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The "washing nuts" are the fruits of the Sapindus mukorossi tree, known as "the soap tree."
Of Indian and Nepalese origin, where they have been used for centuries as a detergent. Indian women used these nuts to wash their hair, the wash nut leaves hair very soft and shiny.
Sapindus or Saponaria is a genus of about twelve different species of shrubs and small trees belonging to the Sapindaceae family. They all contain saponin. Walnuts of the species Sapindus mukorossi have become a popular alternative to industrial chemical detergents. This species is also used in medicine as an expectorant, emetic, contraceptive, anti-epilectic, and as a migraine relief. It is also found on the Ayurvedic Herbs and Minerals list (the natural and traditional Indian medicine based on the medicinal use of plants) where it is used as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis. Once the Saponaria fruit has been collected, the nuts are dried and peeled, separating the shells. These peels contain the substance called "saponin" whose main characteristics are detergents. Saponin dissolves in contact with hot water and works like a natural soap that cleanses producing a very light, odorless lather.
Saponin has many uses: Detergent for the washing machine and dishwasher. Shampoo (it has anti-dandruff properties and keeps lice away). Shampoo for animals. It is anti-fleas. Window cleaner. Detergent for the car. Mosquito and parasite repellent. Biological insecticide for plants, repellent for aphids. Clean jewelry. It is an anti-allergic product, effective for children, for people with sensitive skin. Another fundamental advantage is that the use of soap nuts is cheaper than the use of conventional detergents. One kilo of walnuts is enough for 100 washes in the washing machine or 6 months of washing for a family of 3. Also, if you wash with washing nuts, you no longer need to use fabric softeners. The clothes are very soft and with a very pleasant smell. It also preserves the colors.
Washing nuts do not pollute the environment. It is also totally biodegradable.
Instructions for use: Put 3 soap nut shells in a cotton bag or an old sock, and put it in the drum of the machine together with the clothes. You do not need to use fabric softener. As the smell of clothes washed with these nuts is neutral, whoever prefers scented clothes can add a few drops of essential oil in the same sachet where the nuts are placed.
It is essential that the washing temperature is higher than 30 degrees, so that the saponin is released from the shell. If we want to wash cold, we must put the nuts to boil for 7 minutes, let cool and add the resulting liquid soap to the washing machine (we will do the same to get a natural shampoo).
After use, They can be saved for other washes, although it is important that we keep them dry, as it is possible that they may rot (We must remember that it is about seeds). After 4 uses, we can use them as fertilizer, or to vaporize the saponin in our plants, thus ending the aphids. Cheap, natural, hypoallergenic (a product that has a low risk of producing allergic reactions), ecological, keeps fleas, mosquitoes and lice away, smells good, brightens, softens ... and it is only a soap. Another very interesting possibility to make an ecological gesture that also helps with the economy.
The washing nut can be bought in organic stores and supermarkets.