Soapberries, the humble little berry that might just be the answer to a completely chemical free and all natural cleaning solution for the home. These little wonder fruits are native to India and the Himalayas. The berry-like fruit from the lychee family is full of a natural soap called saponin that is released when the dried berries absorb water.
Biodegradable, non-toxic, chemical free, antibacterial, antifungal, and they are even suitable for sensitive skin, too. So, how can you start using them at home?
Perhaps the most popular and well known use for soapberries is as a laundry detergent. It's as easy as adding five berries into a small cloth bag (that is provided with That Red House soapberries) and throwing it into the washing machine. The hypoallergenic and unscented berries will leave your clothes feeling soft, and they’re gentle enough to use on delicates and children’s clothes. A bag of five berries can be used for up to five loads of washing before discarding into your compost or throwing on the garden to break down.
Soapberries do not leave any soap residue on fabric unlike chemical washing detergent. This means there is no need to use the rinse cycle on your washing machine. Yup, that's right! Turn the machine off after the first drain. Think of the water you will save.
Tips to get the most from your soapberries
Hot water releases the most amount of saponin from soapberries, but there is no need to do a hot wash cycle. Simply soak your bag of soapberries in a bowl of hot or boiled water for 5-10 minutes before adding the whole lot to a cold wash.
Soapberry base liquid
This base recipe is so diverse it can be used for multiple applications.
First, boil your soapberries into a concentrated liquid by combining 1 litre of water for every 10 whole soapberries in a saucepan. Boil for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often to extract more saponin. Let the liquid cool before straining through a cloth or muslin.
To extend the life of your soapberry liquid base, add 2 teaspoons of citric acid per litre to the mixture while the liquid is hot. This acts as a natural preservative. You can keep the base in the fridge to extend the shelf life if not using citric acid.
Now you have your Soapberry base - go crazy with the below recipes
Spot and stain remover
For hard-to-remove stains, the concentrated soapberry base liquid (above) will most likely do the trick. Add the liquid to a spray bottle and spray directly onto stains, rubbing slightly before throwing into the wash.
General household cleaner
Mouldy bathroom? Greasy stove? Dull stainless steel? Mix ½ cup of soapberry base liquid with ¼ cup of white vinegar and ¼ cup of water. Add a few drops of essential oil if you want a scented cleaner; eucalyptus, lavender or citrus oils will also act as a natural preservative and are antibacterial.
Humans and plants alike can stay bug free by spraying soapberry base liquid straight to exposed skin or the base of plants to naturally repel all sorts of pests.
Shampoo, body and hand wash
Soapberry base liquid can even be used as an ultra-gentle shampoo that’s perfect for the most sensitive of scalps, hand soap or body wash. If you prefer a thicker consistency, especially for when using as hand soap, add a small amount of guar gum, agar agar or corn flour to the mixture.
South Australian family owned business That Red House import the highest quality certified organic soapberries which are grown and harvested in Nepal. Purchasing from That Red House also supports the Grow Nepal initiative, providing fair income and working conditions for small Himalayan communities. How good's that?
Like all products on My Grandma Ben, we’ve tried and tested soapberries and only recommend products we love.
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