Tuesday, 19 April 2011

a green laundry fling

Well, life can't be all fabulous frocks and long weekends - occasionally I have to do housework, so I thought I'd share the latest green fling I've had with laundry.

I've been using Nature's Organics Earth Choice laundry detergent for awhile - it's plant based, biodegradable, has no phosphates, and is a super concentrated formula so you only need to use a very small amount, reducing the materials and transportation of the product.  It seems to tick most eco-boxes, and I like the smell better than the super-greenie laundry detergent we tried from the Manly Co-op, which was very runny and contained mostly vinegar.

I'd read about soapnuts in my favourite book - Gorgeously Green - but hadn't been able to find them in Australia until this weekend when I saw them in Manly Health Foods (next to the Co-op, my favourite eco-product shop).
500 gram box of organic soapnuts from India
Soapnuts have been used for centuries as a natural, versatile cleaning agent in India, and also have a history with native people of Asia and the Americas.  The shells contain saponin, which when mixed with water is a natural surfactant (detergent).  Eaternal's soapnuts are harvested naturally, after the fruit ripens and falls to the ground they are sun dried before being packed up, using no chemicals or artificial ingredients.  These Soapnuts have Indian, EU and USDA Organic certification, and the company claims to work under fair trade conditions, though no certification is apparent on their website.  The packaging also consists of handmade, uncoated recycled cardboard printed with soya based vegetable inks, and the interior bag is biodegradable and compostable as well - amazing eco-credentials all around!

I followed the instructions and placed six half shells inside the small organic cotton bag provided in the pack and tossed the lot in with my washing.  I'll admit, I felt doubtful that those little shells would be enough to clean an entire load of laundry, especially since it contained my hubby's dirty basketball clothes, but I'll try almost any eco-experiment once.

Soapnut shells - these fragile lightweight shells sure pack a cleaning punch!
Wouldn't you know it - everything came out super clean and fresh, even the stinky basketball gear!  The only difference I noticed compared to other laundry detergent was there was no 'laundry' smell.  The instructions suggest adding a few drops of essential oil if you'd like a scent - I think I'll add some of my lavendar essential oil when I do my next load of sheets and see if that makes a difference.

Soapnuts can also be used in dishwashers and to make your own liquid soap (by boiling in water for 10-20 minutes), so it seems I have more experimenting to do with this little wonders.  The 500g box cost nearly $18, not cheap for laundry detergent or soaps, but since you use so few shells per load I think it will last awhile - I'll keep track and let you know.

I'd love to hear if you've experimented with soapnuts or other natural cleaning products.

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