Ritha (Sapindus mukorossi) with its large leaves is a handsome deciduous tree found in India. It is also called doadni, doda and dodan in Indian dialects. The dried fruit of Ritha is most valuable part of the plant. Its fleshy portion contains saponin, which is a good substitute for washing soap and is as such used in preparation of quality shampoos, detergents, etc. In fact the skin of the fruit is highly valued by the rural folks as a natural produced shampoo for washing their hair. They also use these for washing woolen clothes. This is why some botanists have named the species as Sapindus detergens. Soap nuts have become popular as an alternative to laundry detergent among those who are trying to live in an environmentally friendly style. It removes dirt from clothing – not only highly-effective but also gentle. Because of its mildness, it preserves the colours and the structure of your valuable clothing longer than normal detergents. It’s so gentle that it’s even not necessary to add a softener: The laundry turns out amazingly soft! Because of these characteristics, soapnuts are the perfect Detergent.
As harvested, soapnuts are a small, round, waxy ball. As they are introduced to water, they release saponin, a natural cleanser. To wash your clothes, simply place 7-8 soapnuts in a small muslin bag, and drop it in the washer. Your clothes will come out clean, with a fresh, natural scent. If you wish to change the scent of your clean laundry, you can add a few drops of essential oils to the wash.
Crumble seven or eight soapnuts into a small saucepan, and add four cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Pour the liquid into a container (an empty shampoo bottle is great), then discard the used soapnuts. By default, soapnut shampoo does not contain many suds. This is not a problem, but a new user may have a tendency to use too much at once. If you want to make your shampoo more ‘foamy’ (like store-bought shampoo), you can place it in a pump bottle.
Soapnut powder will leave your skin and hair feeling soft and clean. Apply soapnut powder directly while you bathe, or mix it with a little water and put it in a bottle for ease of use.
Add a teaspoon of soapnut powder to a bowl of water, and soak your fruits and vegetables. Chemical spray and pesticide residue will be washed away, leaving clean, wholesome food. Be sure to rinse the food before eating.
Soapnut can be used to clean almost anything. A little soapnut powder and water goes a long way.