Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 14:55:14

Reetha/ Soap Nuts

Updated: May 10, 2014 11:53 am

Reetha played an important role in our house since childhood. Every Sunday irrespective of girls or boys taking head bath used to be like a ritual. Especially during festivals and functions the process was very cumbersome. Though we looked forward to the festival or function very enthusiastically, we never liked the starting of the day with the process of bathing with oil, besan and finally with soap nut shampoo. How much ever we closed our eyes the shampoo used to seep inside the eye making it red and watery. As we grew we learnt the technique of using it more carefully and got so used to it that it became part and parcel of our life. Washing hair with soap nut gives you a fresh feeling. It relieves the tiredness of the whole week that we struggled mentally as well as physically.


  • Soap nuts are called kunkundukaya in Telugu and reetha in Hindi, punalai in Tamil, amtalakaayi in Kannada and hristah in Sanskrit.
  • The soap nuts (Sapindus trifoliatusand) that are available in Southern parts of India are small in size and black in colour. One can just soak them in water to get the juice, whereas the soap nuts that are available in Northern parts of India (Sapindus Mukorossi) are big in size and are brown in colour. You have to boil them in water before use.
  • Soap nuts are small soap berries that have substance called saponins in them which help them to act as very safe detergents.
  • Crushed soap nuts are boiled in water and let it simmer for 10 minutes on low flame. Then the juice is filtered and can be used as shampoo. You can rinse with hand and take the soap water in another container. While rinsing the nuts you can add hibiscus leaves or two spoons of fenugreek seeds paste to it. Either of the two mixed with soap nut water gives lustre to your hair making it soft and shiny.
  • It is completely a natural way of cleaning your hair without any side effects.
  • It prevents dandruff and promotes hair growth on regular usage as shampoo. The leftover residue of reetha can be used for cleaning the comb and the ornaments like bangles, ear studs and chain and it can get back the sheen of the metal.
  • Owing to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, it will cure any scalp infection that you may have. Utmost care must be taken to see that the juice does not fall into the eyes which can cause irritation.
  • Soap nuts should not be taken internally as they have mild abortifacient properties. Pregnant ladies should not consume soap nuts in any form.
  • Cleaning golden ornaments with soap nut water brings back the lost brightness and shine of this precious metal.
  • This herb is used in the treatment of extra salvation, migraine, epilepsy and chlorosis It is the most common ingredient in Ayurvedic shampoos in India.
  • It is considered to be one of the important herbs in cleansers in Ayurveda. It is used in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and for removing freckles.
  • Reetha has gentle insecticidal properties which help in removing lice. The plant is known for its antimicrobial properties that are beneficial for septic systems.

By Nibhanapudi Suguna

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