Soap Nuts: A Natural Laundry Detergent & Soap for Eczema
I met today’s guest blogger online a few years ago when I was just starting the blog. I was reaching out to online support groups and found Heidi at her eczema FB support page and immediately loved her natural approach. We’d been using soap nuts for a while at that point, so when I saw she loved them as I did, we started chattering away about them. Eventually I asked her if she’d honor us with a story about why she started using soap nuts and she went a few steps further – including tips, facts, and even a recipe for making soap nut liquid!
Again, a big thanks to Heidi for her post!
Soap Nuts: The Soothing Soap for Eczema
By Heidi Carolan (see bio below)
I want to share with you how great Soap Nuts have been for our son Jayden’s Eczema/Dermographism-Urticaria !!! We’ve had extreme trouble with our son’s eczema since he was only three months old and he’s now almost four years old. He seemed to react/flare up with most eczema creams/treatments, upon first application, prescribed or recommended by our GP/Dermatologist for moisturizing his skin and bathing.
I suspected he may have had a sensitivity to something in the creams and I tried to narrow things down, but as you know, it can be very difficult. But I strongly suspected paraffin. It seemed like months of seeing his skin weeping, peeling, scabbing over and getting infected, going back to the GP week after week to be given yet another cream to try and then the whole process started all over again! He was in so much distress and suffered countless sleepless nights with the itching, etc.
I found a solution: Soap Nuts!
I searched the internet for something 100% pure, no parabens, no SLS etc and I came across organic virgin coconut oil and soap nuts. I began to use the coconut oil for moisturizing his skin and the soap nuts for our laundry and baths. Around the same time, I also started up an Eczema Facebook Group as I was new to eczema and I felt like talking/sharing information/experiences with others in the same situation would be really helpful. It’s been lovely ever since. The change in skin care was wondrous and the online support is great!! I’ve met such great people online, other parents experiencing the same who have been of great support. Eventually, we discovered our son (through an allergy skin patch test) does actually have a sensitivity to all forms of paraffin as I suspected.
Information about Soap Nuts
Soap nuts are a dried fruit/husk (not actually a nut!!!) from the soap berry tree. The soap nuts release saponin (soap) when they come into contact with water.
Soap nuts are:
- 100% natural and biodegradable
- Paraben and SLS free
- Perfume free
- Naturally anti-fungal & anti-microbial
- Good for people with allergies and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
- A good value as they can be reused multiple times and last ages!!
- Great for multiple uses: soap, shampoo, laundry, jewelry cleaner, fruit & veggie cleaner, pet shampoo, repellant for head lice, etc.
Tips for buying soap nuts:
- Make sure the inner seed/pit is removed (deseeded) or you will pay more as soap nuts are charged by weight.
- Nuts should be a nice caramel color and not very dark or black in color.
- New, unused nuts should also feel dry and not sticky to the touch.
Using soap nuts for doing your laundry:
- You can use your ready-made soap nut liquid (see below) and pour directly into washing machine,
- OR place approx six whole soap nut shells into a small cloth wash bag (usually provided by soap nut retailer). Make sure the bag is tied up securely, I double knot.
- For washes of 30C (86F) or colder, place the bag of Soap Nuts in a little hot water for a few minutes then add the liquid and bag to your wash. This helps to release the saponins.
- Optional: Essential Oils. I use essential oils of lavender as its good for the skin. Add a few drops onto the wash bag and toss it into the washing machine.
- After the laundry is done, dry your cloth wash bag and soap nuts and re-use.
- Soap Nuts can be re-used approx 4 -6 times depending on what water temperature you use and the size of your wash. The hotter the temperature, the quicker the soap nuts will need to be changed.
- After the nuts are all used up, toss them into your compost or distribute them around your plants to decompose.
Making Soap Nut Liquid for the Laundry:
- Pour 6 cups of water into a saucepan.
- Add 12-15 soap nut halves.
- Boil these up in the saucepan for approx 20 – 25 minutes.
- Add 1-2 cups of water to the saucepan after boiling.
- Let the liquid cool.
- Cover a colander with a muslin or cheese cloth and place over a bowl.
- Drain your soap nut liquid through the cloth. You can reuse your boiled soap nuts – either re-boil, blend up or add to soap nut liquid to soak for heavier concentration.)
- Pour the liquid into glass jars.
- Optional – add a few drops of tea tree oil for more anti-bacterial power and for an essential oil scent that is beneficial for the skin.
- Keep in fridge for 7 – 10 days or room temperature if using immediately. Lasts longer in the freezer. (A note from Jennifer: I like to freeze the liquid in ice cube trays. I then take out 1-2 cubes to use per load of laundry. I also add four drops of tea tree oil to each laundry load.)
How to Use Soap Nut Liquid:
- Pour directly in the bath.
- Pour into a soap dispenser and use as a liquid hand soap.
- Whisk it up in a blender or hand mixer to make a foamy body soap and shampoo.
- Use as a laundry detergent and pour directly into your washer.
I hope this is helpful for anyone having the same problems we had with our son and I hope you enjoy using soap nuts as much as we do!
-Heidi Carolan & Jayden
Bio: A British full-time mom to six lovely children. Her youngest son, Jayden, suffers from atopic eczema and dermographism/urticaria, an allergy to parabens and paraffin, receptive/expressive language delay and hypermobility syndrome. She moderates a FB support group, please stop by and say hello! Eczema, Dermographia, & Liking Soap Nuts & Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.
A Note from Jennifer: Thank you Heidi! Can you tell she’s a big fan of soap nuts AND coconut oil? Yay for natural treatments that help eczema! Definitely check out Heidi’s support group on FB as mentioned above. It’s full of interesting information and it’s a great place to share your worries and concerns with others on the same emotional roller coaster as you.