Earlier this year I had a run in with a jelly donut all down the front of my newly finished sweater. Horrors! I posted my step by steps to remove the jelly on my Instagram stories and someone was kind enough to message me that they thought it would make a great tutorial. Hey, fab idea!
It’s a good idea to wash your knits before putting them away for the season. I always have good intentions to do this but lousy follow through. I find I end up pulling things out of boxes or drawers when the weather turns cold, giving them an assessment and then doing a big batch of handwashing all in one go.
So as usually happens, it turned really cold in London this week and my kid’s hands were freezing and I realised I hadn’t washed his mitts in the spring. They were disgusting and I think I vaguely remember having the thought that they would make for a good Soak demo!
It’s no secret that I love using Soak - I work for for the brand after all! But I came to work for them only after using it for many years (I first found Soak as an excellent way to handwash finished cross stitching projects). What I love best about Soak is how easy it is to use, and that’s the easiest thing to share with people too.
For this tutorial I gathered a bunch of things together that needed washing. I tend to let things pile up and then do a big batch all at once. I had the grungy, dirty mittens, some pillow covers from the living room and my make up brushes. These last two things are new to me for handwashing with Soak but I thought I’d see how they turned out.
I have a couple of different basins that I use, depending on what it is that’s getting washed, but a clean kitchen or bathroom sink works just fine too. Then it’s just water, and Soak. Have a towel handy for when you’re pulling things out of their bath.
Soak + Water + Time
A capful of Soak into the basin is all you need. I tend to just pour it straight in from the bottle. Add cool water to the basin or sink. I use my hand to help suds things up a bit. Drop whatever it is you’re washing into the basin and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
Roll and squeeze, never wring
After your items have finished their bath, pull them out carefully while gently squeezing the water out. DON’T WRING! Lay your item in a clean towel and roll it up, continuing to gently squeeze as much water out as possible.
Lay flat or hang your items to dry (depending on preference and/or care label instructions).
Taking extra care
If you’re washing a non-handmade item, check the washing instructions or do a spot test on a hidden corner to check for colourfastness, etc. My pillow covers said “professionally dry clean only” but the fibre content was 69% cotton and 31% silk so I decided I’d chance it. I’m a bit suspicious when stuff is labeled as dry clean only because I think manufacturers assume that people don’t know how or don’t like to handwash - particularly if something is a more delicate fibre like silk.
Take care too with things like make up brushes. I used a very shallow amount of water as I didn’t want to get the wooden handles wet, just the bristles. I agitated them like paint brushes in the water and when the water was squeezed out I laid them flat to dry instead of putting them brush side up. This way the water doesn’t drip back into the wood or cause the glue between the brush and the wooden handle to start to weaken.
Stuff that’s really grungy
I tend to check on things mid-way through their Soak bath to see how they’re getting on, especially if something is really, really dirty. For the mittens, there was some really caked on dirt so I applied a bit of the Soak liquid directly to the mittens on the dirtiest spots before popping them in their bath. When I checked on them mid-way through their Soak I noticed not all of the dirt was lifting. These needed a little extra scrubbing to get that extra dirt off. I just rubbed the mittens together to suds them up a little more and work that dirt out.
A word of caution: Handwashing is really important for those things where we don’t want to have a lot of agitation in the wash - which is great for handknits, especially wool and delicate fibres. I knew that these mittens were made from a superwash wool so they could handle the rough scrubbing I gave them.
Get a load of that dirt!
The way Soak works is that the detergent particles latch on to the dirt and pull it down to the bottom of the basin. If you see a lot of dirt in your basin after you finish washing your item, you might want to give it another wash. There was so much dirt in the basin after washing these mittens that I probably should have given them another wash but I was in a bit of rush to get on to some other things and I know I’ll be doing another load of handwashing over the holidays anyway so I decided to let it go.
More about Soak than you could ever want to know
This blog post was not intended to be an advert for Soak but a tutorial on how easy it is to take care of your things with the stuff! It’s fab and I love it but I realise that handwashing isn’t necessarily a “sexy” thing to talk about. Nevertheless, it’s still an integral part of making and too often I think we finish a project and move on to the next one before properly finishing something, or taking the time to care for it afterwards.
If you have more questions about how Soak works, what it’s made of or any of that stuff, they have some fantastic FAQs on their website. Or ask me a question in the comments!