“To Live Naturally & Organically means doing your best to live a healthy lifestyle while also doing your part to take care of the environment.” ~ Michelle Boniel
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I spend an average of $0.10 per load on my laundry supplies.
This includes my equivalent to laundry detergent, stain remover, dryer sheets, and fabric softener. On average, the American citizen will spend $0.33 per load of laundry while using these products (according to Amazon prices).
An approximate three to one ratio doesn’t sound all that impressive until the zeros start adding on. For every 300 loads of laundry I do with my natural laundry supplies, someone who buys modern laundry gear can only do 100 loads.
These are fantastic numbers for any momma who wants to save money (especially those like me who cloth diaper)! I can also take pride in knowing I am saving my family’s skin from the harmful chemicals common laundry products use such as synthetic fragrances, benzaldehyde, quarternium-15, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, diethanolamine, ethyl acetate, chlorine, and optical brighteners, to name a few. These chemicals can cause a myriad of issues ranging from mild skin irritation to serious hormonal imbalances. It is suspected many of these can contribute to reproductive, respiratory, and developmental issues while others are known carcinogens.
Thankfully, God in His infinite wisdom already thought of detergent before scientists. His just come without all the crazy possible side effects. Saponins are naturally occurring detergents found in plants. They are used in Chinese medicine commonly for gut health, but also make a great soap because of the frothing agent they have when diluted in water.
Saponin… It even sounds like ‘soap.’ Incidentally, the plant I use that contains an excess of saponin is called the ‘Soap Berry Tree’. When the soap berries are pitted and dried they are commonly referred to as Soap Nuts, which is the part I use to do my laundry.
Using Soap Nuts as Laundry Detergent
When I told my mother I was going to be using soap nuts to do the laundry, she thought I was joking. The idea is so ridiculous. My husband thought I had finally gone off the deep end of the crazy pool. Still, he indulged me. I think me being a hormonal, pregnant mess may have had something to do with his complacency on the subject, but who knows.
After some thorough research I decided to go with the NaturOli Soap Nuts. The increasing popularity of soap nuts has reached companies that mass produce in areas such as China, where the quality is sacrificed for quantity. NaturOli receives soap nuts harvested exclusively from Sapindus Mukorossi Trees indigenous to India. These soap nuts are hand inspected twice before being sold to the public, so you know you are getting a great organic product.
To use soap nuts in the laundry, simply plop 4 to 6 soap nuts in a muslin bag, tie off the top, and add it to your load of laundry. Saponins react faster in hot water, but will react in cold water too so do not worry if you have clothes that require special temperatures. When the load is done, remove the soap nuts and allow them to dry completely before using them in a new load. These berries can be used for several loads before losing their value as a detergent. Soap nuts have a smell similar to apple cider vinegar while wet, but once the clothes are dry they have no scent.
Soap nuts are no longer good once:
- The shell loses it’s glossy look and texture
- The color changes from varying shades of brown to white or gray
- The berry crumbles apart
After the soap nuts have served their purpose as a detergent, they can be ground up and used as compost.
Using White Distilled Vinegar as a Stain Remover
Distilled White Vinegar is a natural rinse agent, so of course it is great for helping to rinse off those hard stains. I add about a Tbsp. or so to any extra dirty/stinky load of laundry, depending on the size of the load and the level of grossness.
When I first started using soap nuts I added distilled white vinegar to all my loads to help rinse off the chemical build up from our old laundry supplies. Each load had to be done twice before the soap nuts were able to work their magic – and I mean magic. I feel like a wizard working with these things.
Using Wool as Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
When configuring how much money I spend on laundry per load I didn’t include the price of my wool balls, because these things will last me basically forever. As long as I don’t lose them, that is. So far, so good.
I use the brand, “My Amazing Bag of Balls.” Partially for the funny name, partially because of their high ratings, and (of course) partially for the reasonable price. If I feel like having my towels scented or whatnot, I add a couple drops of essential oils to the wool balls before loading 2 or 3 in with my full load and turning on the dryer.
So, there you have it! My arsenal of 100% organic, natural, hypoallergenic, baby safe, kick butt, dirt cheap laundry products. 🙂
Here is a study on saponins and their effectiveness, in case anyone is interested:
Chen, Yu-Fen, et al. “Foam Properties and Detergent Abilities of the Saponins from Camellia Oleifera.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI), 4 Nov. 2010.