Eco influencer shares hack for making washing detergent using conkers

Eco influencer reveals how to make your own planet-friendly detergent for free in three simple steps using CONKERS, water and a sieve

  • Josephine Becker shared her useful eco-friendly hack on her Instagram account  
  • She uses three simple steps to create the alternative to shop-bought detergent 
  • Said the conkers mixture does exploit or appropriate soapnuts from abroads

A sustainability influencer has shared her eco-friendly way of making your own free detergent in three simple steps. 

Climate activist Josephine Becker, from Edinburgh, shared her clever, and cheaper, alternative to shop-bought laundry cleaner on her Instagram account @treesnpeace. 

She posted the quick tutorial for how to make the natural cleaner using just one chestnut, soaked in a jar of water.  

A post shared by Josephine Becker (she/her) (@treesnpeace) on


Josephine Becker collected chestnuts from near her home (left) to make the detergent before chopping one up, placing it in a jar, filling it with water (right) and leaving it overnight

There are three simple steps to creating the washing powder, the first being to find some conkers and chop one up into four or five pieces. 

These bits are then added to a jar which you fill with water and leave to sit overnight, which releases the saponins in the nuts – an organic chemical often found in soaps. 

Once shaken up, the watery mixture begins to foam and is sieved into the washing machine to avoid any lumps of chestnut damaging it.  

A few drops of essential oil can be added to the eco-friendly detergent to add some fragrance. 

In the short video Josephine explained to her 26,000 followers the benefits of her washing powder: ‘Doesn’t exploit/appropriate soapnuts from abroads e.g. India, doesn’t pollute waterways and gets your clothes clean and ready for revolution.’

The caption for her video read: ‘Trends such as buying soapnuts, which are shipped over from eg. India, is CO2 intensive, harms local populations by driving up prices, appropriating their traditional-used items and is also super unnecessary because we have our own soapnuts in Europe and North America.’

Dozens of people took to the comments underneath her video to share how excited they were about the discovery. 


Once left overnight and shaken, soapy bubbles appear at the top of the mixture (left) and it is sieved straight into the washing machine (right) where the detergent would typically go 

One person wrote:  ‘Really useful! I knew soap nuts were exploitative and have been trying to navigate which detergents are non-toxic to waterways… its a real challenge. 

‘I’m trying to go on more walks so will definitely pick up a few next time.’

Another said: ‘I’ve been doing this for a year and it’s also really good for anyone with eczema/sensitive skin. I am allergic to certain washing powders but I’ve never had any problems using conkers.’

But one user was quick to point out the dangers of using essential oils: ‘Cool idea, thanks. But be careful, essential oils are a nightmare for the environment while used in water.

‘Goes straight to the sewers or groundwater and totally useless in the washing machine. Oil and water doesn’t mix together. 

‘Waste of money and pollution, just to let you know.’ 

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