Seepje: let nature do your laundry in a nutshell

Sooner or later, we all have to face it: doing laundry. However, while we often use laundry detergent that is brimming harmful chemicals, there is another way. The Dutch company Seepje discovered how people in Nepal used the shells of the Sapindus mukorossi to do their laundry without adding products that are bad for the environment.

The fruits of Sapindus mukorossi, commonly known as the Chinese soapberry or washnut, grow on trees in and around the Himalayas. Because of the favourable climate, the best shells come from Nepal. The shells contain a natural soap called saponin. When they come into contact with water, this soap is released. It also acts as a fabric softener, making your clothes clean and soft.

The soapberry shells are hypoallergenic, so safe for the skin, and can be used for all fabrics, including wool and silk. You put 4 shells into a laundry bag and add it to your clothes in the washing machine. You can use them up to three times, before throwing them out with your fruit and vegetable waste.

Seepje offers a natural variant, without added scent, or a package including a bottle of etheric oil with lavender (“Summer vacation” as it is called) or pine (“Morning-in-the-forest”) scent so you can add as much as you want, though they recommend 10 drops per load. With a package containing 150 grams (5.3 ounce), they estimate you can do laundry about 30 times.

For people who prefer liquid detergent, Seepje also offers bottles for white or coloured laundry. This detergent consists of 80 per cent of the Sapindus shells. The bottles are enough for 23 times doing the laundry and come in the scents “Freshly squeezed spring” and “Blithely and Happy”. It probably smells how you’re imagining right now.

The ingredients that Seepje uses are all natural and biodegradable, so they are safe for the environment. In addition, the company pays fair wages to the farmers harvesting the shells, creating better and safer work environment. Thanks to the increasing popularity of the shells in Western countries, the Sapindus trees are preserved and jobs are created.

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