This is a long post about my laundry experiments with some wool wash. If you want lots of details about washing wool, read on friend. If you just want a brief synopsis, scroll to the verdict at end.
The very friendly and kind folks at Unicorn Fibre sent me some different laundry washes to try. By they way, I am never paid for my reviews but those requesting reviews do often provide me with samples to try. In this case I was calling to see if I could get a sample of their Beyond Clean that was reviewed on The Knitmore Girls Podcast. Jasmin from that podcast has raved about Beyond Clean a few times for her kiddo knits. I really wanted to try it and called because my internet connection was stalling out and I couldn’t finish obtaining the sample online. I spoke to Melanie about getting a sample and she very kindly offered to send me a sample of Beyond Clean, Beyond Fibre Wash, and Beyond Soft. She didn’t know I had a blog when she offered that and I said that I would review them on my blog as a thank you if she liked.
As soon as I got home from work on the day they arrived I was eager to experiment. I took out some knits that had a lot of old grubbiness, socks that had about a decade of dirt stains on the bottom, and baby and toddler knits that are almost always dirtier by nature to use with Beyond Clean. My usual method is to fill up my washing machine with warm or hot water and wool wash, then submerge my items and let them soak for about 30 minutes. I did that in this case, using hot water. If you use this method be sure to wait until the water is full before adding your knits. You don’t want to risk felting with running water that might agitate non-superwash items. This fiber wash needs to be rinsed so I waited until the knits had cooled and used cool water to rinse. If you move knits from hot to cold or vice versa, the shock can felt items. There were many items with lots of gunk, so I took some of them and did a second wash in a large bowl for comparison. In this case I washed a single sock from a pair and some of Charlotte’s pajamas and another baby sweater a second time. The second washing definitely helped some of the things with older stains and Charlotte’s pajamas that get funky around the collar from drool and general baby gunk. The knits felt a bit squeaky after this wash. I noticed improvement in the very old gunk more with a second wash, as you might guess, but it wasn’t a miracle cure for old stains. On one of Zooey’s dresses that had some mystery stains, those came out in the first wash with no issue.
Charlotte’s drooly grubby collar on her pajamas was much improved.
For this second wash I added Beyond Soft to see how they felt after adding the softener rinse. I had a decent comparison because one half of these sock pairs only had a single wash and no softener. Beyond Soft definitely gave the wool a softer hand and took out the squeaky feel I was experiencing after using Beyond Clean alone. I think this will be excellent to use on Zooey’s Bitty Breezy when it’s done since that is knit out of more durable Regia sock yarn that’s not butter soft. On some socks with a cashmere blend or merino only, I can really feel a difference in the softness.
I also wanted to compare the Beyond Fibre Wash to my usual choice, Eucalan. I didn’t feel like doing an entire load of knits again, nor did I have the drying space. I happened to have two swatches in Shelter for a Rift sweater for Matt that I had just finished and needed to block. I put one in Eucalan and one in Beyond Fibre Wash. The Beyond Fibre Wash does need to be rinsed while Eucalan does not. Eucalan has lanolin in the wash. The difference here is largely a matter of personal preference. Some people are very sensitive to lanolin, while others are not. I quite like the feel of lanolin in my wool. To me it feels like the wool is wearing some lotion and feels protective. My mom felt the swatches and had the opposite reaction. She found the one washed with Beyond Fibre Wash to be softer and fluffier. I think for knits that don’t have stain issues I will stick to the Eucalan for a couple of reasons. In my house, laziness wins often. Since Eucalan doesn’t require rinsing it’s less work and saves some water. I didn’t give Beyond Fibre Wash a test with other fibers. I may try it someday for my summer linens to see how it performs since those definitely don’t need lanolin.
Unicorn Fibre has some very helpful washing guides on their site. Their washes aren’t just for knits. They can be used with general laundry and items like cloth diapers as well for those that prefer gentle ingredients. I’m interested to see how it works in a normal load of kid laundry.
The verdict: I think Beyond Clean does excellent work on recent stains. It was unrealistic to expect it to take all the sole dirt out of nearly decade old socks because several of those have been washed and dried many, many times. Heated drying can set stains permanently, so some of those were hopeless causes, but there was some improvement anyway. I think this would be great regular use with kid knits that get messy since it performed well at taking out those stains with no issue. Beyond Soft gave the knits I used it with a much softer hand. I can’t speak to the dirt repelling action or static resistance that it promises because I haven’t road tested those knits yet. I think if you’re using Beyond Clean and want them to have a softer feel at the end, Beyond Soft is a great finish for them.
Update September 2016: Beyond Clean is definitely my favorite of this line. I’m starting to think of it as kind of a miracle wash and immense time saver. Normally when I spill something tough on my knits or clothes I wash at them vigorously with dishsoap and hope for the best. I have been wearing my light colored Togue Pond a lot lately and have had inevitable coffee spills and child dirt smeared all over this thing. I used Beyond Clean each time it got messy and it came out looking fabulous with only a couple of squeezes while it was soaking. While I was initially put off by the extra step of rinsing, it’s WELL WORTH IT when it comes to removing stains. I just ordered a gallon from their lovely redesigned site and they’re offering free shipping for all of this month with the code FREESHIP.