No more superwash

No more superwash

If you already follow Laine des Iles on Instagram, you will know that we have taken the decision not to continue selling superwash yarns in our shop, so those that we currently stock have been on sale (West Yorkshire Spinners' The Croft and Signature 4 Ply).

Why not superwash wool? Superwash is a chemical treatment which makes wool machine-washable.* There are several ways of doing this, but the most common method used (the chlorine Hercosett process) involves first washing the wool in a chlorine solution and then coating the fibres with a polymer resin. Not only does this process produce highly toxic, environmentally polluting waste water, but it completely changes the natural character of the wool. We don’t feel that a plastic-coated yarn can truly be called a natural product, and do not feel that these types of yarns fit the ethos of our store.

There is now a new superwash treatment called EXP that has been developed by Schoeller Wool in Germany – a GOTS certified treatment that does not involve chlorine washing, and only minimal amounts of ecological polymer. However it is currently used by only a very small number of knitting yarn companies. Until EXP treated yarns become more widely available, we will not be stocking superwash wool.

We are now coming to the end of the sale, and a small quantity of our superwash yarns is still left. We have today marked down all our remaining sale stock for the second and final time, so you still have a chance to get some of this for a very low price.


* Often this is not clearly indicated on yarn, and there can be confusion over whether a yarn has been superwash treated or not. If unsure, just remember that any yarn labelled “machine-washable” has been superwash treated.


Sep 06, 2019

Je suis arrivée ici par l’article sur KDD, très intéressant. Et je suis effectivement surprise de découvrir ce que cache le " superwash". Je m’abstiendrai désormais d’en acheter, et je ne manquerai pas de venir flâner dans votre magnifique sélection lorsque j’aurai un peu diminué mes stocks ( pas tous superwash !)
Bonne continuation
Cordialement, Léonie

Sep 06, 2019

Thank you so much for this post. I felt sure that machine-washable wool was likely to have been processed in a way that would be environmentally damaging, but despite spending time online searching for information, I could not find any explanation of the processes involved. Now I feel more properly informed and this will influence my choices in the future!

Mary Brinkley
Sep 06, 2019

Thank you for this explanation of what ‘superwash’ involves. Those yarns tell you something bad has happened to them, but I didn’t know what. What a deplorable practice! As a sheep-farming friend once said, “with real wool [socks], I just toss them in the basin and then go off and have a cup of tea and a piece of fruitcake.” I’ll stick with real wool, thanks!

Joanna Dyson

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