Hand washing method for deep cleaning delicate yarn
by Jackie E-S
Knitters ask –
I wash them [socks] by hand, and that's no problem. They still look nice. But dirty! Especially since I wear them with sandals! How do you deep clean delicate yarn?
I'll assume what you mean by a delicate yarn is a yarn you can't throw in the washing machine for fear of shrinkage due to agitation, such as wool. Here's what I do with my wool and wool/blend socks –
1. Use hot wash water ...
Step 1a. Fill basin or tub with HOT water, enough to easily cover all the socks you are washing and not be bunched up. By hot, I mean hot to the touch, but not scalding.
Step 1b. While filling with water, pour in some liquid detergent (e.g. Dawn, Wisk or Ivory detergent, or Orvus if you have it, since that is pH neutral, do not use soap such as Ivory soap). The amount of detergent depends on how many socks. You want enough to do the cleaning, but not so much that you have to rinse forever and forever.
2. Soak the socks ...
Step 2a. Plunge the socks into the water. Push them down with as little agitation and movement as possible. Get them wet enough so they stay submerged.
Step 2b. Let the socks soak a minimum of an hour. It takes up to half hour for the fibers to be fully penetrated by the water. If there is silk content, it takes even longer than wool. I usually leave mine in 2 - 3 hours. By then the water is at a medium temperature. If really dirty, I "swoosh" them around with my hands very gently about mid-way through. Not sure that really is needed, but it makes me feel better. If really, really dirty, lift the sock out of the water, and gently rub some undiluted detergent into the spot, submerge in water again.
3. Rinse ...
Step 3a. Remove socks from water and gently wring out. Set aside. Discard water. Fill tub again with clean water at same temperature of water just discarded.
Step 3b. Submerge socks in rinse water. Gently swoosh around if you are in a hurry; otherwise, just leave for another 15 - 30 minutes.
4. Dry ...
Step 4a. Remove socks from rinse water. If detergent still remains (i.e. water looks scummy or bubbly), repeat step 3 as necessary.
Step 4b. Proceed as you normally do to remove majority of water. See Extracting Water. Then lay out to dry.
It is possible that stains can still remain. I have this problem with some of my sandals, where the cut edges of the leather leave their stain on my socks, especially if I've gotten them damp. The above treatment can be repeated to eventually remove most of the stain. Or just wait, and eventually over time and the normal course of repeated washings will lighten the stain until almost unnoticeable.
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