Last year I was introduced to the wonder of this environmentally friendly, bio-degradable and compostable cleaner. It is a cleaning product that grows on trees…literally! The soapnut tree (sapindus mukorossi) is native to in India, where for centuries the fruits have been used for many purposes.
The hard shell of the fruit contains a surfactant (active part of any detergent) that is released when water is added to it. So basically soak the shell in hot water and pop into a batch of dirty laundry and leave your washing machine to do the rest. It also means that I could use all the wash water to safely water my garden.
Each bag of soapnuts comes with instructions on how to use the nuts for a range of purposes from cleaning your clothes, hair, pets and even in the garden to keep away some parasites. You can purchase Fair Trade soapnuts from the New Internationalist and from some shops around Adelaide.