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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!

– Jennifer

Soap Nuts: The Soothing Soap for Eczema 

By Heidi Carolan (see bio below)

Jayden's EczemaI 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.

baby bathFor the past three years I have been using soap nuts for my son’s bathing, shampooing and laundry. They have been great for his skin and I can’t imagine our life without them!!!!

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
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 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:

Soap nut bubbles

Soap nut bubbles

  • 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

soap nuts

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.

If you’re looking for soap nuts, check these out!

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tina Harshbarger #

    Thank you, I’m searching for more information, my family has numerous allergies and we try to leave as small of an imprint as possible. I am going to give them a try.

    Like

    January 28, 2017
  2. Mia #

    Can soap nuts be used to clean dishes? If not, what product would you recommend?

    Like

    November 28, 2015
    • Yes! That’s a great way to use them. I’d just create a good concentrated formula and give it a try!

      Like

      November 30, 2015
  3. Branden Dillon #

    This article was extremely encouraging. Your son’s story and experience with soap nuts really show that they work and are completely safe. Thanks for posting this!

    Like

    November 3, 2015
  4. Doyd #

    Hello Heidi, I just wanted to say thank you. I read your article back in July and since then, I’ve been using Soap Nuts for my 2 daughters. Their eczema are now way better than before and I am mentioning you in my blog (doyd74.wordpress.com) because I really owe it to you and this article. Take care!

    Like

    October 15, 2015
  5. How much soap nut liquid do you use to bathe him? My 21-month old girl is having a fungal infection and since I already have soap nuts at home, thought of using them to bathe her. Do you dilute or use it straight in the baby tub? I had just poured 1/2 cup into 1/3 water in the baby tub. Natural bubble bath! I hope it clears her fungal soon. Doc had prescribed some potassium permanganate but I’m not sure how to use it since the instructions only state dilute 1 part to 8 parts, twice daily.

    Like

    September 30, 2015
    • Hi think what you used will probably be perfect. You can also try adding apple cider vinegar to the bath as well to help with infections.

      Like

      October 5, 2015
      • Alright. Thanks for the tip!

        Like

        October 5, 2015
  6. Ohh god..horrible to see such infections. It hurts especially when they happens to kids. all we are finding is the detergents with full of chemicals and additions but people prefer them as they give instant results but with lot of side effects. We need to go for natural products and that why i would like to introduce you people our products that are total organic and natural by time2gonatural.

    Like

    February 21, 2014
  7. 20112010mo #

    i have suffered with eczema my whole life and three years ago up until 3-4 months ago it was so severe i wouldnt leave my house for weeks at a time. i am now in control of my problem and have created a website with all kinds of information on preventing a flare-up and treatments that are good/bad. you may find it useful at http://www.eczemastruggle.co.uk we can beat this one day at a time

    Like

    January 8, 2014
    • Hi there and welcome! Thank you so much for sharing your blog. And congrats on getting control of your eczema.

      Like

      January 13, 2014
      • 20112010mo #

        thanks so much. and also thanks for your blog, i learned some new stuff that i found very interesting 🙂

        Like

        January 13, 2014
  8. Elizabeth DiBurro (@EBLfoodallergy) #

    I have always wanted to try soap nuts. I think of it every time I do laundry now, with chemical filled liquid detergent. Maybe it’s time I make the switch?

    Like

    September 5, 2013
    • Go for it! It’s worth a try 🙂

      Like

      September 6, 2013
  9. Great– I have never heard of this but will look them up.

    Like

    September 3, 2013
    • If you try them, let me know what you think! Jennifer

      Like

      September 4, 2013
  10. Heidi Carolan #

    Thank you Jennifer, It was a real Pleasure/Honor taking Part & being given the Opportunity to share our Experiences. Hope it’s of some help to others going through the same & wish everyone well , Love Heidi xx

    Like

    September 3, 2013
    • Heidi – Thanks so much for sharing your story and recipe! Jennifer

      Like

      September 3, 2013

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