Eco-Living with Rhittha

To live in harmony with the environment, the earth and our body

One of the core foundations of #MakerKT, apart from making workshops accessible, affordable and fun, is that they should be as eco-friendly as possible. We strongly believe in taking care of our bodies and our planet. Therefore, with this post, we want to start a new section on D.I.Y Eco-Living; living in harmony with the environment, the earth and our body. This blog has been written with the help of Khali Khutta who work to provide alternative natural lifestyle options to consumers whilst supporting Nepali farmers, heritage and the environment.

In our quest for eco-living, we have stumbled into rhithha (soap nuts). These magical berries, a cousin of the litchi, grow in trees in abundance in Nepal and India. Their pulp contains ‘saponin’ which makes it a natural detergent. For generations, their pulp has been squashed and used by us in the sub-continent to clean our hair, clothes and jewellry. The grey water released as a by-products of using soapnuts is completely biodegradable as are the fruit pulps.

Need any more convincing on why to convert to rhittha? Let #MakerKT and Khali Khutta convince you 🙂

  • Shampoo: For the last few months, #MakerKT has beenDSC_0024 washing her hair with soapnuts. Three to four soapnuts should be soaked in water overnight. The hair should then be rinsed with this water and left to soak in for a few minutes and then rinsed with clean water. Or, a handful of soapnuts can be ground into powder and worked into the hair and then rinsed off. Online, you can find other simple or more complicated soapnut shampoo recipes. Hair is left clean, without residue. On the left is the liquid “shampoo” and, below, the hair post rhittha shampoo. Combined with a sugar scrub, #MakerKT has been having 100% eco-friendly showers 🙂DSC_0233
  • Liquid Detergent: Boil 2 berries for every one cup of water for 30 minutes. Allow the water to cool, then strain the water through a muslin cloth. Feel free to add essential oils if you prefer and store in a glass jar. Store in the fridge (or a cool, dark place). This will keep for 2 weeks or so after which you can make some more! Anything that last for a really long time is usually full of nasties to stop it spoiling. Used soap nuts can be put in the compost heap.
  • Laundry : Do you know that most laundry detergent has cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and ammonia? Soapnuts are non-toxic and the most environmentally friendly option. This is a great alternative to conventional chemical detergents and soaps.
    Soap nuts can be easily used in the washing machine. Put 5-8 soap nuts in a sock or a small cloth/mesh bag and put this into your washing machine with your clothes. Wash as normal and dry out the soap nuts after it is done. These 5-8 soap nuts can be used 3-4 times like this.
    The liquid detergent as mentioned above can be used directly to wash clothes. Don’t wash your kids clothes, diapers, bedding and stuffed animals with chemicals. Take that extra step to ensure your kids get the best!
    #MakerKT has been washing her laundry for the last 3 months using soap nuts. By adding a spoonful of baking soda the clothes have come out a little brighter and a cap full of vinegar makes the clothes softer. For clothes which have that stale oily stink, an extra cap full of vinegar in the wash helps to rid of the smell. The laundry below was washed using soap nuts. It’s a great feeling knowing that all the grey water coming out of the laundry is completely biodegradable and eco-friendly!DSC_0370
  • Pet Wash: Your pet will absolutely love it! Rhittha have a natural insect repellent property and so washing them with soapnuts will not only keep them clean but also keep them free of fleas, ticks and lice. The natural anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of rhittha are great for pets with skin irritations and rashes. Why buy expensive pet shampoo when you have a natural alternative?
  • General Cleaning : Place rhittha liquid detergent (as mentioned above) in a bucket with water (mix any essential oil) and use it for general cleaning such as cleaning your floor, windows, any surfaces at home. You will love it!
  • Gardening : Spraying solution of rhittha in your plants will get rid of bugs and moths and other infestations. A chemical-free gardening solution!
  • Soap nut powder : Powdered form of soapnuts can also be made and used in the same way as whole soapnuts. The slightly abrasive nature makes the powder rhittha great for removing stains and grease on sinks, toilets, tubs, tiles and on dishes.13663486_916795866891_139605560_o

Whether you are an allergy sufferer, have sensitive skin, use cloth nappies, or just want to do your own part for greener earth: rhittha is the answer!

Here is why you should make soapnuts as a part of your life!
Renewable & Local:
It is a renewable resource and grows naturally in Nepal
Sustainable: No chemical or artificial ingredients
Save Water: Less suds therefore requires less water
100% biodegradable: Used shells and water can be directly put in your compost pile
Non-polluting: The water is safe for greywater systems
Multiple Uses: Can be used for multiple cleaning and gardening purposes
Hypoallergenic: No skin or respiratory problem causing. Great for sensitive skin!
Affordable: It is not expensive and lasts longer for many purposes

Rhittha can be bought from Kheti Bazaar in Dillibazaar in the Bhojan Griha premises for Rs. 120/kilo. You can also find them around Ason and Naradevi area for the same price.


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