Product testing: Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid

Ecovert delicate laundry liquid
Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid.
Or better known in Dutch as Ecover wool and delicates wash.

I’m warning you before you start reading, this is going to be a very long blog post…. Because I’m spinning lots at the moment I also have to wash a lot. This made me think about which products I use, which products are available and how to choose between the products available. It seemed like a good idea to do some research and testing and tell you what I found!

The first product I will talk about as the Delicate Laundry Liquid of Ecover. We first started to use this product for a couple of reasons. Ecover is a brand known for its bio household products, one of the few available in supermarkets and specialty stores in the Netherlands. We started using it as an alternative for Eucalan since it is cheaper and doesn’t add lanolin to the fiber. Some fibers like alpaca don’t have lanolin on them themselves and don’t really have a need for lanolin. Since a lot of people are allergic for lanolin it is sometimes a bad idea to add it to something that is hypoallergenic like alpaca. The same is true for fibers like camel, yak, cashmere and many others.

When spinning from raw fibers you always need to wash before or after spinning. When I still spinned wool from the fleece I washed beforehand 2 times with ecover and 1 time with eucalan. The lanolin in the eucalan made it easier to spin. Alpaca I wash after spinning.

The factory is located in Belgium. It was made in 1992 and even the factory itself was made ecologically. It was constructed out of wood and eco-bricks instead of steel and concrete, the living plant roof provides insulation and they use rainwater for the washrooms, toilets and maintenance. Also since Belgium is a first world country in Europe it has very high standards for the people working there. It is B-Corp certified so it was thoroughly measured on their social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

They also don’t test their products on animals and that’s why they don’t sell some of their products in China, where animal testing is required on certain types of personal care products. They have been Leaping Bunny approved which means it is a cruelty-free company.

Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid is also Woolmark and Apparel approved, which is important because that means it is safe to use it on wool and silk.

Most bottles are made of 75% plantplastic and 25% postconsumer recycled plastic. However some other bottles are made of 10% ocean plastic and 90% recycled plastic. Since 2014 they are working on fishing plastic out of oceans to use it in their bottles. This is however not yet true for the Delicate Laundry Liquid bottles. One more important fact for nature: They don’t use any microbeads or microplastics in their products.

So the story sounds good, but when using it at home you actually want your yarn or crafted product to be clean after. So we’re going to look at the ingredients and how they work and I’m going to talk about some personal experience.

Here is the ingredients list as posted on their website:

<5%: Anionic surfactants
5-15%: Non-ionic surfactants
Perfume (Limonene)
Preservative (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)
Other: Water
Sodium chloride
Citric acid

Since you can write whole books about many ingredients I’ll try to keep it as short as possible! Let’s talk about the 2 types of surfactants first. Anionic and non-ionic surfactants are found in many soaps and care products. They both have a cleaning effect. However if you don’t rinse your washed products thoroughly after the non-ionic surfactants will make your products attract dirt more easily. When dry anionic surfactants also leave an unpleasant powdery feel. So take care and rinse your products properly!

Here I am washing raw fiber in ecover. As  you can see it doesn’t really produce a lot of foam but after 1 wash and 2 rinses it turned out really clean!

Ecover doesn’t really tell us which surfactants they use in their products. Which is a problem since some are really aggressive and irritating to skin and some are more gentle. I’ve got a VERY sensitive skin and it gets irritated by almost every ‘normal’ product that exists. I luckily never had any problems (yet) with Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid. They do say that all of their surfactants are plant-based eco-surfactants. On their website they also say that they don’t use any artificial foaming agents which filters out the most aggressive and common surfactants.

Soap helps many insoluble particles to become soluble in water so that they can be rinsed away. When not rinsed out properly soap can damage your crafts in the long term. It breaks down the proteins in the fibers, so remember to rinse!

Limonene is the ingredient that I’m not so happy about. It is a perfume that smells like citrus and many people are allergic to it. When stored or exposed to sunlight and air, limonene degrades into various oxidation products which act as irritants and sensitizers. Also 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol is one of the ingredients that you can be allergic for. It’s a preservative often used in cosmetics and washing products. Since it is a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient formaldehyde-sensitive people should stay away from this.

The last few ingredients are safe to use. Sodium chloride is salt and citric acid is in the proper concentrations not bad for your skin or product. The Environmental Working Group ranks the ingredient very low on potential toxicity for humans and the environment. EWG is a really good site if you want to know more about certain ingredients in your products:

Always let your skeins fully dry before working with them. They get their softness and elasticity back when they’ve had the time deep inside the fibers to get dry. 

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