When I was contacted by Maggie's Pure Land Products about trying free samples of Soap Nuts Laundry Soap, I didn't really understand what I was signing up for. The nice person who contacted me tried to explain that this eco-friendly alternative to traditional laundry soap involved washing my clothes with dried fruit. But maybe I wasn't really paying attention. Then two generous packages of these little round dried nuts came in the mail:
You actually wash your clothes with these! They're totally vegan, hypoallergenic, low-sudsing, and super eco-friendly. The nuts come with a cute little reusable cotton sack:
Stuff the sack with 2 to 5 nuts (depending on whether or not you have an HE washer), tie it up, and toss it in the machine with your dirty skivvies. About a half an hour later, you've got clean underoos.
Afraid that these strange dried fruits would stain my clothes, I first tested the soap nuts on dirty sheets. The sheets came out of the wash clean and fresh-smelling. The Soap Nuts company also sent me a bottle of their laundry liquid (made from soap nut extract, lavendar, lemongrass, and tea tree oils), so I tested it on my delicates with perfect results. I went back to the whole nuts for my tough jeans and towels, all of which came out of the wash clean as hell (and I let my jeans get pretty funky before I finally wash them).
According to Maggie's Pure Land Products, soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese soapbery tree, which is related to the lychee and rambutan. They're harvested in Indian and Indonesian jungles. Apparently, the locals there have been using these nuts as soap for ages. Here's a photo Maggie's sent me of soap nuts drying in the sun:
Maggie's Pure Land wants to give away a sample of soap nuts to three lucky readers! Leave a comment about your favorite article of clothing, and I'll use a random number generator to choose the three winners next Wednesday (July 21st). Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to my blog and then leave an additional comment for an extra entry. You can also mention the contest (with a link) on Facebook and leave another comment to let me know you did. If you have a blog, link back to this contest on your blog and leave me yet another comment.
That's an opportunity for four entries per person! But please, please, please leave an email address if you don't have a blog so I have a way to contact you. The winners will be able to choose between an 8-load liquid sample and a 5-load raw soap nut sample. Good luck!
UPDATE: A few commenters have expressed concerns about the mass marketing of soap nuts and how it might affect the prices of these natural cleansers for the indigenous people who've used them for years. I don't have enough information to speak to that point exactly, but I did find this link to information about the company's sustainable forest harvest (and paying living wages to workers who gather nuts) on their webpage. From a quick Google search, I can see that Maggie's isn't the only company selling soap nuts, and I'm not sure how their practices compare to the other companies. But I've emailed the company for more information. Until then, comment on! And good luck!