After I had been using soapnuts for a few weeks, I realized that I was going to run in to a problem. I was almost out of the 18x concentrated cleanser that they included in my order. It is amazing stuff and I used to to wash windows, pretreat clothes, wipe counters, you name it. It left my counter tops sparkling clean and my windows and mirror streak free and shiny.
I decided I needed to make some of my own, and it wasn't hard to figure out: concentrate = boiling for a long period of time until a reduced liquid is achieved. The process is pretty simple and anyone can do it at home, it just takes some diligence and patience. This is a great cleaner to use around the home and definitely a recipe to add to your all natural cleaner repertoire. Most importantly it is all natural, kid and pet safe, and doesn't use any harsh chemicals. One drawback is that since the only ingredients are soapnuts and water, it doesn't have any preservatives to keep it from spoiling. Because of this, it is probably best to produce it in smaller batches for immediate use, or larger batches with the intention of freezing for later use.
2 cups water
Boil rapidly for several minutes, stirring occasionally.
You should notice that the water will start turning a pale brown. Keep boiling until the liquid becomes darker and thicker, about 20-30 minutes. If the water gets too low, add more water. All in all, I used about 3-4 cups water and ended up with 6 oz of liquid when I was done!
While your liquid cools, place a mason jar or glass container in the sink with a funnel in it. Put a coffee filter in the funnel, and if you have it, a small mesh strainer on top of the funnel and coffee filter.
After the liquid has cooled for a few minutes, spoon out the soapnuts with a slotted spoon and place in a mesh strainer over a bowl.
Pour the remaining liquid through the strainer and funnel and let it drain into the jar. I had to let mine sit for quite a bit while it drained. Don't rush it or you may puncture your filter and have to start all over (guilty!).
While you are waiting for the liquid to filter, let's squeeze as much precious cleaning power as we can out of the remaining soapnuts! Using a spoon, smash the soapnuts into the mesh strainer to remove as much liquid as possible. Then pour about a cup of super hot tap water (microwave it if you have to) over the soap nuts in the strainer, smashing as you pour.
I repeated this process a few times by using two bowls and filtering back and forth. When I was done, I ended up with about 8 oz of liquid soap nuts cleaner. It was about the same strength as what I was using for pretreating clothes and washing mirrors and windows so I was very pleased that I got this extra cup of cleaning power rather than just tossing the nuts into the trash. You can see the little measuring glass full of the liquid I was able to get from the used soap nuts. That would have all been lost if I hadn't done this last process! In the background of the above picture is my precious concentrated cleaner, still draining!
It is important to remember that we didn't use any preservatives in this solution, so if you won't be using it all within a week or so, store the jar in the refrigerator or pour the liquid into an ice cube tray and store the frozen cubes in a baggie to easily grab one to thaw whenever you need it.
Another idea is to mix 5 oz liquid cleaner with 1 cups water and pour into an ice cube tray. Store the frozen cubes in a baggie in the freezer and throw a whole frozen cube into the wash. This will allow the solution to be powerful enough to do the job (based on using about 1 tsp per wash) but in a size that is easy to store and grab, rather than having to thaw out a whole cube and measure out 1 tsp every time you need to do laundry.
I hope you enjoy your easy to make, all natural household cleaner and pretreater. I know I do!