FAQs Soapberries & Wool Dryer Balls
What are soapberries?
Soapberries are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree. The fruit is picked, the seed removed and the shell dried. This dried shell is full of a substance called 'Saponins' which are a natural soap. Saponins reduce the surface tension of water, releasing dirt and grime from fabrics and surfaces. The tree grows in the Himalayan region of the world and the berries are used for many different cleaning applications. They are naturally antibacterial, anti fungal and hypoallergenic.
Are 'TRH' soapberries organic?
Our 'That Red House' soapberries are certified organic by USDA; one of the world's leading certification organisations. Their conditions are strict and inspections are frequent to ensure the best standards and conditions are met by our growers, harvesters and packers.
How do I use them?
Place 5 - 6 soapberries in the small cotton bag which comes with your purchase. Place the bag inside the drum of your washing machine WITH you clothes. You can use this bag of berries to do about five loads of washing. They work fine in cold water but warm water draws more soap out of the berries, so turn up the temperature on your machine if you have a particularly dirty load. Once the cycle has finished be sure to remove the wet bag of berries from the machine. Do not leave the bag in direct contact with fabrics (particularly light colours) for a prolonged period of time. Once the berries have expired they will lose their structure and feel broken and brittle (like dried leaves). You can then throw them in you compost or on your garden to break down naturally.
New vs Expired
Are 'TRH Organic Soapberries' sustainable?
Yes 'That Red House' soapberries are completely sustainable, eco friendly and now 100% WASTE FREE!!
Where are 'TRH Organic Soapberries' from?
Our Soapberries are grown and harvested in by communities in the Himalayas. The income provided by the sale of the shells supports their way of life and promotes sustainable practices.
Are the communities who grow and harvest the soapberries treated well, paid a fair wage and have acceptable working conditions?
Yes. Soapberries are an integral part of the economy for these communities and we have taken every precaution to ensure that the growers and harvesters are well cared for. The TRH team visited the Himalayas in 2016 and agreed to pay the harvesters the wages they asked for to ensure that they were happy with their working conditions and salaries. The TRH team also visited the facility where our soapberries are packed in March 2018 and were delighted with the working conditions. The building was almost brand new, clean and comfortable for all staff. We were also delighted to see that the facility was 100% off the grid and run entirely on solar power! Awesome!
Do you do any charity work?
Yes, we support Open Heart International which is an Australian charity that does vital work in Nepal in the area of women's health. They offer life changing surgery to women who suffer from two painful and debilitating conditions that continue to plague women of developing countries; uterine prolapse and obstetric fistula. These conditions are often brought on by teen pregnancy, having children in close succession, improper delivery techniques, solo births, prolonged labour and returning to heavy work too soon after childbirth (sometimes the same day). All of which are commonplace in developing countries.
The women who suffer these conditions, experience extreme pain coupled with incontinence, irritation, abscesses and can have difficulty with future conception and pregnancy. In developing countries this can lead to social isolation, abuse, abandonment and shame.
We will continue to support the work of OHI through sponsoring more surgeries and by donating a portion of every soapberry bag sold.
How do you ship the soapberries to Australia?
We ship our products to Australia by sea to ensure a low carbon footprint. They take much longer to arrive than if they are shipped by air, but we believe it is the best way for the environment. The products are then inspected by quarantine officials on arrival and approved for entry.
Do the soapberries undergo damaging quarantine treatments?
No, the soapberry shells are permitted into Australia as long as they meet stringent regulations. Our shipments are inspected prior to leaving Nepal, by their forestry department and is then again checked on entry into Australia.
Are we able to grow the 'Sapindus Mukorossi' tree in Australia?
No. The soapberry tree is not a permitted species in Australia and therefore we are required to import them from the Himalayas.
I have heard of Soapnuts, but not Soapberries...are they different?
Soapberries are sometimes called soapnuts, but they are not nuts at all. They are in fact a fruit related to the lychee.
Which washing machines are soapberries suitable for?
Soapberries are suitable for all types of washing machines including front and top loaders. Because they leave no residue on the fabrics, they can be used without activating the rinse cycle, saving water. Simply pop 5 berries into the small cotton wash bag provided and pop them in the drum of your washing machine WITH your clothes.
What is the ideal temperature to use soapberries in the laundry?
Soapberries work in all different temperatures, but if you use hot water, the berries will not last as long. They are just as effective at higher temperatures, but you may need to discard/compost them after 3 washes instead of 5. The saponins are released more effectively in warm water (40 degrees is ideal). Alternatively, if you use them in cold water, they may not activate as quickly as they will in warmer water.
*Handy hint - Soaking your soapberries in hot water for 5 mins prior to a cold wash will soften the shells and activate them.
Do the soapberries need to be taken out of the machine for the rinse cycle?
Soapberries do not leave any soap residue in the clothing fibres as they break the surface tension of the water and draw the dirt out and away from the fabric. This means there is nothing to rinse off. You can therefore TURN OFF the rinse cycle if you machine will allow you to do so, saving water and power. If your machine will not allow you to do this, then leaving them in for the rinse cycle will not affect your wash.
Do they have a fragrance?
Soapberries are fragrance free, but leave your clothes feeling fresh and clean. They are antibacterial and anti fungal, killing odour causing bacteria and germs. If you like a fragrance in your washing, simply add a few drops of our laundry tonic to the small cotton wash bag before you pop it into the wash and your clothes have a gorgeous fragrance to them.
Are they safe for use with sensitive skin?
Soapberries are ideal for people with all kinds of skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and allergy sensitivity. They are extremely hypo-allergenic and we recommend using them if you suffer from any of these conditions. Using Soapberries for baby clothes, bedding and nappies is safe and using them as a bath wash is also gentle and effective. Many people have used soapberries to wash not only their clothes, but by using the shampoo/body wash recipe, have noticed their skin conditions improve or disappear completely. See our recipes page for instructions on how to use them for such applications.
Do they remove stains?
Soapberries will clean your clothes of everyday dirt, but for tougher stains you will need to treat them prior the washing. Have a look at our stain remover recipe on the recipe page.
Will they 'whiten' my whites?
Regular laundry detergents use chemical 'optical brighteners' to make your whites 'appear' whiter. These are harmful to your health and the environment. Our soapberries will clean your whites, but because they do not contain optical brighteners, they will not give the same appearance as the chemical based detergents. You can add washing soda or lemon juice to your load if you want to whiten your clothes more. We also suggest you remove your white clothes from the machine as soon as the cycle has finished, as the wet soapberry bag should not be left in direct contact with white fabrics for an extended period of time.
Do they 'foam up' when I use them.
Soapberries will create suds when activated, but they will not create the same foam that conventional detergents and soaps produce. This foaming action in conventional products is a chemical additive used to give the 'illusion' of cleaning and has no bearing on the effectiveness of cleaning action.
Are they safe for compost, septic and grey water?
Yes! They are completely natural, biodegradable and safe for use in those applications. In fact, being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, they actually work well with septic tanks. If you are using grey water in your garden, there really is no better choice than soapberries.
Are the soapberries safe for those with nut allergies??
The soapberries are sometimes called soapnuts, but they have no relation to nuts. They are perfectly safe for use by those with nut allergies, and are in fact great for those with sensitive skin.
Can we use them to clean in the bathroom and kitchen too?
Absolutely! Soapberries can be boiled to release the saponins, then strained and put in a spray bottle for use around the home. Add some eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the liquid, and you will have a potent multi-purpose cleaner. Because it is antibacterial and anti fungal, it will help with the removal of mould and germs around the home. See our recipe page for directions.
How long do they last?
Unused soapberries will last indefinitely as long as they are kept free from moisture. We do however recommend using them within two years to ensure maximum freshness. In between washes, store your used soapberries in their little cotton bag in a dry place - on a hook in the laundry is best, or hang it out on the line with your clothes.
WOOL DRYER BALLS
What are they made of?
Our 'Wool Dryer Balls' are made of 100% pure Australian wool and are hand spun.
How long will they last?
We estimate our wool balls will last about 10,000 dryer loads. We did the maths and think they are most likely a one off purchase and will outlive you!
How do I use them?
Simply pop three of the balls in the dryer with your wet clothes. You can use the white balls for light colours and the grey balls for dark.
How do they work?
The wool balls work their way between the fabrics and agitate the load, creating pockets of air, for a more even distribution of heat. They also soak up moisture in the machine. This combination of things means your drying time is reduced and they also reduce static and wrinkles in your load. Save power and ironing time. Double win!
What else are they capable of?
If you like a fragrance to your washing, you can add a few drops of one of our 'Laundry Tonics' to your balls before you pop them in the dryer. The heat activates the oils nicely and your clothes will come out smelling delish!