How Agave Plants Naturally Clean

April 19 2023
How Agave Plants Naturally Clean

What is Saponin?

You might think “Saponin” is the name of a northern Italian appetizer, but that wouldn’t make much sense for our blog. Saponins are naturally occurring compounds found in the roots, leaves and seeds of Agave and other plants. 

The plants produce saponins to protect themselves from bugs and fungal or bacterial infections, even releasing saponins into the soil to benefit surrounding plants (so cool!) 

Saponin is specifically a glycoside, which is a type of sugar molecule found in plants that’s attached to a non sugar steroid compound. Don’t worry, these steroids won’t make you go “aggro” at the gym and will not make you sick.

Saponin in plants can also function as a natural detergent. When extracted, refined and formulated within cleaning products it has the power to dissolve and emulsify oils and fats. Because of its non toxic and biodegradable properties, it acts as a natural soap that is harmless to people and the planet 

Plant-Based Cleaning History

Using saponins for soap dates back into antiquity. The Aztecs utilized plant-based soaps for hundreds of years, making its usage an integral part of their daily customs. They did not produce soaps from animal fats, as was common elsewhere, but instead used plants containing saponins. They bathed and washed clothes frequently with this plant based alternative, which led to longer lifespans and lower risks of infectious diseases. 

To create the base of the soap, the Aztecs used a plant called saponaria which produces a soapy lather. They also utilized amole (a traditional plant used throughout Mexico) as well as various agave plants. The history of using saponins in soap continues to inspire product development. 

Naturally Clean and Degrease

Today, the tequila and mezcal industries both use various agave plants in production resulting in massive amounts of agave byproduct in this industry. Lucky for us they can be further refined to extract those saponins. 

Because saponins foam easily, the products using them are effective at penetrating into cracks and crevices as well as fully coating surfaces. The bubbles, also known as micelles, attach and break down dirt, grease, and other grime, through a process called emulsification, allowing easy removal through rinsing or wiping. These detergent properties make saponins useful as natural degreasers and cleaners. 

Gear Hugger Plant-Powered Degreaser 

At Gear Hugger, we saw an opportunity to formulate a heavy-duty degreaser that performs as well as traditional competitors, but is safe for people, pets and the planet. We upcycle that agave byproduct leftover from tequila production to refine and extract saponins that power our product’s degreasing and cleaning process. Overall helping us all to restore, reuse and reduce our impact on Mamma Earth. 

Each can of Gear Hugger Heavy Duty Degreaser is:

  • Made with a biodegradable formula that’s non toxic to humans, wildlife, and plants. So it is not going to pollute the soil, ground or waterways!
  • Gear Hugger is eschewing the use of non-renewable petroleum resources with natural power of plants!
  • Made with upcycled agave plants from tequila production in Mexico!
  • This degreaser is safe around kids and pets!
  • The spray formula easily gets into moving parts and surfaces to unbind and remove dirt, grease, and grime. Making it both easy and convenient for the user!
  • Cleaning most oil and soil with a single rinse; degreasing tools, engines, appliances & more; removing dirt and grease fast, leaving no residue. 
We celebrate the intelligence of ancient civilizations who recognized the power of plants a long time ago and harnessed their knowledge to create the industry’s best plant-based products. To learn more about the thousands of uses for Gear Huggers degreasers and lubricants, visit