That Red House FAQs

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 antibacterial and anti fungal.

Are your soapberries organic?
Our 'That Red House' soapberries are certified organic by ECOCERT; 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 and harvesters.

Are soapberries sustainable?
Yes. Our 'That Red House' soapberries are completely sustainable. and eco friendly.

Where are your soapberries from?
Our Soapberries are grown and harvested in Nepal by Nepalese communities in the Himalayas. The income provided by the sale of the shells supports their way of life, and promotes sustainable practices.

Are the people who grow and harvest the soapberries treated well and paid a fair wage?
Yes. In fact our product is supporting an initiative called 'Grow Nepal' which provides an income and fair working conditions for small Himalayan communities. Soapberries are an integral part of the Nepalese economy, and we have taken every precaution to ensure that the growers and harvesters are well cared for, and that their future generations are also.

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 the products 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 berries. 

Are soapberries suitable for front loader washing machines?
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.

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 they have a fragrance?
Soapberries are fragrance free, but leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean. They are antibacterial and 
anti fungal, killing odour causing bacteria and germs.

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. 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.

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.