When I was shopping in the Marqt the other day I came across a very interesting soap for washing clothes.
It's a shell that comes from a special tree in the Himalayan mountains. There they have been using it for generations as soap and it has been recently been rediscovered and resold by a Dutch company called Seepje [Soapy in Dutch].
The nuts are really easy to use. They sell it with small pouches that fit exactly 4~5 whole nuts and are usable with colors, blacks, wool, silk, anything. They are a lot cheaper than traditional washing detergent and result in very soft and clean clothes. There is no need to add any fabric softeners as the nuts have this effect naturally.
The packaging advised me to fill each pouch with 4~5 nuts and use them only 4 times. As I have been using it for quite a while I can say that it's hard to keep track how many times each pouch has been used. Furthermore the washing 'powers' of the first wash will be significantly stronger than the last wash. Just like you would pour four cup of teas, the first one would taste strong, second would taste medium but the third and fourth would taste soft.
As the nuts literally grow on trees I can safely say it is OK to let the soapy waters go through the drain. After the shells have been used 4 times they can be thrown away together with the house trash as they are bio degradable.
Soap nuts are the best alternative for the current chemical washing detergent and are sold in the Netherlands by the brand Seepje for €7,95 per bag (good for 30 washes). I would only like to see a system/product that evens out the balance between the first and the last wash with the nuts.