Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Wool Washing Trial

I have been washing wool (and mohair, alpaca and even angora) for years. Mostly I have used products like blue Dawn because they are widely recommended, readily available and relatively inexpensive. Recently I have had more difficulties with contact allergies and soaps so I decided to give a couple of other options are try. I ran a side by side trial using my standard blue Dawn, Kookaberra Wool Scour (a product specifically for wool scouring) and Charlie's Soap (a locally made product with no dyes or perfumes). I used a light gray Shetland fleece weighed out in 8 ounce lots and washed in buckets in the kitchen with my usual wool method - one hot soak with only water, one soak with soap and the two clean hot soaks - all no longer than 30 minutes each. I used two oz. Dawn (this is my usual starting amount, i.e. 4 oz/lb of fleece), 1 oz of Kookaberra Wool Scour and 1 oz of Charlie's Soap. Once the final clean soap was done, I spun the water out in the tub of the washing machine, and then hung the wool (in wash bags) out to dry. Since the wash bags look identical(but were labeled inside), I was able to mix them up and feel the fleeces when dry so I did not know which was which. The end result was that I cannot really tell a difference - all three did an equally good job of cleaning the fleece. This being the case, I will be switching over to Charlies's Soap since it is free of dyes and perfumes (hence not aggravating for me or my customers) and costs no more than blue Dawn. I also like the idea that it is produced locally. The Kookaberra wool wash is a nice product, but is harder to acquire (must be mail ordered) and is more expensive than either of the other two.