The use of synthetic detergents, soaps and shampoos have caused a substantial pollution to our ecosystem, especially water bodies.

This problem can be solved by a simple solution i.e., by using natural alternatives for bathing, cleaning and washing purposes. The use of natural cleaning products is not a new concept as they have been used in the Indian tradition since ages. One such natural cleaning ingredient is Soap Nut.

A Guide to Soap Nuts What are Soap Nuts and How to use them

Soap Nuts, commonly known as Reetha is a versatile medicinal herb as it is useful in treating skin disorders, psychiatric disorders, shine of the jewels, to wash clothes, hair etc.

Soap nuts (Sapindus mukorossi) contain saponins which are considered as natural surfactant. Soap trees bear fruit for about 90 years.

Being free from toxic chemicals, allergens and irritants, they don’t leave chemical residue, they are ideal for people having sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis etc.

Since it is natural, it is devoid of any toxic ingredients which irritate the skin and respiratory system.

Uses of Soap Nuts in Ayurveda:

Soap nuts have a long history of medicinal use in India. In Ayurveda, it is also known as Raksha beeja and Arishtaka.

What are the medicinal properties of Soap Nuts?

  • Rasa (Taste): Katu (pungent) and Tikta (bitter)
  • Veerya (Potency): Hot
  • Guna (Qualities): Laghu (light to digest), Teekshana (piercing, strong)
  • Effect on Dosha: Balances all the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
  • Part Used: Fruit, Root, Bark, Shell

What are the uses of Soap Nuts?

  1. Useful in respiratory disorders: Due to lekhana (scraping) property of soap nuts, it is useful in balancing Kapha dosha.
    • These are beneficial in respiratory disorders and clot deposition in blood vessels.
    • The roots and bark of soap nut tree have expectorant and demulcent properties.
  2. Skin Disorders: Due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of soap nuts, its powder is applied externally to treat boils, itching, lesions, scorpion bite etc.
    • Paste prepared by mixing Reetha powder and water is also used for oil free and clean face. This can also be used for fighting pimples and removing dirt.
    • Reetha is used as a main ingredient in herbal soaps and shampoos for washing hair.
  3. Obesity: Due to Mandagni (low digestive fire), there is an accumulation of Ama (endotoxins) within the system.
    • It creates an imbalance in the dhatus (tissues) within the system thus resulting in obesity.
    • Soap nuts help in clearing the blockages and improve metabolism due to the scraping property.
    • They also improve digestive fire due to ushna (hot) potency.
  4. For Muscle and Joint Pain: Reetha powder, when mixed with water, it forms a paste.
    • This paste can be applied to the joints and muscles as it helps in managing the body pain due to arthritis by soothing the affected areas.

How to prepare Reetha Shampoo:

  • Dry Reeth fruits, cut open and remove the seeds.
  • Soak these fruits in water overnight. These fruits will turn slimy. Strain the liquid and mix it with any of the essential oils.
  • The shampoo is ready to use.
  • To enhance the properties of this shampoo, it can also be mixed with Amla and Shikakai as well.

How to use Reetha powder for washing clothes, cleaning floor and jewels:

  • Dry reetha fruits and make powder.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of the powder into half a bucket of water. Leave it for 5 minutes.
  • It will froth.
  • Soak the clothes in that water for 1 hour before washing.
  • This water can also be used for cleaning jewels as well. It will bring back the shine in jewels.
  • The entire house can be cleaned with soap nuts. The floor of the house, glass doors, kitchen surfaces, cabinets etc.

Precautions while using Soap Nuts:

  • The high dose of Reetha can lead to burning sensation due to its hot potency.
  • Breast feeding mothers should use Reetha under medical supervision only.
  • Pregnant women should not consume reetha as it can induce abortion.


This article is not a substitute to the standard Medical Diagnosis or personalized Ayurvedic Treatment! It is intended only for Information!

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