These days there are so many laundry products on the market that are full of chemicals. These chemical are not only harmful to the environmental but also to yourself. Additionally, every time you wash your clothing tiny fibres are released and make their way into our rivers, seas and oceans. Once in the environment, they are consumed by marine animals causing all sorts of problems for them but also for you who may consume seafood. But there are plenty of ways to make your laundry more environmentally friendly. The benefits of doing so are obviously huge. Less pollutants in the air and ocean. Less chemicals being absorbed into your washing. Cleaner air in your family home and a lower impact on the planet.
I began researching natural washing alternatives in a quest to make my laundry routine more sustainable. I found soap berries about two years ago as my alternative to washing powder. I’m here to share what has worked for me, and some of the benefits that have come along with using the soap berries. When I started university I was seeking to be as eco-friendly as possible whilst also staying on the cheap side. Whilst doing laundry in halls is far from cheap (a wash and dry was £5) I managed to save on the products I was using.
But first, what are Soapberries?
If you haven’t seen them before, the concept seems kind of weird. Or if you have seen them and you think, what sort of hippie thing is this. Like, you throw these brownish red little balls in with your whites, and suddenly they’re clean? Witchcraft?! Well no it is no magic trick, they are a natural fruit therefore they do not stain your clothes. Soapberries are actually the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, found most prominently in the Himalayas. The shells of these fruit are very high in saponin, which is pretty much nature’s version of soap. They are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and organic. Perfect for washing clothes.
Soapberries are super easy to use. When you order them, the soapberries will be contained within a largish canvas bag. With smaller canvas bags that actually goes in the wash, with the berries inside of course. The soapberries themselves are small reddish-brown balls. So, how do I use these awesome balls? Well I load my laundry into the washing machine, and then place 5-6 soapberries into the small canvas bag and throw it straight in with the machine. I then switch the washing machine on, I wash my clothes at a 30oC setting. This low setting uses less energy than an ‘economy’ wash at 60oC. Start the wash and there you have it! A very simple eco friendly laundry routine haha, no hassle at all.
Well, I say no hassle, when it comes to my standard washing needs yes the soapberries clean my clothes. However when I’ve spilled tomato soup onto my white tee it takes a little more than just soapberries to clean that. Which makes sense, it can’t do everything. But getting stains for me is very minimal and I don’t usually have to do anything else other than use my berries and my clothes are clean. The soapberries do not leave a weird after smell, as they are natural there is no artificial scents which is perfect.
There are benefits to using soapberries too:
- Soapberries do not contain any phosphates or SLSs. Meaning less nasty chemicals on your clothes rubbing against your skin.
- As they are natural and phosphate/SLS free, there are less chemicals running down the drain into our waterways. Reducing the environmental impact.
- A compostable product and 100% biodegradable, no waste in using soapberries. Again helping to reduce your environmental impact.
- They come in their own reusable bag, storage is sorted. Well for me I like to use jars for my storage so I have kept the original canvas bag for refilling when I need to.
- Soapberries last a really long time. 5-6 in a wash can last up to 8 washes and depending on how many you got you could save on some money. I still have a quarter of a 1kg bag left, I purchased mine in 2018, very economical.
An environmental, economical and healthy option to regular detergents, worth investing in. Not only for the planet but for your own health too. Chemicals can become harsh and cause skin irritations whereas a natural organic hypoallergenic alternative is gentle on the skin.