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Last updated: 10 August 2016

We tested six laundry balls that we found on the market, as well as soap nuts, which are actually a berry purported to help wash clothes. All are simply added to your wash instead of detergent. 

Wouldn't it be nice to throw something into your washing machine and not have to replace it for years, secure in the knowledge that your laundry is being washed and you don't need to fiddle around with messy detergents?

Laundry balls and soap nuts have been making this claim for years. We've tested them before, back in the 90s, but weren't impressed by the results. Given they're still around, we thought they were worth another look.

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  • We tested each product in a front loader on a cold wash using our usual laundry detergent test method, against 10 different stains.
  • We tested the soap nuts in a top loader as well, because the manufacturer claimed they worked better in a top loader.
  • We also tested without any product (i.e. water only), and did one more test with a leading performing detergent from our previous laundry detergent review.

We found these products underwhelming. In fact, one brand even received a CHOICE Shonky award. Take a look at the results for yourself, but don't be surprised if you find yourself shopping for detergents instead.

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List of brands we tested in this review.

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This is the price we paid for the item. Sometimes two balls come in a pack, or in the case of SoapNuts, they can come in 100g-1kg packs.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 89

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These products generally fall into a few categories: a) Plastic balls with seemingly no reasonable exit point for detergent or detergent-free agent. b) Plastic balls filled with minerals. These tend to be in the majority and claim a need to be replaced over time. c) Soap nuts, which are actually a type of berry that claims to release saponin and acts as a natural detergent.

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We tested most products in front loaders, as they all claim to work in front loaders. We re-tested soap nuts in top loaders because the distributor came back to us claiming that they perform best in top loaders.

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