We are all stretching our paychecks (if we are still getting one) as far as possible these days. We are also very concerned about all possible health hazards, and living greener lives. Unfortunately, usually what goes along with the supposedly “greener”, better products are higher prices. A walk down any aisle in any store, and this is immediately apparent. I recently read numerous articles on the green profiteering that is occurring in virtually all industries.
I also read erroneous articles that referred to soap nuts as an expensive green laundry detergent alternative. Nothing could be SO far from the truth. I received more than one apology (of sorts) from writers that simply did not do their research very well. Any conclusions from a study that begins with faulty premises and improper testing techniques will result in incorrect data. A big problem with soap nuts is that there are large data gaps and some poor quality information floating around. One writer claimed that the cost of using soap nuts was around 50 cents per load. That was utter nonsense. I promptly set her straight. Properly used, soap nuts can be one of the MOST affordable ways possible to do laundry! It is VERY easy to calculate. You just need the correct data to calculate with.
NOTE: It is important to realize that it is cost prohibitive to buy soap nuts samplers or just a few ounces. The purpose of “samplers” is only to TRY them. Period. If you like how they work, then you will certainly buy them in much larger quantities to reduce your cost per ounce and associated cost per load. Right?
Let’s just compare the cost of using soap nuts to using many commercial detergents that we see all the time. Let’s crunch the numbers: (You’ll certainly notice that I avoid metrics and am referring to USD. I believe differing methods of weights and measures, plus different currencies have added to some confusion. I’m a US citizen, and am writing in large part for a US audience to easily understand. I sincerely apologize to anyone not accustomed to my use of the weights and currency common to the US.)
You can purchase around two pounds (32-ounces) of good soap nuts for around $30. That would be a very common amount a knowledgeable soap nut user would buy. Used in the traditional manner, you will use approx. one-half ounce in a wash bag and that will yield an average of about 5 loads. That yields approx. 320 loads for the $30 dollars spent. Personally, I can usually get many more loads than that, but that is because of some tricks I use to extend their life and maximize the saponin extraction. BUT, to be conservative, let’s just go with only FOUR loads per half-ounce.
A note worth mentioning: I’ve seen sellers claim numbers of loads that seem to be all over the place. I’ve also heard of people claiming to use half the amount I suggest using. I can’t explain that. Let’s simply bare 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 “middle-of-the-road”. I’m dealing with norms not extremes so that this is meaningful for the vast majority of scenarios.
You can take THIS to the bank: When using good quality soap nuts (the mukorossi variety is very good), one-half ounce (usually five or six whole soap nuts or the equivalent in pieces) used traditionally (in a wash bag that is put directly in with your laundry) will be reusable for four to six loads – easily.
So, at only FOUR loads per half-ounce that would give us only 256 loads (not 320) out of 32-ounces. $30 divided by 256 equals $0.127 per load. And we are talking average size, standard loads – not high efficiency loads that will extend the number of uses and thus lower the cost per load further.
Now let’s run some “cost per load” comparisons with soap nuts with well known “natural” and other types of detergents in the typical sizes in which they are available. Note that all pricing has come from reputable sellers and are typical prices easily found. Again, all soap nut prices per load are based upon standard loads, not HE loads. I am making every effort to be very conservative and realistic in all my calculations and estimates.
The following are common soap nut prices at various common sizes (I pulled them right off the internet from a reputable supplier): Note: I’m even including common prices for smaller size bags (at higher costs per ounce – and STILL using only FOUR loads per half-ounce wash bag.) – A 64-ounce bag of soap nuts: $57.95 for 512 loads ($0.113 per load) – A 32-ounce bag of soap nuts: $29.95 for 256 loads ($0.117 per load) – A 16-ounce bag of soap nuts: $19.95 for 128 loads ($0.155 per load) – An 8-ounce bag of soap nuts: $12.75 for 64 loads ($0.199 per load)
The following are various commercial detergents in typical sizes and pricing. The numbers of loads are as per the manufacturers’ instructions.
– Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear Natural Laundry Detergent 2x Ultra: $11.99 for 50 loads. ($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 loads ($0.367 per load)
– Tide’s 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $14.99 for 32 loads ($0.468 per load!) This surprised me!
– Dreft’s 2x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $31.99 for 110 loads ($0.290 per load)
– Babyganics 3x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $13.49 for 33 loads ($0.408 per load)
– Method’s 3x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $10.99 for 32 loads ($0.343 per load)
– Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Laundry Detergent: $13.49 for 32 loads ($0.421 per load)
Very quickly it becomes apparent that soap nuts are VERY inexpensive compared to most detergents. (Notice that I chose a nice random cross sampling of very common to some more esoteric brands, too.) Used properly soap nuts can significantly reduce our laundry costs. PLUS this does not even factor in that you have virtually no need for fabric softeners or dryer sheets when using soap nuts.
It is also noteworthy to mention that all these products being compared to soap nuts are around (give or take some) that same 32-ounce weight range I mentioned earlier that is popular with soap nut users. Most stores (aside from warehouse type stores) don’t seem to carry much in larger sizes than that. I can only assume that the convenient size, weight and price points for detergents in this weight range have been determined to be the most common sellers by most retailers. It is the difference in the number of loads per ounce between soap nuts and commercial detergents that is absolutely astounding.
Regardless, the gist of this article boils down to the COST PER LOAD of using soap nuts compared to commercial detergents. Soap nuts are NOT expensive. They are a much more affordable means to do our laundry – and it certainly does not get any greener. As shown above even a very small bag of soap nuts (8 ounces for $12.75) is much less per load than any of these commercial brands – and again that is being VERY conservative in every aspect. They are less than half the cost per load compared to one of Tide’s flagship detergents.
I gave a single mother, good friend of mine with three children a bag of soap nuts for the holidays. She has been working hard to make ends meet. Since that time she has raved about how wonderfully they worked, how her laundry never smelled so clean and soft, how her washing machine no longer smelled like mold and mildew. She had difficulty describing the scent, because there is no scent. How does one simply describe the scent of pure and clean? Think about it.
She didn’t stop with laundry. She hasn’t stopped experimenting, and I last heard that the liquid she made cleaned her coffee maker better than even CLR did. (Yuk. I’m sure she would have cleaned out the CLR very well. She’s a smart lady.) Amazing. She tells me her coffee maker works and looks like new again.
Soap nuts are not only growing in consumer awareness when GREEN is “in”. It is growing in awareness at a time when we all can use conserving a little more of the green in our pockets. The green movement is only going to continue to grow. Both business and government has recognized the need for change (for different reasons of course). Our children WILL live in a much greener, safer and more efficient world than we have known and grew up in. No time could be better than now to discover all the wonders that soap nuts offer us. Better laundry products are only the beginning.