I heard in more and more places that horse chestnuts are great for washing. The temptingly cheap (more precisely, free) and environmentally friendly solution is in season, so I tried it. For a week, I washed everything with horse chestnut, from children's jeans to colorful clothes to whites. Result in the article
Since I have been constantly looking for information as an enthusiastic environmentalist on what, what and how to use environmentally friendly solutions in the household, I have come across the information more and more often: you can also wash with horse chestnuts. Of course, I didn't believe it for a second, but we know that what is repeated often enough will be true sooner or later. Or at least they start to believe in it.
I was the same way with the horse chestnut wash. On the one hand, not a day has gone by that I haven't somehow come across someone's enthusiasm: he washed with horse chestnuts, and how well it turned out, but on the other hand, as a journalist, it's still my job to doubt, so I honestly didn't believe him for a minute. After all, if horse chestnut really cleans clothes, why do we spend so much money on different detergents?
In the end, I decided to decide the question myself: I will try it. Fortunately, we have two large chestnut trees, so the preparations did not require special logistics. And my family has long since gotten used to the fact that I sometimes think of all kinds of strange things, so they didn't bat an eye when a basket of chestnuts appeared next to the washing machine, with a pair of pruning shears on top.
A lot of good arguments for it
According to literature, horse chestnut is suitable for washing for the same reason as walnut: it contains saponin, which has a very good cleaning effect. In addition, since it is grown here and does not have to be brought here from India, its ecological footprint is also much smaller, meaning it has almost none. Not to mention the fact that it can be collected completely free, that is, it doesn't cost a penny. And if we have already given up fabric softener and replaced it with vinegar, we can wash almost completely free of charge, although water and electricity still have to be paid for.
I washed with horse chestnut for a week. In our family of four, this meant exactly eight loads of laundry, and it included everything from my eight-year-old son's jeans to snow whites. To give it an equal chance in the competition, I put washing soda in the washing machine in addition to the 8 pieces of chestnuts cut with pruning shears, because I'm used to it, and because I'm always satisfied with the factory detergent-washing soda-vinegar rinse combo. So I only changed one parameter: I used horse chestnut instead of detergent, I left everything else unchanged.
The test itself
At first I was quite careful, I threw my son's jeans in the washing machine. They looked exactly how we imagine an eight-year-old boy's jeans at the end of the day: with black and green spots on the knees. Let's say, I'm legendarily permissive with these, I'm like that I can't work a miracle either, if the grass stain doesn't come out in the first wash, and then it comes out in the fifth. It can be seen on those pants whether they have been washed or not.
I was terribly curious about the result. I didn't expect a miracle, but I had hope, because the HUF zero cost is quite tempting, but especially the fact that the detergent grows on the tree in front of the house. Well, the knees of the pants were a bit suspicious even after washing, but after drying, the stains somehow disappeared, and the result was quite acceptable. I mean compared to little boy pants.
For the next wash, I threw the black ones into the machine, cut them into 8 quarters and put them in a laundry bag together with the chestnuts. The result is quite difficult to filter, since it was, of course, black clothes. What was strange, however, was that the clothes had practically no smell. I haven't used fabric softener for a long time, because I think it leaves a nasty mess in the washing machine, but vinegar mixed with essential oil doesn't, and even cleans the machine. At the same time, the washed clothes still had some smell from the factory detergent - the one washed with chestnuts had nothing. Absolutely nothing, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, nothing. No problem, I dried it in the sun, so in the end, the dress still had a nice, fresh effect.
After that came the favorite light blue and green, then red and pink dresses. There were already expectations here. On the one hand, because these are my clothes (muhaha), and on the other hand, because they really show when something is wrong. Or at least I notice it.
Since I'm quite an adventurer when it comes to household matters and I've already gone through a lot of alternative washing solutions, I knew it wouldn't hurt to be on the lookout, so I wouldn't be reminded when all our clothes had irretrievably turned gray. There has already been an example of it. And indeed: the colors were not at all as beautiful and vivid as I am used to with the factory detergent. Neither the blue ones, nor the red ones, and that can't be a coincidence. Here, my trust in horse chestnuts was slightly shaken.
Anyway, if I'm already testing, I couldn't leave it alone, I also put in a less delicate white wash: cotton t-shirts, leotards, everything that we wear under something, so it doesn't shine in the face while wearing it. Washing white clothes is like a margherita in a pizza: there is no misunderstanding, it says everything about the quality of the material used.
The result was quite sad, and although I still hoped that the situation would improve after drying, like with jeans, but it didn't.
This was the point when my husband asked if I still wanted to force this horse chestnut wash, or would I finally realize that this is a rather weak result? Of course, only when we look at the clean clothes, otherwise it's great that the children can DIY chestnut worms and such, because I collected a lot of raw materials for them, so don't be sad, my work was not in vain.
I am of the opinion that if my husband notices that his white clothes are not white after washing (in fact, some suspicious yellow spots have appeared here and there), then there is really no need to push the matter any further.
Although, of course, everything depends on what the needs are. If the most important aspect is to save the Earth, and everything else follows after that (which is really recommended and timely), then horse chestnut is an excellent solution, because the result really wasn't so bad. First. If, on the other hand, even with the greatest goodwill, we cannot get rid of clothes that are not only clean, but also look clean, then I would rather look for another solution. For example, Pálma gave a lot of good tips here.