Awareness of Soap Ingredients

Over the years, many people have asked me whether it matters what soap you use to handwash your woolens?  It does to me.

EucalanFor handwashing woolens, I have long been dedicated user of Eucalan soap (pic source).  So, in preparing a post in response to the “what soap should I use” question, I wrote Eucalan (founded in 1989 by Canadian Mary Ellen Edgar who remains its president and owner) about its ingredients.  Here is what is in Eucalan soaps:

  • Essential oil (eucalyptus, lavender,grapefruit and/or jasmine oils)
  • Ammonium lauryl sulphate (a vegetable-based soap)
  • Ammonium chloride (a salt of ammonia used as a thickener)
  • Cocamide MEA (a mild plant-derived foaming agent and thickener)
  • Purified water
  • Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (plant-source thickener)
  • PEG 75 lanolin (naturally derived lanolin)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (preservative and antibacterial)

“But,” the question usually continues, “given its name, isn’t Woolite designed specifically for washing wools?” 

Woolite is owned by (Reckitt Benckiser, click here to read its Corporate Fact Sheet).  RB produces three separate Woolite products (Woolite Everyday, Woolite Darks, and Woolite Delicate Care), each containing the same ingredients:  alcohols, various derivatives of fats (as are soaps) and a benzene-derivative (hmmm).  The Woolite Extra Delicates Care (not to be confused with Woolite Delicate Care), differs:  It has Alkylarylsulfonic acid.  In any event, here’s the list:

  • Benzenesulfonic acid, C10-16-alkyl derivatives
  • Alcohols, C12-16, ethoxylated
  • C10-16 alkyl ethers, sodium salts
  • Fatty acids, C8-18 and C18-unsaturated
  • Alkylarylsulfonic acid (in Woolite Extra Delicates Care only).

The Environmental Working Group rates common household cleaning products.  No Woolite product received an A, B or C rating; eight (53.3%) of its products received a D rating; seven (46.7%) of its products received an F rating.  Woolite’s Extra Delicate Cares received an overall grade of D+.  (Click here to see its Woolite Extra Delicate Care scorecard.)

If the reports of about some of the Woolite ingredients are reliable (now that was some interesting reading!), they strengthen my commitment to gentler soaps.


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Fibers, Miscellany and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Awareness of Soap Ingredients

  1. I have absolutely no clue as to why he made that recommendation, nor have I ever heard of this warning. I have washed cashmere with Eucalan many times.


  2. Pam says:

    I was told by a maker of cashmere yarn not to use Eucalan for cashmere. They said to use a mild shampoo like baby shampoo. Why would that be?


  3. Reblogged this on Knitted Dreams Crocheted Desires and commented:
    So well written and useful!


  4. ethgran says:

    It has been at least 30 years since I have used Woolite – don’t like the smell. I found Eucalan a number years ago and love it. Makes my hand knit garments feel so soft and I don’t tolerate wool next to my skin for long. I love to knit with wool and feel proud to give a lovely soft garment after all my work.


  5. Thanks for adding to the discussion. Good to keep in mind!


  6. You’re welcome. Thanks for reading!


  7. In the past, I have used Woolite for washing synthetics … But given its ingredients, no more …


  8. caityrosey says:

    That’s very interesting. I was always puzzled why no knitter ever recommended using Woolite. This makes sense. I wonder what Woolite IS good for if not for wool.


  9. babywren says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for the information.


  10. Thanks for that post. I always try to explain people not to use normal washing products (including Woolite) for precious woollen things. And they are always really irritated when I tell them to use their hair shampoo if they do not have a real wool wash detergent. But wool is sheep hair, so shampoo is better than any washing detergent.


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