When you teach middle school for a living (or if you've ever been around someone of middle school age) you know there are certain words you can't say around them without laughter. I think soap nuts should be added to the list. Even as a grown adult, the name of these made me laugh a bit. So naturally, I bought these.
What are soap nuts?
Part of me thought these would be a bit gimmicky.
Nope. They look just like nuts. This is meant to be a more "green" alternative to laundry detergent. These are as natural as you get.
Notice I said they look like nuts. Botanically speaking these are not nuts. They are berries. For those of you who might have a nut allergy or might be inclined to shun this product, according to Farmer's Almanac and a few other sources, these are safe to use.
So, if you are as unfamiliar as I was with this product here is what I've found. This particular bag is from a variety of soap nuts called Sapindus Mukorossi. So washnut, soapberry, or soap nuts are all basically from the same genus of trees, Sapindus.
While there are several varieties of sapindus, and some native to the US, the ones found in this bag are native to Northern India.
Each nut contains the compound saponin. Saponin from Latin gives us the root of the word soap.
So in this bag are two smaller bags. Directions are right on the bag and pretty straightforward: place 4-5 soap nuts in the smaller bag and toss it in with your laundry. According to the bag you can use the ones in that bag 3-4 times before discarding them.
After each wash, my soap nuts looked more broken down but never fully disintegrated. But when they become soft or grey, it is time to load your bag with fresh ones.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I wash my clothes on warm and none of my clothing is terribly soiled beyond a basic food spill. A lot of sites mention that these work better in warmer water.
So when I had a really dirty potholder, I did toss that in as well. That didn't come out as well since it was so soiled.
There is no fragrance that comes from these. So if you live for that smell of Tide then this should be passed over. At most, after each wash, the bag did have a mildly nutty funk coming from it, but none detectable on clothing.
As far as I can tell, they basically work as long as your clothes aren't too dirty. You'll still want to pre-treat those stains. Use another detergent for those situations. And no, I didn't try this on any of the baby clothes in the house.
For $5.99 for a 10.6-ounce bag, you can do a lot of laundry from this little bag. Probably about as much as you would a Costco-sized container of laundry detergent. But again, the big caveat here is that your laundry can't be too soiled.
If you'd like to read more about Soap Nuts in general then I found this to be a handy guide to the pros and cons of this natural product.
Would I buy this again? While I won't give Trader Joe's Laundry Soap Nuts a full yes, I didn't mind swapping this into my regular laundry routine. They do seem like a decent cost-saving option as well as a more environmentally friendly option.
But keep in mind, I used these for a week. If you have some neat tricks you'd like to share or personal stories about using soap nuts I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
The visual rundown of this product
The bag of Trader Joe's Laundry Soap Nuts:
What is in the bag:
Out of the package you get a product that looks like this:
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The Bottom Line
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Trader Joe's Laundry Soap Nuts
Product Name: Trader Joe's Laundry Soap Nuts
Product Description: Trader Joe's Laundry Soap Nuts are new and a natural product that might be very new to some (possibly many) consumers.
Trader Joe's Laundry Soap Nuts are new and a natural product alternative to laundry soap
- Seems more cost effective
- Natural product
- A lot of product in each bag
- If your laundry isn't too dirty then it might be worth a try
- If something is really dirty, you'll want to stick with pre-treating as these won't get those pesky stains out
- You'll want to avoid cold water washing with these