Laundry – L-A-U-N-D-R-Y… the dreaded, dreaded word in every household. Am I right? The endless loads of it. The thought of it. Ugh. The more kids you have the MORE LOADS OF LAUNDRY. The more kids in sports -the more laundry. The more you work out – the more laundry.

If you purchase store-brand liquid or powder detergents you realize how quickly they are used up. You also know how expensive they are. You can easily spend $8-$20 per week on detergents. Not only are they costly but the “free and clear” versions can cause skin irritation. For those of you with sensitive skin, you know what I am talking about.

It’s that itchy horrible feeling on your back side when you are sitting. Red spots and irritation from the fabric washed in the detergent rubbing on your skin. If you have a child with sensitive skin you have seen the rash on your child as well. Or they have complained about this same thing. Depending on your level of sensitivity it might even spread over your body.

Either way, laundry detergent is costly. I have a few ways to save money and one fabulous way to cut down on skin irritation.



Soap Berries (or Nuts)! What?!
This is something you may or may not have heard of. In my family’s search for less irritating detergents and soaps, I learned about soap nuts. These nuts (or berries) come from the Sapindus tree. It’s found in North India. It’s berries/nuts are used to create a detergent.

How do they work?
It’s very simple and very cost effective. The nuts are placed into a muslin pouch and closed. They are soaked in warm water for up to 10 minutes prior to a load of cold water laundry. You can add them right into a hot water laundry load, run the water over them and then add your clothes. The nuts produce the soap all on their own. That’s it!

A smaller load of laundry might only need two to three nuts, larger loads up to eight nuts. The nuts can be reused up to three to five loads! After three to five loads you simply throw away the nuts (or you can compost them). You then add a new set to the bag and re-soak them before your next wash.

(We are an affiliate of – if you choose to purchase from our link we do get a little something!). Here is a safe, organic large bag you can buy on The bag costs $25 and contains 2.5 pounds. That equals out to about $.03/load of laundry! Store-bought detergents are $20 for 96 loads. That’s about $.21/load. Quite a savings. 

What’s the difference in the laundry cleanliness or smell?
NONE! I have not noticed a difference in the cleanliness of the laundry. The smell is fresh and clean. It doesn’t have a perfume (as those of us with sensitive skin rejoice!). It smells clean.

How about ease?
There is a bit of planning involved in the soaking portion of the laundry. But what I do is if I know I am doing laundry that day, I put the nuts in to soak as I sit to breakfast. After breakfast, I start the laundry for the day. One load after the next. I always toss the bag right at the top of the load and have the water flow on to the bag at the beginning. Even though I did already pre-soak the nuts. You will see sudsy water. This is also when you might notice your nuts are done producing soap. If you soak them before a load and there are no suds it’s probably time for a new batch. I am able to get about 4-5 loads of laundry out one batch of six nuts.

Another thing you need to do is pay attention to the bag location when switching from washer to dryer. This is actually a bigger hassle than soaking the nuts. But the cost savings and skin savings are so big it’s worth it for us.

Oops – I dried the nuts in the dryer… what do I do?
Don’t worry. It’s fine. They can be reactivated by soaking them again. The dryer doesn’t hurt them or the bag they are in.

Do you just want a liquid detergent – here is an idea!
So maybe soap nuts aren’t your thing. Maybe they seem too complicated and you just want a liquid detergent. Try something simpler and safer than store-bought brands. A fellow blogger – Live Simply has a fantastic recipe. We used this recipe for years. It saved us loads of money. For us it costs about $.07/load with this recipe of hers. I highly recommend this – even for those with sensitive skin. It’s safe and less irritating than store brands. Check out her recipe!

Tell us what you do to save on laundry? Do you use something that’s less irritating?

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Kate Bryant

Kate is a mother, wife, writer, and more! Her writing has been on Huffington Post Parents Blog, The Mighty, as well as other publications.