A reader asked how I wash, or how I soak, my knitted items. Good question! I’m no expert but treating my handmade knitted items with respect and care matters to me.
There are products like Soak and Eucalon, and probably others, that are available. I’ve used them both and they work fine. They aren’t convenient for me to purchase. For the most part, they have to be ordered from a yarn shop (and you know how I rarely place orders with yarn shops!) 🙂
I have not done any scientific research, nor am I qualified to do scientific research but I do have some thoughts I can share with you and then I would encourage you to do your own research.
The ingredients list for Soak wash can be found here. The ingredients for Eucalon no rinse wash can be found here. I believe Soak is also a no rinse product. The ingredients for Dr. Bronner’s Castille soap can be found here.
Above is a screen capture of the three items I would consider for washing my knitted items. You can see you get about twice as much Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap for the same price.
I’ve become a huge fan of Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap for just about everything that involves soap and I would love to use it on my knitted items, but, does pH matter in the detergent I use on my knitted items? I believe it does. Both Soak and Eucalon are advertised as pH neutral. Dr. Bronner’s soaps, for the most part, have a pH of 8.9.
In this article at Fiberarts, their advice is to use a soap that has a pH of 7 – 9 so, Dr. Bonner’s, though at the upper end of acceptable for woolens, should be ok. I am comfortable using Dr. Bonner’s for wool.
Silk is another story. I will only use Soak or Eucalon for anything that contains silk. Maybe I’m overly cautious but I so rarely wash my shawls. My cardigans get washed a bit more but not often, mostly because I have more cardigans than we have cold days!
One thing that I think does matter is that we avoid using a laundry detergent that contains protease, which is great for removing protein stains but wool and silk are protein based yarns and the protease could break down, or start to break down the protein based fibers.
The items that I wash the most are my socks but, I have so many pairs of socks that I don’t even have to wash those very often. I have a little trash can by the shower and I stick my socks in there. When it gets full, about 15 pairs, I toss them in the bath tub, add a little soap and water, wash them all at once, lay them out to dry and . . that doesn’t take long at all.
Do your own research please. The only reason not to use Soak or Eucalon would be the cost and after you figure the cost of the yarn and our time, I don’t think 25 to 30 cents is a lot to spend for laundering our lovely wool items.