As winter approaches I busy myself sorting through winter clothes. I try to keep the clothes in my wardrobe, and the kids’ chest of drawers, focused on what we actually wear. Being frugal, few of my clothes are new or shop bought. As I sort through I focus on my blessings, on feeling blessed to have beautiful, warm clothes. And I like to extend this sense of gratitude by carrying out minor repairs and looking after my clothing.
Woollens need to be treated with care: hand-washed in a good quality detergent and dried flat. There are many commercial products available, but I like this eucalyptus wool mix made famous by Martha Gardner. She gave out the recipe freely over the radio and many people (including my Nana) faithfully copied it out and used it. Making this yourself doesn’t take much time and saves money.
The pure soap in this recipe works great with woollens. And the eucalyptus helps to deter bugs and crawlies from eating the woollens. Nothing worse than finding that something else also really likes your favourite retro Scandinavian reindeer jumper Great Aunt Myrtle spent months knitting for you.
1 cake of pure soap, grated (I used Sunlight)
2 cups boiling water (optional)
1/2 cup methylated spirits
1 tablespoon eucalyptus oil
- Grate the soap. You can do this on the zester side of a kitchen grater, or you can use a food processor (cut into pieces first with a knife). I used a small, handheld, very retro moulinex that I purchased from an op shop for $2.
- My Nana used to combine all the ingredients together at this point and store. I find this works well enough, but the ingredients can go hard after a while – especially if they are not stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Another option is to dissolve the mixture in boiling water. First add the boiling water to the soap flakes, then stir to combine. Allow it to sit for around ten minutes, then add the remaining ingredient. Transfer to a container, and allow to set (it will become gloopy).
- To use, take out a small amount (e.g. half a tablespoon) and dissolve in a basin of hot water. I allow the woollens to soak in this mixture, then I put them in the spin cycle of my washing machine allowing a short rinse. I then lay the woollens flat until they dry.
Cost comparison: 1.25 litres of commercial liquid, which has been watered down, costs around $7.36. My version costs $1.73, is better quality and I believe will last a lot longer.