Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SuperWash Is Not SuperDry

When a yarn is described as 'superwash' it means that the fibers have been treated so that they will not grab onto each other and felt, with normal wear and tear. This means that they can be washed by machine, but my advice is that if you do wash superwash wool by machine, use a gentle cycle and a wool wash such as Eucalan in a shortened cycle, if possible. There are other good wool washes / conditioners on the market, and some people even use hair conditioner in the rinse cycle. We want to limit the amount of rough treatment on the fibers to the bare minimum. This means we should add the item to the tub once the water has already filled so that the water will not be rushing onto the fibers, giving them another opportunity to felt/full.

Drying in the dryer is definitely not recommended, though. Superwash might mean you can wash your fabric by machine, but the best way to dry it is to lay it flat to dry. Lay the wool fabric on a heavy towel and roll it up; then put pressure on the roll but do not squeeze. Squeezing puts strain on the stitches and on the fibers themselves and shortens the life of your precious work of art.

If you must wash the item in the machine, put it in a lingerie bag before you drop it into the water. I keep several lingerie bags in my laundry room for use in dye classes. After the dye process, after that final rinse in Eucalan (which is what I use), I place newly dyed skeins into lingerie bags and toss them into the washing machine. Then, with the water taps turned OFF, I run the spin cycle. I have never had a felting/ fulling problem with this procedure, and also use it when I wash my handknits.

Mantra time: SuperWash is Not Super Dry.

1 comment:

Dave Daniels said...

Sheila, thank you for the PSA. Especially the wool wash. I had a customer wash her socks in the washing machine with TIDE detergent! It was shocking to hear that. Luckily, the colors didn't run, they they did grey down a bit from the other clothes. (Tide even has some warnings on their message boards about that happening.)
Always good info you have!