Lanolin Wool Wash Bar Soap

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Saponista

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A friend of mine who is heavily into knitting and crochet has asked me to make her a bar with lanolin to hand wash her woollens with. I don't own many woolen items myself so I'm not really sure how to proceed.

There is a post on the sage that uses 25% lanolin so I thought I would start with that recipe and see how it works.

I was wondering if anyone else makes wool wash for themselves and if they have any hints or tips they could offer please?
 

Deedles

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Being a knitter I soak all my wools before I block them. I never thought about making my own lanolin wash. My favorite soak/wash is called Euclan. It's mild, biodegradable and leaves a nice feel to the wool. Some products have too much lanolin that leaves the wool heavy and 'greasy' feeling.

This is a link to their ingredients, if that helps any at all. http://www.eucalan.com/products-1/ingredients
 

traderbren

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One of my cloth diapering friends used a m&p base and added lanolin. I wish I had percentages. I have plans to make that same recipe you found as I got hooked on the lanolin in my wool wash from lanolizing soakers and longies.
 

DeeAnna

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I can't speak about a lanolin-based soap for wool, but here's a lanolin-based soap for bathing. It was discussed in a video by the Nature's Garden lady. The video is on YouTube and the title is "Lanolin Soaps With Natures Garden". Not sure if it's helpful to you, but that's all I have to offer at the moment.

The recipe:

Water - 12 oz or 335gr
Lye - 4.50 oz or 128gr
------------------------------
Olive Oil - 14.5 oz or 411 grams
Coconut Oil - 9.5 oz or 269 grams
Avocado Oil - 5 oz or 142 grams
Castor Oil - 2 oz or 57 grams
Lanolin - 1 oz or 43 grams

-----------------------------
2 tablespoons sour cream
Add AFTER TRACE
 

Seawolfe

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I use my 100% coconut oil soap to wash my woolens, they seem fine - have I been doing it wrong?

Edit to add: they are almost all washable merino sportswear if that makes a difference...
 

TeresaT

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As a knitter, I would only use a liquid (or powder) wash on my hand knitted items. Rubbing will make the wool felt. (I accidentally threw a hat I knitted into the washer. It was not washable merino. My niece has a wonderful warm felted hat.). I can't imagine using a bar soap to wash my shawls or socks. Especially my shawls. They have literally thousands of stitches in them. Although, felting the inside of my socks sounds like a good idea. Walking on those purl bumps is a pain in the foot sometimes.

How do you use your soap to wash your woolens? Since this is in the lye-based forum, I am just assuming y'all are talking about bar and not liquid soap.
 

cmzaha

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I agree with Teresa, I would never wash my good hand made sweaters, etc with any bar soap. I do not knit unfortunately, but I do crochet and I want a very mild surfactant based wash for mine. I found it quite interesting years ago, when I was still sewing and beading skating dresses, how harsh Woolite was. It would destroy the beading whereas a mild dish soap would not. Then it occurred to me it could not be extremely mild if you were using to clean clothing by soaking.
 

Deedles

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As a knitter, I would only use a liquid (or powder) wash on my hand knitted items. Rubbing will make the wool felt. (I accidentally threw a hat I knitted into the washer. It was not washable merino. My niece has a wonderful warm felted hat.). I can't imagine using a bar soap to wash my shawls or socks. Especially my shawls. They have literally thousands of stitches in them. Although, felting the inside of my socks sounds like a good idea. Walking on those purl bumps is a pain in the foot sometimes.

How do you use your soap to wash your woolens? Since this is in the lye-based forum, I am just assuming y'all are talking about bar and not liquid soap.
I just reread the post and ass*u*med you were talking about liquid soap. I agree, Teresa. The agitation of the bar will/can cause felting. Even with a supwerwash wool, it can pill. I guess you could lather the bar in your hand to work up a little lather and disperse it into the soak water.

Teresa....I have a friend who hates the purl bumps on the sole of socks. So when I make them for her, I reverse the stitches so the knit stitches are on the inside. She loves them that way.
 

Misschief

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I, too, agree with Teresa and Carolyn. I'm a die hard knitter and I would never even consider a bar soap for my hand knits. I use Eucalan (no rinsing required) or good old Palmolive green.
 

DeeAnna

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Yeah, I agree with you all about the bar soap idea. Maybe Saponista's friend might be misinformed? That said, any NaOH soap can be made into a KOH or KOH/NaOH soap. Just do the substitution of the lye and recalculate. If you've made LS before and have KOH on hand, this would be a cakewalk.

Having used a bit of lanolin in my last KOH-based shave soap (Thank You, Gent!), I can say a little lanolin goes a long ways -- it is very thick and super waxy feeling. I don't think I'd care for washing my woolens with a soap that contains 25% lanolin.
 
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Saponista

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Ok perhaps I need a total rethink. Thank you so much for all your really really useful input. I am soooooooo glad I decided to post this before embarking on this project, otherwise I may have ended up with a felted mess!!!! I'm not averse to making a liquid soap so perhaps I will start by formulating one instead of a bar, with a much lower lanolin percentage. Does lanolin contain lots of unsaponifiables? I'm wondering if I'm going to get really cloudy liquid soap.


My friend had seen this and basically wanted me to make something similar

http://www.sheepishgrins.com/pages/LanolinSoap.php
 
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traderbren

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When I use a bar, I let the water run over the bar into the sink basin, and then add the knits once the water is off. If there is a stain or heavy dirt, I very lightly wipe it across, careful not to rub.

Edit to add: I am currently working through my Sheepish Grins bar that is linked above.

Edit again: the higher lanolin content is for cloth diapering, or items that need a little extra "waterproofing". It's also lovely in handknit socks once in a while. Hello soft feet!
 
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cmzaha

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I do not want to wash any of my crochet pieces with a ph of soap. I prefer shampoo for mine. Nope my shampoo is Not soap bars
 

DeeAnna

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Yes, lanolin is mostly unsaponifiable. Its NaOH sap value is 0.075 g lye / g lanolin. That's right down there with beeswax (0.068 ) and jojoba oil (0.068 ). By comparison, lard and palm have sap values of 0.142.

I looked at the Sheepish Grins website and I now think I understand the point of a "soap" with an overkill of lanolin in it. :) I don't suppose you'd use this kind of product for every kind of woolen, but it has useful purposes as Traderbren has pointed out. Thanks for 'splaining things, TB!

Thinking out loud here -- If I were to make a liquid (KOH) soap with 25% or more of lanolin, I might approach it like this -- Make a mild soap paste at 0% superfat -- maybe use something like Irish Lass' olive, coconut, and castor recipe -- and then stir in the lanolin after the cook as a kind of superfat. Don't bother saponifying the lanolin, since so very little will saponify anyway. If the texture of ended up as a reasonably soft paste, I might leave it like that rather than dilute it with water. You could put a dab of the paste in hot water, agitate to make the paste dissolve, and wash the woolens.

ETA - makes me want to do those wet-felted slippers I've been wanting to make and see if I can have the softest, warmest feet in northeast Iowa this winter!
 
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TeresaT

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I just reread the post and ass*u*med you were talking about liquid soap. I agree, Teresa. The agitation of the bar will/can cause felting. Even with a supwerwash wool, it can pill. I guess you could lather the bar in your hand to work up a little lather and disperse it into the soak water.

Teresa....I have a friend who hates the purl bumps on the sole of socks. So when I make them for her, I reverse the stitches so the knit stitches are on the inside. She loves them that way.
Great idea!! Do you purl the soles as you knit, since you are knitting in the round? I gave though of doing that but my purls aren't as tight as my knits. I'm afraid my gauge would be off.
 

TeresaT

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When I use a bar, I let the water run over the bar into the sink basin, and then add the knits once the water is off. If there is a stain or heavy dirt, I very lightly wipe it across, careful not to rub.

Edit to add: I am currently working through my Sheepish Grins bar that is linked above.

Edit again: the higher lanolin content is for cloth diapering, or items that need a little extra "waterproofing". It's also lovely in handknit socks once in a while. Hello soft feet!
Ahhhh! That makes sense. I couldn't for the life of me wonder why you'd put lanolin back into/onto a woolen article. I know there are some yarns out there that have some if the lanolin still in it (or it was added during spinning?). Those are supposed to be easy on the hands when working with them and produce more durable fabrics knitted from them.
 

Deedles

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Great idea!! Do you purl the soles as you knit, since you are knitting in the round? I gave though of doing that but my purls aren't as tight as my knits. I'm afraid my gauge would be off.
Yes, exactly! My purls are looser, too, but there's 2 ways I fix that. One is I tug the working yarn to make them tighter. The other that I like the best is to double the yarn on the sole. I carry it up the side on each row. This takes care of the looser stitches plus makes a very cushy sole.
 

traderbren

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Ahhhh! That makes sense. I couldn't for the life of me wonder why you'd put lanolin back into/onto a woolen article. I know there are some yarns out there that have some if the lanolin still in it (or it was added during spinning?). Those are supposed to be easy on the hands when working with them and produce more durable fabrics knitted from them.
Sometimes the lanolin isn't all the way or at all washed out of the fleece before spinning. Spinning raw fleece that hasn't been washed but has been carded or combed for spinning is called "spinning in the grease". It's soft on your hands, but is usually reserved for otherwise clean (not a lot of dirt or "vegetation matter") wool.

I'm done being a wool-geek. Lol!
 

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