Welcome to a new week in Laundryland! This week, I ventured into something a little different. A friend piqued my interest when he asked if I had tried making my own laundry detergent using conkers. Intrigued by this novel idea, I delved into some online research, stumbling upon insightful blogs that detailed the simplicity of creating conker-based detergent. Naturally, I had to give it a try.
How can conkers clean your clothes?
It's all about saponin, the active ingredient in soapnuts, which is also found in conkers. It's a 100% natural and organic substance. When soaked in water, the saponin is released and creates a gentle lather, gentle on the skin.
However, the sustainability of soap nuts is questionable. As demand for soap nuts has risen, their local prices have increased, making them unaffordable for many. Consequently, individuals resort to cheaper yet more chemically-laden detergents, contributing to water pollution – an already prevalent issue in countries like India.
Considering all aspects, the carbon footprint involved in shipping soap nuts globally emphasises the value of seeking local alternatives to promote sustainability.
How to make conker laundry liquid
Creating the laundry liquid involves soaking around 50g of diced conkers (approximately 6 large conkers) in 500ml of boiling water for an hour. The result is a creamy liquid that begins to form bubbles on the surface. This solution can be refrigerated for up to 7 days. Some sources suggest using this for two washes or the entire 500ml for a particularly dirty load. I experimented by making a super concentrated batch: I filled a jar with quartered conkers and added 500ml of boiling water, leaving it for 4 hours.
While this might not be suitable for long-term use, drying diced conkers in the oven is a proposed solution for future use. However, I've read that this technique tends to produce a brownish liquid, which might not be ideal for washing whites.
How well does conker laundry liquid clean?
Nervous about its effectiveness, I did a trial run on off-white coloured bed sheets. This wash resulted in odourless, clean sheets without any colour changes – phew!
Encouraged, I tried the conker liquid on the school uniform wash.
Despite a generally clean week (miracles do happen), one of the white school polo shirts had a stain.
The conker liquid impressively lifted most of the stain, leaving me pleasantly surprised.
Word of caution
I've read that conker laundry liquid may have a natural bleaching effect and may not be suitable for loads containing dark colours.
My verdict on conker laundry liquid
Making conker laundry liquid turned out to be an enjoyable activity, especially involving the kids. The children found the process fascinating. Avoid trying to crush the conkers with a rolling pin – a sharp knife works better and is safer. Planning ahead is necessary, but overall, it's fairly straightforward. Additionally, it's important to be mindful of wildlife and not pinch all the conkers meant for animals. I highly recommend giving it a try. Share your experience if you decide to attempt it!
Join me next week when I'll review Wilton eco laundry capsules.