Soap Nuts FAQ’s

soap-nutsIn light of our recent discussions and giveaway with soap nuts, I have received several repeated questions, so I thought I would share the responses for all to see! Italicized answers are from Chris Sicurella, the founder of NaturOli. Don’t miss the soap nuts giveaway!

By the way, several people have mentioned that they didn’t want to make the big purchase of soap nuts before giving them a try. You definitely do not have to! NaturOli offers many different sized packages of soap nuts – everything from a 5-load sample pack (like we are giving away!), 40 load package, to a 640+ bulk package. You save more money the larger quantity you buy, but definitely try the sample pack first! Check out NaturOli!

I also just discovered that Mountain Rose Herbs (my favorite frugal supplier of coconut oil) carries soap nuts. I have not tried their variety yet, but the prices appear to be even more reasonable than NaturOli. They offer 4 oz packages for $2.50, or 1 pound package for $7.00. Yahoo for soap nuts! After further research, I would not recommend you try MRH soap nuts. See below.

Question: Can you use them in HE washers?

Yes! They work beautifully in HE washers.

Question: Can you use these for front load washers?

Definitely! They actually work the best with front loaders as it provides more effective agitation.

Question: How do soap nuts do for people with sensitive skin?

Soap nuts are the best option for sensitive skin issues. There is nothing added to them that could irritate the skin.

Question: Is it important to buy organic soap nuts?

No. Soap nut trees grow in the wild and thus not subject to pesticides or chemical sprays. Secondly, bugs don’t like soap nuts anyway, so there is no need for chemicals.

Virtually all soap nuts, particularly of the higher quality mukorossi variety, are wild-crafted. They grow throughout the Himalayan foothills at relatively high elevations. The range is primarily from Southern China through Nepal and Northern India. Hence, the VAST majority are growing in lands virtually untouched by humans hands. Most of the land is not even private land.

That said, being wild-crafted mukorossi trees don’t even have much of an opportunity to be treated even if one wanted to. Now the VERY interesting part: Insects don’t like saponin. It is actually used as a natural insecticide by many people. It repels insects as most common soaps do. Also interesting: Saponin is naturally anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. It reminds me a lot of the olive tree. They are extremely hardy and rarely get sick or even develop pest problems. The life span of a mukorossi tree is around 90 years! Again, very similar to olive trees. They are very prolific fruit producers for 80 out of those 90 years.

Question: Do they work well for cloth diapers?

Yes, I have had great results using soap nuts to wash all my variety of cloth diapers. I have various pocket diapers, prefolds, covers and AIO’s and they are all clean and fresh smelling after using this soap nuts.

UPDATE: Please note that after extended use of soap nuts with my cloth diapers (Bum Genius pocket diapers), they started to repel and leak profusely. Once I switched back to Charlies Soap for my dipes, they began working properly. So I can unfortunately no longer recommend their use for cloth diapers.

Question: I have heard that soap nuts have anti-fertility concerns. Is this true?

Actual use of saponin as a contraceptive dates back to ancient Ayurvedic treatments. A few studies have been done. Here’s the BIG thing to note about any study like this: Look at the dosages. HUGE! It is the type of study that is specifically looking for results one way or another. I would never suggest soap nuts for use as a contraceptive either. Imagine what would happen if we were to ingest 50mg of SLS everyday. We probably be dead in a short period, right? Well, SLS is one of the leading ingredients in commercial detergents. It’s a matter of perspective and things should be kept so IMO. There are few and very inconclusive studies about saponin for biological treatments for this or that. Most are old and of Asian origins. Soap nuts are a natural detergent alternative. That’s it. It’s much healthier than continued exposure to the multitude of well studied known carcinogens out there.When so obscure, and so out of context (nobody is being injected themselves with high doses of saponin or eat them for birth control – surely you’d get pretty sick first) they really don’t have much genuine relevance to how they are actually being used.

Does that make sense? You will never be ingesting soap nuts in such huge quantities that might cause these affects. It just is not possible unless you consumed the liquid in such proportions, and who is going to do that?

Question: Do you have to use each batch up in one day? Do the 4-5 loads have to be done all in the same day? It sounded like from what I’ve read that it does or they’ll begin to mold.

No. You can use the same wash bag of soap nuts for an indefinite period of time as long as it is allowed dry between usage. If left in water (or kept wet somehow) for an extended period they most certainly would develop mold or other fungus. It’s a dried fruit and that would happen naturally. That’s all you need to remember. Once hydrated again, it will be just like any other fruit or vegetable.

Question: Can soap nuts be used for people with nut allergies?

According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

Soap nuts are hypoallergenic, and can be used safely by people with nut allergies as they are a fruit closely related to the Lycii/Goji berry. There seems to be little information about the internal uses of soap nuts, although they certainly have been used as a solution to clean fruits and vegetables, so the evidence does suggest that they are of a benign nature if ingested.

Question: Why don’t you recommend Mountain Rose Herbs soap nuts?

Picture 9I believe this picture says it all comparing the NaturOli product with MRH. There is a huge difference in quality and effectiveness. Read this article comparing the two products here.

Hope that helps you all!

To find out all you need to know about soap nuts, visit Soap Nuts Pro.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

40 Responses to Soap Nuts FAQ’s

  1. Jamasina September 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Have you found a place to buy soap nuts other than online? Just curious.

    • Lindsay September 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      No I have not.

  2. Debra Worth July 11, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    Are soap nut pieces as effective. According to the sight they are, but I wanted to know if you had experience with that. If so I could wash loads at about 0.04 per load.

    • Lindsay July 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

      Yes, I have been using them for over a year now and love the results!

  3. Viren August 1, 2009 at 11:15 pm #

    Just some facts on Soapnut- Growing up in India, we used Soapnut(Hindi-Reetha)for hair wash as well as washing woollens. The best way to wash wool garments is to crush Reetha seeds (you can get them from Indian stores)but not powder them. Mix the crushed seeds in room temperature water and shake it to make suds. Soak wool garments for 24 hours. We used to wash our school wool sweaters and the results were amazing. If you wash your hair with Reetha remember that it stings eyes and will make hair dry. For hair wash mix three seeds(powder)dried Amla (an edible bitter golf ball size fruit with very high vitamin c used in India for making sweet fruit preserve)dried Reetha (remove the black seed from inside) and Shikakai. Before washing hair massage hair/scalp with coconut oil and let it stay for few hours before washing. You can also buy Shikakai shampoo from an Indian store (Dabur is one brand).

  4. Victoria July 31, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    Ok, so I went to the Knittn’ Kitten and picked up some soap nuts and some of the liquid form too (she recently started carrying them there). She says you can put the nuts straight into the dishwasher. Has anyone done this?

    • Lindsay August 1, 2009 at 5:42 am #

      I have not heard of using the whole nuts in the dishwasher. I have tried grinding the nuts in a coffee grinder but it produced a very sticky substance. I diluted it with water and that seemed to work pretty well. You really have to be careful to only use a small amount otherwise your dishwasher will overflow. My best success thus far has been using the Soap Nuts Extreme18X liquid version. I am reviewing it today and holding a sample giveaway. The liquid works great in laundry, dishwasher and cleaning.

  5. Victoria July 10, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    so, how does the rinse cycle work with soap nuts? The liquid form would just rinse away, but the nuts are still in the washer when the rinse cycle starts… do you take them out, or does it not matter?

    • Lindsay July 10, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

      No, you just take them out after the wash has completed entirely. No need to take them out before the rinse cycle.

  6. Ruth July 8, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    We are loving our soap nuts!!! I tell lots of people about them and they are astounded. When possible I give them a few nuts in a bag to try and return back to me when they get their order for their own. So far, they’ve always bought some of their own!!

  7. Soccy July 6, 2009 at 7:46 pm #

    What was the reason for not purchasing soap nuts from MRH?

    • Lindsay July 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

      They are an inferior product. They are not the same thing nor do they work as well. Many of them have not be de-seeded, which will stain your laundry. I saw pictures contrasting the products and it was startling.

  8. Tristan June 23, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    After a few weeks of using soap nuts with my Bum Genius one size diapers they are ALL repelling water and leaking. Not good. I’ve contacted NaturOli and am waiting for a response, but for now I have to strip all my diapers and use detergent.

    • Lindsay June 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

      Weird. I would recommend using Charlies then for your diapers.

    • Elisabeth July 7, 2009 at 11:29 am #

      I found that they caused my Snap-EZ trainers to repel as well, but if I do an extra short wash in hot water w/o the nuts, they seem to do fine.

      • Alex December 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

        Yes, I asked my cloth diapering “teacher” and she said a big no to soap nuts with cloth diapering. They don’t do well with keeping the absorbency in synthetic fibers. She also said they might work if you make a pre-measured solution first with the soap nuts, but not to leave the soap nuts in the washer. I did email NaturOli asking about this and am still waiting for a response.

        • Alex December 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

          She has also said thought to be VERY careful with Charlie’s because some (not all) babies have had severe skin irritation to this detergent.

      • Barb February 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

        I have been using soap nuts on my children’s cloth diapers for over a year now and the diapers are super soft and absorbent. I never experienced this problem with my soap nuts. I get mine at They have fast service, high quality and the lowest prices.

  9. Kate June 21, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    Hey Lindsay….

    Question for you… I was messing around w/some harsh chemicals, trying to remove some hard water stains. Anyways, I got some on my clothes, and skin. Luckily, no damage to me, or my clothes, PTL!

    Now, the question. when using vinegar is it necessary to dilute it? I did dilute when I washed my top (the 3rd time). I didn’t know if it was necessary or not.

    Any tips on getting smells out of clothes. I’ve tried baking soda (which seemed to work some what) and now I’m using white vinegar. I can’t tell you if it worked or not, since it’s currently in the washing machine. I’m just getting nervous that the smell won’t come out!

    • Lindsay June 22, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

      I don’t believe it is necessary to dilute it but normally you would due to its potency. Vinegar usually washes away nicely in the washer and removes smells. You could also put a dab of an essential oil on a cloth and throw that in as well.

      • Kate June 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

        Thanks! The smell is somewhat dimmed now. What I did, is we have a deck off the back of our home, I put it inside the bathroom, right where the sun would hit it. The sun helped it too.

        thanks for the tip on the essential oils, I was thinking of throwing it in the dryer to freshened it up w/a dryer sheet. Essential oil on a cloth might even be better!

        I was just so upset! I have a few nice shirts, and this just happened to be one of them.

  10. Kara June 21, 2009 at 4:27 am #

    Michelle – My grandmother told me to put the clothes in the dryer for about 5 mins, and then hang on the line – this helps to eliminate the crunchiness.

  11. Charlee June 16, 2009 at 11:31 am # is a resourceful link to making soapnut in liquid form. Take a look at all the other uses as well. :)

  12. Michele @ Frugal Granola June 16, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    I just purchased my first batch of soap nuts, and I’m looking forward to giving them a try! :) I usually add vinegar to my wash (instead of fabric softener)- can I still do that with soap nuts, or is it not needed?

    • Lindsay June 16, 2009 at 11:17 am #

      It is definitely not necessary to use vinegar with the soap nuts as it has its own natural fabric softener in the nuts. You would be amazed at how soft the clothes come out!

      • Michele @ Frugal Granola June 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

        Great! Thanks! :) (Not that fabric softener really makes a difference, once I’ve hung the clothes outside on the line anyway… old habit I guess..) :)

  13. Beth C June 16, 2009 at 5:07 am #

    I just wanted to let you know that I posted about my experience with soap nuts on my blog.

  14. Kim ( June 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Thanks for the all the research. I have heard of soap nuts a million times over, but still didn’t really understand what they were.

  15. Lauren June 12, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,
    Have you tried any other NaturOli products? I think I wanted to get some of their trial sizes for facial wash etc. I use proactive now, and I really want to try something more safe and healthy for my skin.

    • Lindsay June 13, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

      Yes, I am in the process now of experimenting with some of their other body products. So far I really like the saponin soap (made from soap nuts) and the lotions. The soap is wonderful and does not dry my skin out in the least. I would definitely recommend you check them out. The trial sizes are a great option.

  16. Sarah June 12, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Can you use them for several loads of laundry in a row or do they need to dry between each load? I’m not clear whether they need to dry between each load or just between each period of usage.

    • Lindsay June 12, 2009 at 11:44 am #

      Yes, you can use them either way. I do several loads at once just fine, but if you want to wait a day, then you will want to dry them.

  17. Candyce June 12, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    Thank you for all of this research!

  18. Mariah Griswold June 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    I love your site and looking forward to trying all of your wonderful ideas.

  19. kileah June 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    ok. i am sold! putting it in the budget!!!

  20. Jennifer D June 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    How are Soap Nuts harvested? Are they a Fair Trade product? Since they grow in remote parts of China and Nepal, places with poor working conditions, I want to make sure the workers there are treated properly.

    • Lindsay June 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

      Yes, they are a fair trade product. My conversations with the founder of NaturOli assured me that they are taking the greatest care to make sure they are harvested ethically.

      • Jennifer D June 12, 2009 at 6:19 am #

        Great news! I will be ordering some soon. Thank you.

  21. allie June 11, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    I’m so glad you shared more about soap nuts. I think I’ll have to buy a sample package from you I’m just so intrigued!