After talking about it for a short time, somewhere in the region of 13 years, we decided to try soapnuts. The main reason for this my drive to reduce the amount of packaging that passes through the house on a monthly basis. At the end of May I bought a sample kit containing five soap nuts, a wash bag, some liquid detergent and a small sample of soap.
It took quite some time to get used to the lack of fragrance but other than that it was very simple. I was still a little uncertain until Dan commented about how soft things were, especially towels. So I went for it and ordered a starter kit at the end of June. The kit contains the soapnuts, a bottle of essential oil (I chose orange), stain remover bar, and soda crystals. I had a 10% off coupon from buying the starter kit which covered most of the cost of p&p.
So, I have been experimenting. I'm getting used to general laundry, recently I had need for the stain removal stick as I'd stained something with tomatoes and was really impressed. The stain had been there for a little while but the stain stick did the job well, I was impressed. I followed the instructions that came with the kit, boiled them up and made some liquid detergent. The pan bubbled over as I was preparing it and I can confirm the hob came up very clean indeed! That has now been strained and is living in the fridge, along with the nuts which I am told can be boiled another three times to make more liquid. I say I strained it, I sieved it so there's a bit of sludge at the bottom, I need to use a muslin cloth or something next time. The spent nuts from the original trial kit were blended up with some water to make a foaming wash.
I added a few drops of the orange oil to this, firstly I used it to wash some dishes, it did the job but there wasn't much foam so it looked a bit odd. It was very gentle on my hands though which is a huge bonus. I don't think I'll make that again, as I know Dan won't use it and he does most of the washing up, instead I'll use the old shells on the garden. All in all I'm very pleased, shame it took us so long to get round to it, better late than never.