Travels with Pickles

Soap Nuts or Why We Gave Up Commercial Laundry Products


When we decided to go fulltime, I knew that I didn’t want to lug liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener around.  I also knew that spilled powder detergent would just be a pain to clean up should it spill.  So, I begin investigating options and quickly discovered soap nuts.  I ordered some and began experimenting with them while we were still in the house.  Now, you couldn’t pay us to go back to commercial laundry products.

What are soap nuts you are probably asking yourself.  Well, easiest answer is they are exactly what the name implies, hard spheres shaped like a nut that contain natural surfactants.  Our laundry no longer smells like a commercial definition of clean, you know that stench that masquerades as lavender or “clean” cotton.


That’s a selection of soap nuts from the currently open bag in the closet.  As you can see, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  For a typical combo two-in-one RV washer, I use between five and seven nuts depending on shape and size.  The amount of nuts varies based on your personal preference to be honest.  The soap nuts not only launder dirty clothes, they also act as natural fabric softener.  The amount of nuts varies depending on the level of softness you prefer in your clothing. 

When you order, the order comes with a cheesecloth bag to place the soap nuts in for use in the washer.  I used the bag at the house but in The Gump, I use the soap dispenser.  Either method is fine, if the bag is used the nuts will dry out while the clothes dry but that will not harm them.


There are a couple of tricks to be aware of.  First, they do not produce visible bubbles that are common with commercial detergent.  Second, new soap nuts have a brown interior and when the surfactant is used up, the interior of the nuts turn into a grayish brown color.  Third, a two pound bag of nuts will last us anywhere between 12-18 months.   And lastly, it will take you several weeks of trial and error to dial in on the right number to use for your personal preference.  Don’t give up on the nuts, they are working.  If you chose, you can use commercial fabric softener along with the soap nuts.

When the soap nuts are used up, we flush them down the black tank.  What is left of the surfactant gets used up in the black tank and cleans the tank a little.  They flush out with the rest of the waste, scrubbing a little as they go.   

As for the water in the gray tanks, it is free of chemicals.  If you wanted to, we wouldn’t hesitate to drain the gray on the ground.  There are no funky smells emanating from our gray tank. 

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us and we will try and help to the best of our ability.

2 thoughts on “Soap Nuts or Why We Gave Up Commercial Laundry Products

  1. Nancy

    Very interesting! But I can’t see Pete letting me use these in the “high efficiency” washer!


    1. stitchersflock Post author

      I used them in mine. My mum and aunt are now using them in theirs as well.