The roots of the American WHITE POND LILY were used by native American groups as a soap substitute (Sanford). Another American plant that gives a soapy lather is Chlorogalum pomeridianum, called SOAP PLANT, or SOAPROOT (Schery). See also SOAPWEED below. SOAPBERRY (Sapindus saponaria) has fruits that lather well with water, and are used for washing clothes, etc., while the fruits of Indian members of the genus (S mukorossi, for example), are reserved for washing valuable fabrics (see SOAPBERRY below). At one time SPEARMINT oil was used to perfume soap (Fluckiger & Hanbury), and OLIVE oil was always used instead of soap in ancient Greece.
MILKWORT is known as Fairy Soap in Donegal, for it was believed there that the fairies make a lather from the roots and leaves (Grigson. 1955). But the best known soap plant is SOAPWORT (Saponaria officinalis), from which a lather can be got by rubbing the leaves in water. The species was used by the Greeks and Romans for washing clothes, and probably it was the Romans who introduced it into Britain. They certainly knew about about its water softening properties (Thomson. 1976). It was used in the East as far back as the 10th century for cleaning clothes and carpets. It is still regarded as valuable for cleansing and restoring old tapestry without damaging the fabric
(Brownlow). In the Swiss Alps, sheep were washed with it before they were shorn (Grigson. 1955).
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