Homemade Cleaning Products

Liquid Soapberry Laundry Detergent

I recently posted about one of my newfound natural laundry detergent solutions…Using Soapberries as Laundry Detergent. Although I had good results in the initial testing stage of using the soapberries to clean our dirty clothes, I still wanted to try out a version of making a liquid from them. Honestly, my desire to do so came from thinking my kids would do better with measuring out liquid each time rather than checking to see if the soapberries were still “active”.

The verdict is still out on my thought process regarding the kids’ rationing out the golden liquid for each load, because even though I’ve told them repeatedly they ONLY need to use 2-3 tablespoons per load (and I have a NyQuil measuring cap with an arrow pointing to the fill line), the detergent seems to be getting used up a bit faster than what I was anticipating. The cleaning power seems to be working well though!

Soapberries are also known as “soap nuts”, although they aren’t actually nuts so those with nut allergies don’t need to avoid them.

On the back of the soapberry bag there is a recipe for liquid household cleaner. In my research online, the liquid laundry detergent is made in a similar fashion. Although…everything I’ve come across states the liquid has a pretty short shelf life (outside of being stored in the refrigerator) of about a week or so because there are no preservatives in it.

How I typically roll is to not make things in small batches…what’s the point?? I feel it makes more work in the long run because I’ll just have to turn around and do it again soon. For instance, if I’m going to go to the effort of cooking for our large crew, there will most likely be some sort of leftovers. If I am going to preserve jelly…or salsa…or soup…or spaghetti sauce, etc. it’s not going to be just a few jars…the goal is to fill my shelves! You get the idea. The same is true for making laundry detergent. Why would I go to the effort of making it to do it again in a week? Go big or go home.

Since I had a desire to make a large batch at once, and yet don’t usually have a lot of extra space in the refrigerator to store laundry detergent, my next question was how to preserve the detergent by canning it. The only post I could find online regarding canning to preserve it I found here at http://www.superiorsoapnuts.com.

You can hop on over to their site to read their instructions, but they offered three options for canning the soap nut liquid detergent: a pressure method, a water bath method, and an oven method. I chose to use the pressure canning method because I figured the higher heat and pressure would extract the most of the soapberries natural soap called saponin, making the concentration of liquid that much greater. Plus, I have all of the equipment needed for pressure canning, so why not??

Here is how I did it:

First, place 8-10 dried soapberries in clean, quart-sized canning jars. Break up the soapberries so they aren’t whole.

My pressure canner holds 7 quart sized jars. So, that’s how many jars I made.

Next, add 1/4 cup white vinegar to each jar.

Now, I didn’t see any recipes which called for adding vinegar, but my rational of the addition of it was two fold. First, I figured adding vinegar to the concentration would only aid in the shelf life being extended once each jar was opened. Secondly, vinegar would only boost the cleaning and deodorizing of the laundering process. No harm, no foul…win, win!

Next, add water to about 1 1/4″ headspace.

I actually didn’t measure this and it may have been a bit more than the 1 1/4″. I didn’t know how sudsy the solution would get during the canning process, so I didn’t want the headspace to be too shallow and cause the jars not to seal. Also, the water – I didn’t worry about it being boiling because we aren’t going to be eating this and I was treating it more like a “cold pack” method of canning.

Next, clean each jar rim with a clean rag or paper towel dipped in vinegar.

This step is important especially since when breaking the soapberries some of the stickiness from the dry saponin may have been inadvertently deposited on the rims.

Next, place clean canning lids and rings on each jar.

I used reusable Tattler canning lids. They’re awesome! The way you tighten the rings when using these reusable canning lids is a bit different from a traditional disposable canning lid, which I won’t go over in this post. If you’re interested in how they are used, here are some instructions from the Tattler site.

Place jars in a pressure canner filled with water to the specifications for your particular brand.

Place lid on canner and turn the heat to high. Allow the canner to heat up and once steam starts streaming steadily from vent, allow to steam for 10 minutes before placing the weight on the vent pipe.

Process jars for 15 minutes at 11 pounds pressure.

After processing time is complete, allow canner to completely depressurize to zero. Carefully remove lid and place hot jars on a towel lined surface to cool.

When using Tattler lids, the rings need to be tightened upon taking out of the canner, which is different from a traditional, disposable lid. If this doesn’t apply to you, then no need to worry about this step.

Once jars are cooled, check to make sure they are sealed, remove ring, and wash and dry jars before storing. At this stage they are shelf stable and shouldn’t spoil…hence the reason for the preservation process.

Once opened, strain soapberries from liquid and place liquid detergent in a container suitable for ease of storing and measuring. I suppose you could also leave the detergent in the canning jar and pour it directly from there when doing laundry. I saw that being a possible issue for my children though.

I transferred the liquid to a plastic squeeze bottle, used in conjunction with a medicine measuring cap which is about 2 tablespoons

 

To avoid confusion, I also added written instructions for kids doing laundry…

 

For a normal sized load of laundry, I will use about 2 tablespoons of liquid. If the load is extra dirty or a bit larger, I will add a little more liquid. Also, I add a scoop of Oxiclean to my loads of towels, my boys clothes, and my husband’s workout clothes just to aid in the extra. You know what I mean…

This, my friends, is my DIY process for making and preserving a natural soapberry laundry detergent. I’ve usually used up a jar within a week and a half of opening, so am I unsure of how quickly it will last outside of the refrigerator after the seal is broken if it is beyond that timeframe. If you won’t use up a quart in that amount of time, store the extra in the fridge to avoid spoilage.

Hopefully this has been insightful or helpful for those looking for an inexpensive and homemade laundry detergent…I know it’s been great for us! Please let me know if you try it out, or if you have other suggestions for using soapberries!

-Shelley.

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