by Tammy Taylor
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This past fall I was so thrilled when I suspected that our remote-pasture property contained Soapberry Trees. I excitedly harvested a few berries and took pictures of the berries, the tree, the bark and submitted them to my local Extension Agent for identification. Her response was that these trees were indeed the Western Soapberry Tree, meaning that these berries actually contain soponin – a soapy substance used by early settlers for cleaning, laundry, etc. I dried the berries and have been using them in my laundry, comparing it to the more common soap nuts which I’ve purchased and used before from * Amazon. I’m very pleased with the results.
After the soapberries were fully dried I decided to give them a trial run in our washing machine. I took a handful of soapberries and placed them in the cotton draw-string bag that I previously used with my soap nuts. Since my soapberries are smaller than soap nuts I added more berries than I did the nuts, but about the same overall measurement (about 7-8 berries to 4-5 nuts) Then I tossed them in my washing machine with a load of laundry.
Soapberries react to agitation & water similarly to soap nuts in that they don’t foam up much, so you can’t tell its efficiency based on how many bubbles you see (or don’t). But when I pulled that load of laundry out and hung it on the line, I saw no difference from other cleaning agents I’d used in the past, including brand-name laundry detergents. I think that if I had heavily soiled laundry such as manure-covered denim or heavily stained shirts I might use something heavier duty, but for towels, sheets, napkins and lightly soiled laundry these soapberries do just fine and I’m thrilled that it’s yet another product I can provide for myself instead of purchasing.
* A word about our Affiliate Link – We are currently enrolled as an Amazon Affiliate. Occasionally I will insert an affiliate link into one of my posts if I think it may be of interest to you and both of the items linked in this post really help me in my canning endeavors! I receive nothing from the manufacturer, but I love my Tattler lids & thought you might too. If you click on any of my affiliate links and buy something (almost anything, not just what was linked) I get a small referral percentage from Amazon. But here’s the really important part – the price you pay for your items is UNCHANGED.
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