I always like to try out new diapering items, whether they be diapers, accessories or detergents. First-hand knowledge is great to have. Although I've heard a lot about them, I've been skeptical of "soap nuts"-how could these little balls really clean anything? Recently, I was contacted by Eco Nuts about their product and the possibility of carrying it a Snooty Booty Diapers. This is the kind of product I absolutely could not blindly stock-what if someone asked me about them? To help me evaluate the product, they sent me a small sample size of 7 EcoNuts.
Basically, "soap nuts" are dried fruit shells that come from the Sapindus mukorossi tree in Nepal, India and Indonesia. They contain saponin, which is a natural cleaner. To use in the laundry, you put a few in a small cloth bag and add it to your laundry. It's also possible to add them to water and make a cleaning liquid for other household uses, although I did not try that out.
I hardly ever use a new laundry detergent on cloth diapers or clothing first. I'm too scared of ruining garments I care about. Eco Nuts was no exception. First I tried them out on towels-they seemed to clean fine. I was still unsure about them, so I did a load of napkins, kitchen towels and bibs. I figured that these were some of the most soiled items in the house (besides diapers) and wanted to see how the Eco Nuts worked on these. I admit I didn't have high hopes. I guess I just felt that my detergent needed to look more like...detergent. I was impressed and pleasantly surprised when the load came out with all the food removed, clean and smelling fresh. Next I did a load of clothes, then it was time for the diapers.
As with the other loads, I had no complaints with my diaper laundry. My diapers were clean, they did not repel and they smelled good. Unfortunately, I tried out so many different kinds of loads that I was not able to see how they would do over multiple loads of diaper laundry. From what I saw, though, they worked well.
Poking around, I found some other opinions of Eco Nuts (or generic "soap nuts"). As with all other laundry cleaners, it seems that their success depends a lot on individual water and washer conditions. Some felt that over time, they were not strong enough to keep the diapers clean. Others found that making a laundry liquid out of them ahead of time worked better. Still more people used it in conjunction with other detergent, almost as a laundry booster.
The verdict? I really like that they are compostable, and that Eco Nuts takes steps to ensure that their product is ethically produced. I will definitely bring them on our next camping trip. I think they are really convenient, only having to toss a few in a bag, which is only a few ounces total. No measuring, worrying about spilling, etc. They have many uses, so even if you find they aren't for your diapers, they are still worth looking into as a natural cleaner.
Disclaimer: Eco Nuts sent me a small sample for the purpose of evaluating the product for my retail store. I received no monetary compensation for this post. The information from this post is from the Eco Nuts site and product information sheet and from my own experience. Due to the differences in local water supply and washing machines, it is impossible to predict how Eco Nuts will work with your laundry. At the publishing of this post, I do not carry this product in my store, but am investigating the possibility for a later date.