Finally I've found a homemade alternative to the commercial variety. This is the second homemade wool wash formula that I've tried, you'll find the first recipe here. Whilst the eucalyptus mix worked well, it simply took too long to mix up and only resulted in a small amount of product. This new formula is much easier to make and I'm really pleased with the results.
I found the recipe in a trusty green cleaning and household hints book that I've owned since the early 90's. I can't believe I've not checked the book before now. Anyway on to the recipe.
John Schluter use to read the weather on Channel 9 in Brisbane. If I remember correctly he gave hints and tips on green cleaning and living after the weather report each night. He later compiled all his tips and the ones sent in by viewers and published a book. My copy is the revised edition.
Lavender Wool Wash -the instructions are taken directly from the book.
Cover four tablespoons of dried lavender with boiling water, leave overnight and then strain. Combine the infused water with 500g of grated plain soap or soap flakes, one tablespoon of borax and one litre of water. Bring to the boil in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan, stirring well until dissolved, then remove and cool. The mix will form into a soft jelly substance. Use half a cup for hand washing and two cups for machine washing.
I only used half a cup in my front loader to wash a load of woollen blankets. Ensure the mix is completely dissolved in some warm water before adding to the machine. I've not done any hand washing with it yet, I would suggest using one or two tablespoons per ten litres. Maybe do a test wash if you intend washing a light or white garment, due to the colour of the mix.
Update 25/04/11 - I used some for hand washing jumpers today, it did a great job. I'd still stick with 1 or 2 tablespoons for hand washing.
Yay....another item that I can tick off my homemade alternatives list.
Hope you have a lovely day