Common names include soapberry and soapnut, both names referring to
the use of the crushed seeds to make soap.
The flowers form in large panicles, each flower small, creamy white.
The fruit, called a soap nut, is a small leathery-skinned drupe 1-2
cm diameter, yellow ripening blackish, containing one to three
Soap nuts contain saponin, a natural detergent which is used to
clean clothes. Soap nuts, especially Sapindus mukorossi, have become
popular as an alternative to manufactured, chemical detergents among
those who live in an environmentally friendly style. A few nuts can
be placed in a cotton drawstring bag in with a washload and reused
several times. Soap nuts are safe for washing silk, woolens and
other delicate fabrics.
Medical use: Soap nuts, especially Sapindus mukorossi, are used
medically as an expectorant, emetic, contraceptive, and for
treatment of excessive salivation, epilepsy, chlorosis, and
migraines. Studies show that saponin from soap nuts inhibits tumor
cell growth. Soap nuts are among the list of herbs and minerals in
Ayurveda. They are a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic shampoos and
cleansers. They are used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for
eczema, psoriasis, and for removing freckles. Soap nuts have gentle
insecticidal properties and are traditionally used for removing lice
from the scalp.
Soap nuts are antimicrobial and are beneficial for septic systems
and greywater. Soap nuts are used in the remediation of contaminated
Soap nuts are used by Indian and Indonesian jewelers to remove the
tarnish from gold, silver, and other precious metals.