A Washing Up / Dishwasher Trial Using Soap Nuts

Approximately three years ago (before I made my own laundry liquid), I purchased some ‘Soap Nuts’ to try:

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This is what one seller says about them:

“Soap Nuts are a natural washing detergent that is literally grown on trees. The Soapnut shells contain Saponins which on contact with water release mild suds and can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to Laundry detergent in washing machines. In India and Nepal the soap nuts have been used as a washing detergent for hundreds of years. Modern day thinking that we should consider the future of the planet we live in have made Soap Nuts popular. Not only are they effective but the Soap Nuts are also relatively cheap compared to supermarket bought washing powder”.

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 I know there will be people reading my blog today who use them regularly, but unfortunately I didn’t think they washed our clothes very well and I followed the instructions to the letter and I tried using them various times before I decided to give up on them.

So my soap nuts have sat unused all this time as I couldn’t bare to throw them away, as I had paid good money for them…. but I also didn’t want to use them to wash my clothes.


Over the Christmas holiday (when I should have been relaxing), I found myself searching on the internet for a homemade recipe for a washing up liquid.  I have searched before and never really had any success in finding a good recipe, however this time ‘Soap nuts’ appeared.  It said:

“Use soapnut liquid for washing your glasses, dishes, cutlery and pans as usual. Don’t be deceived by the lack of bubbles on the effectiveness of the cleaning.  There are no artificial foaming agents so there will be very few if any lasting bubbles but your washing up will be cleaned effectively even if left to soak”.

After a little bit more research I found that the washing up liquid that you can make with the Soap nuts, can also be used in a dishwasher.  So I found my unused Soap nuts and decided to follow the recipe for the liquid and put it to the test.


‘Soap Nut’ Washing up / Dishwasher Liquid Recipe:


Crush 100 grams of soap nut shells.  I found it easier to bash them with a rolling pin in a bag.


Add them to a pan with 8 cups of water and bring to the boil.


Simmer for 20 minutes.. .apparently the boiling process extracts the saponin from the nut shells and combines it with the water.


At this stage you can either use it straight away or leave it to ‘steep’ overnight.  I left mine overnight.


I strained the liquid and composted the remaining soap nuts.

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I then poured it into an old bottle to store.


I added a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to the liquid.  The recipe didn’t tell me to do this, however eucalyptus oil is great for removing grease and oil and I wanted my liquid to be as good as possible.


So here is the result:


My eldest daughter said it looked like a bottle of apple juice on my work surface (which shows how important it is to label the bottle) and I daren’t tell you what my other daughter said it looked like!

The recipe says you can use the liquid as a shampoo, all purpose cleaner, car wash, liquid soap, pet shampoo, washing up liquid, dishwasher liquid or any other things you would normally clean with a liquid.

I wanted to use it a washing up liquid, so I began to trial it:


I put a small amount of the washing up liquid in my bowl and ran the hot water tap.  It did produce bubbles, but nothing like the amount a shop bought washing up liquid produces.  However, I didn’t let it put me off as the instructions did say:

“Don’t be deceived by the lack of bubbles on the effectiveness of the cleaning.   There are no artificial foaming agents so there will be very few if any lasting bubbles but your washing up will be cleaned effectively even if left to soak”.

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I washed some very dirty things to try it out and I have got to say I was very impressed!  On the left is a bowl that I had used to make a chocolate cake and on the right is a spoon that had margaine all over it.  Below is the result:

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They came out very clean and I have continued to use the liquid for my washing up over the last three weeks, with good results everytime.


After this success, I decided to try it out in my dishwasher.  Again, I made sure I washed our usual load of dirty crockery (without rinsing the plates first, as we don’t usually do this):


I filled the soap dispenser in the dishwasher with the washing up liquid


I then ran our normal 60 degrees ‘quick and clean‘ cycle.  This is the result:

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Again I was very impressed as everything came out sparkling so I continued to use the washing liquid in my dishwasher for the next few days.

A problem followed…

After day four I noticed the pots were not coming out so clean.  After searching on the internet, I found other people have had this problem and given up with the liquid, as there appeared to be a build up of grease in their dishwashers.

  The next time I used my dishwasher I used our normal ‘value’ dishwasher tablet and the pots came out clean again.  However, as I had really good results at the beginning with the soap nut liquid, I decided to give it another go….and the pots came out sparkling clean again.

So for the last three weeks, I have alternated each wash with soap nut liquid or a dishwasher tablet and I have got to say I am pleased with the result.



It’s a shame I can’t use the soap nut liquid in our dishwasher everyday, but at least this way I am using something natural and cheaper every other day to wash our pots and pans with.

I will also be continuing to use my soap nut liquid for any hand washing up I do, as I think it is just as good as shop bought washing up liquid and far cheaper too.

My bag of soap nuts will last me for ages, so I think they are good value for the money I paid and I love the way I can add them to my compost heap after I have finished using them.

If you fancy trying out soap nuts yourself, you only need to google ‘soap nuts’ and you will find quite a few suppliers to buy from.

My remaining soap nuts

My remaining soap nuts


Thank you for reading my blog today, I hope you have found my trial interesting.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.


29 thoughts on “A Washing Up / Dishwasher Trial Using Soap Nuts

  1. Good to share ! I hâve some as well but i Heard They made fishes sick? Did you hear about That! Would be wired for an enviromental product. I ll hâve to Check never took the Time

  2. I had the same experience with washing my clothes with soap nuts. I really wanted them to work, however they just didn’t clean my clothes well enough.
    Thanks for posting about your experience with using them for dishwashing.

    • Hi little green village it’s lovely to hear from you. I thought it was just me with soap nuts when I washed my clothes…it’s lovely to hear I’m not on my own…however I’m really pleased with my dishwashing liquid.

      • Hi Margy and thanks for reading my blog. I think I read somewhere too that you can add the soap nuts directly into your dish washer though I
        have never tried it..if you have a go pls let me know how you get on. As regards to borax in laundry mix, you can add it to a dry mix or in the laundry liquid as I do-I prefer the liquid.

  3. Great post i have heard of soap nuts but never used them, i washed our clothes with no detergent after watching “The green valley” i didnt notice any difference for a few weeks then the washing started to look not so clean i used the washing liquid, and alternated, saves so much money.

  4. I haven’t tried using soap nuts but do make my own laundry powder and dish wash powder. I have used my laundry powder for over 2 years and would never go back to commercial. However, I too alternate my own dishwasher powder with commercial dishwasher powder as the glasses would be smeary after about four washes. Still, it cuts down on the chemical load.

  5. I haven’t tried soap nuts either – and may not now that I have read your experience with them. I do have an idea for you for the dishwasher – I make my own powder too, and one of the ingredients that I use is citric acid. You can buy it at health food stores or wine making stores. If you were to add the citric acid powder in with the washing liquid, it might help with the grease build-up. I occasionally run an empty load with just the citric acid, to clean out any hard water build up in our dishwasher (we have a water softener, but occasionally we still get a little hard water build-up).

  6. Hi! Never heard of soap nuts before. About using them in the washing machine, do you crush them small before adding them to the washer? I would be afraid they would clog up the drain. Am I thinking wrong? Can’t figure that out.

    • Hi Kearnygirl. If you use them in a washing machine, you put five or six shells in little bag. The idea is that you can use the shells five or six times before replacing them. I wasn’t keen on them for washing clothes in my washing machine as I personally didn’t think they washed well (but I have heard of others that swear by them). I am using mine as a dishwasher liquid and a hand washing up liquid.

  7. Hi Thank you for your reply. I should have thought you would put them in a bag! Sometimes my brain doesn’t work. Ha ha

  8. This is a very interesting blog. I have thought about soap nuts myself, but I have never gotten them as the expense in shipping them in to me doesn’t seem justified when I can get a box of washing machine soap for a couple of bucks that lasts me months.
    Also the cleaning with dishes is interesting, as on occasion we have run out of dish liquid at an inconvenient time and I have had to make some up with what I have (no electric dish washer here, only a pair of hands 🙂 ) bu we don’t like any of the home made concoctions I have made up so far, as they do not suds enough, they are way too slippery, and they do not seem to clean well unless loads is used, which, in my mind, kida defeats the purpose.
    I am thinking I probably will not get soap nuts unless something drastically changes with the price, or I successfully grow my own tree, lol!

    • Soap nuts are easy to get hold of here, so price isn’t an issue. If you like lots of suds then soap nuts aren’t for you, as you certainly only get a small amount of suds. The shop bought brands put chemicals in their washing up liquid to make them bubble and produce suds as they know the general public thinks that suds make them clean, when in actually fact it doesn’t. However, I must admit, I miss seeing the bubbles, but it isn’t such a problem as I don’t see most of the pots washed in our house as they are in the dishwasher lol

  9. I’m usually looking at around $15 minimum for postage, and and the nuts can start at $5 for a 250g bag of nuts. They aren’t sold at the Healthfood store, or locally anywhere 😦

  10. I have found a lime or a lemon cut in half and added to you cutlery tray will cut thru the grease buildup in your dishwasher.

    if I have to squeeze a lemon or lime for juice I throw the half’s in the dishwasher for a wash before adding it to the compost.

  11. I always have good luck with I always have good luck with soap nut liquid in my dishwasher. I set a small bowl in the top front corner of my dishwasher with about a quarter cup of white vinegar in every load. My dishes come out perfect every single time and there is no build up what so ever in my dishwasher. The white vinegar acts as a rinsing agent which is brilliant! I set a small bowl in the top front corner of my dishwasher with about a quarter cup of white vinegar in it every load. My dishes come out perfect every single time and there is no build up what so ever in my dishwasher. The white vinegar ask is a rinsing agent which is brilliant!

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