Here you will find answers to the questions we most often get when you have doubts about washing clothes with soap berries or the responsibility behind our products.
FAQ about soapberry & natural laundry
Soapberry is a 100% natural product. The berries are picked from the tree and dried - that's all! The natural soap substances, the saponins, are formed naturally in the berry, and their chemical components are not harmful to humans or nature.
An ordinary detergent is industrially produced from a large number of chemical substances, several of which can be irritating, dangerous and difficult to decompose.
We looked at tænk.dk and learned that most detergents contain these substances:
- Surfactants or surfactants that have a cleansing effect by dissolving and removing the dirt. They can be more or less problematic for the environment depending on their degradability.
- Lime binders, which make the water less hard and thereby increase the effect of the soap. Therefore, a smaller amount of washing powder is needed, the softer the water. Phosphate and phosphonates are lime binders, which are problematic substances for the environment, as they escape with the waste water and end up in your local sewage treatment plant.
- Enzymes that dissolve dirt. They can work at different temperatures. In cold water products, they are developed to work at low temperatures.
Many detergents also come in plastic packaging. For a family of four, this quickly adds up to over 25 plastic cans per year.
In addition, detergents may also contain:
- Preservatives, which are mainly found in liquid detergents. They ensure that the product does not mould, but can be problematic for the environment.
- Optical white, which makes the clothes look cleaner, but which are highly degradable and environmentally harmful substances. They can also cause skin irritation.
- Perfume or color that is added simply for the sake of sight and smell, but which can cause allergies.
- Bleaching agents used only in detergents for white clothes, where it bleaches impurities and helps to maintain the bright color of the clothes. Bleach is a local irritant.
Soapberries contain none of these substances, making them ideal for people with all kinds of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis and perfume sensitivities. They are extremely hypoallergenic and we recommend using them if you suffer from any kind of skin sensitivity.
However, because soap berries do not contain additives, they do not remove difficult stains from clothes. So you have to use a stain remover locally on the stain. You can read more about that just below here.
Our soapberry has a very high content of saponins, which are a 100% natural detergent. Saponins in soapberry are made up of both water-soluble (hydrophilic) and fat-soluble (hydrophobic) molecules.
When we wash with soapberry, the saponins are released, which during the wash bind to dust, dirt, oil, grease etc. in the fibers of the textile, and transport the dirt/particles in the clothes away - just like surfactants - and without the need for other additives.
Read much more here in the post about how soapberry works
Soapberry does not contain stain removal ingredients or bleaching agents. Therefore, you should use a stain remover locally if you get a stain on your clothes. Soap berry cleans well for everyday dirt, but if the accident is out, a little more is needed to lift the stain.
And because soap berries are not intended for stain removal, they also do not score highly in tests such as those from Tænk, because they precisely base their test results on how good a detergent is at lifting stains. Equating whether something removes stains and whether it washes clean is the wrong basis for evaluating cleaning.
Soap berries still clean, although they don't remove the really tough stains that have been tested for. Fortunately, we have developed the most effective and gentle stain remover as a supplement to the soap berries. It has removed everything from accidents on bodystockings, red wine, turmeric, ketchup, mud and grease stains. And we can't do without it in our washing kit together with our soap berries. With it, you can target stain removal as needed, instead of washing all the laundry in stain-removing chemicals, when it is often not necessary.
If clothes are to be classified as microbiologically clean, the Danish Health Authority recommends washing at 60 degrees or above - and this is regardless of the detergent you use. If there is blood, faeces, diarrhea or vomit on the laundry, the Danish Health Authority recommends that the washing temperature should be at least 80° C, regardless of which detergent you use.
In short: soap (which soap berries contain) cleans, heat kills the bacteria. Enzymes, optical white, bleach and other chemicals that you find in regular detergents do not clean, but work to remove stains (and can be harmful to skin, textiles and not least the environment).
You can read more in the blog post here about how to measure the washing ability of a detergent .
When the shells have become thin/porous, paler in color and have no more of the shiny membrane left on the inside, there are no more saponins left in them. Then they are ready to go in the compost, bio bin or directly in your flower bed.
The higher the temperature you wash with, the more soapy substance melts out of the berries and the faster they have to be changed. But because soap berries are a pure natural product, it can easily vary from berry to berry when they need to be changed, so look at your berries after washing to see if they still look "juicy" or if they have become thin, pale and break easily.
As a rule of thumb:
If you wash at 30 degrees, you can use the berries for approx. 4-5 times in the washing machine.
If you wash at 40-60 degrees, you can use the berries for approx. 3-4 times in the washing machine.
If you wash at 60-90 degrees, you can use the berries for approx. 2-3 times in the washing machine.
Have you wondered that you don't see as much foam in the washing machine when you wash with soapberry as when you used regular detergent?
Soapberry contains only the natural soap substances called saponins and no added foaming agents. Extra foaming agents are often added to regular detergent to give the user the impression that the detergent is extra effective. However, the amount of foam is not an indicator of how well a detergent washes.
Soapberry also foams up when you put a few berries in a pint glass with water and shake it. But not at all to the same extent as regular detergent, as there are no additives. You will also not see as much foam in the washing machine as in the glass you are shaking, as there is a much higher concentration of water in the washing machine.
However, soap berries are still highly effective - even if you do not experience the same amount of foam in the machine as synthetic detergent.
However, we can recommend adding an extra berry or 2 to the small bag if you live in an area with very hard water with lime and other minerals - Just as you also dose a larger amount of general detergent if you have hard water.
Soap berries are exactly as they should be, whether they are broken or whole. Our soap berries are processed manually in Nepal and therefore vary in size and whether they are split/broken.
The soap substance sits on the inside of the shell, so it is actually a good thing that many of the shells are open, as the soap flows out better. You just take the number of crushed shells that corresponds to 5 whole berries. You can't overdose on soapberry, so it doesn't come off that well.
Soap berry works in all different temperatures from 30 degrees and up to boiling water. The higher the temperature you wash at, the faster the saponins will be melted out of the berries. This means that the shells last for fewer washes, the hotter you wash.
If you wash at 30 degrees and the clothes are very dirty, you can soak your soap berries in warm water for 15 minutes before using them. Pour the water into the drum and wash with the soap bars as usual.
Soap berries are ideal for ordinary colored laundry at 30-60 degrees, as well as for delicate washing - also silk and wool - because they are so gentle.
Since silk and wool are natural materials that are made of proteins, they are extra exposed when washing - ordinary detergents contain enzymes that break down proteins. The enzymes in ordinary detergent will therefore wear down the fibers in wool and silk and over time destroy the material.
We recommend using soap berries for washing wool and silk - precisely because soap berries are completely free of enzymes and are therefore ultra gentle on textiles. On top of that, the soapy substances in soapberry do not remove the lanolin from wool either. Lanolin helps to make woolen clothes self-cleaning, so that they do not have to be washed as often.
We do not recommend soapberry for:
We do not recommend soap berry for white washing if the laundry is to remain shiny white. Soapberry does not contain any bleaching agents or additives that remove stains, so the white laundry will take on a grayish tinge over time and will not look so clear anymore if you use soapberry.
Heavily stained kitchen sinks can also be challenging for soap berries, as they do not contain stain-removing ingredients that help with tough stains on dishcloths and tea towels.
However, you can use soap berries for these types of washing. But we generally recommend that you use soapberry for your normal colored laundry and stain remover locally as needed.
The bag of soap berries must be placed in the washing drum together with the clothes, and therefore the soap berries are included during the entire wash and are not rinsed out with the rinse cycle. But the soap doesn't actually have to be with soap berries either.
Conventional detergent has to be rinsed out, as it contains enzymes, sulphates, possibly perfume and other chemicals which can be allergenic and which also wear down the fibers in the clothes if they are left sitting. Because general soap contains these things, prolonged skin contact can cause skin irritation and cause eczema.
The saponins (soap) in soapberry, on the other hand, are completely harmless to the skin, as they do not contain enzymes, sulphates, perfume, bleach or other added substances. So, therefore, saponins do not need to be rinsed out in the same way that conventional soap does.
Most washing machines also rinse the clothes through in cold water at the end, which loosens most of the saponins from the clothes, as the soapberry skins are primarily active in lukewarm and warm water.
Nothing happens if you put the bag of soap berries into the dryer. Therefore, you can also use soap berries in a combi machine.
However, putting it in the tumble dryer can shorten the life of the soap bars slightly. If possible, we recommend running the wash and tumble dryer on separate programs and removing the berries before drying.
Soapberry washes clothes completely without fragrance. If you would like a fresh and delicious scent for your laundry, we recommend a few drops of our laundry fragrance. The berries themselves smell a bit mildly of honey, but you will e.g. do not experience a strong fruit scent, even if it is dried berries. Soap berries are antibacterial and antifungal and kill odor-causing bacteria on clothes.
If you store soap berries dry, so that they do not become damp and without direct sunlight, the berries can be used for laundry for several years.
Although it is a dried berry, soapberry is not classified as a food, but a household product and therefore has a much longer shelf life.
A washing machine and laundry that smell sour are signs that limescale and dirt have accumulated in the machine, which therefore becomes a breeding ground for smelly bacteria.
Fortunately, the solution to the problem is as simple as cleaning the washing machine through.
Washing machines must be cleaned regularly, regardless of which detergent you use to wash with. You can clean the machine by running an empty kitchen sink through and filling the soap drawer with vinegar and sodium bicarbonate.
Also read our blog post about our tips for avoiding a washing machine and clothes that smell sour and what causes it here.
Fabric softener contains surfactants, which are difficult to break down in nature, and therefore it is recommended that we cut back on fabric softener. Many people like to use fabric softener because it makes clothes softer and adds fragrance. But fabric softener forms a film around the clothes with harmful chemicals and perfumes that can cause allergies and also get stuck in the pipes of the washing machine.
We have created our laundry fragrances for those who want to avoid fabric softener, but who also want a scent for their laundry. To make the clothes nice and soft, we use our household vinegar in the fabric softener drawer. It helps both against limescale in the machine and on the clothes and makes the laundry lovely fresh and soft.
The laundry fragrances are made from 100% ecocert-certified natural essential oils. According to legislation, essential oils are classified as perfumes and can be allergenic in direct contact with the skin.
However, some perfume allergy sufferers find that they can use our laundry fragrances because only a few drops are used for the laundry and they are not chemically produced. But if you have a very bad perfume allergy, you should avoid all kinds of perfumes, including the natural essential oils.
The stain remover is, like other stain removers, most effective if it is used as soon as the stain appears or as soon as possible afterwards. However, we also have good experience of using it on old stains that other stain removers have not been able to remove.
We recommend that you soak the clothes after treating the stain to avoid scars. But in fact, we have also tried simply applying the stain remover after the stain has appeared and then throwing the clothes directly into the laundry basket and leaving them until the next wash. And it can also work on bright or patterned material, although it's best to soak for a consistent result.
We (and you) have tested the stain remover on several different stains with good results - both organic stains, grease stains and color stains. However, it couldn't completely remove stains from fresh turmeric - most stain removers have a hard time removing these kinds of very difficult stains.
No, as long as you follow the instructions for use, it will not bleach the clothes.
The wool drying balls can cut up to 25% of the drying time in the tumble dryer. How much electricity this corresponds to depends on your tumble dryer.
We recommend that you do not overfill the machine, as this gives the best effect. The drying balls work by beating the clothes extra airily inside the machine and increasing circulation, so that you can more easily avoid the annoying lumps of wet clothes that get stuck to each other. So they should ideally have some space to be able to move around in the dryer.
FAQ ABOUT PRODUCTION & RESPONSIBILITY
Yes it is there.
We have heard the rumor that there are not enough soapberries for the locals in Nepal, but fortunately there is no truth to that. We have visited our supply chain ourselves (all the way back to the approximately 125 families that we financially support by buying soapberries from them) and can conclude that there is an abundance of soapberry trees and that they are not running out of soapberries for themselves, for trade and to provide for replanting. What they, on the other hand, can run out of are vital investments from outside - e.g. if we stop buying soapberry from them.
In connection with this rumor, we caught up with a professor who has spent 25 years specializing in bioeconomic value chains (like the soapberry value chain) and he confirmed to us that the rumor is not true - there are more than enough soapberries . At the same time, he said that the Nepalese are in a favorable situation because they themselves set the index prices according to the harvest.
Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries, and they are deeply dependent on rich countries investing in them. And it is so important that we invest on their terms, and not go in and "take over" by creating plantations, buying up land, etc. We must instead invest in their traditional value chains, so that their growth becomes sustainable and on their own grounds.
Yes, we make sure to deal with the farmers on their terms. Soapberry is an integral part of the Nepalese economy and we have taken every precaution to ensure that all links in our supply chain are treated fairly. It is one of the main objectives of the start-up of our own supply chain to focus on social sustainability in Nepal.
We have chosen to support a developing country, which requires us to transport our product from Nepal to Denmark, and in this connection we often get questions about how we ship our soapberry to Denmark and what thoughts we have given regarding sustainability.
Soapberries are picked by hand, dried in the sun and packed by hand, which means that the production load is absolutely minimal. They are transported home on ships, which are the most CO2-friendly form of transport of goods. So even though the distances are large, the cost of production is low.
Normal detergent, unlike soap berry, consists of a lot of different components with higher production loads, as they are chemicals. They are produced and extracted in various places in the world and transported to a factory where they are mixed. The same applies to materials (e.g. plastic) for the packaging.
Our brand new bags of soap berries have 3 certifications: EcoCert, USDA Organic and certified 100% compostable.
We are in the process of selling the bags with the old design first, so you may not see the certifications on your particular bag. But the content and production conditions are the same as the bags with certifications.
Soapberry is the gentlest thing you can wash clothes with - both for the environment and your skin.
The trees with soap berries grow wild in the mountains and with local families and are not sprayed with anything (pesticides etc.). They contain no environmentally harmful substances (you can throw used soapberry shells directly into the compost or the flower bed after use!), the production takes place by hand and solar power, and the berries have for many years been used by allergy sufferers, as they are the absolute most allergy-friendly detergent. You can therefore safely use soapberry if you are looking for an environmentally friendly and allergy-friendly detergent.
Our mulesing free wool in the drying balls comes partly from New Zealand and from Nepal.