As a child, I had a passionate commitment to the environment. I was often found nagging my already fairly environmentally conscious mother to do more to help lessen our family’s impact on the earth. Throughout my teenage years and my early twenties, my dedication to earth-friendly behavior continued. I was Mother Nature’s advocate, and I would never have guessed that anything could change that.
Then…I became a parent. Suddenly, the environment took a backseat to more immediate priorities like cost and effectiveness. I still tried to be as environmentally friendly as I could, but with my new, busier lifestyle I was unwilling to trade cheap and efficient products for the more expensive and often less effective alternatives.
Superior Soapnuts, a fabulous Ontario-based soapnut supplier, is convinced that their all-natural, biodegradable soapnuts work so well that nobody who uses them will ever want to use commercial laundry soap again. I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to put Superior Soapnuts’ claims to the test.
Soapnuts are the dried fruit of the Ritha tree and contain an extremely high level of saponin. Any fans of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series may remember the reference to saponin, which is, in her books, found in the roots of certain plants. Saponin is the naturally produced cleansing agent that makes Superior Soapnuts such a fantastic alternative to a chemical detergent.
Superior Soapnuts are about the same size and shape as a hazelnut with a rich brown color and a smell that is faintly reminiscent of vinegar. The instructions on the eco-friendly cotton bag recommended placing three to five broken soapnuts in the provided cotton washbag and using the bag to wash four to eight loads of laundry. I decided to take the middle ground and use four soapnuts for six loads of clothes. I crushed the soapnuts with the flat edge of my cleaver, tied them in the bag and tossed the bag into the washing machine.
Laundry is no small task in our household. With a five-month-old, a messy preschooler and a home mechanic husband, my laundry detergent has to be able to tackle anything. I was thrilled and amazed by how fresh and clean our clothing was after using only soapnuts in the washing machine. Soiled diapers, tomato sauce stains and Kraft Dinner spills all washed out completely without any kind of pre-treating. My husband’s inevitable grease stains I pretreated with dish soap just as I do when using a commercial detergent. The stains then rinsed away fully in the laundry.
The stain-fighting power of Superior Soapnuts was impressive, but one of the most fabulous things about using them was the smell of our clothes after washing. Until I began using soapnuts, it never occurred to me how absurd it really is to add an artificial scent to detergent. If the detergent is so effective, why would the makers need to add a strong chemical scent to it? When I use soapnuts, our clothing smells like fresh cloth and nothing else. The smell is so irresistible that I just can’t refrain from sticking my nose into the clothing as I carry it up from the dryer.
Once we stopped using commercial laundry detergent, we lost our tolerance for it surprisingly quickly. A few weeks ago, my husband scrubbed all of his heavily soiled work jeans with our commercial detergent and then washed them. When he brought them upstairs to hang dry, the strong smell gave me a horrible headache and the chemical residue gave him an itchy rash. Knowing that my children no longer have residual deposits from such strong products in their clothing gives me so much peace of mind!
Best of all, Superior Soapnuts are much, much cheaper than any commercial laundry detergent! A 100g bag of soapnuts like the one I received for review contains approximately 30-33 soapnuts and costs $5.00. Doing one load of laundry every day or two, I used about half the bag in a four-week period. A 500g bag of soapnuts with two washbags is only $20 CAD and contains enough soapnuts to easily last a family of five between six and eight months!
Having seen for myself how effective soapnuts are, I cannot imagine myself ever using commercial laundry detergent again. With Superior Soapnuts, being environmentally friendly is cheap, easy, healthy and incredibly effective!
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Giveaway ends 11:59 pm CST on March 31, 2010. Open to US and Canada