Over the years, a “what-if” question I’ve asked is, What if I don’t have______ or can’t obtain________? During my childhood in Zambia, that question was sometimes more than hypothetical when we encountered shortages of various staples items—including toilet paper.
One year at boarding school, we were told that toilet paper was currently unavailable in the stores and that when the school’s supplies were out, there might be no replacements. So we were advised to use only three squares—more only if we really needed it….I recall that the shortage did not outlast the school’s stock-on-hand, so there was no gap in toilet paper availability. However, the real possibility of running out made us conscious (for life) of being very careful only to use what was absolutely necessary.
Of course, there are alternatives to using toilet paper at all, which would be the next step towards becoming more self-sufficient. Stay tuned….
All that in introduction to another commodity that may not always be available: laundry detergent.
I’ve recently been experimenting with soap nuts, a natural laundry detergent “product” that grows on soapberry trees (Sapindus mukorossi) found in Asia. I’m using a brand called Eco Nuts®, available for purchase at Urban Homestead Supply: as soap berries and soap berry liquid for HE (front loading) machines. So far, I’m very pleased with how the soap nuts clean regular clothes. I have a top-loading washing machine and use the warm wash/cold rinse setting.
My conclusion, to date, is that the soap nuts are a very satisfactory substitute for the laundry detergent I previously used (Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry Detergent). I still pre-soak the extra dirty clothes (in Borax or Washing Soda) and scrub stains (with Fels-Naptha® soap) before running them through the regular washing cycle.
It has been unusually humid for Southern California, so clothes have been more sweat-soaked than normal. The soap nuts remove any unpleasant odors, leaving the clothes fresh-smelling (but not perfumed).
There are lots of other uses for soap nuts to explore (for example, as shampoo).
Have you used soap nuts for laundry or other washing? Have you grown a soapberry tree?