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So has anybody used these for longer than, say, a week?

They're selling dried Chinese soapberry shells (Sapindus mukorossi) in the largest health food store in town, and I promptly bought some.

Pic: Dried Chinese soapnut shells.

The instructions say to crush 5-7 half soapberry shells (= 4-6 g) and put these into a cotton baggy. This then is the amount needed per washing-machine load. It sounds laughably little, seeing that you (or at least, I) use way more washing powder per load ...

... anyway, the leaflet says that these contain 13 % saponins. I'll have to check how much saponin there is in bouncing bet roots (and/or leaf) (Saponaria officinalis), cos they're local to me, and were a very vigorous weed in my old garden; I'm sure the bouncing bet can be enticed to grow lots'n'lots of roots in the new garden as well. (Bummer, Jim Duke's database lists neither Sapindus nor Saponaria.) (Bummer, bouncing bet roots contain only 5 % saponin (gypsogenin + sugar). Of course, they don't say if that's fresh or dry ...)

I didn't notice any cotton bags by the dried nuts, so I've made my own out of an old bedsheet. I've found that tying the bundles up first and using the hammer on them then is better than doing things the other way around.

And I've washed a few loads of clothes with these nuts. The idea of switching to soapnuts completely is extremely attractive, as I'm green (err, that is, I think of the environment rather more than your average Joe).

What I want to know is, how clean are your clothes after a year of using no washing powder, just soapnuts?

Related entry: Soapnut update