2/25/10

Green and clean: Maggie's Soap Nuts review and Giveaway!

Giveaway closed! Winners will be announced shortly. Thanks for entering!


What are Soap Nuts?
Do you know what this is? This is a soapnut. Or rather, the husk of the fruit of the Sapindus tree, and it has completely changed my perspective on cleaning. It is a powerful shell and when wet, it produces a deep-cleansing solution. Maggies Pure Land offered to send me both the soapnuts and the liquid soapnut solution (which smells of a cheerful and clean tea-tree & lavender scent) to try. As many of you all know, I am committed to making green choices in our home.

Why I love Soap Nuts
Since we cloth diaper, I am quite picky about the detergent I use in our washer. Most detergents contain whiteners, brighteners, surfactants, and fragrances, which will ruin a diapers absorbency. Cloth diapering is part of my commitment to use only the best and most natural products on my family because I truly believe these choices are linked to our health. Maggie's soap nuts delivers on this promise on every level. Take a few (2 at a time is recommended) of these little berries, toss them into the included drawstring bag and then into the wash cycle of the laundry. The nuts themselves smell of an almost chalky vinegar scent, but the laundry, once dried, will only smell of a fresh and breezy clean scent (it truly is just the smell of clean) that many manufactured detergents try to (and promise to) create but with the use of chemical fragrances. Maggies Soap Nuts have none of those harmful ingredients and still does the work better than any detergent I've ever used. This is a 100% natural, do-it-all cleaner, and it has been used for cleaning for thousands of years.

Mother Nature's Way
We do line drying with our whites (yes, even in the city!), and therefore we don't need to use bleach. The sun gets even the biggest and baddest baby stains out, and around here that's priceless. But if you don't line dry, and don't want to try it, you should use an environmentally friendly oxygen bleach when you do your whites, because these soapnuts don't contain artificial whiteners or brighteners. I'm going to point this out now for those of you who might not know: the ingredients used in standard cleaners are chemicals. Nearly all laundry detergents contain whiteners, brighteners, perfumes/fragrances, artificial surfactants. Just check out the label on your current laundry detergent and google the ingredients one at a time. You'll see that not only are they mostly toxic, they are also linked to many skin conditions such as eczema and other skin allergies and ingredients such as Diethanolamine is cited as a carcinogen, but still used in cleaners and detergents. Shampoos and body washes are also laden with toxins, especially sulfates which literally destroy your skin. Even plant-derived sulfates can be harmful, such as Cocamide DEA, which can even be in products that are labeled "organic" and "natural," but clearly has serious side effects. Also ingredients such as parabens, and disodium EDTA can be found in these traditional household products. I am now using Maggies soap nuts as a shampoo alternative.

How to use Soap Nuts

At the same time as Maggie's Pure Land sent me these products, I had decided that I was going to ditch traditional shampoo because I was developing psoriasis on my scalp, shoulders and arms. I'll be honest, I actually hadn't figured out that the rash on my shoulders was due to my "natural" shampoo, but I knew my scalp was suffering from the daily dose of chemicals, and I've always noted that when I wash my hair, I get a sharp metallic taste in my mouth.
I switched to an SLS free tooth paste last year due to sensitivity issues, and it makes sense to switch to a product that is sulfate free for my scalp as well. After using the solution for a week, I have no more rash on my shoulders, and my scalp feels healthy and clean. I filled a spray bottle full of water and soaked 3 husks in the water until it became a tea-colored solution, and added a few drops of pure lemon juice into my solution to lighten my hair naturally and freshen the scent, which also conditions the scalp. I reused the shells for making a cleaner for the home when I was done making my soapnut shampoo. I simply spray it on my hair in the shower, soak, and rinse. My hair has regained luster and body, it is soft and now has developed a natural curl/ wave that I've tried every chemical product on the market to force it to have for years. I love my hair now, and I have been actually enjoying wearing it down.

Other uses for Soap Nuts
Besides of using as a shampoo, you can use these soapnuts for anything you would do with a regular cleaner. Simply soak 2 soapnuts in a few cups of warm water and you've got an all natural household cleaner for washing the table, cleaning the fridge, even cleaning things like the baby's high chair. I loved how shiny and clean it got my stove, as well as the microwave which I am usually afraid to use cleaners on as I use it to heat water and milk daily. Pour an ounce of the solution into your mop bucket and clean the floor, or spray the shower down when you get out with your soapnut 'shampoo.'
For washing laundry, put the berries into the included sack (2 at a time is ideal) and toss into the washload. You leave them in the cycle until you're ready to dry your clothes. You can use them for cold cycles or hot, for regular washers and high efficiency. The berries are used up after a cycle or two and you'll know they're ready to be composted when they stop feeling slippery when they're wet. Composted husks will easily turn to dirt. They're very low sudsing, so if you're washing dishes with them (yes, I did this too, I'm telling you, they're the do-it-all cleaner!), you might want to do as I did and either put some solution into a spray bottle to spray onto dishes as you wash, or a cup of soaked husk solution like this


through the food processor, where you'll get this:
video

I found this worked really well, but didn't have much "grab" onto the dishes, so I mixed in a tablespoon of baking soda and drops of lemon juice to give a bit of scrubbing power. It was as effective as my regular dishsoap and completely natural, sensitive on my hands smells great, and is completely friendly to the environment. As for our laundry, I've been switching between the liquid soapnut solution that Maggies offers and the regular soapnut husks (link). I love both- the liquid is readily convenient and leaves a light, pleasant scent on the laundry when it's done. The soapnuts are small and compact, perfect for traveling, and as stated before, leave clothes extremely soft and have reduced the lint output on our loads. I don't use dryer sheets, and yet my laundry has been fluffier and undeniably softer. I love it for the diaper laundry as I know that there is nothing to worry about in terms of residue or irritants.
It's simply clean, the way nature intended it to be, and doesn't break down the quality of my clothes or the diapers in a way that ordinary products do. This is the best product I have ever tried in our home. The only downfall was that I now have many bottles of products I don't want to use any more sitting in the cleaner cabinet, and yet I don't want to throw into the trash and pollute the environment either. These soapnuts are a product that I will continue using and am certain that I will eventually transition to owning nothing else but a variety of essential oils to add to my solutions and a bulk of soapnuts. I know that their products are marketed primarily as a laundry detergent, but it really is a do-it-all cleaner. I can't imagine continuing to spend money on bottles of chemicals when I know this can do it all without the negative impacts on our health or my biggest fear: child poisoning. When you realize the things you can stop buying and use this on instead, you will understand that I mean it when I say this is an incredibly affordable product.

Maggie's strives to help normalize breastfeeding
There is another point that I simply must address because it is one of the reasons I love this company. Maggie's Pure Land is working to normalize breastfeeding, as is evidenced by this poster (link) that they distribute to stores carrying their product. I think this is a huge and positive step for breastfeeding women such as myself, and I also feel that it goes great lengths to support public breastfeeding. It says a lot about their philosophy that they are eager to support natural lifestyles and proactive choices.

The Giveaway:
Maggies Pure Land has generously offered to sponsor a giveaway to two readers. You will win either the lavender and tea-tree liquid detergent, or the convenient and easily portable soapnut shells complete with a washing bag.
To enter, you must visit Maggie's pure Land and tell me something unique you have learned about the company.
For additional entries, follow my blog publicly, tweet about this giveaway (up to 2times a day) or sign up for my email list. For five entries, blog about this review and giveaway and link back to it in your comments. For ten extra entries, visit Maggie's Pure Land and make a purchase before this contest ends on the 10th. If you are selected as a winner I may ask you to forward me your purchase receipt with personal information removed. Be sure to leave a comment for each entry that you complete.

This contest is open to the US and Canada and ends on the 10th of March. This is a sponsored review. I was not paid for this review although the company did send me products to review for free. For more information on my review policy visit my reviews page.