Does soapberry wash clean? How do you measure the washing ability of a detergent?

Posted by Rikke Macijowski Nielsen on

In June, we were contacted by the Consumer Council TÆNK , who wrote on the occasion of their annual test of detergents. This year, our own soap berries from Care by Nature are included in the test, and as a participating company you are offered to comment on the test result.  

We can already reveal that TÆNK's test of soapberry from Care by Nature comes to the same result as previous tests of soapberry - that soapberry does not wash the clothes clean.

In their tests of detergents, TÆNK still uses a test form where the detergent is assessed based on its ability to remove stains. You should perhaps call it a stain removal test rather than a real washing test.  

We do not believe that general cleaning and specific stain removal are the same.  

A piece of clothing can have stains while still being clean. TÆNK's test does not take this into account, and we think this is misleading.  

Does soapberry wash clean? Bag of care by nature soap berries stands on a pile of laundry against a white background with sun rays hitting the subject

Soapberry is a gentle detergent that does not bleach the clothes, contains enzymes or other stain-removing additives. Therefore, soap berries (and other gentle detergents) will always score low in a test where stain removal is measured.  

Soap berries are an alternative to everyday washing, which often does not require chemical stain removal of the entire textile. We recommend instead using our stain remover from Care by Nature on difficult stains as needed as a supplement to the soap berries. But in terms of dirt from the body and surroundings, soap berries are abundant due to their naturally high content of saponins, which act as a natural soap. You can read more about how saponins work as a detergent here.

Detergents that can remove all stains (and thus score highly in a test such as TÆNK's) unfortunately also affect textile fibers chemically, so that they break down after prolonged use of the detergent. They can be hard on the skin, cause contact allergies, etc., and wear out the textiles - which makes the clothes last for a shorter time. If you ask us - and THINK did - it doesn't make sense to wash all everyday clothes in detergent that should rather be classified as stain remover.  

All in all, we really want to challenge the misunderstood premise that the whiter, spotless, shiny and perfumed something is – the purer it is. Too far from all real cleaning can be seen with the naked eye. And if we talk about killing bacteria etc. on the clothes, it is actually the temperature of the water that takes care of it, according to the Danish Health Authority .

We are advocates of treating everything – our own skin, our clothes and textiles, our environment, our fellow humans and our planet – as gently as possible. Better to wash gently and then use a stain remover when necessary than to wash all the clothes in harsh chemicals just to remove a small red wine stain on the sleeve.

We have naturally written these considerations for TÈNK. At the same time, we shared a desire to let the tests include more than just tests of stain removal ability – including, of course, the total environmental impact of detergents and packaging. We think these are important parameters to include for the Danish consumer and for future generations.  

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