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Soap Nuts – The Most Affordable And Green Laundry Detergent
We’re all stretching our paychecks (if we’re still getting them) as far as we can these days. We are also very concerned about all possible health risks and living greener. Unfortunately, what usually goes along with supposedly “greener”, better products are higher prices. Walk down any aisle in any store and it’s immediately apparent. I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently about the green greed that exists in virtually every industry.
I have also read erroneous articles that refer to soap nuts as an expensive alternative to green detergent. Nothing could be THAT far from the truth. I’ve received more than one apology (of some sort) from writers who just didn’t do their research very well. Any conclusions drawn from a study that begins with faulty premises and incorrect testing techniques will lead to incorrect data. The big problem with soap nuts is that there are big data gaps and some poor quality information floating around. One writer claimed that the cost of using soap nuts is around 50 cents per load. That was complete nonsense. I immediately set her straight. When used correctly, soap nuts can be one of the MOST affordable ways to do laundry! It is VERY easy to calculate. You only need the correct data to calculate.
NOTE: It is important to note that purchasing soap nut samples or just a few ounces is cost prohibitive. The purpose of “samplers” is only to TRY them. Time. If you like how they work, then you’ll be sure to buy them in much larger quantities to lower your cost per ounce and associated load costs. Right?
Let’s compare the cost of using soap nuts to using the many commercial detergents we see all the time. Let’s crunch the numbers: (You’ll notice I’m avoiding metrics and referring to USD. I believe the different methods of weights and measures and different currencies have contributed to some of the confusion. I’m a US citizen and I write much of what is easy for an American audience to understand. I honestly apologies to anyone unfamiliar with my use of US scales and currency.)
You can buy about two pounds (32 ounces) of good soap nuts for about $30. This would be a very common amount that a knowledgeable soap nut user would purchase. When used in the traditional way, you will use approx. half an ounce in a laundry bag, which averages about 5 servings. This gives approx. 320 costs for $30 spent. Personally, I can usually get a lot more loads, but that’s because of some tricks I use to extend their life and maximize saponin extraction. BUT, to be conservative, let’s just go with FOUR half-ounce refills.
A note worth noting: I’ve seen sellers claim a number of costs that seem to be all over the place. I have also heard of people claiming to use half the amount I suggest using. I can’t explain it. Let’s just keep in mind the many, many variables in how people do their laundry, plus the variables in the quality and types of soap nuts – and leave it at that. My approach is very “medium”. I’m dealing with the norms, not the extremes, so that it makes sense for the vast majority of scenarios.
THIS is what you can take to the bank: Using good quality soapnuts (the mukorossi variety is very good), half an ounce (usually five or six whole soapnuts or the equivalent in pieces) used traditionally (in a laundry bag to put right in with the laundry) will again usable for four to six doses – easily.
So only FOUR half-ounce charges, which would only give us 256 charges (not 320) out of 32 ounces. $30 divided by 256 equals $0.127 per load. And we’re talking about an average size, standard load – not a high efficiency load that will expand the number of uses and thus further reduce the cost of the load.
Now let’s compare the “cost per load” of soap nuts with the known “natural” and other types of detergents in the typical sizes in which they are available. Note that all prices are from reputable sellers and typical prices are easy to find. Again, all soap nut prices per cartridge are based on standard cartridges, not HE. I try to be very conservative and realistic in all my calculations and estimates.
Following are the regular prices of soap nuts in various regular sizes (I pulled them directly from the internet from a reputable supplier): Note: I even list the regular prices of the smaller bag sizes (at a higher cost per ounce – and I STILL only use FOUR fills per half ounce laundry bag.) – 64 ounce bag of Soap Nuts: $57.95 for 512 servings ($0.113 per refill) – 32 ounce bag of Soap Nuts: $29.95 for 256 servings ($0.117 per refill) – A 16 – ounce bag of Soap Nuts: 19, $95 for 128 servings ($0.155 per load) – 8 oz bag of Soap Nuts: $12.75 for 64 servings ($0.199 per load)
The following are various commercial detergents in typical sizes and prices. Load counts are as per manufacturer’s instructions.
– Seventh Generation Free and Pure Natural Laundry Detergent 2x Ultra: $11.99 for 50 servings. ($0.239 per load)
– All’s Small and Mighty 3x Concentrate for HE Washers: $8.49 for 32 loads. ($0.265 per load)
– ECOS laundry detergent, ultra concentrated with soy fabric softener: $9.49 for 26 servings ($0.367 per load)
– Tide 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $14.99 for 32 servings ($0.468 per load!) This surprised me!
– Dreft’s 2x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $31.99 for 110 servings ($0.290 per load)
– Babyganics 3x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $13.49 for 33 servings ($0.408 per load)
– Method 3x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $10.99 for 32 servings ($0.343 per load)
– Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Laundry Detergent: $13.49 for 32 servings ($0.421 per load)
It turns out very quickly that soap nuts are VERY cheap compared to most detergents. (Note that I chose a nice random cross-sampling very common even for some of the more esoteric brands.) Used properly, soap nuts can greatly reduce our laundry costs. In addition, this does not take into account the fact that when using soap nuts, you practically do not need fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
It’s also worth noting that all of these products that are being compared to Soap Nuts are around (give or take) the same 32 oz weight range I mentioned earlier that is popular with Soap Nut users. Most stores (except warehouse type stores) don’t seem to carry much of this in larger sizes. I can only assume that the appropriate size, weight and price points for detergents in this weight range were determined by most vendors to be the most common sellers. It is the difference in the number of fillings per ounce between soap nuts and commercial detergents that is absolutely astounding.
Regardless, the point of this article boils down to the COST PER COST of using soap nuts compared to commercial detergents. Soap nuts are NOT expensive. They are a much more affordable laundry detergent – and it certainly won’t be greener. As shown above, even a very small bag of Soap Nuts (8 oz for $12.75) is much less per load than any of these commercial brands – and again, this is VERY conservative in all respects. Compared to one of Tide’s flagship detergents, it’s less than half the cost per load.
I gave a single mom, a good friend of mine with three kids, a bag of soap nuts for the holidays. She worked hard to earn her living. Since then she has been raving about how amazing they work, how her laundry has never smelled so clean and soft, how her washing machine no longer smells of mold and mildew. She had trouble describing the smell because there is no smell. How can one simply describe the smell of pure and clean? Think about it.
She didn’t stay with the laundry. She never stopped experimenting and last I heard the liquid she made cleaned her coffee maker better than even CLR. (Phew. I’m sure CLR would clean up very well. She’s a smart lady.) Awesome. She tells me her coffee maker is working and looks like new again.
Soap nuts aren’t just growing in consumer awareness when GREEN is “in”. Awareness is growing at a time when we can all use a little more green in our pockets. The green movement will only continue to grow. Both business and government have recognized the need for change (for different reasons, of course). Our children WILL live in a much greener, safer and more efficient world than the one we knew and grew up in. There is no better time than now to discover all the wonders that soap nuts have to offer. Better detergents are just the beginning.
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