Green Goddess: Wool wash

Long Lunch 04/09/2018
Photo: Stock.

Green Goddess Wool soap jelly by Wendyl Nissen.

This is a super delicate wash that I recommend for hand-washing wool blankets and baby clothes. This recipe uses Lux flakes, which contain soap and some fragrance that isn’t ideal, but as long as you rinse your woollens with some vinegar (as I suggest below) it is okay.

By the way, wool is naturally antibacterial, so blankets that baby has wet can often just be line-dried out of the sun and will be fine without needing a full wash.


  • 1 litre boiling water
  • 250g Lux flakes

Bring the water to boiling in a pot and then scatter the flakes over, stirring to prevent lumps forming.

Simmer on the stovetop until the flakes have dissolved. When the mixture is cold, it will form a hard, white jelly. Store in an old ice-cream container or similar with a lid.

For every 2 litres of lukewarm water, dissolve 1 heaped tbsp of jelly and mix well before adding clothes or blankets. (If you do get lumps, don’t worry, just leave them in the jelly to set).

When I use this jelly on my woollens I also add 1 tbsp white vinegar to the final rinse, just to get rid of any lingering soap suds and any traces of artificial perfume. I would also recommend that you avoid drying woollens in our harsh direct sunlight—dry them in the shade instead.

Note: When Nana washed woollens she knew all about the gentle art of sudsing. This is because wool fibres can easily be wrecked if they are crushed or stretched, so you have to be very gentle. Here are some instructions from one of my old books from the early 1900s on how to ‘sud’:

‘Allow the suds (this is water with soap jelly added) to become cool enough to bear the hand comfortably before putting in the flannels. Wash these articles one at a time as quickly as possible. Do not rub soap on them or rub them on a washboard. Souse them up and down in the water and rub them together with the hands until cleaned. Do not put them through the wringer or wring by twisting, but squeeze out the soap suds with the hands, shake out carefully, stretch and wash in a second lather prepared like the first, but not so strong.

Rinse in warm water as near the temperature of the suds as possible, to which a little bluing may be added, press out the rinsing water, shake vigorously, and stretch the articles to prevent shrinking. Pull each piece as nearly as possible into its proper shape and hang up carefully in such a way that the shape may be preserved. A clear, bright day with sunshine and a light breeze is desirable.

Flannels should be taken down while still slightly damp and rolled up in a dry cloth. If the weather is not clear they may be dried indoors, but not near the stove. The objective should be to avoid extreme changes of temperature, as these cause flannels to shrink and become hard.’

Green Goddess: Every Tuesday 1pm-1:30pm on The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.