Doing laundry with Chumico Soapseed in Costa Rica

chumico or soapseed

I gathered a hatful of chumico soapseed below a big tree in the lower pasture, turns out they’re great for doing laundry.  Put the rind from 5-6 seeds in a cloth bag and toss them in with non white clothing, does 5 loads.  I love the tropics!

Chumico (also known as soapseed, soap nuts, Florida soapberry) grows widely in Costa Rica’s Central Valley.  Look at my photos to see the seeds, and I have saplings at my nursery, and free seeds at my shop next door.  Chumico is the Costa Rican name.  Kids here used to play marbles with the round black seed inside the rind.  The scientific name is Sapindus saponaria.

Jana says “If you don’t live in Costa Rica you can buy them from also from They’re great, make the clothes very soft. They do turn whites a little beige. The soap nuts also seem to keep the inside of the washing machine cleaner…who knew?”

They don’t produce suds, but then you don’t need suds to get things clean.

Barry Biesanz Google+

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  1. Posted January 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Nice with those plants, all my life people told me that the chumicos grew from trees, but also all my life I had seen a different kind, one used in tropical jewelry, black seed with a white “belt” in its center, this one grows in vines, I don’t know the scientific name, but seems I have been trully tricked with that one!

  2. Posted January 26, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Join the club, I’ve often been fooled. These seeds are used in jewelry as well, but they are all black. Kids also use them to play marbles.
    We have a good crop right now if you want any. And around the tropics there are several unrelated trees called soap seed or soapnut. Guanacaste seeds are said to make a soap, but so far, for me…no soap…

  3. Andrés
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Hi Barry, can I get some seeds, just to try it? Where are you?

  4. Posted February 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    no me sirvio su email, fue ‘bounced’ regaleme telefono

    lunes dejo algunos por el taller

  5. Posted August 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and
    starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done
    a wonderful job!

  6. Posted August 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    tell me about your project, maybe I could be of some help!

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