an old-fashioned stain removal trick for your hand knits

August 27, 2021



 

You all know how much I knit (just look at that sweater cupboard, and every one is hand knit!) but do you know I wear a hand knit almost every day? A l m o s t every day, except today; it was 95! As soon as the kids go back to school we get our hottest weather. But back to sweaters, because I wear them so often and manage to spill coffee, smear chocolate, and drip gravy with unfortunate regularity, I have to have a solid way to banish those stains!

I'll tell you my secret: Fels Naptha, that old fashioned inexpensive bar soap that was in granny's wash room. I started using the old yellow bar 35 years ago when a friend recommended it. "That old stuff?" I scoffed, but she handed me a bar and insisted I try it. She was right, you cannot beat it for removing stains, plus it lasts forever and costs less than $2. And just for fun, the packaging looks like it hasn't changed in a hundred years.

Using it couldn't be easier:

1. Wet the stain with water.
2. Wet the edge of the soap bar.
3. Put the two together and rub the soap onto the front of the stain and the back side too. Rub, rub, rub. Rub gently if you have a wool that will felt. I let it sit for a few minutes then launder as usual. If it needs hand washing I use Eucalan Wool Wash and follow the directions on the label; if I can machine wash the sweater I put it in it's own mesh bag and wash in cool water on the gentle cycle.

With this method I have been able to remove all but the most egregious stains. Even blood and grease cannot stand up to good old Fels Naptha and it works on all washable fabrics. When my husband wore white dress shirts daily, this was the only product that could remove ring-around-the-collar. When I want to get stains out of my husband's white sport socks, I put a sock on each hand, get them wet, then rub the bar between the socks and rub for a minute or so. White socks again! When the bar gets too small you can grate the remains into warm water and let it dissolve overnight, then add to your next wash. I'll bet you can find Fels Naptha in your laundry aisle, but if not, Amazon sells it too

One more tip: Every so often I'll soak my white knits in a strong solution of OxyClean. I let them soak for a few hours then launder as usual. It really brightens them up without using bleach. 

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I hope you liked my laundry tips. Do you have any tips to share?

(The sweaters pictured on the table are bottom, Martha, top right, Hourglass, and top left, Brooke.)



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11 comments

  1. Thanks for the tip. What is the name of that lovely cream/white cardigan featured in your post? I think I need to knit one!

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  2. Thank you! I've edited my post above to include the names and links to the sweaters on the table. xo Kristen

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  3. Yes, Fels Naptha is the best. Even old stains come out!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for confirming! It was an odd post for me to make, but I've been using this for decades and none of my friends seem to know about it. Bless that stuff for even getting old stains out. :)

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  4. Hi

    I am a South African knitter. I have the recipe for that miracle soap. Here we call it Boer Soap as it was alledgedly made by farmers' wives using ox lard and washing soda. It is especially handy if you have diapers and stains on infant clothes!

    Regards
    Lize

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    Replies
    1. Hello!

      I had to look up Boer Soap and yes, it does sound so similar, except that Boer Soap is hand made and not made in a factory. You make it yourself? Thank you for sharing. It was very interesting reading about it.

      Best, Kristen

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  5. What a sumptuous collection of sweaters! I have Fels Naptha on my list for my next trip to the grocery store. There is a small pile of laundry right now waiting for its magic touch. (Didn't know they still made it!) Chloe

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    Replies
    1. The book by Edith Head arrived at my library. Picking it up today!

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  6. I've used Fels for years. If you have already laundered something with grease on it.This soap will even get it old grease out. I put it on the spot and let it sit 24 hours then launder and walla it is gone.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, that's so so good to know! Love that it's so old yet still so respected!

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  7. I am happy to be here and this wonderful blog. I have found here lots of important information for my knowledge I need. Thanks for sharing this amazing post.

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