47 Wonderful Benefits And Uses Of Soapnuts (Reetha)

Unravel the nourishing properties of this naturally beneficial ingredient.

Reviewed by Garima Singh, MSc, DNHE, DDHN Garima Singh Garima SinghMSc, DNHE, DDHN facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Health & Wellness Writer Tanya Choudhary Health & Wellness Writer twitter_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Ravi Teja Tadimalla Senior Editor Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , Health & Wellness Writer Moksha Gandhi Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 2 years

Soapnuts are one of the major hair care ingredients especially used in Ayurveda. They produce mild suds that give out lather when they come in contact with water. Interestingly, soapnut benefits are not limited to only hair. The nuts can be used in multiple ways. For instance, they can be used to clean the jewelry and impart a shine to them. They are used in many skin care products for their antimicrobial and anti-aging properties. They also come with many medicinal benefits for overall health maintenance. The best part about them is they are reusable, eco-friendly, cost-effective, and natural. Continue reading further to learn more about soapnuts, their benefits, and how you can use them.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Soapnut

What Is It?
A dark brown, dried fruit from the reetha tree.

What Are Its Benefits?
Moisturizes the skin, imparts shine to your hair, and boosts hair growth .

Who Can Use It?
Anybody can use this ingredient.

How Often?
You can use it as a dish wash cleanser, shampoo, or detergent.

Avoid direct contact with eyes as it can cause swollen eyes.

Soap Nuts – A Brief

Soap nuts
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Scientific Name – Sapindus mukorossi
Family – Sapindaceae
Origin – Tropical areas of India, China, and Nepal
Other Names – Ritha/Reetha/Aritha (Hindi), Kunkudukai (Telugu), Boondi Kottai (Tamil), Pasakkottamaram (Malayalam), Amtalakaayi (Kannada), ‘Ritha’ (Bengali), ‘Arithi’ (Gujarati), and ‘Rinthi’ (Marathi).

Soapnuts, also known as reetha, soapberries or washing nuts, have been used to make natural hair care products since time immemorial. This plant is rich in saponin, which makes your hair healthy, shiny, and lustrous when used regularly. So, it’s no wonder that soapnuts have been a popular choice for many people who have sensitive skin.

A deciduous plant that grows to a height of 20 m, soapnut is found in abundance in places that receive 150-200 cm of rainfall each year. This plant can be cultivated only on clay soil.

Reetha is hypoallergenici  XAny food, substance or drug comprising ingredients less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. , absolutely odorless, and doesn’t cause any damage to fabrics. Hence, it is widely used as a gentle cleaning agent. The sustainable nature and versatile uses of soapnuts make them an important part of one’s home.

Skin, Hair, And Health Benefits Of Soapnuts

Skin Benefits Of Soapnuts

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Soapnuts work wonders on our skin. Here’s how.

1. Soapnuts have natural conditioning properties that help in moisturizing your skin.
Hence, they help prevent dryness of skin. People with sensitive skin can use products that are made from soapnuts since they do not cause any damage (1).
2. As the name suggests, reetha works as an excellent cleanser. Hence, you can easily substitute your regular soap with it (2). It cools your skin and cleanses it as well.
3. Looking for a replacement for your face wash? Mix reetha liquid and a few drops of your favorite essential oil and use it as your homemade facewash.
4. Applying reetha on your face lightens your complexion and evens out your skin tone.
5. Soapnuts can also help you get rid of stubborn pimples and blackheads within no time.
6. Soapnuts are 100% natural products with anti-fungal and anti-viral properties that can help you tackle many skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, etc (3).
7. You can use reetha liquid to soothe diaper rashes in babies. But, make sure you do a patch test before applying it to the affected area (4).

Hair Benefits Of Soapnuts

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8. Soapnuts are the best for volumizing hair growth. Hence, they are used in many natural hair tonics and solutions (5). Use powdered or liquid reetha to achieve thick and bouncy hair.
9. The soapy texture of soapnut makes it a wonderful ingredient in many haircare and skincare products all over the world. The soapnuts are soaked overnight and then mixed with shikakai powder to make the shampoo. This shampoo, when used on a regular basis, cleanses hair (6).
10. Vitamins A, D, E, and K found in this fruit are known to impart shine to your hair and make it smooth (7).
11. Since soapnut is antimicrobial in nature, it is a good option to cure bacterial and other scalp infections (8).

12. Soapnuts also exhibit insecticidal properties that help in killing lice on the scalp (9). However, they can’t remove them completely always.
13. Powdered reetha is known to fight various problems affecting the scalp, including dandruff (10).

14. Soapnuts tame dry and frizzy hair, condition it, and make it more manageable (11).
15. Soapnuts also detangle your hair so that it can be easily styled.
16. The regular usage of reetha hair wash can reduce split ends to a great extent.

Health Benefits Of Soapnuts

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17. Soapnuts also have natural anti-venom properties. They can be used to eject snake or scorpion venom from the affected people (12).
18. This might come as a big surprise, but soapnuts are very effective in helping to cure tobacco and drug addiction. This is why reetha is provided to smokers to reduce their craving for tobacco.
19. This natural product has also been found to relieve severe bouts of migraines (13).
20. Powdered reetha can help cure excess salivation (14).
21. Many studies have concluded that the saponin present in soapnuts inhibits tumor cell growth.
22. For relief from hysteria and epilepsy, consume a thick solution of reetha and warm water (15).
23. Soapnuts are very good for asthma patients due to their tonic, emetici  XA type of drug that induces vomiting through a dual action of gastric discomfort and central nervous system stimulation. , astringent, and antihelmintici  XA class of drugs used in the treatment of parasitic worm-related infections in both humans and animals alike. qualities (16).
24. Apart from the actual fruits, the bark, and roots of soapnuts are also very useful. They are used as a demulcenti  XA unctuous substance or medication that coats the mucous membranes (moist, inner linings of organs and body cavities) to alleviate inflammation and pruritic sensations. and as a mild expectoranti  XMedication used to relieve cough and dissolve mucus blocking the air passages as a result of the common cold or flu. (17).
25. Soapnuts have anti-inflammatory properties that are effective in curing joint pains and edema (18).

26. These nuts also strengthen your immune system by inhibiting the growth of many pathogens like salmonella and E.coli.
27. You can maintain your body heat with the help of soapnuts as they act as a purgative. They even ensure that the mucus content in your body is under control (19).
28. Drinking reetha juice can help control your cholesterol levels (20).
29. The presence of antioxidants in soapnuts can protect you from the threats of cancer to a certain extent.
30. Soapnuts are antidiabetic in nature. Hence, they are helpful in controlling your blood sugar levels.
31. Having reetha can help you get instant relief from diarrhea, verminosisi  XA non-specific term for diseases caused by a parasite infestation in the body that is usually treated with anthelmintic medication. , and dyspepsiai  XAlso known as indigestion that is often triggered by ulcers or acid refluxes, leading to upper abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort. (21).
32. Reetha water is known to be a good treatment for sore eyes.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Soap nuts are not actually nuts. They, in fact, are fruits that are slit open and dried to produce a shell that has a high percentage of saponins.

Medicinal Uses Of Soapnuts

Antibacterial benefits of soapnut make it an ideal handwash
Image: Shutterstock

33. Soapberries are anti-allergic and antibacterial in nature. Hence, they are used in handwashes.
34. Soapnuts are also used as skin cleansers in spas and salons (22).
35. These berries possess contraceptive properties, which make them an integral part of some vaginal creams (23).
36. They are also used for removing synthetic chemicals from fruits and vegetables due to their detoxifying effects.
37. Soapberries are mildly antiseptic in nature, and this property enables them to be widely used in the cosmetic industry.
38. White powdered soapnuts along with alum and water can be the perfect replacement for your regular toothpaste.

Other Uses Of Soapnuts

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39. The skin of soapnuts can be used as a detergent for woolens and glass, and for paintings (24).
40. This product also has antimicrobial properties that help in the treatment of contaminated soil (25).
41. Reetha is also used for bleaching and polishing cardamoms.
42. You may not know this, but reetha can be added to septic tanks to keep them germ-free.
43. You can use reetha water to polish your old ornaments and make them shine like new (26).
44. Use soapnut water to wash your dishes and cutlery. This will make them free of bacteria and clean the stray food particles with no extra effort.
45. Soapnut water can also be used as a floor cleaner, which makes your house clean and bacteria-free. It can also be used to clean the bathroom and window panes of your home.
46. Clean your old carpets and curtains with the help of soapnuts.
47. These berries also work as an excellent pesticide (27).

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also use soap nut liquid for washing your pets and spraying on their coats to repel pests and fleas.

How To Use Soapnuts

How to use soapnuts
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1. Soapnut Liquid Soap

Making liquid soap out of soapnut is very easy, and the best part is that it suits all skin types.

What You Need

(For 1 cup of liquid soap)

  • 2-3 berries (half mashed)
  • 1 cup of water
What You Need To Do

1. Add the berries and a cup of water to a pan and bring it to a boil.
2. Fully mash the berries to make them release as many saponins as they can.
3. Let it boil for another half an hour and then put off the flame.
4. Allow the solution to cool and strain it through a muslin cloth. If you want, you can add your favorite essential oil for fragrance. Store it in a glass jar and refrigerate for further use.

2. Soapnut Laundry Detergent

You can use soapnut berries instead of your regular laundry detergent to keep your clothes fresh and clean. They can also be used for fabric softening.

Aakansha, a blogger, shared her experience of using soapnut for washing her clothes. She said, “ I have used for 3 months regularly, my clothes are a testimony that reetha is good for clothes (i).”

For a soft wash with hot water, use 1-2 berries. For cold and harsh water, you will need to use about 8-9 berries. However, they can be reused.

3. Soapnut Dishwashing Soap

For a perfect wash, all you need is to place 4-5 berries in the cutlery holder and some white vinegar in the rinse dispenser of your dishwasher.

You can also use soapnut liquid soap to hand wash utensils.

4. All-Purpose Cleaner

For making an all-purpose cleaner to clean dirt from cabinets and glasses, all you need to do is take a spray bottle and pour soapnut liquid soap into it. You can also add strong essential oils like lemon and lavender for fragrance. Now, spray the liquid on the desired area and wipe it with a soft cloth.

You can also use this solution to clean electronic gadgets. Make sure that you don’t spray the liquid directly on the gadget’s screen. You can always drop some on a soft cloth and wipe the screen with it.

This spray can be used to clean marble, stainless steel, granite, and other kitchen surfaces. It is the perfect cost-effective alternative to commercial cleaners.

5. Glass Cleaner

You can make your own glass and window pane cleaner at home.

What You Need
  • 2 tablespoons of soapnut liquid soap
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil
What You Need To Do

Mix the above ingredients and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Shake well before using it. Your glass cleaner is ready to use.

6. Soapnut Shampoo

You can make reetha shampoo easily at home. Here’s how:

What You Need
  • 30 grams of soapnut liquid soap
  • 350 grams of water
  • 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda for added strength (optional)
What You Need To Do

Mix the ingredients and use the mixture like a normal shampoo. Rinse well. You can use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water as the final rinse to condition your hair.

7. Soapnut Hair Pack

This hair pack will impart a natural shine and luster to your hair.

What You Need
  • 3 tablespoons soapnut powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
What You Need To Do

Mix soapnut powder and water to form a paste. Add lemon juice and yogurt to it. Blend well. Apply it on your scalp and hair and let it dry. Wash it off with normal water.

8. Insect Repellent

Spray soapnut liquid soap around the inflicted areas to get rid of the annoying pests. You can also spread crushed and used berries around the area to repel insects.

9. Polishing Jewelry

To make your ornaments shine, soak your old jewels in undiluted reetha solution for 10-15 minutes and brush with the help of a toothbrush.

10. Washing Your Car

Yes, you can use soapnut berries to wash your car. Just soak 12-14 berries in a gallon of hot water and let them release saponins. Use this solution to wash your car. The solution is biodegradable and can be used to water plants.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also use soap nuts for making shaving cream by mixing their ground paste (after removing their shell) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 3 teaspoons of soap nut liquid.

A Word Of Caution

As you have seen, soapnuts have miraculous benefits for our skin, hair, and health. But, we must be aware of some risks associated with them as well. Take a look.

  • Soapnuts are non-toxic and do not have any side effects on the scalp, hair, and skin of humans. However, you must prevent your eyes from coming in direct contact with soapnuts. They have insecticidal properties that can cause allergies and swollen eyelids.
  • If you observe rashes, itching, or any other issues on your skin or hair, stop using the product immediately.
  • Always use soapnuts of good quality as they will be a lot more effective. Use soapnuts only in the specified quantities to avoid wastage. You can always make compost out of the used soapnuts.
  • If the soapnuts remain unused for 72 hours, throw them right away.

Infographic: 6 Top Benefits Of Soapnuts For Hair

Soapnuts are nature’s own nourishing little shampoo pods. They are packed with nutrients that support your mane’s healthy growth and maintenance. So, if you’re looking for an organic substitute for your commercial shampoos, look no further. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the benefits of using soapnuts for your hair.

6 top benefits of soapnuts for hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Soapnuts have been used as a traditional, Ayurvedic hair care ingredient for a long time. They are packed with saponins that contribute to shiny, lustrous, beautiful hair. You can also use soapnuts to moisturize, cleanse, and even out the skin tone. The natural antibacterial properties infused with vitamins A, D, E, and K make soapnuts a safe and effective haircare product. They help relieve headaches and act as a purgative, demulcent, and mild expectorant. They also have immune-boosting properties that contribute to overall health. However, they also may cause rashes or allergic reactions in some people. Hence, talk to a health care professional before using soapnuts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is soapnut and shikakai same?

No, soapnut and shikakai are not the same.

Can we eat soapnuts?

No, soapnut cannot be consumed. However, there are a few claims that soapnuts offer a few benefits when digested, but there is no scientific research to prove these claims.

Can we use soapnuts daily?

Possibly yes. You can use soap nuts to wash your hair and your laundry daily. However, it is important to note that it might not be effective against tough stains or harsh odors. You should also look for signs of allergic reactions and limit your usage accordingly.

How many soapnuts per hair wash?

It depends on the length of your hair and the size of the soap nuts. On average, it takes about 5-6 soapnuts to formulate DIY hair wash shampoos and conditioners.

Do soapnuts expire?

Yes. If soapnuts are not stored properly in a cool and dry place and are exposed to sunlight or moisture, they may expire or turn rancid. They might lose their effectiveness, their extracts are not soapy enough, and they smell awful.

Key Takeaways

  • Soapnut helps moisturize the skin and treats stubborn acne.
  • Its antimicrobial properties help treat scalp infections and kill head lice.
  • Soapnuts help treat asthma, epilepsy, and migraines.
  • It can be used to clean jewelry or as an alternative to regular liquid soap.
  • Poor quality of soapnuts may cause rashes or itching.
soapnuts benefits_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Soap nuts are effective cleansers and provide multiple skin and hair care benefits when used regularly. Check out the video below to learn about them in detail.

Personal Experience: Source

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