are used in baby shampoos. They are considered slightly milder because the molecules are larger. The more ethylene oxide you add, the larger the molecule becomes. The idea is to make the molecule large enough so that it won’t irritate the skin or eyes, but this effect is negligible in most cases. The more ethoxylation, the greater the risk of exposure to harmful carcinogens, nitrosamines, and/or 1,4 dioxane.
In the process of ethoxylation, a by-product called 1,4 dioxane can be released. 1,4 dioxane is a known carcinogen that reacts with other ingredients in shampoos to form dangerous nitrates. These nitrates are capable of permeating through intact skin each time you shampoo.
Dr. John Baily, of the FDA reported many shampoos, bubble baths, creams and lotions contain “excessively high” levels of 1,4 dioxane. Relying on the National Cancer Institute clinical tests showing that 1,4 dioxane causes liver damage in animals, Dr. Baily went on to say that the higher degree of ethoxylation, the more likely of the occurrence of 1,4 dioxane. Dr. Baily expressed concern that the levels of 1,4 dioxane has “not significantly dropped” in the 10 years since this information was first released.
Products for children and babies usually use highly ethoxylated ingredients. Unfortunately, parents permit their babies to sit for long periods of time in bubble baths, or use “no tear” baby shampoos – possibly exposing their children to these dangerous elements. We advise that you keep young children away from harsh and highly ethoxylated surfactants.
—————

HOW SOAPS AND DETERGENTS WORK

These types of energy interact and should be in proper balance. Let’s look at how they work together.

Let’s assume we have oily, greasy soil on clothing. Water alone will not remove this soil. One important reason is that oil and grease present in soil repel the water molecules.

Now let’s add soap or detergent. The surfactant’s water-hating end is repelled by water but attracted to the oil in the soil. At the same time, the water-loving end is attracted to the water molecules.

These opposing forces loosen the soil and suspend it in the water. Warm or hot water helps dissolve grease and oil in soil. Washing machine agitation or hand rubbing helps pull the soil free.

Green Cleaning

Best cleaning products already in your house. For those of you who would like to make their own.

These common household food products for cleaning are inexpensive, readily available, safe and work as well or better than many off-the-shelf cleaners. They are: baking soda, vinegar, salt, food-grade citric acid, juice from a fresh lemon, ice cubes and mayonnaise.

Baking soda is one of the most versatile cleaning agents on earth. It is highly absorbent, making it an excellent deodorizer. Best of all, it’s nontoxic.

As a matter of fact, if the thought of your next cleaning project gives you indigestion, half a teaspoon of baking soda stirred into a glass of water works as well as some over-the-counter drugs sold strictly for that purpose. check with your doctor before using this remedy.

Vinegar and water is great for cleaning glazed tile and dark tile grout as well.

Food-grade citric acid is super for dissolving mineral salt that builds up in water heater tanks.

Lemon juice works well in cleaning oil and grease from plastic laminated counters.

A 50-50 solution of salt and vinegar makes a terrific copper cleaner.

Ice cubes are the best first-step in getting wax crayon stains off kids’ clothing.

Mayonnaise and a nylon scrubbing pad work wonders on white-rings on wood furniture.

More uses for Baking Soda:

Baking soda will put out a grease fire, clean scorched food from cookware, absorb odors from the refrigerator, clean and deodorize drains, soften and deodorize laundry, and it will also remove stains from porcelain, enamelware, glass, plastic, carpets, and rugs.

For burned-on food, mix up a paste of baking soda and water. Actually, dry baking soda can be used in lieu of scouring cleanser and best of all, it’s nonabrasive.

Coffee pot stained? Tomato sauce remnants left in the plastic storage container?

A paste of baking soda and water will do the trick. Keep a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to reduce odors. Once a week pour a handful down the drain and rinse with hot water. Your drain will stay clean and smell fresh.

Price of fabric softeners got you down? Don’t use that toxic stuff. Use either vinegar (our recommendation) or half cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle.

To remove stains from carpets and rugs, follow this procedure: While the stain is wet, use baking soda to absorb the excess. Then cover the stain that’s left with another application of baking soda, let it sit overnight and vacuum it the next day.

VINEGAR CLEANER. Having children with sensitive skin, I’ve learned to disinfect my home without the use of harsh chemicals such as bleach or ammonia. Vinegar in a spray bottle is my cleaner: full strength for the bathroom, and diluted for windows, wood floor, linoleum and tile. I use it to clean my car windows, vinyl upholstery, door handles and vinyl mats. I use vinegar once a month to clean my coffee maker and once every six months to clean my hot tub and dishwasher. Mixed with baking soda, I clean my refrigerator, porcelain kitchen sinks and bathtub.

Colleen, Arkansas

Fels Naptha Soap
Just to let everyone know—it is a petroleum created surfactant, not castile.