Yes, Soap Nuts do work!
And so, how does the fruit clean? It is the shell of Soap Nuts that has the cleansing properties. It contains a natural chemical compound known as Saponin, which is a type of surfactant, a cleansing agent.
Saponin gets released when it comes into contact with water. It is even more effective if you use hot water. When Soap Nuts are agitated in water, you will notice that suds will form, which usually indicates the presence of surfactant.
Saponin in water aids in spreading the water across surfaces and penetrate fabrics. It helps to loosen the dirt and remove them from the fabric. Saponin hold on to the dirt in suspension and thus preventing it from settling back onto the surface, until it is being washed away. This is similar to the way how Soap cleanses.
Experiment 1: Agitate Soap Nuts in water
I took a few Soap Nuts and put them into a bottle half-filled with water (room temperate) and shook it. Just after a few shakes, I noticed the suds starting to appear, and small little bubbles rising from the shells. Now, imagine the bottle is the washer’s tumbler, this is how Soap Nuts will work in your washer. If you have a pack of Soap Nuts, feel free to try out this experiment. It’s pretty fun and amazing to experience it first hand.
Experiment 2: Washing plates with Soap Nuts
To test it further, I spread a few drops of cooking oil onto a porcelain plate. I then poured a little Soap Nut solution from the above experiment onto the plate and washed it with my bare hands. Very quickly, the oil is washed off and I could hear the squeaking sound. The strange thing though, is that my hands still felt a little oily but not the plate.
If you would like to try out Soap Nuts too, you can purchase soap nuts from here.