What Are Soap Nuts

What Are Soap Nuts and How Do They Even Work?

What Are Soap Nuts?

Pick up one of our shampoo boxes and you will see “Sapindus mukorossi peel extract” listed as an ingredient. That’s the official name for soap nut extract. If you’re curious, here’s a few things worth noting about our this incredible, natural ingredient. 

Contrary to their name, soap nuts aren’t nuts at all. They’re actually fruit. The functional ingredient in soap nuts  is found in the dried shells - or husks - of the fruit of the  ‘Sapindus mukorossi’ tree native to India and Nepal.

Soap nuts contain natural surfactants called saponins. These ingredients turn into mounds of bubbles when you add water and give them a shake. 

Saponins are - you guessed it! - 100% natural and biodegradable, making them a great choice as a  gentle, natural cleanser that doesn’t contaminate our water supplies.

Do Soap Nuts Even Work?

Soap nuts have been used for bathing and shampooing in areas where the plants are native.

The whole fruit or extracts from the husks were used by people to keep themselves clean. 

You can test soap nuts for yourself. You’ll find them online and at some bulk food and health food stores. Simply stick the nuts in a container of hot water (with a lid!) and let them soak.

After a few minutes, the saponins will seep into the water and foam quickly with a shake. Some people even use whole soap nuts in place of laundry detergent! 


What are the disadvantages of soap nuts?

Saponins from soap nuts delivery a lot of foam, but commercial detergents may actually be better at cleaning. However, you can view this as an advantage or disadvantage; you could consider saponins as a more gentle cleanser that’s easier on your hair. Plus, soap nut extract generates a lot of bubbles fast—a delightful experience if you’re using soap nut shampoos for the first time.  

In our shampoos, we also add sodium cocoyl isethionate, an ingredient derived from coconut oil, to get just the right amount of cleansing and lather. 

 Are soap nuts safe for the environment?

Just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t mean that it’s healthy and easy on the environment. But the saponins breakdown quickly and whole soap nuts readily compost. And, according to published safety data, the extract poses little risk to your health.  

Final Thoughts on Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are one of the greenest ways to clean your hair. All in all, soap nuts have great cleaning power and are a versatile, gentle and environmentally friendly way to keep your hair clean!

If you want to see the magic of soap nuts in action, try one of CleanO2’s shampoo bars: 


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