Felting Soap

Can anyone recommend some good laundry soap for felting; no detergents please :slight_smile:

Yes, I’d be interested in that too, I spent weeks on my first (admittedly overambitious) felting project which was a large orangutan with a wire skeleton, padded with felt and covered in roving, and it went hideously wrong, i think because my soap was too ‘slippy’. He lies in shame, half done, in my cupboard and it would be lovely to dig him out again!

I think the detergent helps, but I’m not sure it’s entirely mandatory. I think you mostly just need hot water and agitation. I have friends who have wool socks that have felted a little just from wearing them so I’d try whatever you want.

Some instructions say add baking soda to the water, but I don’t really know what that does. I think a little of any kind of soap or detergent will work.

I’ve successfully completed two felted totes using [COLOR=“darkred”]no more[/COLOR] than two drops of dish soap~~ Joy, Dawn or whatever you have. Heard this technique from our knitting instructor and I’ve read it online as well. Be careful, though. It’s difficult getting only two drops to come out of the squeeze bottle!
Probably should put two drops on a spoon, then hold it under the water that’s pouring into the washing machine.


I’ve felted with no soap, and with detergent, and with baking soda. It all seems to turn out the same. What seemed to help was adding some jeans, or tennis balls in a bag, or something like that to agitate it more. My washer is new, and it does some new-fangled agitation that is supposed to be less stressful on the clothes (just magic water-swishing). Well…it takes a long time to felt with it. I think the soda is to compensate for the hardness of the water???

I’ve done two felted projects so far and never used any soap for either one and they came out great.

Why do you have to use soap?

Excuse my ignorance, but what is the difference btwn soap and detergent?

My first few felting projects took forever to felt (in washer with laundry soap) and when fellow knitters saw them they suggested I use a few drop of dish soap in the water and POOF everything felted so beautifully and so much quicker. Their explanation being that the wool needed the agitations of the bubbles in the dish soap as where most laundry soaps are low suds. I typically run stuff through a cold water delicate rinse to get rid of the soap. Since I am not felting anything I wear I don’t worry about a little bit of residue.

I personally use Tide. It works great on all types of yarn and fabric. It also makes it smell nice! But one more thing, air dry. I have learned!

I googled felting yesterday to get tips for my own project and I’m pretty sure one website said NOT to use dish soap. It said that’s the worst thing to use when you want to felt something. I think it had something to do with the dish soap preventing the fibers from sticking to each other. Here is the article: http://www.fuzzygalore.biz/articles/fulling.shtml

Here is what it says: We use Dawn dishwashing liquid to wash our sweaters because it’s what preserves their condition best, cleaning without stripping, preventing dye bleeds, and not disturbing the scales so there’s less chance of fulling. So consequently it’s the worst possible thing to use when you mean to full. There is still some liquid soap available on the market, like some varieties of Ivory, or you can use Ivory soap flakes, or even a plain bar of soap.

Fulling and felting are essentially the same thing, right?

I think it is 6 of one opinion and a half dozen of the other. I have done quite a bit of felting. I usually use a few drops of dishwashing detergent and 1/4 to 1/2 t of olive oil. I have an old pair of jeans that I use just for felting agitation. I don’t use rinse or spin when felting. When I’m pleased with my results, I do a cold water rinse by hand, roll out excess water with a towel, and let it dry. The olive oil makes the yarn fibers slip and slid against each other and gives a nice result.

I didn’t realize it could be so complicated. I’ve only made 2 pair of slippers and I threw them in the wash with some jeans that needed washing and used my regular detergent. I then threw them in the dryer until they were about the right size. I put them on my feet and shaped then let them finish air drying. I guess before I get into felting purses etc. I better do some more research. Thanks for the info.

I read the title of this thread as a verb phrase instead of a noun pharse… I thought you were asking a question about how to felt soap… :roflhard: It’s been a long day…:out:

When I felt wool batts to make felted fabric I use a bar of old-fashioned yellow Sunlight soap, put the bar in a plastic mesh onion bag, spray water on the wool and pat then rub til the soap is through the wool, the just rub, roll, rub etc til felted how I want it. I dont know anything about felting in a washing machine though.

Thanks to all who replied! I will be trying the dishwashing soap idea or maybe the ivory soap idea.

I had no idea it could get so complicated :slight_smile: Basically, I need to hand felt before sewing together – t[I]he hand felting instructions say not to use laundry detergent but use laundry soap. [/I] This is for a toy project.

I had to laugh when I read that little detail in the instructions because I figured it would be a real challenge finding the stuff. I know there is a manufacturer out there who still makes the stuff. The last time I saw laundry soap was on my great grandmother’s laundry shelf in the Oklahoma panhandle decades ago. Of course the kid at Walmart gave me a funny look when I asked where the laundry soap could be found while standing in the laundry detergent aisle. I could just hear his thoughts, “Sheesh, lady! What a stupid question!”

I’ve been making and selling handmade soap for 7 years, so would like to attempt to answer your question about the difference between detergent and soap.
Soap is basically made with water, lye and oils. If properly made, there is no lye left in the finished soap.
Detergent is made using petrochemical oils or synthetic compounds…not much natural in there and can dry out your skin.

Handmade soap also retains its natural glycerin, which is a natural byproduct of the soapmaking process. Large commercial companies have the machinery with which to remove the glycerin, which they sell to lotion companies, paint companies etc…for greater profit than they could sell soap for. Their soaps, therefore, are stripped of its natural glycerin and can leave your skin feeling dry, hence the need to buy their expensive lotions (for which they get more profit).
If you buy handmade ‘soap’ (not detergent) your skin will be smooth and soft, not dry.

well, that’s my spiel, which I use to sell my lovely bars of handmade soap.

Liquid soap is slightly different and I don’t make it, cz I don’t like the idea of having to buy, store and ship lots of plastic bottles.

Now [B][U]I[/U][/B] have had to have a laugh! Laundry Soap (the bars of yellow Sunlight soap I referred to in my earlier post) is readily available here, not only in every supermarket but also dairies and corner stores! I remember having my hair washed with it and Mum grating it into the copper on wash day and I am only 57 yrs old. We used it in a wire shaker thing to wash the dishes with and I still use it for dishes as there is no after taste like a lot of perfumed dishwashing detergents. Golly, that does make me sound antiquated!