What are Soap Berries? – Kempii

What are Soap Berries?

We know what you must be thinking: what are soap berries, some kind of exotic fruit? Or perhaps you've heard of them but don't believe they actually work. Well, start believing now because soap berries, also known as soap nuts, are an amazing alternative to chemical detergents.

Using soap berries for laundry and cleaning is a game-changer. Non-toxic, sustainable, and affordable, you'll never look at chemical detergents again!

So, what exactly are soap berries? Nope, not soap in the shape of berries, they are actually natural detergent nuts (technically fruit) that grow on trees. The soap berry tree, scientifically known as Sapindus Mukorossi, is native to India and Nepal. These nuts have traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin conditions but are now gaining popularity as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical detergents.


How to use soap berries for laundry

Above: Soap berries (nuts) are native to India and Nepal. Photo credit: Dinesh Valke @Flickr

How do they work? Soap berries contain something called saponin, which is a natural detergent. When they're immersed in water, their shells absorb the liquid and release the saponin. This creates a mild foaming action, which helps to lift away dirt, stains, and odours from your clothes.


Now, you might be wondering how to use soap berries for laundry. The process is surprisingly simple. Just put the a few of them directly into your washing machine. Yes, it's that easy! The saponins are released into the washing water, where they circulate and work their magic on your clothes. While soap berries don't have the floral or fresh scents that many detergents do, they leave a pleasant trace of apples, and there's nothing chemical about them at all.

To use soap berries for laundry, simply place 4 to 6 nuts in a reusable muslin bag to prevent them from getting lost or stuck in the washing machine (since breaking your washing machine is not very sustainable!). Don’t worry if you don’t see bubbles, that’s normal. In fact, because soap berries don’t produce laundry suds, there’s less residue and they work for all machines. Whether you prefer cold or hot water, they can be used with both, allowing you to save energy in your home.

Above: Soap berries (or soap nuts) are an affordable zero waste laundry alternative

One of the great advantages of soap berries is that they are affordable and reusable. You can purchase a bunch of them for a reasonable price and use them multiple times. While there isn't an exact number of cycles that soap berries can be used for, a good rule of thumb is to compost them when the shells start to get soft and look grey. This way, there's no waste at all. Usually, soap berries can last for about 3 to 4 washes.

If you like the idea of having fragrant clothes after a wash, you can add a few drops of essential oils to the washbag before putting it in with your laundry. Lavender is always a winner, especially on clean sheets!


Soap berries aren’t just useful in the laundry. You can also use them for all kinds of cleaning purposes:

#1: All-Purpose Cleaner - Create an all-purpose cleaning solution by boiling a handful of soap berries in water. Strain the liquid and use it to clean surfaces, floors, and even windows. It is a safe and effective alternative to chemical cleaners.

#2: Dishwashing - Soap berries can be used to wash dishes, eliminating the need for traditional dishwashing detergents in plastic bottles. Simply boil a few of them in water to create a concentrated liquid, which can then be used to hand wash your dishes.

#3: Body Wash and Shampoo - Soap berries are gentle on the skin and hair, making them a fantastic natural alternative to commercial body washes and shampoos. Boil them in water to create a liquid that can be used as a body wash or shampoo.

#4. Pet Shampoo - Soap berries are safe for pets and can be used to create a gentle and natural shampoo for your furry friends. The mild formula works for sensitive skin and leaves their coats clean and fresh.

Once you get into using soap berries, there’ll be no stopping you! One of our favourite things about committing to a zero-waste lifestyle is discovering hero products like these, so we hope you enjoy these eco-friendly marvels too!

Ready to join the soap berry revolution? Check them out, alongside other eco-friendly options, in our laundry collection.



Do soap berries actually work?

Absolutely! Soap berries are like little cleaning superheroes. They may look unassuming, but they pack a powerful punch when it comes to cleaning your laundry and other household items. Thanks to the natural detergent called saponin found in soap berries, they effectively remove stains, dirt, and odours, leaving your clothes fresh and clean.

Are soap berries safe for skin?

Indeed! Soap berries are gentle on the skin, making them a fantastic choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Say goodbye to harsh chemicals and hello to nature's touch. Soap berries have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for their soothing properties, so you can trust them to be skin-friendly.

Can you eat soap berries?

Well, we wouldn't recommend it. Soap berries are not meant for culinary adventures. They may look tempting, but their true superpower lies in cleaning, not satisfying your taste buds. So, let's keep them out of the kitchen and save them for their laundry-saving missions!

What is the difference between "soap berry" and "soap nut"?

Ah, the great soap berry vs. soap nut debate! Here's the scoop: "Soap berry" and "soap nut" are two terms that refer to the same fabulous little gems. They are both used to describe the natural detergent nuts that grow on the soap berry tree. So, whether you call them soap berries or soap nuts, you're talking about the same cleaning wonders!

How many times can you reuse soap berries?

While they won't last forever, these eco-friendly darlings can be reused multiple times. There's no exact number, as it depends on various factors, like the intensity of each wash and the individual berries. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect soap berries to work their magic for about 3 to 4 washes before they retire. Once they start to look soft and grey, it's time to compost them and bid them a fond farewell.

How do you grow soap berries?

Growing soap berries requires a touch of nature's magic and a warm, tropical environment. Soap berries come from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which is native to India and Nepal. If you have the right climate and green thumbs, you can try growing your own soap berry tree from seeds or saplings. Just imagine having your own supply of soap berries right in your backyard!

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