Some of you might know one or two things about soap nuts. It is an excellent substitution for laundry when you switch to a zero waste lifestyle. But sometimes, these nuts are quite expensive if you get it in Europe. However, what if I tell you that you can get the same result but for free?? Horse chestnuts is the answer to this question!
In one of my post, I shared my thought on soap nuts. I said that it is better for people in the sub-tropical area to use another type of nuts for their detergent substitution. Therefore, in this post, I want to share my recipe on DIY Laundry Detergent using Horse Chestnuts.
Okay, maybe you are confused. Like you are asking yourself, but how???
The European Horse Chestnuts or conker tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a plant in the group of lychee family of Sapindaceae. (so yes, it is sort of the European cousin of soap nut).
This means that horse chestnuts also have the saponins effect. Yay!
It is different than the other chestnut that you can eat and buy in the shop. It is not edible, and it is actually toxic to eat (so please do not eat it!). I lived in The Netherlands, and this tree grows everywhere! Since it is not edible, no one usually takes it when it fell from the tree. So you will have enough amount for you to use (I think).
But why we do thing?
My personal reason is of course to reduce waste and to reduce my expenses (since it is free to pick up horse chestnuts around my neighbourhood).
Moreover, Horse Chestnuts is an organic product that can be composted and you will not contaminate the water sewer with all of the synthetic chemical detergents. So yeah, be kind to the environment from your soap!
But if you still re-considering on using the Horse Chestnuts instead of Soap Nuts, you can check on my previous post.
So how you can do it?
First, you can grab 5-6 horse chestnuts (not the edible one!) and wrap in a towel or cloth. Then start hammer away your anger to crush it. You can also cut it into smaller pieces.
Besides that, you can also use another option (which I use). You can use a blender to slice it into smaller pieces.
When you are done with it, you add hot water to the shredded horse chestnuts and let it stay overnight. (the finer the shredded horse chestnuts, the faster and the more saponins that can be dissolved in the water).
The water then will turn milky-like texture, this is your laundry detergent. You can then filter the nuts and use the liquid for your laundry like you other liquid soap. If you want to have some smell to it, you can also add some essential oil to the liquid. Now you have your soap and the leftover nuts can be thrown to your compost bin.
How much horse chestnuts should I collect?
Since horse chestnuts grow only in autumn, I collected enough horse chestnuts for around 1 year period. I shredded them with blender and dried them. You can keep dried horse chestnut and took some part of it for your laundry if you need it.
For me, I collected around 5 kg of horse chestnuts from the small forest near my living space in the past autumn. I distribute it in 50-70 gram of shredded horse chestnuts per my loading (for washing machine). Since I wash my laundry 1-2 times per week, I need around 5 kg to use up the nuts until the next autumn.
I shredded the nuts and dried it underneath my heater (in the evening when the temperature drop I turned on my heater). After I dried it up, I kept it in a jar or an airtight container (there were a lot of it, I mean 5 kg of shredded nuts).
Some tips from my experience:
- Use a higher amount of nuts for a bigger laundry load.
- You can use essential oil and it is the best to mix it well with the detergent before you put it in your washing machine.
- You can also use the remaining shredded nuts and put it in a mesh bag and put it in your laundry for extra soap, just like what you will do with soapberries (soapnuts). But please, make sure that the bag is closed correctly! I tried this one time, but I did not close it properly, so the whole bag burst open during the washing cycle and I have shredded chestnuts on my clothes.
- Tried it for at least 1 month before you decided that it is not for you. It took time to get used to, just like other new zero waste things.
- The plus of this horse chestnut is that I got in touch more to the nature around my living space, it is a fun outing date with your love on and your kids. Besides, no one collected horse chestnuts since it is not edible, so you sort of rescue these nuts!