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Natural Ways to Wash Your Clothes with Soapnuts

Jim Fain

Posted on October 30 2017

Jerae and her husband visited Eureka Springs a few months ago and had a wonderful visit. The two just had to stop in and introduced themselves to Robin and me.

We were immediately good friends as they both had that “Eureka” feel about them. It turns out she has a tiny start-up business named 5 Little Indians based in her home in Mississippi. The little Indians are her homeschooled children who help her make beautifully packaged, completely non-toxic and all natural cleaning products for the home. She teaches her children about the old ways but in a very modern format.

I had just been notified by S. C. Johnson (the mega-corporation) that the cleaning line Mrs. Meyers, had been bought by them so they would not be servicing small business any longer… only big chains, big box stores. I could continue through a third party but only at extra cost.

Meeting Jerae was timely and serendipitous. I know most of you know this happens in Eureka, often.

She has many great products but the one I will write about is called Soap Berries.

It comes in bulk in a cotton bag with a smaller one added. You simply put 5 or 6 soap berries in the little bag, drop into your laundry washing machine as it fills then place your clothing in on top. This is pretty much what is done with top loaders so there is no difference in use, at all. You set your washer to the settings you’ve always used. You’ll get 5 or 6 washings from that one cotton pouch. Between loads just hang it up to air dry… there is a handy little tie available for that use.

This is quoted from Wikipedia, “Sapindus is a genus of about five to twelve species of shrubs and small trees in the Lychee family, Sapindaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions in both the Old World and New World. The genus includes both deciduous and evergreen species. Members of the genus are commonly known as soapberries or soapnuts because the fruit pulp is used to make soap. The generic name is derived from the Latin words saponis, meaning “soap”, and indicus, meaning “of India”.

I used these at home on a white bathrobe hoping to wash out all of the coffee spills and dirty cuffs. Believe me, this is a real test as a white bathrobe is definitely a palette for my early morning foibles. I didn’t pre-treat with stain lifters as I wanted to see just what would happen. The bathrobe came out nice and clean with a few stubborn stains resisting the all-natural power. You can use any laundry additive you wish to nab those stubborn stains, in fact, Jerae has one her 5 Little Indians produce.

I really like this nontoxic all-natural approach. I really like the serendipity of our little town, too.

– James W. Fain, Ph.D.

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