Disclaimer: I was not contacted or paid by either of these companies to review their products.
This post is a follow up to my Lazy Laundress Tips, which I ended by asking for your laundry tips. The talented Tanit Isis warned against putting Lycra in the dryer as that can degrade it. When putting delicates in the washing machine she also recommends putting them in a lingerie bag. To that I would add not over-stuffing the bag. Years ago I learned (& kept having to re-learn) that nothing gets washed when those bags are more than about half full. In the meantime, Heather of Feather’s Flights made up a nifty infographic on How To Care For Fabric.
During Frosting Fortnight I tested two no rinse detergents that are popular among knitters, Eucalan & Soak. Overall, I found Soak to be a little better at getting out dirt, but Eucalan to be cheaper & contain less objectionable chemicals. That being said, I was not scientific with my washing trials. I tried to used the same amounts of water & detergent, but mostly eye-balled things.
The directions for both are simple & greatly appeal to my lazy-hates-to-do-laundry side. Fill up a bowl with tepid water, pour in a touch of detergent (1tsp/gal water), soak your delicates for 15 minutes, squeeze out the excess water & let dry. No rinsing or wringing.
My main trial was with my hand knit hedgehog socks. I washed each sock in a different solution & they both came out feeling & smelling good (for me that means scent free). The only thing was they had little skid rows of white on the areas that had been folded while drying. The Eucalan washed sock seemed to have a little more white than the Soak washed sock. The Soak washed sock also had fewer fuzzles left on it.
When I washed the socks a second time (each sock washed with the same detergent as before) I hung them on a drying rack instead of laying them out on a towel. This greatly reduced drying time from a few days to overnight. And a smaller amount of white gunk was seen only on the sock that had been washed with Soak. Maybe the white stuff only accumulates when you put in too much detergent?
I could feel no difference between the socks, the different detergents & what they felt like before I washed them. However, Soak seemed better at getting out the dirt that had accumulated beneath the toes. After they had soaked in their respective detergents for 15 minutes, I compared the bottoms of both toes (which had seemed equally dirty before washing) & the pair washed in Soak seemed a little cleaner. I then did something you’re not supposed to do with handknits: I rubbed & scratched at the toes to see how much more dirt I could get to come out. While both socks smelled equally clean, Soak was able to get out more embedded dirt.
I also washed the boyshorts I made as well as two regular, old bras. Of concern here was that things came out looking rather wrinkled. But, after doing the recommended rolling in a towel & stepping on it to get out the excess water, most of the wrinkles disappeared.
There was no real difference between the bras or panties & the two detergents. However, this did help me find a limitation in Soak’s cleaning ability. I don’t use lotion as I like to avoid synthetic chemicals & can’t stand scented things (I have a sensitive nose & skin). One day I was moisturizing with some oil when it spilled, right on the bra that had been newly washed with Eucalan. I took some dish detergent to it, but that didn’t get out the oil. Having done my sock trials & concluding that Soak might be stronger, I then soaked the bra in Soak & forgot about it overnight. The next morning, no real difference. It wasn’t until I took concentrated laundry detergent to it that it came clean. If you have an oil stain, I doubt either product will be strong enough to get it out.
Now for the not so fun part. Because of my many food allergies I’m a freak about reading labels. This extends to non-food items as well. But when I went to buy these products all that was on my mind was writing a good blog post. So when I found the bottle of Eucalan & it didn’t list its ingredients but it did list all these words that I love to see on products (non-toxic, biodegradable) I bought it anyway. By the time I hit the second store to pick up some Soak, I was more interested in getting home & assumed that the ingredients would be just as “safe”.
Now that I’ve looked into the ingredients, I’m concerned. See the table I’ve written up: Soak & Eucalan Ingredients. The list of ingredients & their potentially harmful effects on humans is an eye-opener, from carcinogens, formaldehyde, contact dermatitis to organic pollutants. These ingredients are in our cosmetics & some are even in our food. If you don’t want to read my table of nightmares, then Soak is the worst offender. Eucalan has far fewer ingredients & they tend to be not as bad for humans & the environment; they’re mainly minor skin irritants. It should be noted that most of my research was pulled off Wikipedia, so may not be perfectly accurate, but when possible I looked at original studies & got my information off of reputable websites like PubMed.
Clearly non-toxic doesn’t mean much if the chemicals are skin irritants & might be contaminated with carcinogens. If you’re not a label freak like I normally am chances are you already use these chemicals in most of your cosmetics, detergents & other cleaners. Maybe the table doesn’t scare you off because you already know you can use these things without your skin being irritated. After all, the amount of each product you use is really small- just one teaspoon per gallon of water, so that shouldn’t be as bad as lathering up with a ton of shampoo or body gel that has these chemicals.
I’d rather play it safe & avoid these chemicals altogether. Luckily though I’ve had no noticeable adverse reactions to the garments that I’ve washed with these products- & my skin tends to be more sensitive than most people’s. Although now that I’ve bought these bottles I don’t want them to go to waste. So I’m breaking my usually stringent rules on chemicals & am going to continue to use them. Well, I might not continue to use Soak now I know it has formaldehyde in it. I’ll continue to wash knits this way, but I won’t be washing lingerie like I had done during my trials (too many chemicals near sensitive bits!). Also, everything will also get a short rinse afterwards. I suppose rinsing defeats the purpose of a no rinse detergent, but it will still be less work than if I had to lather & agitate these things myself.
Also before researching I picked up a few samples of these detergents for a little giveaway, that is if you’re still interested in trying these products after reading the above table. I put together a mini care kit, which contains a little vintage button repair kit as well as a sample each of Eucalan & Soak so you can see which one you like best. The kit will come wrapped in your choice of lace hem tape or bias tape in the color you desire. The button kit may not be pretty but I was so tickled by its clever design that I had to get it. Little plastic units come with a needle, thread & a built in blade. The button is part of the unit & can be snapped off. What a nice idea, reaching for a button in case of an emergency. 🙂
This giveaway (my first!) is part of Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. Go check out the site for more fabulous giveaways from other bloggers. The giveaway will be open until December 7th at 7pm CST & is open to international entries.
All you need to do is complete at least one of the following: tell me your stance on synthetic chemicals, subscribe to my blog (check out the top of the right hand side navigation bar), blog about this entry, tell me what topics you’d like to see me blog about more, tweet this giveaway, follow me on Twitter, or follow me on Pinterest. For each thing you do leave me a separate comment below & please make sure to leave me your e-mail address. Good luck!