Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'm Nuts for Soap Nuts!

I'm not fanatical about cleanliness. (Cue my mom and/or roommate, chuckling at this understatement.) I like a tidy home, but given the choice between slightly grimy and chemically sanitized, I'd choose the former. For one thing, I don't like to work very hard. For another, I'm not very afraid of dirt. In fact, I think a little bit can be a good thing, and far preferable to the kind of "clean" accomplished using products which require a wind-tunnel's worth of ventilation (I'm talking to you, shower-tile-spray!).

Of course, with today's proliferation of eco-friendly products, there is no shortage of green-labeled "detergent -- or soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach" (FTBY&M, je t'aime) to get the job done without poisoning one's born or unborn children. 

Happily for me, my favorite eco-friendly home-helper happens to match one of the two household chores that I actually enjoy: laundry.

Introducing: Maggie's Soap Nuts!

Made from the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry Tree, these crusty-looking brown things are so ridiculously Greene, it is hard to describe them as succinctly as the blog medium requires. A list might be in order here, framed as an ode to my crinkly brown friends. 

Why So Greene, Soap Nuts? I love you because...
  1. You are hypoallergenic and contain no chemicals, dyes, perfumes, or otherwise noxious ingredients.
  2. You're not really a nut, you're a dried fruit, so even nut-allergic clothing-wearers can use you. 
  3. You are harvested from the ground, picked after your Indonesian mother tree has naturally shed you. (Isn't that so much nicer and more sustainable than cutting down said tropical forests for lumber? Those ancient woods take forever to grow back!)
  4. You actually clean my clothes. This is a little-touted side bennie. I love it when the "au naturale" method is not only guilt-free, but performs its intended function.
  5. You come in a cardboard box, so I don't have to deal with another plastic bottle (unless I choose the new, liquid, version of you. I won't.).
  6. Extra credit: You won't stain my clothes like blue detergent sometimes does.
  7. Extra, extra: Maggie’s Pure Land donates 10% of net proceeds to "groups that improve the lives of mothers, children, and support a happy, Pure Planet Earth." 
I first discovered these crusty magic balls at Abode in Missoula, MT. Turns out, they are sold at Whole Foods, as well as at


  1. Wow this is so amazing! I'm going to try them and tell all my friends!!!! I especially love that they come in a cardboard box. Why can't we just go back to the days before plastic?????

  2. How cool is that! I looked up the scientific name and apparently this tree grows all over the place in Brazil. It's called soldier's soap or soaptree. I'm on a hunt for it now!

  3. I came across Soap Nuts on a blog about a month ago and have been waiting for my August budget to start to buy a little starter. I didn't realize Whole Foods sold them, though, so I'll have to price them out...Excited about giving them a try.