All about soapberries: A guide to soapberries and how they work

On this page, we have collected everything you need to know about soapberries. We answer everything from what soapberries are, how they work and how you use them.

Vi svarer på alt fra, hvad sæbebær er, hvordan de virker og hvordan du bruger dem.

What are soapberries?

  • Soapberries are the fruits of the soap tree Sapindus Mukorossi, which primarily grows in Nepal and India.

  • Soap berries are known under many different names such as, soap nuts, wash nuts and soap shells. But the fruit is technically a berry, even if they are called soap nuts.

  • Soapberries contain large amounts of natural soapy substances called saponins. And in fact, the saponins are the berries' own protective shield against insects, pests and harmful bacteria and viruses.

  • The berries contain so much soap that they have been used for natural laundry, cleaning and personal care for centuries. When soapberries come into contact with water, the natural soap melts out of the berries and forms the finest soft foam.

  • Soapberries are a 100% natural alternative to traditional laundry detergent. They contain no additives, enzymes, perfumes or other allergenic substances that are harmful to the skin or the environment. But consists exclusively of pure dried berries directly from the soap tree. So soapberry is a detergent for those of you who want a product that is as natural as possible. Or for those of you who have delicate skin or allergies, and who may find it difficult to tolerate even neutral and allergy-labeled detergents.


Clean water in itself has a limited washing power, and therefore detergents containing surface-active substances, also called surfactants or detergents, are added. They help loosen particles and dirt from the fibers in the clothes and bind to them, so that they are washed out of the clothes with the waste water from the washing machine.

In the traditional detergents, synthetic surfactants/detergents are a key ingredient. But they are actually also found in natural form - i.a. in soapberry.

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 clothes with soap berries, the saponins are released into the water during the wash and bind to dust, dirt, oil, grease, etc., and transport the dirt/particles in the clothes away - just like surfactants - and without the need for other additives.

Several studies have also shown that saponins have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and that they can be used as an ingredient in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. The saponins in soap berries can therefore gently and naturally clean clothes of everyday dirt and grime.

See here what happens to soap berries when they come into contact with water

The benefits of washing clothes with soap berries

  • - 100% pure natural product harvested directly from the trees.

  • - Ultra gentle and hypoallergenic - ideal for children and people with allergies, skin disorders or sensitive skin.

  • - Cheapest detergent on the market per wash (DKK 0.5 - 0.7 per wash).

  • - Delay in use (500g = 180+ washes) 100% biodegradable after use - zero waste product.

  • - Does not contain additives or artificial chemicals.

  • - Enzyme-free detergent.

  • - Ideal for washing wool and silk.

  • - Harvested wild under fair conditions.

  • - Can be used throughout the household as detergent, cleaning agent, shampoo, body soap, and much more.

Before our founder Camilla switched from traditional detergent to soapberry, she experienced that her youngest son got various types of allergies, eczema, rashes and itching from the detergent residues in our clothes. Even though she used neutral detergent without perfume, which was labeled with various allergy certifications, he lashed out.

In desperation to find a solution, Camilla came up with the whimsical cranberries and almost didn't think it would fit. Could a berry really wash clothes clean? It sounded absolutely crazy! But in desperation to find the product that was gentle enough, the washing berries were tested. And the result spoke for itself. The clothes were clean. And not enough of that. So neither she nor the son has experienced skin irritation from the laundry since.

Soapberry is therefore a detergent for those who cannot get it gently or naturally enough. For those of you who are tired of redundant chemistry in everyday life and would like to find a product that is both good for the skin and for nature. With soapberry, you get a product that can be 100% biodegradable after use. You don't have to be allergic to use soapberry, but many allergy sufferers are happy to use them because they have finally found a product they can't beat.

Who benefits from using soapberry?

How to wash clothes with soap berries

When you buy a bag of Care by Nature soap berries , small washing bags made of unbleached cotton are included, which you must use when washing clothes with the berries.

  • 1. Place what roughly corresponds to the shells of 5-6 whole berries in the included small cotton bag. It can be both whole, half and quarter shells.

  • 2. Close the bag tightly with a knot and then put the laundry bag directly into the washing drum together with the clothes. It should NOT be in the soap drawer.

  • 3. If there are stains on any of the clothes, treat the stains with stain remover before washing. Soapberry is a 100% natural product and does not contain added ingredients for stain removal.

  • 4. Start your washing machine and wash as usual.

  • 5. The higher the temperature you wash with, the more soap is melted out of the berries.

    If you wash at 30 degrees , you can use the berries for approx. 5 times in the washing machine.
    If you wash at 40-60 degrees , you can use the berries for approx. 4-5 times in the washing machine.
    If you wash at 60-90 degrees , you can use the berries for approx. 1-3 times in the washing machine.

  • 6. Take the clothes out of the washing machine as soon as possible after it is finished. And hang the laundry bag with soap berries to dry if you don't have to wash again right away.

Video guide: How to wash with soap berries

Watch the video here, where we show how you can look at your soap berries when they need to be changed

When should the soap bars be replaced with new ones?

You can see soap berries when there is no more soap left in them when you open the laundry bag. If the berry skins have become thin, paler in color and no longer have the shiny membrane left on the inside. 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 soap is melted out of the berries.

If you wash at 30 degrees , you can use the berries for approx. 5 times in the washing machine.

If you wash at 40-60 degrees , you can use the berries for approx. 4-5 times in the washing machine.

If you wash at 60-90 degrees , you can use the berries for approx. 1-3 times in the washing machine.

Soapberry works for washing at all temperatures from 30-90°C. The hotter the wash, the faster you have to replace your berries.

If you wash in cold water, you can advantageously soak the soap berries in warm water before washing and pour the water into the detergent drawer.

What temperatures are best for washing?

Shouldn't the soap be rinsed out?

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. Saponins break the surface tension in the water and pull dirt out and away from the clothing fibers. You can therefore safely leave the berries in the machine during the entire wash or choose to drop the rinse program altogether, if your washing machine allows it. This way you save both water and electricity.

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.

Read much more here

Do cracked soap berries work?

Soapberries are exactly as they should be, whether they are whole or broken into smaller pieces. Our berries are processed manually in Nepal and therefore vary in size and whether they are whole or in pieces.

The berries are dried in the sun and the core inside is removed by hand. Therefore, the shell will always be slightly open or completely broken over. The greatest concentration of soap substances is on the inside of the shell, so it is actually a good thing that many of the shells are split and open, as the soap then flows out better.

You just take the number of broken and whole shells, which together correspond to approx. 5 whole berries. You can't overdose on soapberry, so it doesn't come off that well.

Does soapberry wash clean?

Test institutes carry out tests of detergents at regular intervals. These tests typically only measure the ability of detergents to remove the most stubborn stains from textiles, and not the ability to remove other dirt and clean. Therefore, both soapberry and the slightly more environmentally friendly traditional detergents often score low in such tests.

What such a test overlooks is that the majority of the clothes we wash on a daily basis do not have stubborn stains on them. Therefore, there is no reason for us to wash all our clothes in detergent, which can be more accurately classified as liquid stain remover due to the many additional chemicals. Difficult stains must always be pre-treated with sulfo or stain removers, and then the detergent can do the rest just fine. After all, there is no reason to stain remove an entire piece of clothing if there is not a stain.

If clothes are to be classified as microbiologically clean, the Danish Health Authority recommends washing at 60°C 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 the detergent you use.

In short: soap (which soap berries contain) cleans, heat kills the bacteria. Enzymes, optical white, bleach and other chemicals (which you find in regular detergents) do not clean, but act as stain removers (and can be harmful to skin, textiles and not least the environment).

See here how we easily get used to stains when we wash with soap berries

Does soapberry work for all types of laundry?

Soap berries are ideal for ordinary colored washing from 40-60°C . They do not contain additives that wear down either the color or the quality of the clothes, so soap berries will therefore retain the color in colored clothes very well.

However, soap berries are not ideal for white washing if you want to preserve the white color over time. The natural berries do not contain any bleaching agents or optical whites, so the white laundry will take on a grayish tinge over time and will not look so clear anymore if you use soap berries.

Heavily stained kitchen sinks can also be challenging for the berries, as they do not contain stain-removing ingredients that help with the tough stains on dishcloths and tea towels. So here we recommend using a stain remover before washing or possibly to soak heavily stained clothes with a little stain remover.

However, you can use soap berries for these types of washing if you don't go for e.g. shiny white laundry. But we generally recommend that you use them for your normal colored laundry and wool washing.

An enzyme-free detergent that is brilliant for wool and silk

Most of us probably already know that we have to take a little extra care when washing fine materials such as wool and silk. But how do we actually do it?

Silk and wool are natural materials that consist of protein - and that is precisely why they are extra exposed when washing. Ordinary detergent contains 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.

Soapberry, on the other hand, is a completely enzyme-free detergent, which makes it ideal for washing delicate natural materials such as wool and silk. On top of that, the soap substances in soap berries also do not remove the lanolin from wool, which helps to make woolen clothes self-cleaning, so that they do not have to be washed as often. It's a real win-win!⁠

Recipe: Homemade fabric softener

What do I do if I have very hard water with lime

If you have very hard water, you can add an extra berry or two to your laundry bag in the washing machine. Just as you also need a larger dose of regular detergent when you have hard water.

In addition, we recommend using a little household vinegar diluted with water in the rinse aid hole in the soap drawer, as vinegar is brilliant for dissolving limescale and other minerals and making the clothes deliciously soft.

You can see our homemade fabric softener recipe here:

Do soapberries have a scent?

Soap berries are a scent-neutral detergent without perfume, and therefore you will not experience a perfumed scent when you wash with them. The berries may smell a bit fruity or honey-like, but this is the natural scent of the berries.

If you would like your clothes to smell delicious, you can add approx. 5 drops of our laundry fragrance in your fabric softener drawer. They are blends of pure essential oils and make the laundry smell great.

See here how to make liquid detergent and soap from soap berries

Also make light liquid detergent from soap berries

You can boil soap berries in water and get a concentrated liquid soap that you can use as a liquid detergent. It only takes about 20 min. to make and the soap base can be used both in the washing machine or to make other products for cleaning or personal care.

- Boil 10 soap berries in 1 liter of water for 20-30 min.
- Filter the soap through a cloth and bottle it.
- Use 1 dl of soap per wash.

Find the full recipe for soapberry liquid detergent here.

Can I use fabric softener with soap berries?

We do not recommend using traditional fabric softener with soapberry, as fabric softener leaves a sticky film on the clothes and on the berries, which soapberry can have difficulty dissolving.

We do not use traditional synthetic fabric softener because:

  • - It contains a large amount of severe allergenic substances such as perfume, dyes and surfactants, which remain in the fibers of the clothing and are in contact with the skin throughout the day.

  • - If you use fabric softener when you wash your towels and tea towels, you run the risk of them losing their absorbency because a coating forms.

  • - It can clog the pipes in the washing machine, because it is such a sticky substance that it accumulates clumps of dirt, grime and hair, which get stuck together with the fabric softener inside the pipes.

  • - It helps to pollute the aquatic environment.

Instead of fabric softener, you can use clear household vinegar, which works great together with soapberry, is better for the washing machine, the skin and the clothes. Find our recipe for vinegar fabric softener further up in the post.

Our organic soapberry from Care by Nature grows wild on small private and collectively owned plots of land in the Himalayas in Nepal. The berries are harvested once a year by the local population, dried by the sun's rays and stoned by hand. No sprays or the like are used and the berries are not processed in any way apart from drying. It probably doesn't get more natural than that.

The dried berries are sent in bulk to Denmark on ships, which are the most CO2-friendly form of freight transport. So even though the distances are large, the cost of production is low. We have calculated that this gives a CO2 emission equivalent to 0.12 kg. CO2 per bag of soap berries. For comparison, it costs 0.13 kg of CO2 to drive 1 km by car

Read everything about our production and supply chain

Are soap berries environmentally friendly?

See here, where we show the difference in the quality of soap berries

Is there a difference between soapberry?

Yes, there is actually a huge difference in the quality of soap berries from different brands. If you buy soapberries from a producer who does not have complete control over the production and the product, you may risk buying soapberries where half the weight turns out to be seeds inside the berries, so you have to crack the berries open yourself and peel the seeds out before wash.

In addition, there is a big difference in the amount of soap in the berries. In the specific area where we get our soapberry, the content of saponins is approx. 49%. In practical terms, this means more washes per berries, which means that a wash costs DKK 0.55 on average. In comparison, soap berries from the eastern part of Nepal only contain up to 39% saponins.

In the video below, we have found a bag of soap berries, which at first glance seems much cheaper than Care by Nature soap berries per gram. But as you can see, they are neither pitted, cleaned nor have the beautiful amber color that characterizes a fresh and juicy berry filled with soap. Imagine if your first experience with soapberry was a bag from the cheap brand... Would you be happy to use it and want to recommend it to your loved ones?

This is the best way to get started with laundry with soap berries

For those of you who want to try soapberry first