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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

How to Replace Your Laundry Detergent with a Berry from the Rainforest

Mar 28, 2018 02:15PM ● By Karma Shleef

Mirza Abdullah Beg /

This may sound crazy, but it’s actually a very easy and effective swap to make! These berries grow in warm, temperate to tropical regions and are a part of the lychee family, Sapindaceae. They contain high amounts of saponins, which give them their soap-like qualities. What’s more, these berries can be used six to 10 times in the wash before they need to be replaced. Fortunately, they are all-natural, do not add any hazardous chemicals to the household, and are biodegradable.

Everyone is concerned with outdoor pollution while overlooking the pollution indoors where up to 80 to 90 percent of time is spent. Indoor pollution can come from a slew of things, including candles, household cleaning products, and detergents (the focus of this article).

Conventional detergents have numerous health concerns associated with them due to the toxins they contain. The three most problematic ingredients are:

1. 1,4-Dioxane – Not only is this a known animal carcinogen, it is also suspected to cause “adverse reproductive effects (fetotoxicity)” with chronic exposure and can damage the blood. (

2. Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) – Has a possible risk of impaired fertility as well as risk of harm to an unborn child. But what this substance is most known for is its harm to the environment, especially aquatic life (where this substance is most likely to end up). Unfortunately, its toxic effects tend to be long lasting. (

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – This substance is also highly toxic to aquatic organisms and is easily absorbed through the skin. Prolonged exposure has been known to cause dermatitis—an increasingly common condition. (

These chemicals in detergents stay in the clothes in small amounts after being washed and can be absorbed through the skin. At first, this will most likely have little to no effect. However, over time, chronic exposure can lead to health problems. This is why it’s a good idea to replace conventional detergent with a berry from the rainforest!

How to use the berries:

Put five to six berries in a sachet and throw into the wash as it is filling with water. A splash of white vinegar or baking soda can be added to the water to act as a brightener and fabric softener. Wash and dry as you normally would. That’s it! If you would like to add some scent, try lemon, lavender or peppermint essential oils.

Where to purchase:

These berries can be purchased at numerous places online by searching for “soap berries” or “soap nuts”, and they often come with the small sachet to put them in.

Karma Shleef has a degree in Biochemistry from Arizona State University, and is currently studying holistic nutrition to become a certified nutrition health coach. Connect at




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