How to Make Homemade Liquid Detergent

Dansk 🇩🇰

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I've started making liquid detergent from my soap nuts. It works really well, they wash clean, and you can use the detergent for dishwashing and as an all purpose cleaner. To give it a touch of pro I add some drops of bergamot oil, which gives a beautiful scent.

WHAT IS SOAP NUTS

Soap nuts have been used by many cultures to make soap for thousands of years.

Soap nuts are actually berries from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree growing in the Himalayas. They earned the name “nuts” because of the way that they dry into hard shells resembling nuts, as opposed to squishy fruit. If you have heard of “Soap Berries” they are the same thing.

When the berries are harvested, the seeds are removed, and the shell is dried.
The dried shell contains a substance called saponin, which is nature's own soap. When the shells come into contact with water, the soap is released.

HOW DO SOAP NUTS WORK

Saponin works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away. Regular sort bought detergents contain chemical surfactants too, this is just a natural source. Despite the “soap” in its name, soap nuts DO NOT contain soap that causes soap scum and buildup like a regular bar of soap does.

8 reasons why you should use soap nuts

  1. Allergy friendly. Soap Nuts are gentle on both clothes and skin, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies and psoriasis. Because they are so mild, they are perfect for baby clothes and even cloth diapers. Unlike commercial detergents that have artificial foaming agents, soap nuts do not produce lots of bubbles or foam. While commercial detergents and soaps have marketed heavily around that visual, foam simply is not an indicator of cleaning power.

  2. Environmental friendly. They are the only true non-toxic and sustainable laundry option I’ve found. Homemade laundry soaps are a great alternative to conventional ones. Soap nuts can be used completely and then composted for a no-waste solution.

  3. Pocket friendly. Soap Nuts are extremely affordable! A handful of Soap Nuts can be purchased for pennies and used for multiple loads, making them a very cost-effective laundry solution.

  4. User friendly. You put 4-6 nuts into a muslin bag and pop it into the machine, or you can make a liquid version and reap a few more benefits. See recipe below.

  5. Hormone friendly. Soap nuts are not just a great economical, organic and sustainable alternative to conventional detergents - it is also an excellent choice if you want to minimize the number of endocrine disrupters in your body.

  6. Multi-purpose. Soap nuts are excellent as an all-purpose cleaning agent, dishwashing detergent and even as a shampoo (I haven't tried the latter yet, but the liquid soap is very soft, so I'll probably give it a go soon).

  7. Softer fabrics. Soap nuts gently loosen fibers. Chemical detergents can beat and weaken fibers resulting in your clothes and towels “wearing out” much sooner. When you use soap nuts you’ll notice less pilling on your fabrics and extended overall life of textiles.

    During the rinse cycle, a small amount of saponin is released which acts as a natural fabric softener – opening up the fabric fibers instead of leaving a residue. No need to take out before the rinse- leave it in the whole time. Because it is a natural soap and not a synthetic chemical, it will not leave grime on the fabrics as you would expect with regular detergent

  8. Most importantly. They have excellent cleaning properties that work.

How to use soap nuts

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Are you wondering why you can’t just toss some soap berries into the wash? Well, you actually can, but there are a couple of catches:

  • You put 4-6 Soap Nuts in a muslin bag and place in washer.

  • You need to remove them before tossing clothes in the dryer.

  • Soap Nuts can be used for several washes, but you have to keep track of how many times each berry has been used.

  • If you’re washing in cold water you’ll need to soak the nuts in hot water for 5-10 minutes before adding them.

  • Buy only soap nuts without seeds, because the seeds can stain the clothes.

  • Personally, I was always accidentally throwing my soap nuts into the dryer or forgetting how many loads I’d done with them. I have other things to keep track of!

  • Soap nuts liquid is much more like traditional liquid laundry detergent, and it’s just easier in my opinion and it’s multi-purpose in this form.

recipe HOMEMADE LIQUID LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Makes about 24 oz. detergent (about 12-14 loads)

Ingredients

  • 24 – 30 soap nuts

  • 12 cups water / 3 liters

  • 1 tsp. citric acid dissolved into 2 tablespoons hot water. Or 2 tsp. salt dissolved into 3-4 tablespoons hot water (Optional. Helps to keep the liquid fresh longer).

  • 16-20 drops essential oils (optional, I like to use bergamot oil)

Instructions

  1. Add soap nuts and water to a pot.

  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Your soap is ready when the soap berries are light tan or grey – that’s a sign that all the wonderful saponin has been extracted.

  3. Allow the soap to cool and strain out the soap nuts.

  4. If you are adding citric acid or salt to extend the shelf life, this is the point in the process to do that.

  5. Add essential oils.

SHELF LIFE & STORAGE

Store your soap nuts liquid in a clean, airtight jar out of direct sunlight. It will last for 1-2 weeks at room temperature, or about 3-5 weeks in the fridge. As described in the instructions above, you can add citric acid or salt to extend the life of your liquid.

Another option is to freeze the liquid in an ice cube tray and then toss a few cubes in per wash. This tray can hold 4 tablespoons of liquid per ice cube, which is handy.

HOW TO USE SOAP NUTS LIQUID LAUNDRY DETERGENT

  1. Shake before using.

  2. Generally, 2-4 tablespoons per load is a good rule of thumb.

  3. If it’s a small or light load, use less. You may also find that you need to increase the amount used if your water is very, VERY hard. However, in most cases 3-4 tablespoons should work well.

  4. Follow up with wool dryer balls instead of conventional dryer sheets, and you’ll have truly natural clean laundry in no time!

    1. Wool dryer balls - so simple and yet so efficient. * Reduce drying time * Fabric softener * Anti static * Organic. Try adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils at the end - like during a non heated tumble dry setting.

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