I was inspired by KnitSpot's post on homemade wool wash, and decided give it a try since I've been making my own bath soap for a while anyway. I always order Eucalan from Knit Picks and while it isn't expensive, it is a pain when I realize that I'm getting low and must order it (and pay shipping if I don't want to make an order for 50.00). I had everything that I needed on hand, so gave it a go. I'm really pleased with the results.
I had a bar of homemade Castile soap (olive oil soap) that I had been hoarding for a few years, and it had gotten hard. I was saving it for something since I knew that I didn't want to use it for the bath due to how soft it is. I grated it and ended up with about 2 cups of it, so added it to 2 cups of boiling water. I whisked it to melt everything, and also added in some pure lanolin left over from my breastfeeding days. It was supposed to come to a thick caramel-like consistency, but I never got it there. It thickened, but for some reason it didn't thicken up quite that much. Maybe I had too much water, I'm not sure. Either way, it worked out fine.
Next I added 1/2 cup of alcohol. I didn't have denatured, so just used 91% isopropyl. I did a lot of research and I think it's a fine substitution. I can't seem to throw away a glass jar, so had this one that fit the soap perfectly. A lot of the foam went down and what didn't was scooped out (there was some solidified soap that eventually rose and that was discarded as well).
I let it cool for a bit, then gave it a test run by adding about a half teaspoon to a gallon or so of water (I could've used even less, with the actual dilution being 1 tsp to 3 gallons). The alcohol smell is very noticeable, even after leaving the lid off of the jar for a while, but it does not transfer to the knitted item. A half ounce of essential oil can be added, but I chose to leave it scentless.
This is a no-rinse formula, so I didn't. I just pressed out the water with a towel, then lay flat to dry. Of course, it can be rinsed is desired (when I rinse, I add a splash of vinegar to help remove any residue).
I love it! I really wish that I could capture how the wool just glows after drying. I will not be buying any more Eucalan. The only downside is the alcohol smell right out of the jar, but I can live with it since it doesn't last. There are alcohol-free recipes, but they are slightly more complicated and require ingredients that I don't normally keep in the house. I'm going to be bottling this stuff up to give with handknit gifts.