Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's hear it for Soak Wash

Washing our knits is a big part of what we do with the whole yarny obsession, have you noticed? There's an art to it, and tools often as special as the ones we use to make things in the first place.  Some knitters use Eucalan for their handiwork, and some use Soak Wash, and some just use grocery store baby detergent and don't mind a bit.

Gwen and a bottle of Soak Wash

I love Soak Wash myself, even more than usual at the moment because of something I did not love At. All!

The background: I do a disproportionately large amount of non-knit laundry and have long relied on one particular baby detergent to do it all, because it's the only brand I could trust not to be a bottle of Instant Hives.

The problem: The few weeks ago I opened a new jug of said baby detergent and OH.  Whoa, Nelly.  the STINK!

Angus doesn't get to the laundry room much, and hasn't met Soak before.

I called the company, whose representative denied having changed their formula to 'maximum floral' and suggested I might just have put too much liquid into the washer, before admitting that perhaps there had been a manufacturing error.  An error that had mysteriously affected, as it turned out, four different bottles bought in three different chain stores and bearing three different lot numbers and production codes.

I wish.

Do you like the Soak, Angus?

In a situation like this with any product, Amazon is a great resource - because people comment on Amazon in droves.  That's how I learned that two other so-called gentle baby detergents (with two of the three having the same parent company) had done the very same thing with their scents at pretty much the same time.  Speculation is that they were trying to get rid of a known carcinogen in their ingredient list, and had bumped up the odor to Horrific to compensate for whatever they used to replace it.

No Angus, you may not nest on the Soak.

Either way: Yikes!  I rinsed my laundry six times and couldn't get rid of the headache-producing smell.  I tried wearing those clothes anyway and kept having to remind myself my skin was not actually on fire.  I tried five other types of laundry soap, most of them organic, and in addition to still not getting the stink out of the clothes I'd washed in the bad stuff, I discovered the following:

1/ Dry fabric can smell like wet cardboard, even after having been washed many times in a scented organic soap;

2/ it is possible to make a new, never worn pair of underwear look a year older in just two wash cycles;

3/ a surprising number of unscented organic laundry soaps smell like White Glue, except maybe a little less sweet;


4/ here in our land of material plenty, you really can lose an entire week trying unsuccessfully to find a laundry soap that cleans clothes, does not make you physically ill, and does not smell disgusting.

Okay: I get it - you guys love the Soak.  Me too!

Can you guess where this is going?

Soak Wash, is where.  It was sitting on the shelf above my washer the whole time I was experimenting with other soaps and combinations thereof, and finally I looked at it and thought: I'm gonna try it.  Normally I save it for handknit wool socks, but if it works for the really good stuff (and also that time I had to clean, rather than toss, something non-machine-washable on which a friend had thrown up) why wouldn't it work on cotton Ts and underwear?

Why wouldn't it, indeed.  It does.  Admittedly I am not prone to ground-in dirt on my clothes, but mud can't be worse than vomit, and that particular item came out smelling clean and feeling soft.  All you need to do is make sure you get the balance right between how much water to how much Soak.

Now, it may seem wildly expensive to think of using Soak Wash as a primary laundry soap, even if it's a temporary measure, but - it's not.  It costs exactly the same per wash as many of the other soaps I tried, and definitely the same as the detergent that betrayed me.

Things that really are expensive: losing work time to crippling skin allergies, buying samples of every laundry detergent on the market, and giving up all your relaxation hours to testing same.

And let's take a quick look at the reduction in energy cost: 15 minutes of soak time, no agitation, and no need to rinse?  Even if you, like me, indulge in the spin cycle to get the worst of the wash water out before drying, that's a pretty hefty saving in time, electricity, and water.

Soak Wash: I don't know what I'd do without it.  I love it so much, I would even trust it with Teddy. (although I haven't yet, can you tell?)

So: if the worst ever happens to you too, now you know you can lean on Soak while you hunt for something to replace your usual laundry option.

Or maybe you will be lucky like me and do all right with Arm and Hammer's Perfume and Dye Free formula, in which case I'll have saved you a few steps.

Thank you, Soak.  Hope you make some great discoveries today too (a little faster than I did, to boot), and I'll see you tomorrow.


andrea said...

my family has the same issue when it comes to laundry soap so quite a few years ago i switched us to Tide free, then tried President's Choice dye free sent free, and even Purex dye free sent free. I have never had a problem of itching till I scratched through to bone since. the only thing with the President's Choice is that it is not always easy to find in fragrance free. hope this may help.

Deb said...

I use the Arm and Hammer, but I'm glad to know that Soak is an alternative. Thanks for the research.

I don't know why the companies insist on stinking up their products. No wonder more and more people are developing asthma!

Mary Keenan said...

Andrea, thanks so much for the tip about President's Choice! I'm near several Loblaws stores so I'll be able to hunt for that on a regular basis :^)

Mary Keenan said...

Deb - so true! You don't need *that* much stink to cover up the smell of wet cardboard, surely...

Laurinda said...

I have sensitive skin also, & I hate the smell of most laundry products-they're just too big. I don't know why they don't grasp the concept of 'subtle'
I have resorted to making my own, a liquid, & a powder that I'm currently experimenting with. They both seem to work well, but I'm having an issue with the powder not dissolving. Easy enough to fix, but an extra step I want counting on

Mary Keenan said...

Laurinda, keep us posted on how your recipe goes - making one's own does seem like a great solution if the industry is going to keep changing things up like this!