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Living Naturally

Soapnut FAQs

Are soapnuts safe for those with nut allergies? 

Absolutely! They are actually hypoallergenic. They are a fruit related to the lychee, so there is no need to worry for those with nut allergies. In fact they are great for anyone with allergies! Using Living Naturally Soapnut Shells as a washing detergent and/or multi-purpose cleaner will help reduce your exposure to toxins and harmful chemicals will hopefully reduce symptoms.

Are soapnuts safe for those with sensitive skin? 

Absolutely! Living Naturally Soapnut Shells are highly recommended for those with allergies or sensitive skin. They are 100% natural, free of synthetic chemicals and are hypoallergenic. Soapnuts are great for anyone who is sensitive to the dyes, perfumes and chemicals used in most commercial detergents and cleansers. Most people who are irritated by such commercial products find soapnuts their ideal solution. Some people have seen their eczema and psoriasis clear up as a result of using them.

Are soapnuts good for washing cloth nappies? 

Commercial detergents and soaps contain chemicals that build up in the nappy. Not only do these chemicals break down the fibres of the material causing it to loose absorbency and colour, but can also be irritating to your baby's skin. In fact, using commercial detergents does this to all of your clothes. Your clothes are coated with "whitening agents", optical bleaches and unknown chemicals and enzymes which affect the fibres and strip the colours away.

I see very little suds when washing with soapnuts, are they cleaning my clothes? 

Yes. Soapnuts may produce little suds, but they are still working very effectively. Your clothes will still come out of the wash clean and fresh. Suds should not be equated to cleaning power. We have been brainwashed to think this way through decades of marketing. The foaming you see with most detergents is because of the artificial foaming agents used. Using a low-sudsing alternative like soapnut shells or soapnut powder will not only keep your Energy Efficient washing machine running more efficently, but because soapnuts are also free of Sulphates, Phosphates, Phenols, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Petro-chemicals, Perfume and Bleach they are great for anyone with sensitivites as they are hypoallergenic. You can use soapnuts at any temperature from 30 – 90 degrees and they are 100% biodegradable!

Does it matter that some of the soapnuts are pieces instead of whole? 

No. Since agitating the soapnuts releases the soap, small pieces will work just as fine and possibly even release the soap faster. Do not hesitate to break up the soap nuts into smaller pieces if desired, or be concerned if they are broken up while handling.

I use bleach in my whites. What can I use as a substitute for bleach? 

If you desire to bleach your whites, adding your bleach of choice will not affect the cleaning power of the soap nuts. Soapnuts do not have any added whiteners or enzymes to help with stains like chemical detergents, so you will need to pre-treat stubborn stains prior to washing. Use your favourite stain remover in conjunction with soapnuts laundry detergent. For really stubborn stains we suggest soaking your clothes in a cold solution of bicarbonate of soda or soda crystals before you wash.

If the soap nuts stay in the wash through the rinse cycle, don't they keep releasing soap? 

No, as most rinse cycles use cold water. Soapnuts release very little saponin during the cold water rinse cycle. If you are mainly washing your clothes in 30.C or les, we recommend using soapnut liquid (we sell a concentrated liquid and you can also make your own from boiling the soanuts), soapnut powder or soapnut laundry tabs

Can I use a fabric softener or dryer sheets anymore? 

Normally there is no need. Living Naturally Soapnut Shells naturally soften your laundry and reduce static. If you require a fabric softener you can use white vinegar which is great at softening clothes. And if you would like your laundry scented you can either use essential oils or linen water. However, if you do use softener it will not diminish the quality of your soapnuts.

Soapnuts have a slight vinegar-like scent. Will my laundry have this scent? 

The scent of the soapnuts does not transfer to your clothes. Amazingly, clothes come out of the wash smelling totally fresh and clean. There is not even a trace scent of the soapnut itself. Pure soapnut liquid may have a slight vinegar scent, it will not transfer to your laundry or cleaning either. If you prefer a scent, you can simply add a few drops of your essential oil to the wash or use linen water.

Can I use too many nuts? 

We recommend four to eight whole Soapnuts per load. For really dirty clothes, giant loads, or when washing in cold water, you can use more nuts. You’ll know you’ve used too many nuts if your clothes feel stiff after washing. The stiffness results from excess saponin/soap in the water and is not harmful to you or the clothes. To get rid of any stiffness put clothes through a rinse cycle if necessary.

Can Soapnuts help me save water and energy? 

Yes! Since there’s no soapy residue to rinse away you can use short to no rinse cycle on your washing machine. Also, soapnuts are totally organic and, as stated earlier, a mild insecticide. It is safe, even beneficial to put on your garden. Your washing machine uses about 50 litres (12 gallons!) of water per wash. Collect that waste and your watering problems are over.

What do I do with the leftover shells? 

Fresh shells look like satin varnish, and progressively after approx 5 washes the inside of the nuts become matt beige or grey and the surface becomes darker. We suggest composting the shells or put it in the green recycling bin. You can also blitz them up in a blender and create more foam and pour this on your garden crops to stop slugs and snails.

Is there anything that I should concern myself with when using Soapnuts? 

As with other cleaners, the only thing that we highly recommend is that soapnuts (in all forms) should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Soap nuts are not consumable and may be harmful if eaten. Given their date-like appearance in raw shell form, a bag of soapnuts could look like food to a child or pet. Also because they contain soap/saponin, as with all soap products keep away from eyes. If soapnut liquid/powder goes into your eyes, rinse out with cold water immediately.
How do I make a Soapnut & Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) cream cleaner? 
Baking Soda Cream Cleaner
I use one of these three simple mixtures every week to clean my kitchen and bathroom surfaces when I need a bit of gentle abrasion.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 cup


Natural Cream Cleaner:

1/2 cup baking soda
18 drops lavender essential oil (or eucalyptus, tea tree or citrus oils)
2 1/2 teaspoons of our Soapnut liquid castile soap

Non-Abrasive Soft Scrubber:

1/4 cup Bicarbonate of Soda
1 teaspoon of our Soapnut liquid castile soap
1/2 teaspoon lemon essential oil

Soap Scum And Residue Cleaner:

1 1/2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup our natural Soapnut liquid castile soap
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar


To make the natural scouring cream, mix the baking soda and essential oils. This will be a powder consistency. Then gradually add in just enough soapnut liquid castile soap to form a paste. Add in 10 drops at a time and keep stirring. Usually it is about 120 drops.
To make the soft scrubber, mix the bicarb with just enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add the lemon oil and mix well. Put a small amount of this mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rinse well.
To make the soap scum and water residue cleaner, mix water, soap and baking soda very well. Add in vinegar. Use this solution to clean the sink with a damp cloth and then rinse well.