Oh nuts; Oh balls!

soapnuts and eco friendly way of washing
Nuts or balls

Which one shall I go for?

I’ve seen some of those eco wash balls on offer through a company called ‘Nature’s Wisdom’, and I’m wondering whether they are a magnificent creation, designed to save me water, electricity and detergent or whether they are a greenwashing hoax destined to relieve me of nothing other than money.

It seems they are made from plastic; so are they recyclable and what sort of plastic is it?

And I’ve realised, through my research that there are two sorts of wash balls. Ones that have pellets in (and I’ve heard numerous reports about them coming apart in the machine and causing a mess) and ones that somehow magnetise the water.

So which do I go for and what are the differences?

And if that’s not enough, there are soapnuts too. Now, I won’t have a word said against them because one of my very knowledgeable friends sells them and finds them to be the answer to all her laundry needs.

But I had some of them once upon a long time ago, used them a few times, gave up and dispatched them to a very grateful friend. That’s not really a fair trial is it?

Do you know what my excuse for giving up was? I found it too difficult to untie the bag or old sock which contained them at the end of the wash 😀eco balls for eco friendly washing?

But what I ended up doing, prior to caring what I threw away was to toss the whole lot in the bin. So somewhere in the landfill are a couple of Little Miss Green’s old socks with half a dozen soapnuts in them.

Now I’m Miss zero waste extraordinaire, everything that goes into the bin is accounted for, and better options are sought.

I have a theory that if you have wonderfully soft water these soapnuts and eco wash balls are excellent. So I’m wondering if I need to get to the root of the problem here and soften my water. Perhaps a water softener would be my best bet. Or maybe I should move to a picturesque black and white cottage in Cornwall or Devon. 😉

But then I wonder whether you would get just as good results by using no detergent at all. I’m quite sure this would be true of the first few washes, because it is clear if you wring out a clean, dry cloth in a bowl of water just how much residue is left in our fabrics.

No wonder people get skin allergies from harsh cleaning products.

Making decisions is not my best skill, so I’m going to stick with Ecover until I can make up my mind. I’m not unhappy with Ecover at all, I think it’s great but I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve things and ways to lessen my footprint further.

By using soapnuts or washballs, you can reduce the water needed for the rinse cycle, plus soapnuts can be used for other cleaning jobs around the home and they become an ingredient for the compost heap when you’re done with them.

Oh well; I’ll give it some more thought, but I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences. If you leave a comment, please include details of your water hardness 🙂


  1. Alison on November 24, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I’ve been using ecover for a while now, but after a recent accident involving an oil can I discovered that it really doesn’t remove oil – the oil just floated out of the overalls and made a slick on the surface of the bucket. Not wanting to throw away a perfectly good boiler suit I reached for the soap flakes I use for washing wool & sheep fleece – they worked brilliantly and I’ve now started to use them in the machine occasionally, alternating with an eco friendly own brand from the Co op. I’ve found that my clothes are starting to come cleaner again, they’d been getting gradually greyer over the months on Ecover.
    I’m not saying that Ecover isn’t good – I was initially very pleased with it, but perhaps washing overalls used while restoring old machinery is not what the detergent designers had in mind?.
    I must say that I can’t stand commercial detergents – I can smell them a mile off – I know when someone nearby has washed their clothes in them, which makes me believe that the stories of the perfumes mucking up the pheromones for butterflies etc make a lot of sense. Soap flakes made from fat & alkali and no additives seem like a good alternative to me.

  2. Mrs Green on December 5, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Hi Alison,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us! And what a great find with the soap flakes. Can you tell me how much you used in a load please? And whether you have hard or soft water? Ours is terribly hard and I would worry that soap flakes would leave a soap scum. I tried the Co-Op stuff but even that was too highly scented for me; I must be really sensitive. Well, I know I am – going out in the garden on a sunny day when our neighbour’s have their washing out can be a miserable time because of the wafting scents coming from their lines 🙁

  3. Sue on September 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Let me know if you want to try the soap nuts again!!
    And I’ve got some nice little bags I got from Freecycle!!
    Sue x

  4. Mrs Green on September 15, 2009 at 11:23 am

    @Sue: Hi Sue, Good to see you again. I’m not sure about the soap nuts; I tried them again and had a really bad experience with some marks they left which now won’t wash out 🙁

  5. Paul on May 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

    The manufacturers of Soap Flakes now do a liquid version for the washing machine and are easier to dissolve than flakes. They don’t contain any palm oil (do a google search on palm oil and orangutans). Details at: http://www.dri-pak.co.uk/liquid-soap-for-laundry.html

  6. Mrs Green on May 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    @Paul: Great news, thank you Paul – would you like to send me some for review? I’d love to try them out and give you my verdict in this hard water area!