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Oxygen cleaners and silk – Why NOT?

KharminJ | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I was just reading the “disclaimers and warnings” on a package of Oxy-Kleen-knockoff … it says clearly not to use on “wool, silk or leather…”. I understand the “or any fabric that may be damaged by water” part (that’s a no-brainer!) But why not silk or wool? Does anybody know what the possible results are that they are trying to protect us from? I’m not one to gracefully accept “Because I said so” as a reason – not from the teacher, the boss or the government – so I guess this is a science question at heart! Thanks for any enlightenment ~ Happy stitching, meanwhile! Kharmin

Replies

  1. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #1

    When I'm not willing to accept the instructions as given, I experiment. Why don't you get some silk and some wool and test it to see what happens?

    1. KharminJ | | #5

      Bleahhh! on the "dissolving silk" - that's really scary.

      I did know that these are almost universal cleaners, but didn't realize they are considered "heavy duty"! Thanks for that tidbit!

      So, JQ - I took your suggestion, last night - washed a couple pieces of wool (that needed it badly - blankets I'd taken camping) and a yard of new wool. I used 1 scoop (per General Laundry instructions) of Oxy cleaner, and cap-line 1 (no equivalent measure given) of Tide 2X. Approx. 1/2 hour in the dryer.

      I measured each piece before and after, and cut a 2"x3" sample out of the new wool. All 3 wools shrank about 2" per yard in cut length, and 2" (out of 56, 58 and 66") in width (selvage to selvage).

      The new wool (a JoAnn fabrics "Fall Suiting") darkened, softened and thickened slightly in addition to the (expected) shrinkage.

      I *will* be careful not to put silks in a load with Oxy in the future, but I think the results with wool are inconclusive.Thank you all for your input.

      Bright Blessings!

      Kharmin

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #6

        Hi Kharmin!  Oxygen cleaners are a hydrogen peroxide type cleaner.  They weaken and bleach the protein fibres.  Like chlorine bleach, they can damage the fibres.  Sometimes they react with the dyes that are used to dye the fabrics as well, and can cause shredding.  That is why they reccommend not using them.  As with all cleansers, test them first on an inconspicuous part.  Damage is not always seen right away, it can happen later, after time has passed.  Sometimes wonderful things can happen to fabric from "accidents" with cleansers, but sometimes you can shorten the life of a wonderful fabric as well.  Let common sense prevail.  Cathy

        1. KharminJ | | #9

          Thanks Cathy and all!

          My "Persistent Why?" brain is much happier now! Putting "protein fiber" and "hydrogen peroxide cleaner" together makes it make sense ...

          They are designed to get out protein stains, after all.

          Kharmin

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #10

            Nothing wrong with needing to know why and how.  I am the same way.  Drives my friends and family nuts sometimes....but it sure makes things interesting, and I am never short of something to talk about!    Cathy

          2. judyblader | | #20

            you must have patient family and friends....i have found impatience as response to my questions and sometimes lack of companions...

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #22

            AAAh Yes, I learned the hard way that Why must be asked by T.A.C.T.

            T-Timeliness

            A-Appropriateness

            C-Consideration

            T-Tone of Voice

            and then I found friends that had similar interests to mine.  Like here.  And family have just grown used to it I guess.  tee hee  Cathy

             

          4. KharminJ | | #23

            Well said, Cathy! and So True! Kharmin

          5. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #24

            We WHY people have to be careful sometimes, otherwise we get to be known as busybodies, tee hee.   Cathy

          6. Teaf5 | | #11

            At our major university, the people asking "why?" all the time are at the top of the class and discover the most important new scientific breakthroughs--so be proud of the "persisten why?" brain of yours!

          7. KharminJ | | #12

            Definitely!!

            I try to ask in a way that gets people to really think about their answers, too -

            My Mom's favorite answer was always "What do YOU think?" closely followed by "Let's go look it up!" -

            I sure miss that old set of the Book of Knowledge!

            Happy Halloween, ever'body!

            Kharmin

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #13

            Kharmin, I like your Mom!  I always said the same thing to my girls!  Even with the internet, there is nothing better for a quick lookup than a good set of Encyclopedias (even if they are old.)  Cathy

          9. KharminJ | | #14

            And she'd have been just delighted with youse-guys, too! Sadly, she was taken from us in 1993, so she never saw even a hint of the "wonders of the Internet"! I think the new computerized machines would have made her crazy, though - she used a FeatherLight for all her sewing. My sister now has that little war-horse.

            Kharminsniffling a little, 'cuz I miss her!

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #15

            Your mom might have surprised you!  My mom, bless her departed soul also, was very anti-computer until she got into the geneology stuff.  She learned at the library how to do searches on one, bought one, then watch out.  Was the best thing she ever did she said.  Opened new worlds for her socially and mentally, esp. later on when she was ill and could not get out as often.  She even got into a lot of the more technical stuff with her cameras and stuff.  We teased her that she was beginning to become a "Nerd" with all her techie things.  tee hee.  Sniff, now ya got me going..... Cathy

          11. Josefly | | #16

            Its interesting to me - some of the best classes in how to use software, like Photoshop and iPhoto, have been offered by and taught by members of a genealogy club here in our area. They were free classes, and open to others besides club members.

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #17

            Because they deal with original documents they want to preserve, or deal with flawed copies of originals, many want to share what they have learned to others to speed up what can be a lengthy and frustrating process.  Zooming and colour corrections can reveal many obscured details that a magnifying glass cannot.  When trying to ascertain the authenticity of a kinship, the paperwork must be clear. 

            I often scan pictures and illustrations into the computer to better study details in Photoshop.  I can scan pics and print them in larger or smaller sizes for my idea pages, without damaging my original mags.  Yay!  I would not know half of what I do if my mom did not teach me!  Cathy

          13. Josefly | | #18

            I was amazed at the class on Photoshop. I took lots of notes, but then it was quite a while before we acquired the software, so I've forgotten everything they said and what the notes referred to. My husband loves it. They demonstrated alterations to photos I never would've imagined. Like sewing, and most everything else I guess, you really do have to sit down and play with it to learn what can be done.

          14. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #19

            There are quite a few how to books on photoshop.  Borrow a couple from the library and look through them.  Most are the same info presented in different formats, much like sewing books, tee hee.  I found that one way to learn what I wanted was to take one picture, then muck around with it with all the different features, just to see what they did.  That was fun!  I did not save anything, but it gave me an idea of how things worked.  Then I did some cropping, colour changing, and other fun editing stuff.  All the pics I have posted here have been 'shopped to some extent.  Cropped, zoomed, or something, to make details show.  It is great to keep pics from being too large as well.  Be careful tho, I understand that the program can be as addicting as machine embroidery!   Cathy

          15. Josefly | | #21

            Good idea - library book. Thanks. I was amazed at the workshop I attended - the demonstrator showed a photo of a city street, changed it in many ways, including one that blew my mind. He made a building taller by copying and pasting, and you couldn't tell that the photo had been altered; he had added a few stories to it to balance the picture better. He also changed the vertical line of the photo - the original shot had made some of the vertical lines look slanted - due to perspective, I think, and he was able to correct that. It was a great class - free. And you're right - you have to take some photos and play with them - just like sewing. Too many things to play with already. :>) (I am not artist enough to look at a picture and wish a building were taller - I think only that the picture should reflect what is already there. The demonstrator likely produces photos for sale. So while I was envious of this guy's perceptions as well as of his knowledge of the software, I'm not likely to delve so deeply into the possibilities.

      2. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #7

        I surely am glad you tested that fabric. It saved me from having to do it. My curiosity was definitely aroused and I kept thinking about your question. That said, my philosophy about cleaning fabric is to follow the instructions given unless and until nothing is working. When that happens, I proceed as though I have nothing to lose by trying whatever "could" work. So if you've reached the end of your stain removable rope, go for it. What do you have to lose?

  2. vwren99 | | #2

    I've had silk dissolve in Oxyclean and Biz. (Not every time) I won't take any more chances though.  After a couple of incidents, I learned to beware.

  3. MaryinColorado | | #3

    They disolve protein fibers. 

  4. cookymom | | #4

    Silk is a fragile fiber so I use a mesh bag and wash my tops in cool water on the gentle cycle with a drop or two of ivory dish soap.   Not all silk is washable and the colors do run.

    My husband works in the recycle business and the full strength OxyClean is the best product for getting ground in dirt out.  I'd be hesistant to use any product that was heavy duty on a silk item.

    Try a sample before you do a whole garment or piece of cloth.

  5. Teaf5 | | #8

    From the agricultural capital of the world, here's a "science" answer:  wool & leather are from animals, and silk is from a live worm, so the fibers are protein-based.  Oxy cleaners work by the molecules in the cleaner unbinding the molecules in the stain in order to release and be washed away, so they can affect the base fibers as well.

    If you'd like a truly scientific answer, I can ask our organic chemistry graduate student daughter; I'm not sure I'll understand her answer, though!

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