Keeping Clean with Green

Alison Posts: 179 ✭✭✭
edited October 2021 in The Urban Gardener

As I began to plan my spring garden I started to rummage through my seeds. That's when I happened upon a tiny packet of unopened Soapwort seeds.

There's been a lot of changes around the world. Many in my part of Australia. So I decided now would be a good time to begin a patch of my own natural soap. After all, having enough to eat and drink is great, but I don't want to smell like everything that I am brushing up against each day 🐔🐐.

The packet didn't have many instructions so I had a quick look online. They tolerate full sun to light shade and nearly any type of soil as long as it's free draining. If it's really hot and dry it is recommended giving them the occasional water.

They flower and attract butterflies and can be grown in small places in rock gardens or borders.

Sites I read said to sew seed after the last frost so I am anticipating it may die back unless protected in winter. I have started mine indoors [pictured]. But they say it is a plant that easily propagates via seed so seed saving or allowing them to self seed at the end of summer is also a viable option. Apparently it can become a bit weed like, but that sounds like a bonus not a downfall considering it needs to be harvested to produce the soap.

To release the soap qualities you cut some of the plant; stem and all, and put it into a bucket of hot water for 30 minutes. One site suggested agitating the plant material a bit and then squeezing it out before discarding it.

The soap product is considered mild and can be used to wash your hair and clothes. I am sure if there was a need a person could put it in a bath or use it in a spray bottle etc and clean themselves.

While I am sure the commercial cleaners are much stronger, I'd rather have 'clean' security growing in my front yard than not.

Another aspect that has come to mind is the option of selling the seeds or young plants if you are willing to save seed or divide a plant that might be spreading. I have seen an increase in people showing an interest in growing their own food and raising their own livestock here in NSW Australia. So even a small space could provide someone with a very beneficial plant that most won't know has any benefit, and may well turn a small profit.

Has anyone else had experience in growing or using soapwort? I'd love to hear about it.



  • monica197
    monica197 Posts: 332 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have heard of it but have not tried it. From what you share it seems quite easy to grow!

    I would love to see your soapy water and hear about your walk through trial when the plants are ready to use. Please share!

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,355 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have also been curious about this. Please keep us updated. I would love to hear how it works.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sounds like a great way to provide your own cleaning solution for many situations. Will have to lok for some of the seeds and see if they might grow in my area.

  • Alison
    Alison Posts: 179 ✭✭✭

    Hi Vickeym, what area / state is that? I am in a cold climate...heavy frost for months. I've got a section in the yard that has protection from strong wind etc so provides a microclimate. I won't plant it out until it's a bit bigger and the weather is warmer though.

    If you are in Australia and it does well and seeds, I could send you some in the mail. It would be great to hear feedback and get ideas on how you go with growing and using it.