7 Ways to Use Soapberries to Clean Around the Home

Soap berries are a natural, hypoallergenic, grey water safe, palm oil free, vegan household cleaning solution that actually works! But what many people in Australia don't know is how multipurpose they are. Not only is a soap berry a fantastic natural laundry detergent, you can use soapberries as an all-purpose house cleaner, shampoo, body soap, dish detergent, and more! Read on as we share our favourite ways to use soap berries to clean around the home.

soapberries feature

What are soap berries?

Soapberries (also referred to as soap nuts, although not actually a nut) are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree . This tree grows in several different regions of the world, but is most prevalent in the Himalayas.  Brands such as That Red House source organic soap berries from those locations and import them to Australia. The berries are picked and then the shell of the fruit is collected, dried and packed for use. Incredibly Soap berries are coated naturally in a substance that is a natural surfactant (the same kind of substance that we know as detergent).

Being a 100% natural product, soap berries are produced sustainably with minimal impact to the environment compared to conventional detergents. Using soap berries will help the environment by:

  • Reducing pollution by using a raw plant product with almost no processing or packaging and that is fully compostable.
  • Completely chemical free, grey water safe, septic safe.
  • No plastic bottle - calico bag can be reused and nuts can be composted at the end of use.
  • Packaged in resuable draw string bag with small wash bag.
  • Not tested on animals.

Are soap nuts any good?

The shell is exceptionally high in 'saponin' which is known as nature's soap. This saponin content reduces the surface tension of the water so it will remove dirt and leave fabrics soft and clean. To use soap nuts for laundry, simply follow these instructions:

  1. Place the equivalent of five whole shells in the small cotton bag provided.
  2. Add bag to laundry load and remove when finished.
  3. Cold water is ok if the clothes are not very dirty, but use warm water for heavily soiled loads (40-60 degrees).
  4. Re-use the same shells for approx. four more loads.

Soap nuts are good because they have many benefits for your health and family, especially money saving. Soap berries in Australia cost around 10c per wash load for a 1kg bag. Compared to conventional washing powders, they can save you a great deal over the course of a year. 500g = approx. 180 wash loads. (Data supplied by That Red House.)

Soap berries are hypoallergenic, so they are a great choice for people with sensitive skin and allergies, babies and children. They are also antibacterial, antifungal and odourless. Our organic soap berries are cruelty free, palm oil free and are not tested on animals.

How to Use Soap Berries Around the Home

1. Soap Berry or Soap Nut "Tea" Liquid

Making mother broth from soap berries is simple, cost-effective, and the resulting liquid can be used as a multi-purpose cleaner around the home.

To make the broth:

  • Add 25 grams of berries per 500ml of water (or 50g per litre), bring to the boil, then boil for 15-20 minutes.
  • Ideally, stir in one teaspoon of Citric Acid per litre of water you started with. This helps as a preservative, as does adding some essential oils.
  • Let the liquid cool, and strain it to remove any soap berry bits. Transfer it to a jar, dish washing liquid squirt bottle, or spray bottle.

As this is a natural product, it will need to be used quickly to avoid spoiling. Keep a small amount in a bottle for daily use and store the rest in the fridge to extend its life.

The soap berry liquid is great liquid for dishwashing, cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, as a glass cleaner, stainless steel cleaner, pre-wash stain remover, or mould remover.

soap berry laundry detergent

2. Soap Berry Shampoo or Soap Alternative

The mother broth can be used for a range of cleaning purposes, including cleaning your hair and body. To make a soap berry shampoo or body soap, add some guar gum to the mother broth. Mix and add more gum until you get your desired consistency. Mechanically blend the ingredients together to fully combine. Store in a jar in the bathroom and use as needed.

3. Soap Berries for Laundry Detergent

To use soap berries for laundry, place the equivalent of five whole soapberry shells in the small cotton bag provided. Add the bag to the wash load and remove when finished. Use warmer water for heavily soiled loads (40-60 degrees). You can reuse the same shells for approximately 4 more loads, and they are suitable for use in top loaders and front loaders.

Soapberries are scent free, but if you would prefer some scent in your laundry, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil on the wash bag.  

Add a refreshing scent to your laundry with That Red House Laundry Tonic. Use in conjunction with That Red House Organic Soapberries for a natural, toxic free and zero waste laundry routine. Find the Laundry Tonic here >

Once the shells turn thin and brittle, they can be added to your compost or buried in the garden to break down naturally.

4. Soap Berry Laundry Soaker

You can use soapberries for different aspects of your laundry, not just in the machine. For soaking, add the soapberries into a tub or bucket of warm water, agitate the water to promote saponin release, and submerge your clothes. Use the same method to prepare water for hand washing any delicates, or to do laundry when you're out camping.

5. Soap Berry Dish Washing Liquid

Use the soap berry tea as described in point 1, or just add soapberries into the sink to use as a natural dish detergent. To use as a natural washing-up liquid, place the equivalent of four whole soapberry shells in the small cotton bag provided. You could also use the end of an old stocking. Fill the sink with warm water and agitate to promote saponin release. Wash your dishes as normal.

There are varying reports of effectiveness as a dishwasher cleaner. We recommend to trial various methods. Start with putting five whole soapberry shells in the small cotton bag provided, and tie it securely to the rack (don't leave it loose). Add white vinegar to the rinse container. Fill the dishwasher with dishes as normal and turn on.

6. Soap Berry Shaving Cream

To make a soapberry shaving cream, combine mother broth, a drizzle of olive oil (or your favourite moisturising oil), and some essential oils of choice. Mechanically blend together until thick, and pop in an airtight jar. Apply to skin and shave as normal. Note that the foam will disappear quite quickly. You need to blend directly before using.

7. Soap Berry Stainless Steel & Glass Cleaner

Mix 2/3 of liquid with 1/3 of vinegar, and add a few drops of antiseptic essential oil (like tea tree or eucalyptus). Add this mixture to a spray bottle and apply as needed. Use a microfiber cloth for best results.

So, as you have learned, it's quite incredible how many uses soapberries do have for cleaning your body, your clothes and cleaning your house.  Now, if you would like help to clean your home, you can ask a professional house cleaner to tackle it for you.  I am sure the right house cleaner will be happy to work with low tox cleaning products like these.


Soapberries release saponin better in warmer water, but don't boil them constantly as it will reduce their life. As a rule, once Soapberries look squishy on the inside and become brittle when they dry, you can compost them in the garden.

Buy Soapberries Online

Soapberries are such a versatile, natural alternative, you'll be using them for all your cleaning in no time.

Read more about That Red House

Recipes above thanks to That Red House. Image: @that_red_house


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