Waschmittel aus Kastanien in einem Glas, das in buntem Herbstlaub steht.
Kitchen,  Less Waste,  Lifestyle,  Recipes

How to Wash Ecologically and Inexpensively

Whenever I washed my laundry with normal organic detergent, I somehow had a bad feeling. These chemicals can’t really be good for the environment or health.
Before buying the alternative soapnuts, I shied away because of the significantly higher price. In addition, their transport from India to Germany is anything but ecological.

Do the laundry with chestnuts?

Then I found out about regional alternatives: Even our ancestors had soap herb valued for its cleaning power. Surprisingly, they also contain ivy leaves washing-active secondary plant substances, so-called saponins. Unfortunately, both plants were not available to me. I was accordingly pleased when I learned that you can also wash with simple horse chestnuts.

Luckily it was autumn and we were able to collect large quantities of chestnuts in a chestnut avenue:

Chestnuts in a cloth bag.

This yield now had to be made more durable and usable: I put the chestnuts in the mixer in small portions of around 5-6 pieces each.

Chestnuts chopped up in the blender.

Then I let the minced chestnuts dry in the oven. I now do the latter at dehydrators.

Chestnut granules in the dehydrator .

 Chestnut granules for washing.

For a good three years now, I’ve only been washing our colored laundry with this chestnut detergent.

Now it’s time to wash the chestnuts

Because there is a suitable sieve insert for you, I use the empty cheekily printed smoothie bottles to prepare the cleaning liquid. To do my laundry with the chestnuts, I do the following:

  1. Pour the granules into the tea strainer (approx. 2-3 tablespoons).
  2. Hang the tea strainer in the bottle.
  3. Warm or hot water on top (600-700 ml).
  4. Let it steep for a while (preferably overnight, but not necessarily).
  5. Finally pour the liquid through an even finer sieve into the washing machine via the detergent compartment.
    The finer sieve is optional. A little chestnut peel still trickles through my first sieve and settles in the bottle as a brown sediment.
  6. Instead of a fabric softener, add a cup of water with a couple of splashes of vinegar essence.
    The chestnut detergent smells completely neutral. However, if you don’t want to do without the fresh scent, you can add about 3 drops of essential oil to the fabric softener substitute. Unfortunately, this is not so good for the waters (see warning on the bottle), so maybe you should get used to the neutral smell.

You can smear it into your hair

Chestnut Shampoo Completely convinced of their washing performance, I wanted skin & hair wash with chestnuts. So I tried the following recipe for hair shampoo:

  1. Approx. Add 300 g of the granules to about 800 ml of water.
  2. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Let the “chestnut soup” cool down a little.
  4. Pour the liquid into another pot, which pomace with a nut milk bag and squeeze it out.
    That would certainly work with a sieve.
  5. For a shampoo-like consistency stir a few tablespoons of cornstarch into the liquid and bring it to the boil again.

In order to be able to store the chestnut shampoo for a longer period of time, it can be boiled down in glasses. Once opened, however, you should consume it quickly and possibly store it in the refrigerator. If you have dandruff or an oily scalp, you can also find suitable recipes.

Unlike the detergent, the chestnut shampoo didn’t convince me back then. Although it worked brilliantly, I lacked the blatant foam that I was used to from the shampoo. Only a little later did I become aware of the so-called NoPoo 1 movement . It eventually led me to just wash my hair without shampooing. But more about that soon …


¹ No Poo stands for No Shampoo. It is also a little play on words that should mean something like no shit . No Poo describes hair cleansing that does not use conventional shampoo. Instead, the hair and scalp are only washed with pure water, baking soda, rye flour, hair soaps, washing clay or similar, or even brushed clean. Why these alternatives? Because shampoos pollute the environment, hair and your own body (plastic packaging, silicones, sulfates, microplastics, …).

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