Soapnuts: Ayurveda and Laundry

The clothes you wear, the sheets you sleep in, the towels that dry your skin – all of these fabrics come into contact with your skin on a regular basis. When we do laundry with modern day detergents that clean and sanitize, the chemicals that are in these detergents leave behind a trail of toxins on the fabrics that then find their way onto our skin and therefore, into our bodies. So we are essentially transdermally (through the skin) poisoning ourselves on a daily basis. Yuck.

In Ayurveda this is called “garavisha” from “gara” meaning slow, and “visha” meaning poison.

    Here is a list of some of the toxic chemicals that you are exposing yourself to.
    Your current detergent may contain some or all of the following toxic hazardous ingredients

  • Synthetic Fragrances – 75% of the fragrances contain phthalates. Phthalates have been linked to diabetes, obesity and hormone disruption affecting both development and fertility. They are derived from petroleum and include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxins and synthesizers.
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) – This group of nonionic surfactant petrochemicals has already been banned in Canada and the European Union, but it is still found in American detergents. NPEs are endocrine disruptors that adversely affect physical function and fetal development. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to these chemicals, which are known to adversely affect neurologic, immune, cardiac, kidney and liver function as well.
  • Bleach, (Sodium Hypochlorite) – Sodium hypochlorite and other cleaning chemicals such as fragrances and surfactants react to generate chlorinated VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are very toxic and are considered human carcinogens. Chlorinated compounds are emitted during use; as it flows down the drain, bleach can produce organochlorines (OC), which are endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic, and carcinogenic.
  • EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) – This group of compounds is used as an alternative to phosphates to reduce mineral hardness in water, to prevent bleaching agents from becoming active before they are put in water, and also as a foaming stabilizer. EDTA has been found to be citotoxic (kills cells) and as well as genotoxic (damages DNA) in laboratory animals.
  • Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulfonates (LAS) – These synthetic petrochemicals are normally listed as “anionic surfactants” on labels, and are one of the most common surfactants in use. During their production process, carcinogenic and reproductive toxins such as benzene are released into the environment. They also biodegrade slowly, making them a hazard in the environment. The amount of LAS used in detergents may vary to as high as 30% of the weight of the total product.
  • Phosphates – Phosphates are the main cleaning ingredients in many detergents and household cleaners because they break down dirt particles and remove stains by softening the water and allowing suds to form, which enhances the cleaning power of the detergent. Phosphates residues are known to cause nausea, diarrhea and skin irritation. They remain active even after wastewater treatment processes and end up in rivers and lakes, where they act as “toxic fertilizer”.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) , Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS) – are commonly used in detergents and acts as surfactants and emulsifiers, giving the detergent foaming abilities. More than 16,000 research studies on SLS have shown links to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, biochemical or cellular changes and even cancer.

Entering the body through different pathways, xenobiotics (the western word for these poisons), or garavisha, travels all the way deep into the body by crossing the bodily tissues one after the other: rasa (lymphatic tissue), rakta (blood tissue), mamsa (muscle), meda (fat), asthi (bone), majja (bone marrow), and shukra (reproductive tissue). Depending on whether these toxic chemical fumes are lipid or water soluble, they find their host either in the fat tissue, or if they are water soluble, they remain in the blood tissue.

You can see how it would follow that xenobiotics, or garavisha, takes a toll on the whole body: the tissues, the organs (particularly the liver as it is the filter for toxins in the body), the physical channels and even the vibrational channels, or nadis.

Isn’t it time we stopped poisoning ourselves?

Why use health-hazardous chemicals when we can use the detergent that Mother Nature intended for us? Soapnuts (Sapindus mukorossi) grow on trees, that grow wild all over India and Asia. They are natural cleaning berries (the seed is discarded and the shell is used) whose shells release saponins, a natural substance that works much like soap for removing dirt and grease residues from clothes as well as other surfaces. Soapnuts can be used with hot or cold water. Soapnuts have been used in Ayurveda ‘forever’ as part of formulations for washing hair!

soapnut and vetiver laundry detergent

Now Vaidya Mishra has made it easy for us to get the cleaning power of Soapnuts naturally in his new laundry detergent. Soapnuts are biodegradable, eco-friendly, sustainable and hypoallergenic. They clean and soften your laundry. They are also gentle enough for newborn babies! This product includes strands of Vetiver to give additional freshness and cleanliness.

Get Soapnuts Laundry Detergent HERE.

With the Soapnuts, you not only avoid toxic hazardous chemicals that poison your household, but you will avoid polluting your environment and nature with toxic chemical residues that disrupt the plant and animal cycles on earth. Soapnuts are compostable, sustainable, and fragrance-free. You will never want to use anything else after you see how bright it will make your whites, and bring back the color in your colors, adding softness and freshness, and keeping you garavisha-free all year round!

Mother Nature has always given us all that we ever needed, and more! Isn’t the greatest show of gratitude for her gifts the actual use of those gifts, so we can protect our lives and the environment she created for us to thrive in?

You can get Soapnuts Laundry Detergent on DharmaSmart HERE.