I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Soap Nuts - Allergic To Them?? - Trial

For the past several months, I have been reacting to something on the first floor of my home. I sneeze a lot!! I occasionally get a scratchy throat. I feel sinusy. I fear it may be the soap nuts. Everything you find on soap nuts says that using them will eliminate allergy symptoms. I may be the 1 in a million who has allergy symptoms because of them. Yay me. I will be testing my theory over the next week or two.

Step 1: Obtain an alternate all natural laundry detergent.

Done. Trying Planet 100% biodegradable hypo-allergenic detergent for HE and standard washers.

Step 2: Eliminate soap nuts from the house.

Done! I put all of the stuff in the garage.

Step 3: Use the replacement detergent for one week. Keep track of sneezing, sinus pressure, throat.

DAY 1: I sneezed in the living room this morning, and in the kitchen while typing this. Why? Who knows. I have post-nasal drip, which effects my throat. My son complained, for the second day in a row, that his throat feels funny. Hm. Bug? Or allergy? I am now doing laundry with the new detergent, but have quite a bit of laundry to be folded that was done with soap nuts. DS sneezed in the kitchen while having a snack. I sneezed late this morning while cleaning the stove with castile soap and baking soda....... If the soap nuts trial doesn't prove that soap nuts is the problem, castile soap will be the next item to test. The problem definitely seems to be focused in the kitchen/living room area. One random sneeze upstairs this afternoon. No other sneezing since this morning, and I've been home for a while.... could it be that simple? I've been doing laundry today, too. With the new stuff, of course. Hm.

DAY 2: Sneezed this morning while folding laundry. The clean at this point is a mix of that done with soap nuts, and that done with Planet detergent. I sneezed out in the garage while playing with DS. The soaps are being stored in the garage. I also felt my throat getting scratchy and my nose got itchy and runny. It's evening now and it's been sneezy throat scratchy day. ??

DAY 3: I have been sneezing all morning. It's still early, but I am definitely reacting to something. What the....

DAY 4: Sneezing and feeling like crap when I'm in the house, which has been all day today. Kinda looking like soap nuts are not the problem. I guess I'm glad about that... But I'll continue the test for a day or two more to be certain. I've been doing tons of laundry, so the majority of the stuff has been done in Planet I think...

DAY 5/6: Not sure I'm feeling any better while at home. I guess I'll continue to do laundry with Planet for a couple more days, then bring the soap nuts back in and see if I have any reaction to it. I'll follow up in a week or so.

UPDATE: Ok, this post seems to get a lot of attention, so I will update. It is now August (oops!) and I have been using soap nuts again for some time. I am convinced that it was NOT the soap nuts that were causing me to sneeze. Probably essential oils, and definitely our new kittens. And dust, and who knows what else. But I'm confident that soap nuts are not the problem, and are likely a GOOD thing to have, considering how sensitive I have become to environmental stuff.


  1. Something about doing laundry definitely bothers me, too. I also have some soap nuts sitting on the shelf in the laundry room :) and plan (next month when I have time :) to make up the soap nut liquid you mentioned in your blog in January, so I'm interested to hear how things go with this test!

    Lots of people with "chemical sensitivities" do recommend soap nuts, for example:


    But, of course, one person can be sensitive to something, while others aren't!

    If it isn't the soap nuts, you could try keeping the laundry room window open at least a little (and the door shut most of the time). I also have trouble with dust, so take extra care when removing lint from the lint-catch in the dryer. And I've decided recently to stop putting plastic-y things like T-shirts with iron-on decals in the dryer -- the heat might produce some unfriendly fumes/outgassing, and the dryer might pick up residues of some of the stuff, so that it gets on clothes in later loads, I'm thinking...

    There's also the possibility of mold building up inside the washing machine, especially in front-loaders. Here are some links on that problem and what can be done:

    from http://blogs.consumerreports.org/home/2009/12/mold-and-washing-machines-lg-maytag-class-actions-consumer-reports-survey.html

    "The mold is not only in the gasket, it is withint the unit, the hoses, etc. How do I know this? We have to regularly open it up, drain out the hoses and wipe [it] out..."


    "...to prevent possible bad smells developing in frontloading washing machines, this is what is suggested:

    1) Leave the door open between washings;
    2) Use the right kind of detergent (HE, and possibly, use only powder, even though the SDA says liquid HE is okay);
    3) Use small amounts of HE detergent, even less than the directions indicate;
    4) Do not use liquid fabric softener (even though the SDA says it is okay)"

    There are LOTS of suggestions out there on which interior parts of the washing machine might need to be cleaned, and what sorts of cleaners could be tried (in place of laundry detergent, in an empty machine) to clean things. Also, the suggestions to use powdered laundry detergent and powdered fabric softener seem to be common (for front-loaders).

    It will be interesting to hear what you find on this!

  2. I read a great deal about soap nuts before purchasing them, and one of the appeals was the anti-allergy factor. But since about the time I started using them, I have had a general feeling of unwellness when I am home. I sneeze constantly, I have sinus pressure, I feel tired, I get cold! I cannot figure what else could be causing this, though dust is definitely a good thought. My husband has suggested the same thing. Carpet mites, for one thing. (ik!!)

    I don't leave the door to the washing machine open between washings, as my children like to climb inside, and it makes me nervous. (!!) Our machine is only about 3 months old, so mold in the actual machine is not likely, but there could be mold in the pipes....I have only used soap nuts in this machine. I purchased some liquid laundry detergent that says it's good for HE and non-HE. I will use small amounts. I never use fabric softener of any kind, as my skin hates it. I haven't missed it a bit. The clothing items that get staticy are hung up to dry. I have no window in my laundry room. There is a door that goes to the garage, and as warmer weather arrives, I could open that door to get a little fresh air through there. I think the room needs a very thorough cleaning. I believe that my year-long purge plan will facilitate cleaning and dusting in all areas.

    As always, thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts. =)