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soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:19 pm
by JoseyJo
Hi, I'm keen to try one or other of these to reduce the washing powder I buy - so wondered whether those who've tried them can recommend one or the other?
Thanks... Jo

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:54 pm
by wabbit955
startd using soap nut 4 years ago and never looked back
they are great use them for all my washing
cleaningand even good on getting rid of green fly in the garden
they are not so good on stained whites but brillent other wise

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:45 pm
by Pumpkin&Piglet
I don't know a single thing about either of these things but they sound good. Can you fill me in?

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:14 pm
by JuzaMum

I tried an Eco wash ball (plastic ball full of ceramic beads). I got a refund as it was rubbish, it didn't seem to do anything so I back using non-bio liquid. Not tried the soap nuts.


Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:08 am
by JoseyJo
thanks for replies.
Pumpkin&piglet - soapnuts are a natural shell from a "soapberry tree" which grows in India & Nepal, I think you use a 4-5 in a wash & they are reusable about 4 times. You can also use them afterwards to make a sort of soapy liquid for cleaning...
Eco balls, according to what I read "contain mineral salts which release ionized oxygen when in water. This ionized oxygen penetrates deep into clothing breaking up and lifting off dirt and grease", they are reusable 1000+ times.

I've generally read that soap nuts are pretty good but, as wabbit said not so good on whites (but then my eco-laundry liquid isn't either!) I think some people add essential oils for fragrance.
I haven't heard so much about eco balls so it's interesting that your experience wasn't good Juzamum.

I've heard that Borax substitute can be good on whites... as Borax itself isn't available to buy anymore. Has anyone tried it? My sons' white football tops & shorts are very badly stained!

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:55 pm
by greenorelse
We've used soap nuts for a year or so now and are very happy with the results. Any collar that's grubby gets a pre-wash rub with a bit of ordinary soap and water but otherwise, soap nuts cope fine.

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:49 am
by JoseyJo
Thanks. Maybe it's time I tried them!

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:12 am
by Keaniebean
I tried soapnuts and used them for a good year or so, but I found several problems with them.

Firstly you have to make sure you hang your washing out to dry straight away or you end up with a stagnant water smell fairly quickly, which is a pain in winter if you don't tumble.

I found they were not getting rid of certain smells from clothes - too much info here - but in the summer the sweaty bits were coming out still smelling sweaty :pukeright: :pukeright: :pukeright: :pukeright:

They did not work at all on stains or whites.

They are good value though and what I used to do was alternate washes between soapnuts and normal washing powder which I found adequate. I have not tried the eco balls at all, but maybe if prices keep going the way they are I shall have to.

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:21 am
by seasidegirl

I've bought Borax substitute from Robert Dyas. Apparently (from a post in another forum) it is called substitute because something dangerous has been removed but the removed ingredient doesn't affect use for laundry and cleaning.

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:05 pm
by Zech
Sarah, that's exactly my experience with homemade laundry gloop - OK if used in alternate washes, but not much good on its own. It makes you realise just how much residue normal washing powder leaves in the machine, doesn't it?

I wondered if borax might be better, then found it wasn't available any more so did a little research. In case anyone's interested...

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is brought to us by mining. It was reclassified as a hazardous substance (or something along those lines) by the EU a few years ago. The reason for this was health concerns associated with inhaling the dust, day in day out. It was to protect the miners, not us consumers. It's still available if you look hard enough, but expensive. Borax substitute is, more or less, a mixture of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and washing soda (sodium carbonate). I did buy some but, unsurprisingly, it was no better than the mixture I was using with just washing soda.

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:55 am
by Potter's Farm
I use soda crystals, mixed with homemade liquid castile soap with some borax substitute thrown in for good measure. I have a ook called 'Self Sufficiency Household Cleaning' which has all sorts of recipes and info in, it put me off shop bought cleaning products for life!!

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:15 pm
by Thomzo
I used to use soap nuts but had the same problem with smell. It wasn't quite so bad if I used white vinegar as a conditioner. My mum then gave me some ecoballs as a birthday present (best mum in the world mine) and I've used them constantly on coloured clothes since. They still aren't brilliant on whites though. I do, occasionally, get a sweaty smell with them so do sometimes add a tiny amount of eco washing liquid (about a tenth of the normal dose).

They are quite expensive but they last for years. I can't remember how long I've had mine but it's several years now and I've bought one lot of refills which I'm only about a quarter of the way through so they work out very good value for money if you can afford the initial investment.

I would suggest that you avoid using them on really delicate items as they do bash the clothes about quite a bit.


Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:20 pm
by Big Al
I don't like soap nuts, didn't work at all for me much as KB said above. Bioballs, were ok but cheap washing powder and a low temp is what i use now. Difficult stains get an extra dose of soda added to the washing.

Re: soap nuts or eco balls

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:18 pm
by tim_n
Did a few experiments based on the fact I was working on a single DIY project and producing similar lightly dirty clothes each day.

Cleaned the machine so it wasn't full of old soapy residue - we use a liquid cleaner so it's rare to be bunged up.

Washed in both soap nuts and just plain old water. No difference at all in cleanslyness

Some people do report differences. We used soap nuts on their own for several months, whites got grey, started to get stagnant water smells. Switched back to using "traditional" eco wash soaps and had no problems.

I concluded that soap nuts probably did very little and certainly not on a proper dirty wash (lets face it, unless you're a site worker or full time gardner most office people rarely get clothes truely dirty)
Most washes can be done on a cool wash with no soap and still get stuff clean
If your washing machine doesn't get any of the recommended soaps the water will start to go stale.