How To Make A Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Liquid Hand Soap From Soap Berries
What are Soap Berries?
Soap berries (or soap nuts) are an amazing little berry that can be used for all kinds of natural cleaning purposes. They are grown on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree (aka Indian Soapberry tree). The outer shell that coats the fruit contains saponin - a water surfactant that removes dirt and grease from any material. Saponin has detergent qualities and foams when agitated with water.
Using soap berries to wash your clothes, dishes, bathroom, house, and even pets is super easy and totally waste-free! There is no plastic involved when you use soap berries, allowing you to drastically reduce your household waste and impact on the Earth (just think of how many plastic containers of cleaning products you have around the house for all different purposes... This zero-waste, multi-purpose cleaner can replace them all!).
Soap berries are 100% natural (therefore compostable) so are healthier, safer, and better for the Earth than conventional chemical cleaners.
Soap berry cleaning liquids are also very effective due to their high saponin content. Soap and water has been proven to be the most effective way of killing bacteria and viruses - more effective than chemical-based disinfectants (which are also harmful to the Earth and your health). Watch this video or read this article if you'd like to know the science behind how soap and water deactivate viruses.
Multi-Purpose Cleaner Instructions
This multi-purpose liquid concentrate can be used for almost any cleaning purpose. Use it just like any other liquid cleaner; as a liquid laundry detergent, dish detergent, bathroom/house cleaner, jewellery cleaner... even dog shampoo!
The concentrated saponin from the soap berries makes this liquid perfect for removing dirt, grease, and bad bacteria from any material, and it is 100% natural and greywater safe (unlike many conventional cleaners which poison waterways with their toxic chemicals when washed down the drain). This All-Purpose Cleaner is healthier, safer, and kind to the Earth.
1. To make 2L of multi-purpose cleaner liquid concentrate, add 100g soap berries and three litres of water to a large pot.
2. Bring to boil. Agitation from boiling and heat releases saponin from the berries.
3. Simmer for 1 hr then allow to cool.
4. Use cheesecloth / nut milk bag / tea towel to strain liquid into a large bottle.
5. Add 1tsp citric acid per 1L liquid as a preservative. Option to add a couple drops of pure essential oils for smell - we love lavender for laundry liquid or eucalyptus for cleaning purposes.
6. Store in the fridge. Will last around 5-6 weeks.
Liquid Hand Soap
After making the multi-purpose liquid concentrate, this extra step will allow you to turn some into liquid hand soap! This is an awesome, zero-waste way to refill empty soap pumps around the house.
The aim here is to achieve a thicker consistency of liquid concentrate.
1. Measure however much multi-purpose liquid concentrate you would like to turn into hand soap into a small saucepan.
2. Separately, mix 3 tbs arrowroot flour/starch into 1/4 cup cold water until dissolved. Add this mixture to the soap nut liquid concentrate in the saucepan - it should turn a cloudy brown colour.
3. Continuously stir this mixture on moderate heat as it thickens until it reaches a consistency you like. It will lose the cloudy tinge as it thickens.
4. Allow to cool.
5. Add 4-5 drops eucalyptus essential oil to give extra antibacterial properties, and any other oils you'd like to add for scent - we enjoy the combination of eucalyptus and lavender essential oils.
6. Re-purpose an empty hand soap bottle by pouring your new home-made liquid soap in to the pump bottle. Alternatively, store in re-purposed glass jars to save for later or gift to friends.
Here are some photos of liquid hand soap one of our team members, Dana, made to sell at a bushfire fundraiser earlier this year. Bottled into re-purposed jars from the kitchen and decorated with Who Gives A Crap wrapping!