On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a soccer mom and 10 being a dirty hippie, this post is definitely an 11. It's about to get real crunchy up in this biz'nass.
So, a dirty hippie walks into a laundromat...what does she use to wash her clothes?
No, literally. That wasn't a punchline. She washes her clothes with nuts.
Not just any ordinary nut, like almonds or pecans. THAT would be weird. I'm talkin' SOAP nuts. They're a real thing, they're awesome, and they're most definitely nutty.
Soap nuts are shells that grow on the Sapindus mukorossi tree. These shells contain saponin. Saponin = soap. Neat, right? Nature's Dove! They're also known as soap berries, which is an infinitely cuter name.
When you put these bad little buggers in warm water, they release their soapy byproduct, cleaning surfaces and fabrics. They're perfect for sensitive skin types, as they are naturally free of scents, dyes, chemicals, etc.
Now, most natural products get a bad rap. The products I've used 1) don't work, 2) are über expensive, or 3) they're not actually "natural" at all, containing all sorts of sneaky chemicals that we should not be applying to our beautiful bods. And to be honest, I haven't had much luck with a lot of "natural" products out there (looking at you, Tom's of Maine).
But after much testing, I can tell you with a straight face: these berries really work.
But before I go any further, let's back up a second and talk about MEEEE. I have really sensitive skin, and have suffered from eczema most of my life. Any chemicals, scents, dyes, etc. make my skin go nuts (get it?). It's not pretty. I tried a few of the "free and natural" laundry detergents on the market and though they helped, my dry skin woes weren't eradicated.
I read about soap nuts on a few crunchy blogs and thought...those are nuts. Like, literally, but also, they are crazy weird. Even for me. But, desperate for a solution, I threw caution to the wind and bought a giant box on Amazon (because what CAN'T you buy there?), preparing myself for disappointment and dirty laundry.
When I first opened the box, I laughed. They look like fossilized prunes.
To use 'em: throw a small handful into a small muslin bag (Amazon suggested I buy these too. They didn't steer me wrong.). For your warm/hot laundry: toss in a single baggy in with your clothes and let it do its work. For cool/cold loads: soak a baggy of berries (hehe) in a cup of hot water beforehand. Then dump the bag and water in with your laundry and fuggehdaboudit. So easy, even a caveman could do it. Actually, cavemen probably used these to wash their loincloths. My point stands.
I've used these nutty nuts for about two years and I can happily say my laundry is cleaner than ever, and my eczema has reduced dramatically. While I still use chemicals for heavy stains*, I otherwise rely on soap nuts alone to make my clothes squeaky clean. For stinky loads (hello, gym clothes), I'll throw in a cup of white vinegar as well so my clothes come out extra fresh**. I don't need fabric softener at all (soap nuts take care of that, too). My workout clothes used to get gnarly yellow pit stains after a while of wear. TMI? Whatevs. Not anymore. That could also be because I don't really use deodorant much anymore (more on that later...crunch crunch crunch), but I like to think deez nutz are the real MVP.
The best part? A box of these suckers last for-ev-er. That 5-lb. box I bought off Amazon two years ago? I've barely made a dent. One little baggy's worth of nuts can last about six full loads. Just toss the nuts when they start to feel soft and mushy - that's when you know they are kaput. The cool part is, you can trash them, or just throw them back where they came from! Meaning, outside in the dirt. Anticlimactic maybe, but still pretty neat.
So go nuts for nuts! Completely natural laundry detergent with just one ingredient - it can't get easier than that.
*My go-to stain remover: hydrogen peroxide. Use with caution.
**Note: If you're worried your clothes might end up smelling like salad dressing by tossing in vinegar with your wash (unless you have a bionic nose, you probably won't notice), toss in a couple of drops of essential oils in with your wash, too. I recommend soothing lavender or a bright citrus.
Disclaimer: You may notice that this post doesn't actually require you to make anything. But it is 1000% weird. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯