Simply The Best Soap Nuts Shampoo Recipes

Before my zero-waste journey, I bought EVERYTHING.

My default setting was to rush off and buy whatever I 'needed'. At least, until a few excellent mentors and bloggers showed me the light. I went from a.) realizing the things I needed were almost always things I simply wanted and b.) I could make almost anything myself and from the comfort of my home. My mindset shifted and I went from rushing out to buy to staying in to make.

I quickly noticed the easiest way to be a nifty DIY whizz was to find natural ingredients that could make several products. Cue: the soap nut. With the appearance of this magical nut, I suddenly had the witchy know-how and tools to make a host of house and body cleaning wonders (shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent -it goes on. )

Though I've walked you through a zero-waste shampoo/conditioner recipe before, discovering the wonders of soap nuts shampoo means I'd like to revisit the go-to shampoo alternative you can make at home.

What is soap nut shampoo?

Actually part of the lychee family, soap nuts are a collective of shrubs absolutely brimming with cleansing, eco goodness. But how could a plant possibly clean? Well, the same way a plant can heal, nourish, dye, poison, etc- through the unyielding power of nature.

Soap Nuts are everything you love about cleansing products without the toxin-riddled chemicals found in commercial cleaning products. Once the fruit is harvested, the inner seed is removed and the remaining shell is sun-dried. That dried soap nutshell is what we know and love as the over-achieving soap nut due to the activated saponin which works as a deep-reaching surfactant (cleaning solution, for us plebs).

While soap nuts work as a brilliant laundry detergent, turns out it's just as effective on organic fibers even closer to home, like our noggins. Yup- soap nuts were what was missing in my quest for the perfect sat-home shampoo recipe.

This DIY, zero-waste shampoo recipe and popular alternatives (like the beloved shampoo bar), a soap-nuts-based shampoo perfectly cleans as you wash your hair without stripping the hair of much-needed oils or moisture. What's even cooler is that you need very few ingredients to make this deep-cleaning concoction and little skill. Here's how I make my own Soap nut shampoo and wash my hair with it from home:

Shampoo recipe ingredients

  • 5 organic soap nuts (I get mine here)
  • A grinder/blender (optional)
  • 5-10 drops of essential oil of choice
  • Muslin bag (optional)

How to make organic soap nuts shampoo from scratch

Proces 1: The Soap Nut Tea Method

  • If you have one, place the 5 organic soap nuts in a small muslin bag. This is not necessary but will help keep flaked off bits out of the water.
  • Place the loose nuts/muslin bag in the saucepan pre-filled with two cups of water.
  • Bring the contents to a boil making sure to keep the lid off.
  • Once the water has come to a boil, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for twenty minutes on low.
  • Once twenty minutes are up, add another cup of water and allow the mixture to simmer for a further ten minutes.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and allow it to cool.
  • Once cooled, squeeze the bag into the mixture and allow it to sud (seep into the water) otherwise strain the water into a bowl to remove any detritus.
  • Add your essential oils of choice to the mix and store them in a glass jar in the fridge until use.

Process 2: The Soap Nut Powder Method

  • Place your soap nuts into a blender and grind them into a rough powder.
  • Place your soap nut shampoo powder into a glass jar. Make sure to keep dry for an enduring powder that'll last for ages.
  • It's super important that you thoroughly clean the grinder used after making the soap nut powder. Soap nuts have a very foul taste and will ruin anything prepared in your blender/grinder afterward if you do not properly get rid of any residual soap nut powder and flavor.
  • Now, you're ready to make a quick and easy soap nut shampoo with your new jar of soap nuts powder!
  • To make your soap nut powder simply add soap nut mixture and warm water (as per measurements given below).
  • Stir the soap nut powder and water mixture for 15 seconds.
  • Strain through cloth or tea strainer and add into new cup.
  • Add a few drops of your essential oil of choice.

Suggested measurements as per hair length:

Short to chin-length hair: 2 teaspoons powder to 1/3 cup of warm water

Mid-length hair: 1 tablespoon powder to 1/2 cup of warm water

Waist-super long length hair: 2 tablespoons powder to 1 cup of warm water

How to easily use soap nuts shampoo

When you're ready to use your soap nuts shampoo, pour and massage a small amount of the now-cooled mixture into your wet hair - one side of your scalp at a time. Shield your eyes from the soap. I use it more of a rinse that I work into my hair as it hangs instead of the traditional lathering technique.

It's important not to let soap nuts shampoo get into your eyes - especially if you've added essential oils. It will burn!

Let the natural shampoo mixture do its thing for 5 minutes before rinsing well. Your hair may feel a bit clumpy during this time, but don't worry, that's as the soap nuts gods intended. Once rinsed off your hair should feel soft and smooth.

Personally, I love that when I wash my hair and get any of the soap nuts mixture on my skin, it's actually an added benefit: massage into your face (careful the eyes!) or body for a little nourishing booster that cleans as well as moisturizes.


Are soap nuts anti-bacterial?

Soap nuts are naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, and hypoallergenic which makes them an excellent ingredient for self-care and cleaning. These nuts are gentle on the skin and clothes and clean without stripping surfaces of their natural oils and texture.

Final Thoughts

It's safe to say I'm nuts about soap nuts. Soap nuts are a wonder nut. A little goes a long way which is why my jumbo bag has seen me make many shampoos and cleaning detergents for myself and my loved ones. I love that come skin, hair, or fabric, these organic nuts are excellent at cleaning without any of the harmful effects that come with commercial cleaning aids like stripping and drying. If, you're a DIY nut (ha!) like me, I have no doubt soap nuts will soon be adopted as a pantry staple.

For more healthy hair tips, be sure to check out my articles below.

How to make zero waste shampoo and conditioner

The best zero waste shampoo of 2022

The best zero waste conditioners for 2022


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