Yogis think of housekeeping as an opportunity to practise saucha, or holistic cleanliness, and using earth-friendly, all-natural cleaning products is one way to practice ahimsa, or non-violence.
Practicing the yamas and niyamas, or virtuous restraints and habits, enhances physical health, encourages mental clarity and enlightens the spirit.
There are so many natural and earth-friendly ways to make all that scrubbing and sweeping easier and more pleasant.
Last year on Earth Day I tried soapnuts for the first time and I've been loving them ever since. If you haven't tried them yet, it's time!
Soapnuts aren't actually nuts at all. They are the dried fruit of a tree native to India and Nepal. The berries aren't good for eating as they contain natural saponin, making them bitter-tasting, but a very effective natural cleanser.
For thousands of years they've been used for washing dishes, laundry and as an ayurvedic hair and body wash. They are considered to be a safe, natural insecticide and even have mild contraceptive qualities!
How to use soapnuts:
I like to put five of the dried berries in a small muslin cotton bag and throw it in the washer with my dirty clothes. When I transfer the clothes to the dryer, the little bag goes with them.
The clothes come out clean, soft and unscented, and the towels are extra fluffy and absorbent!
The best part is, those same five soapnuts can be reused up to ten times!
Usually after 6 or 7 washes, I transfer the little bag to a pot of water on my stove and boil it to make a liquid all-purpose cleaner with the "tea". I use it to wash dishes and windows, counters and surfaces.
Just remember to use the soapnut liquid up within a week as it has no preservatives and will spoil eventually. No worries if it does, just dump it down the sink or in your garden, its totally biodegradable!
I get my soapnuts from Asian grocers, where they go by their Indian names of Reetha/Ritha/Aritha or from Eco Nuts or better yet, in bulk at Earth's General Store.
Give them a try and let me know what you think!