Cradle to Cradle Dishwashing

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Introduction: Cradle to Cradle Dishwashing

This method of dish-washing saves energy by minimizing the amount of hot water running right down the sink and away, which can be a fair amount. It also saves water via the same simple action of plugging the sink -- two birds with one stone, always good.

The added use of soap-nut detergent makes it even more efficient by being biodegradable and can be used to water your plants with.

Washing dishes this way won't save as much energy as the amazing Satellite CD Solar Oven, but it makes the daily ritual of cleaning your plate sacred by actively respecting Water and Earth.

First hand account of using soapnuts.

More practical information about using soapnuts and links to several online soapnut retailers from North America, UK, New Zealand and Australia: soapnuts.

Step 1: Prepare Soapnut Detergent

Materials Needed:

100g soapnuts
3 quarts (litres) water
pot

Step 2: Simmer 30 Minutes

Bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat to a low simmer for at least 30 minutes. Or use the Hay Slow Cooker for greater efficiency.

Step 3: Strain

Allow the liquid to cool, then strain out the soapnuts.

Step 4: Storage

Funnel the liquid into an old detergent bottle. This product is all natural so keep it in the fridge when the temperature is warm -- it doesn't have as long a shelf life as commercial products and is completely biodegradable.

This liquid can also be used as a vegetable and fruit wash, all-purpose cleanser (great on floors), laundry detergent, shampoo or to get aphids off a favorite plant.

Soapnuts are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, efficient cleaners but they don't suds up to the degree we are accustomed to these days, but have no fear. Your dishes are as clean as can be.

Step 5: Prepare Dishes for Washing

Quickly rinse dishes with a minimum amount of cold water.

Step 6: Clean Out Sink

Clean out your sink and put in the plug.

Step 7: Fill Sink

Start to fill the sink with hot water.

Step 8: Add Detergent

Add about 1-2 Tablespoons of soapnut detergent.

The water will suds up, but the suds quickly subside. Don't worry the soapnut detergent is still doing it's job.

Step 9: Wash Dishes

Wash dishes and place in dish drainer to dry.

Step 10: Remove Used Dishwater

It would be easier to use a plastic tub at this point, but I don't have one the right size for the job, so I just ladle out as much of the used dishwater as I can into a bowl.

Step 11: Dish-Water Your Plants

Water your most needy houseplant.

I'm looking into growing my own soapnut plant next -- then it will truly be cradle to cradle dishwashing.

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26 Comments

Can certain plants be harmed by the soapnut water?

not cleaning the dishes with clean water to wash away any soap ? :) I do the same, with a neutral soap though.. uses the nuts for washing the clothes, but didnt think about using it for dishes ! But when washing up, I fill the sink barely with water and then i rinse the dishes with clean water to clean for soap ! :)

My friend here in California makes this with acorns. They also contain saponins.

Can you find out the quantities of water to acorns?  I am quite curious.  Also, I wonder, as HellaD says that the tannins turn clothes brownish.  Might there be some other natural ingredient that would prevent the browning?

That is great to know! I have some acorns at the moment, I will have to try it out.

As I understand, Soapnuts grow in hot climates, but amazingly, berries that saponify naturally, grow in about every region of the world! Soap-berries grow in Texas and similar climates, the Canadian Buffaloberry is also high in saponins, and whereas these may not have as a high a saponin content as the soapnuts from India, they are local to the USA and don't come at the price of either introducing an exotic plant to this ecosystem, or else long-distance shipping. Nearly everyone everywhere can grow a berry that saponifies! Nice instructable!

I'm really intreaged. Can you suggest what kind of berrie I could find in Ontario Canada? ((my spelling is Way off tonight sorry)

"I N T R I G U E D" (I knew I had spelt that word wrong-lol.)  "The Big Carrot" haven't thought of that place for ages (I grew up in T.O)  Thanks :0)

Oops, should have said "soap nuts."  They come in a cotton bag.