You know how it goes around here, right? I post great big giant resource pages of things to do with natural ingredients, and you read them all. (Thank you … thank you for being so voracious.)
So, as I mentioned, I’ve been doing just about everything I possibly could with soapnuts for the last two or three weeks, and (nearly) everything in this recipe list, I’ve tried.
Sadly, I am now out of soap nuts. I need a tree, and 9 years.
The good news is: THE HOUSE, MY FACE, AND MY HAIR IS SPARKLY CLEAN! Yay!
So without further ado, here’s how you can use soapnuts to clean your hair, your face, your laundry, your counters, your windows, your pet, and your life.
The Mother of All Soap Nuts Recipe Resources
We’ll do this in sections, so that once you HAVE your own soap nuts (especially exciting if you’re one of the winners of the drawing at the Crunchy Community … don’t forget to enter), you can come back and refer to all this good stuff. If you already have your own soap nuts, you’re pretty crunchy. Pat yourself on the back.
Three notes, though, on using soap nuts in liquid form:
- Soap nut liquid will sting your eyes if you’re not careful, so if you’re washing your face or hair with it, remember to keep the peepers closed. The stinging makes it perhaps not a viable option for washing your children’s hair, as well.
- Soap nut liquid does not taste good (and it could make your stomach hurt if you ingest too much), so keep your mouth closed while doing the aforementioned things, too.
- Soap nut liquid does spoil, unless you use a recipe that also includes a preservative (even then, it won’t last forever) or unless you can it. (For more information on canning to preserve your soap nuts liquid, see this link at Superior Soap Nuts.) Also, I’ve read in several places that adding 1 tsp citric acid to 4 cups of liquid will add weeks to your soap nuts liquid’s life.
Also, you can use soap nuts in four forms:
- The whole nut/shell, which is good for laundry.
- Liquid, which you can learn how to make in this post. It’s this form that’s handiest for most soap nut uses.
- Paste, which is basically running the boiled soap nuts through a food processor. This is good for shaving cream and heavy-duty cleaning jobs.
- Powder, which you can buy in powder form, or make yourself by grinding the shells VERY finely (in a coffee or spice grinder – the good news is, it cleans out really easily). This is good for laundry or adding to a homemade dishwasher detergent, which I’ll talk more about right now.
Household Recipes with Soap Nuts
Soap Nut Power Dishwasher Detergent
- 1 c. Borax
- 1 c. Washing Soda
- 1/8 c. Finely Grated Castille Soap
- 1/8 c. Finely Ground Soap Nut Shells
Stir everything together well, and use as you would a dry dishwasher detergent. (Don’t forget to put white vinegar in the rinse well, too!)
CrunchyBetty Says: I got to this recipe in a roundabout way. See, there are many resources that say you can just pour soap nuts liquid into your dishwasher detergent well and just use it like that. However, I did my dishes like that twice, and both times I still had some food on the dishes. (I’m not keen on completely washing off dishes before adding them to the dishwasher. As long as there’s no chunks of food on it, it goes in the machine.)
However, even though there was still some visible food on the dishes, they were audibly squeaky clean. And then the lightning bolt.
My homemade dishwasher detergent works really well at scrubbing the dishes, but it often leaves a thin white film on plastics and the bottoms of my pots and pans. Soapnuts were the missing ingredient! The thing that made the homemade dishwasher detergent absolutely and completely perfect.
If you’re the type of household that rinses all your dishes completely off before popping them in the dishwasher, though, you’ll probably be just fine using soap nuts liquid as a dishwasher detergent. Just pour the liquid in the well and go.
Soap Nut Glass Cleaner
- 1 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
- 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 1/2 c. Water
- 2 Tbsp c. Isopropyl Alcohol (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Use as you would any glass cleaner. This doesn’t streak, and it’s also really great for windows/glass that are particularly messy (like toothpaste splatters or mud on the outside of windows).
Crunchy Betty Says: Because the soap nuts liquid doesn’t keep, I made mine in a smallish batch, like the above recipe. It was enough to clean all the windows and mirrors in my house, with some left over. I’m going to keep it under the sink for a while and test it, just to see how long it lasts. Vinegar is a fantastic preservative, so I’m betting it’ll go a good month or two before a new batch needs to be made.
General Household Soap Nut Cleaner
- Straight Soap Nut Liquid
- 1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
- 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 1/8 c. Water
Combine everything in a small bowl or spray bottle, and use as you would a kitchen or bathroom cleaner.
Crunchy Betty Says: When I used the soap nut liquid straight to clean my counters, it seemed like maybe there was a bit of a residue on my counter, so I filled up a bottle with the second recipe, and it works like a charm. I found it exceptionally helpful in cleaning off the hood over the stove (the part that gets all oddly dirty and sticky when the stove hood elves come out at night and party).
Soap Nut Bathroom Cleaner
- 1/8 c. Baking soda
- 1/8 c. Borax
- 1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
- 10 drops Eucalyptus Oil or Peppermint Oil (optional)
Stir everything together well, breaking up any clumps. You should have a thickish paste, which you can add more liquid to, if you’d like it thinner. Scoop out a bit of the paste with your sponge and clean your bathroom counters/tub/toilet with it. If you have any remaining, drop it in the toilet and use the toilet brush to clean the bowl well.
Crunchy Betty Says: This is similar to the homemade bathroom cleaner I usually use, but it definitely has more immediate scrubbing power. It doesn’t particularly whiten the toilet bowl, though, so if I were to do it over again, I might add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice in the bowl as I scrubbed it. Smells so super fresh, though!
Soap Nut Hand Wash
- 1/2 c. Liquid Castille Soap
- 1/8 c. Soap Nut Liquid
- 5 drops Essential Oil (Lavender, Tea Tree, or Rosemary would add extra antibacterial power)
Mix everything together in a small pump bottle and use as you would any hand soap. Alternatively, you could just wash your hands with a little bit of soap nut liquid, but adding this all together will give more cleansing power, and mixing the essential oils and castille soap in with the soap nut liquid will prolong the life of the liquid.
Soap Nut Laundry Detergent
There are so many ways to use soap nuts for laundry detergent, and none of them really require a recipe. Here are the three best ways:
- Liquid: Add 1/8 c. soap nut liquid to the wash, in lieu of regular laundry detergent.
- Nuts: Place 4-5 soapnuts in a muslin or spice bag. Place in the washing machine, and wash your clothes as usual. Replace the nuts after 4-5 washes, or when the flesh starts to lose its color and turn a bit gray.
- Powder: Grind the shells (not the pits) into a fine powder. Add 1 tsp soap nut powder to a load of laundry.
- Ice Cubes: Freeze soap nuts liquid in ice cube trays. Store in the freezer. Use 3 ice cubes per load of laundry.
For really grimy loads of laundry, add 3-4 Tbsp borax to the soap nut concoction of your choice, and wash clothes with the mixture.
Soap Nut Liquid Bug Spray (for Skin and Garden)
Pour some soap nuts liquid into a small spray bottle. Spray your skin (or plants) with the liquid. This should work as mosquito and pest repellent – and it’s SO eco-friendly. For extra bug-repelling power for your skin, add 2-3 drops citronella essential oil to the liquid before spraying.
Soap Nut Jewelry Cleaner
- 3 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
- 1/4 c. Distilled Water
Mix the two ingredients together and place jewelry into the liquid. Allow the jewelry to sit for 15-20 minutes. With a small toothbrush, gently scrub your jewelry clean. Sparkly!
Soap Nut Beauty Recipes
Soap Nut Shampoo
- 3-4 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
In the shower, carefully pour the soap nut liquid over your hair and scrub in. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse out well. Soap nuts leave your hair clean, but really incredibly soft and bouncy!
Attention No ‘Pooers: If you have dry or wiry hair issues from going no ‘poo, soap nuts could be your answer. Before your final water rinse, try pouring a bit of soap nuts liquid into your hair and letting it sit for a few minutes. Rinse well. Softness and manageability ensues.
Soap Nut Dandruff Treatment
- Pre-Wash: Mix together 1 Tbsp soap nuts liquid with 3 Tbsp coconut oil. Massage into scalp for a few minutes. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
Then wash with:
- 3 Tbsp soap nuts liquid
- 3 drops tea tree essential oil
- 1 Tbsp Liquid Castille Soap
Mix the above ingredients together, and use as you would shampoo. If you do the coconut oil scalp treatment beforehand, there should be no reason to use conditioner after shampooing. Repeat three times a week until dandruff is gone.
Soap Nut Facial Cleanser
- Soap Nut Liquid
Rinse your face with warm water. On a clean, damp washcloth, pour a tablespoon or so of soapnuts liquid. Gently scrub your face with the washcloth and rinse well.
Alternatively: And this is the way I’m really enjoying the soap nuts liquid at the moment.
- 1 Tbsp Gentle Homemade Face Scrub (like this recipe here)
- 1 Tbsp Soap Nuts Liquid
Mix the two things together in a small bowl. Rinse your face well with warm water, and then gently scrub the mixture onto your face for 2-3 minutes. Rinse well with warm water and finish up with moisturizer.
Crunchy Betty Says: Soap nuts have a decently sturdy reputation at treating acne. Try it out and let me know if it helps!
Soap Nuts Body Wash
- Soap Nuts Liquid
Wherein, you just pour the liquid on your washcloth and wash yourself with it. As a reminder, soapnuts are both cleansing AND softening, so your skin’ll be super soft after doing this.
OR: Drop 3-4 soap nuts in a fabric soap holder (I have a couple of cute knitted ones I found on Etsy last year that work really well). Run the contained soap nuts through the shower water for a few seconds, and then scrub your body with them. Easy, simple, and so naturally effective!
Soap Nuts for Athlete’s Foot
- 3 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid or 1 tsp Soap Nut Powder
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 3 drops Tea Tree Oil
Stir everything together well and massage into freshly washed feet, concentrating on the effective area. Apply socks. Do not rinse off.
Soap Nut Shaving Cream
- Flesh from 15 Soap Nuts, leftover after boiling them for liquid
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 tsp Soap Nuts Liquid
After pitting and removing the hulls around the pits (as well as any “harder” chunks of the boiled soap nuts flesh), put the flesh into your food processor and turn it on. After the flesh has become a paste, dribble in the olive oil and liquid. Watch out! The paste starts to foam A LOT. Shave immediately after making.
Crunchy Betty Says: THIS IS AWESOME. Legs are super smooth after shaving with this cream. However, there are two downfalls: First of all, I still had a little bit of chunky soapnut flesh in my mixture, so I had to shave around it. That really wasn’t a huge issue; it was just different than normal shaving cream.
Secondly, the cream doesn’t stay foamy overnight, so this might be a one-time use situation. I left the jar in the fridge overnight, and the soap nuts and oil separated. I stirred them together, which got rid of the air, so it’s more of a paste at this point. I’m still going to shave with it – it’s just not the same fun foam that it once was.
Want to see a picture of it?
More With Leftover Soap Nut Flesh
My favorite part about soap nuts is that you can use every last piece of them for something. (I LOVE the necklace idea using soap nuts pits, by the way. Thank you guys!)
The best part is the flesh. After eking out as much saponin from the flesh by boiling soapnuts (again, here’s how you make the soap nuts liquid), you can use the flesh for the shaving cream above.
Or, you can get down to brass tacks and make a paste out of it for heavy-duty bathroom cleaning. Just toss the flesh in the food processor and let it go for a few minutes. Then add a little baking soda to the soapnuts paste and stir. This is great to use on grimy shower doors or for cleaning grout.
Nutty for Soapnuts!
OKAY. THERE. If you’re not convinced enough to pick up soap nuts yet, let me just remind you one. last. time. that there’s an awesome giveaway going on over at the Crunchy Community.
It ENDS TONIGHT.
So don’t forget to enter now.
And don’t forget to check out the soap nuts at Mountain Rose Herbs (along with all their other magnificent homemade beauty items)*.
*Reminder: That is an affiliate link. Love it. Use it.