Children in knitwear - there is hardly anything more beautiful, is there? At least not for me as a knitting toddler mum. I think it's just so sweet! But ice cream in summer or fruit curd for dessert is also sugary sweet. At least as long as the snacking is flawless. But let's be honest: how often is that the case? Anyone who has small children knows only too well that stains are part of parents' daily business.
My 4-year-old used to say, "It doesn't matter, Mum, you can wash it.” And she's right. With cotton, it's no problem at all. But stains on your favourite home-knitted woollen sweater? A thought that used to really panic me. It regularly happened like this: As soon as I realised that they were wearing something home-knitted, I tried to talk them out of the promised ice cream again. With little success, of course. And tense and secretly praying that the beautiful jumper would please be spared, I then offered bibs and rags and nervously shouted, "Watch out, it's on"!
But eventually, my daughter's wise words reached my consciousness: Mummy can wash it. I slowly relaxed. Exactly. After all, I knit for my children - not for their wardrobes. So I looked for an anti-stain recipe and found it.
My personal miracle cure - and for me at least as important as a good wool washing lotion - is bile soap. Over the last few years, I have had to deal with stains of all kinds. Often I didn't think it was possible myself, but I was actually able to remove every single one and thus save many beautiful pieces of knitting. My recipe for removing stains is quite simple: take a bar of bile soap, a little patience and a pinch of willpower and wash your favourite jumper with lots of love. Of course, I also pay attention to organic quality here (and by the way, there is also vegan bile soap - but I haven't tried it yet).
I do it like this:
If possible, I treat the stains as long as they have not yet dried up. Then they are easier to remove. If it is only a small, superficial stain, I just moisten the affected area with lukewarm water and rub it very carefully directly with the bar of bile soap until a little foam forms. Of course, you should never rub the knitted fabric together, otherwise it will mat!
In the case of large, dried or stubborn stains - for example, when food residues stick to the fibres - I first soak the knitted piece in lukewarm water for a while (picture 1). Interestingly, dried stains become much more visible again. I find this quite helpful because I can see very well where the spots to be treated are.
After soaking, I place my damp garment smoothly in the sink (picture 2) or on the flat palm of my hand (picture 3) and rub the stains again with the bar of bile soap. This way, the foam penetrates deep into the fibres and loosens the dirt (picture 4). Sometimes it is necessary to rinse out the soap foam by hand with lukewarm water and repeat the process. If there are still residues visible (e.g. dried muesli, porridge, etc.), I pick them off the knitted fabric very carefully with my fingers. In my experience, the knitted fabric tolerates gentle rubbing by the bar of soap. However, as I said, I avoid rubbing the knitted fabric together at all costs, as this damages the fibres.
As soon as I have finished this pre-treatment with the bile soap, I wash the knitted piece, in the machine's wool wash cycle at 30°C (or by hand) with a high-quality liquid wool detergent, without rinsing out the bile soap first.
Once the washing machine has run through, the exciting moment follows: was it worth the effort? For me, that was the case without exception. Sometimes there was a bit of pilling afterwards. But luckily pilling can also be removed.
Because: Mum can do almost everything ;-)