Saponaria officinalis), and you can find many recipes on the web. When I was in college, my Godmother shared her recipe with me. She lived in California and kept lots of herbs on her property. She used her soapwort liquid soap solution to clean her lace tablecloths and lace curtains, much the way her mother had done before her. Soapwort is also a very effective shampoo if you want something really gentle for problem hair.
She maintained her soapwort as far away from her koi pond as she could. Soapwort wreaks havoc with aquatic environments, so placing it away from your populated water feature is a good idea.
The two recipes I'm including here are very simple. You can embellish them as you see fit. I've added lavender to soapwort solution for washing fine handkerchiefs and included lemon juice to lighten stains on fabric. I've never had a problem, but to be safe, test an area of the material you plan on washing.
If you plan on using soapwort soap for general cleaning, you might consider buying a foamy pump sprayer. Some herb outlets carry them to help increase the foaming action and overall effectiveness of soapwort. To be honest, I just use a plain old economy sprayer, but with a couple of shakes, it creates a lather and works fine.
Soapwort Liquid Soap Recipe
- 2 Cups of chopped soapwort leaves and stems (1 cup dried)
- 1 Quart distilled water
Add soapwort leaves to boiling water and cover the pan.
- Continue simmering for fifteen minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cool.
- Strain through cheesecloth.
- Include any additives.
Soapwort shampoo is a little less concentrated than the all-purpose cleaner.
- 3 Tablespoons fresh soapwort (1 tablespoon dried)
- 1 Cup water (distilled)
Follow boiling directions above. You can easily make three or four batches at a time.
Soapwort is not for internal use: Not that you drink your soap, but if you're planning on shampooing your dog with soapwort - don’t. Any residue left on his fur would be lapped up the next time he grooms himself. There are online sites that recommend soapwort as a mild alternative to pet shampoo, but I never use it that way.
Distilled Water: You can substitute filtered water for the distilled water if you're using soapwort solution as a general cleanser. Distilling water removes any chemicals, like metals and bacteria. For a pure and wholesome cleaner, go the extra step and use the distilled stuff if you can (just my two cents worth). You can buy a half gallon cheap at most grocery stores.
For a facial and hand soap, use the weaker concentration. With regular use, it's supposed to help with itchy skin and mild acne.
Some neat soapwort additives: Lemon Juice (for mild bleaching), lavender water, lemon balm, peppermint oil, crushed rosemary leaves.
To grow soapwort in your garden, visit: Growing Soapwort.
Photo1 - By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Saponaria_officinalis_004.JPG
Photo2 - Lace Tablecloth, courtesy of Morguefile.com