What are Soapberries?

Image of soapberries - the magical fruit.

Soapberries, also called soapnuts, are actually a small fruit. They are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which is found naturally growing in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.

Sapindus Mukorossi Tree also known as Indian Soapberry

The skin of this fruit contains plant saponin, a totally natural gentle soap that has been used for centuries to clean skin and clothes. Saponin works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water and create a lather that lifts dirt and grease from skin, leaving it suspended in the water that is rinsed away. For laundry, this surfactant action penetrates the fibers of your clothing too, lifting stains from the fabric and washing them away with the water.

Unlike commercial chemical and processed soaps, organic soapberry saponin is perfect for your skin. It creates a lather that is pH balanced, wonderfully moisturizing, and gently cleanses your skin and clothes. It really is the gentlest, kindest, most natural soap you can use on your skin.

Young soapberries growing on a tree

There are actually a few different saponin filled soapberry trees all in the Lychee family. They are native to warm temperate and tropical regions. Mukorossi, also known as Indian Soapberry, contains the highest and most effective concentration of natural plant saponin and is the most widely grown soapberry tree. It grows naturally in the Himalaya region and is highly sustainable, requiring minimum intervention, and each tree produces 30-35kg of fruit per year.

How do you get the saponin from the Soapberry?

When ripe, soapberries are harvested from the trees and the seed in the middle is just as they are, for laundry, by placing a 5-8 shells in a small cotton bag in the washing machine. We sell these raw laundry in bags of 250g and 1kg. You can leave soapberries in the wash for the full cycle including rinse, as they make a great fabric softener as well.

It is also possible to gently heat the soapberries in water to release the saponin, then whip into a foam to produce soapnut liquid household cleaner or shampoo. Although rewarding, doing this at home can be a complex process of trial and error, requiring specific nut/ water ratios to produce an effective liquid, which then needs to be kept in the fridge or freezer. These solutions benefit from adding tea-tree and vinegar for the house cleaner, and aloe vera, tea-tree and rosemary for the shampoo.

Soapberries drying in the sun.Greenfrog was born out of the idea to create bodywashes and handwashes out of this remarkable natural ingredient, so you can enjoy a uniquely natural organic soap with no nasty chemicals and no long process of home preparation. We took the soapberries and added luxurious invigorating essential oils and a generous amount of organic Mexican Aloe Vera, to produce a truly luxurious natural cleanser that takes total care of your skin.

If doesn’t feel very soapy, there isn’t a lot of lather.

The appearance of abundant lather is important to commercial chemical soaps, to give us the sensory impression that is working. This bold lather is actually misleading characteristic of modern commercial soap. To achieve it most soaps and bodywashes use artificial foaming agents to produce the visual appearance. These agents don’t increase the effectiveness of the product, they just introduce more chemicals into our washing and wellbeing routine. Soapberries work effectively without this misleading excessive foam.

Young soapberries growing on a tree

Aren’t soapberries just for laundry?

No, where they grow naturally, soapberries have been used for centuries to wash skin and hair as well as clothes, they are good for washing everything, but particularly bodywashing as they are so skin-compatible and totally chemical-free. They have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and have mild anti-bacterial and insecticidal properties, making them a perfect solution for preventing headlice.

I have eczema / psoriasis / sensitive skin, can I use them? Can I use them for my baby?

Because they are so mild and natural, soapberries are a healthier soap for everyone. They are particularly good for babies, children and those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies and psoriasis. They have been used to treat these skin conditions and many people report great improvements once switching to a soapberry bodywash or handwash. They are ideal for baby’s delicate skin and are perfect for cloth nappies and baby clothes.

Are they environmentally friendly?

Studies have shown soapberries are not only compatible with all septic and grey water systems, they are actually beneficial to the surrounding environment. They are totally biodegradable and compatible with wildlife. Not only are soapberries the most natural soap for us, there are good for the plants and soil around us.

Try this magical product for yourself and see what all the fuss is all about!

Botanical information about soapberries.

Anid BytyciWhat are Soapberries?