Fiber Science 2: Homemade Wool Wash from Ivy Leaves

hello everyone this is Anna from the dunkelgrün podcast and welcome to a new video in the fiber science series today
I would like to share an experiment with you and it is about making your own
natural wool wash after the last video which was about will wash I have
received a comment from a lovely viewer who is making her own wool wash using I
Belize and I got super curious about that I knew before that it was possible
to use I beliefs as a washing detergents for washing your clothes even in the
washing machine but I didn’t know that they also make a good wool wash and what
I would like to do today is test that out and I’m going to take you with me on
this journey and in the end we are going to see how it worked so I have chosen a
shawl of mine which will need a good wash for sure this is the lonely tree
shawl by Sylvia McFadden and it isn’t it out of my lap Rico Rios which is a
superwash merino yarn I have knit this already more than two years ago and I
have actually never washed it I don’t wash my woolen garments so often
especially a shawl which is just worn around the neck does not get so dirty I
often hang it outside a bit too event but this one I think could use a good
reblocking and also after two years I think it might be nice to wash it and as
a detergent I have prepared there was I believe here
which I just went out to collect freshly in my neighborhood they are the common
ivy or also the European ivy alright so let’s get started I am using ten fresh I believes in a
glass jar then I cover the Leafs with about 500 milliliters of boiling water
now I wait for one hour to extract the ingredients and let the water cool now I
close the jar and shake the mixture you can see the foam forming which indicates
the presence of saponins the natural detergents from the ivy leaves note that
this infusion should not be ingested so keep it out of the reach of children and
treat it just like you would treat other detergents or cleaning products just
like with normal wool washes I prepare a bath of water about 30 degrees Celsius
and I strain my IET into it for a nice smell I add a couple drops of lavender
essential oil now I just put my wool shawl in like I would normally do and I
let it soak for 15 minutes and then I rinse it twice with fresh
water after rinsing and squeezing out the
water I roll my shawl into a towel press the towel to get rid of as much excess
moisture as possible and then I block my shawl with the help of my cat obviously there is just no blocking without a cat
around so here is my shawl washed and dried and
it smells really nice from the lavender oil that I put into the wool wash and I
think it turned out really well I have the feeling that this will wash
really worked it feels nice and soft and airy and I’m really happy with the
result so how does this work why can we use I beliefs to wash clothes or even
wool in order to be a detergent a substance needs two parts a polar or
hydrophilic water loving part and an a polar or lipophilic fat loving part the
hydrophilic part is going to interact with the water because water obviously
is very polar the lipophilic part is the one that is dissolving the third like
grease or fat which would normally not dissolve in water
I believe contain chemical compounds called saponins which are empty files
which means they contain both a hydrophilic and a lipophilic part in
their structure here I am showing you the structure of Hadera saponin be one
of the sakuni’s contained in I believes and the hydrophilic part which makes it
water-soluble is marked in blue while the lipophilic part which makes it able
to dissolve dirt and grease is marked in green just like all plants I beliefs
contain many many probably thousands of other chemical compounds and many of
them are also going to dissolve into the water
one example is chlorogenic acid which is a compound that is known to occur in
coffee beans as the name says it is an asset and this even might be the reason
why the ivy leaf tea is slightly acidic i measured the ph of my ivy extract and
it was at 5 so it is just slightly acidic remember pH lower than 7 means
acidic and the pH of 5 is actually the perfect value for conditioning
since the acid moiety is in the protein fibers will be protonated and this helps
within world’s natural and aesthetic properties it might be the reason why it
will get so nice and soft after being washed with the ivy leaf extract there
are by the way also other plants which contain a lot of saponins
like for example the horse chestnut and maybe I will try washing wool with horse
chestnuts as well but it just have to wait until autumn comes around because
those are only available to us here during the autumn months below the video
you will find a link to my blog post for this video and which I collect some more
information and some links to scientific papers which I have found on the
chemicals contained in aivalis so my conclusion is I are really happy with
the result I think I’m going to use I beliefs again for washing my will and
next time I will try also to use it on non superwash well thank you for
watching and I hope you get inspired to try out this really easy recipe yourself
and have fun with your hand knits bye I believe contain chemical called

37 thoughts on “Fiber Science 2: Homemade Wool Wash from Ivy Leaves

  • Hello, Anna. I would like to know if you think quinoa could be used to wash wool, since it has saponins. European ivy is not easy to find here in Perú, but we alwasys have quinoa in our pantry. I love your videos!

  • Thanks for the info, think I'll try ivy wash. I have soap wort right outside my door and want to try that also.

  • Ivy leaf is also a lovely herbal for respiratory congestion and inflammation. I used it often when I had a cat with mild asthma.
    Another fabulous video! Thank you, Anna!

  • Great to hear the scientific basis for ivy leaf wool wash. I am a person who likes research based information as opposed to anecdotal info. Thanks Anna.

  • Gee, who would've thought you could wash your wool garments with ivy leaves?!! Fascinating, Anna! Your last few videos have been so interesting and informative. Love the "out takes" too! 😂

  • Thank you for this inspiring video! I think birch leaves would work too ? I'll try that since ivy doesn't grow wild in Finland : )

  • So ein tolles Video, danke dafür! Ich habe eine Zeit lang meine normale Wäsche mit Kastanien gewaschen, das hat auch sehr gut funktioniert 🙂

  • I have lots of ivy growing on my property. What a great use for ivy. It's good for the environment. The environment giving back to the environment. I may have said it before, I'm married to a physicist, so these scientific bits of information are greatly appreciated.

  • This. Blew. My. Mind.
    I worked for years leading environmental restoration crews in Portland. We removed acres of English Ivy, invasive in the PNW. I had NO IDEA this plant had potential beneficial uses. Thank you for this super informative video. I'll be volunteering on an ivy pull this weekend – I'm going to snag some when we're done and give making this detergent a try! Do you think making a big batch of the "tea" would keep as a liquid detergent?

  • Thanks for the chemical analysis! So it was acidic after all! Horse chestnut does not make things soft, unfortunately – but clean well 🙂

  • How utterly fascinating and amazing. I think our ivy leaves emit a sticky substance? These are the variegated ivy leaves here. I wonder if the sticky milky substance is okay in this instance? Hmmm…I might have to go steal from my my lovely neighbour hahahahah. Lu x

  • This is so neat! I love this idea, I have been wondering what to use washing my knits, and we have Ivy growing all over in our area. Huzzah!

  • There are some ivy leaves growing wild in my neighbors yards that are creeping over to mine. So next time I yank them out I'll collect the leaves and make this wool wash – thank you for your descriptive explanations and demonstration!

  • Cool experiment! I don't know if you noticed it in person, but on the screen it looked like the washed wool had a shine to it that the unwashed wool didn't. Also, I might need to knit that shawl pattern now, it's really cute! Your podcast is great, I love that you're discussing the intersection between fiber arts and science, in my previous career path as a chemist I was interested in doing the same thing (you do a much better job of it than me though!) I think you're doing a great job of making chemical concepts accessible to a wider audience and sharing the important message that everything we interact with is actually a chemical, so the words "chemical" or "chemistry" shouldn't be scary. Thanks so much for being such a great resource to the knitting community <3

  • Wow, that is handy! I saw the water beïng a bit green; would that be 'dangerous' whilst washing wite wool?

  • How fun. Was just about to look up what trees grow soapnuts, and also collect some Ceanothus flowers (on a cultivated plant). Remember to do research on all you use as thought read as a child English Ivy (Boston Ivy is a different plant) was poisonous. Just looked it up and its berries are but incrediably bitter, but sap in plant can cause dermatitis (so can store bought detergent!). Have fun experimenting.

  • Anna this is SO cool, I had no idea. We have tons of ivy around the house so I must try this. Thanks so much for this very useful info 🙂

  • Thank you dunkelgrun for a very thorough & informative presentation. You cat is identical to my cat, Patchy. I would have covered him, & later I would've found him on top just like you cat was!
    I was given a Woolwash recipe using mild soap, metholated spirits & eucalyptus, but I am so impressed with your presentation, I really want to use Ivy Leaves.
    My only problem is where to find the exact variety…
    Surely all Ivy must have the same saponins, right?

  • Tolles Video, vielen Dank, das werde ich auch mal probieren, denn das ist nicht nur günstig, sondern auch natürlich!
    Wie heißt denn Dein süßer Helfer?

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