Granted there are many, many things to think about when preparing to survive in less than civilized situations. It's tough to remember everything, and this is one that usually gets forgotten…
“How do we wash our clothes and keep them fresh?”
It takes more than just dunking in the nearest stream and laying out to dry. Proper washing requires some kind of detergent and at least a little effort at scrubbing. Using a washboard or even beating your wet clothing on a rock will cover the scrubbing, but you will also need a detergent to help break up the dirt, sanitize your clothing and remove odors.
Making your own detergent can be labor intensive – you may be better off buying detergent instead. But what if you run out of it and you are in the middle of nowhere?
The good news is that you can actually pick up your detergent from a tree. Yes, you read that right. The tree is known as a soap nut or soap berry tree and they produce (what else?) …soap berries. Soap berries or soap nuts are nature's own laundry detergent. Just get a few of these berries and say goodbye to those dirty, smelly clothes.
Image courtesy of: ted762563
Soap nuts contain saponins, this make these berries capable of creating suds – a primary ingredient in a detergent.
The following article has a couple of ways to make your own laundry detergent using soap nuts:
1. Use the soap nuts directly.
Take a handful of soap nuts and place them in a small cotton bag with a drawstring. Tie the bag closed and toss the soap nuts into the washer. When the laundry cycle is finished, open the bag and pour out the soap nuts to dry them out. When totally dry, place them back into your dry cotton bag, ready for the next laundry cycle. Soap nuts may be used 10 times before they are thrown out.
2. Make your own laundry detergent liquid with the soap nuts.
In this method, you will need a large quart-sized Mason jar and about 10 soap nuts. Soak the nuts in a quart of water, shaking it every few hours when you think about it. The goal is to extract the saponins from the soap nuts.
Let the soap nuts soak for a few hours or even overnight. Then strain the soap nuts out of the liquid and air them out to dry, to reuse when you need more laundry detergent.
Refrigerate the liquid and label it so you remember what it is; this isn’t a beverage to drink! (It’s always good to mark it “laundry detergent.”) Your new laundry detergent is ready to use over the next two weeks.
Some people prefer to boil the soap nuts on the stove before using. This method takes more effort but you may get more suds during the laundry wash cycle. Do remember, though, that the whole idea that you must have a lot of suds while doing laundry is one created by the laundry detergent industry.
So is soap nuts a capable laundry detergent? Find out more by visiting www.offthegridnews.com.
Soap nuts are nature's answer to cleaning our clothes without relying on commercial laundry detergents. What is great about it is that there are various methods to make a detergent out of it. You can use them directly or process them using the methods discussed in the article.
Before you get too excited, there is one serious downside…
Soap berry trees are NOT native to North America. They grow in the Himalayas, so homesteaders should consider planting their own trees. Preppers can also purchase soap nuts online if they want to stock up.
For lovers of “all natural” alternatives, soap nuts are the bomb for handling laundry off-grid.
Until next time…
Take care and God bless
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