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Sunday, April 14, 2019

How to wash acrylic yarn: The Acrylic thread -the science and treatments-

Acrylic yarn is quite popular among crafter and crocheter around the world because often it charges lower price compared to other yarn.
Days ago I found 3 to 4 skeins of my acrylic stash were dusty.
Then questions came across my mind, can I wash it? does it safe? will the colour fade like cotton yarn? and most important is, can I wash it using my washing machine?
Here we go, some informations gathered from serious reading of scientific paper and some of popular writing.

Yes, acrylic can be washed easily by hand or washing machine. Both are fine because acrylic well known for its stability. What is more with acrylic?

Acrylic is a man made.

It is a synthetic fiber and made of polyacrylonitrile. I just found out that most of those commercial acrylic yarn consist of 85% of the acrylonitrile polymer, when it down to 35% people called it modacrylic that usually used for wig, hair extension, carpets, etc. Nowadays, acrylic's chemical properties has been modified to increase its level of water adsorption.

Conventional acrylic retains water only 3% whereas new acrylic able to retain up to 15% of water before it will feels damp. To obtain this -good- level of water absorbance, the conventional acrylic undergo several treatments with selective solvents. I would not mentions all the chemicals, but surely it makes me a little concern. Science says that newly modified acrylic has core and sheath structure which able to push water into the core of the fiber, so we will feel the yarn still dry outward before it adsorbs 15% of water, this character a lot better compared to 13% for wool and 11% for cotton yarn. So now it is explain a lot, we found a new acrylic yarn as good and comfy as natural fiber. Even able to replace wool for its warmth.

Does acrylic yarn toxic?

Now we are informed that several chemicals(solvents) are involved to produce such a good quality of acrylic. So then, does it bad for health?
Well, we aren't going to eat it, I haven't found any significant relevancies between having a close contact with acrylic yarn and specific illness ( I will update this post soon I read something about this). But personally, I will avoid acrylic for baby and kid stuffs, like blanket, dolls, hat and any kids and baby warmer. For wearables I will go with cotton, rayon or mohair/wool, or at least acrylic that is combined with other natural fiber. 

How to wash Acrylic yarn and its crocheted products? Does it shrinking?

Acrylic can be washed by hands or washing machine. I have tried both and it was fine.  
I read other crafter's writing suggesting to hand wash acrylic yarn using shampoo. when I had 1 skein of dirty yarn I washed it by hand, and dry it under the sun. Shorter time to wash, but longer to dry.
But when I found 5 skeins full of dirt, I was too lazy to wash it by hand, instead I used washing machine in soft mode to wash them. But first don't forget to put all the yarn in a clothing pocket to keep yarn safe and not tangled, then dry them in a dryer without heat. Remember, they are made of a plastic component, when it hit by heat, there is a chance to shrink.

Acrylic dry faster than other types of yarn. My pure acrylic took 1 day to completely dry.
No changes on its colour, shape, everything stays the same before and after the washing except the dirt. One more credit for acrylic for the easy maintain. Moreover, the sturdy character of the acrylic makes them suggested for crocheter at the beginner level, because it is easy to recognise the shape of different stitches with acrylic, yet easy to count the stitches too.

How to wash combination of Acrylic and mohair? 

Well, this is interesting. I have washed 100% acrylic and acrylic in combination with mohair.
How do I wash those combinations of mohair?
I have 2 types of acrylic-mohair yarns. The purple yarn skein has 40% mohair and 60% acrylic. The brown one (2 skeins) has less acrylic, unfortunately I lost the cover so I can't say the components in precise. But I think it has more mohair than acrylic due to the look.
The purple skein is 40% mohair combaned with 60% acrylic. Whereas the brown skeins have more mohair in it.

Basically, I treated those mohair-acrylic yarn in the same way with pure acrylic. But we can see the different results later.

Here is the tips:

1. Before the wash, get a clothing pocket that has a big pores. They meant to protect the yarn plus to keep them untangled. Put the yarn inside the washing pocket, soak them in water with diluted shampoo.
Basically, any fabric pocket would do the job as long as it porous. Mine is actually from a package while we bought a pair of mountain slippers.

2. Let them sit for 30 minutes.

3. Wash-Rinse-Dry.
I set the washing machine on the soft mode with cool water. Rinse them, and dry it with no heat.

4. I put all the washed yarn in the room with natural light and still keep it away from the kids.

My acrylic-mohair yarn has small changes and took 5 days to completely dry. Mohair yarn made of the hair of angora goat. Some of those natural fibers were pulled out after the washing, not much but noticeable.
The purple skein (40% mohair and 60% acrylic) not much change.
However, the brown with motives and plain brown had a little tangled up on its fiber, so we need extra care to pull the yarn.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic.

There are Pros and Cons of acrylic among crafters. 
The one that loves acrylic usually goes with all these reasons below:
# Good thing about acrylic is that it is able to show contour of stitch we are using to crochet, because it is stiff and quite strong. 
# Affordable.
# Lightweight.
# Warm.
# Washable with ease.
# Resilience, it is easily returns to original shape after washing.

On the other hand, some would avoid acrylic due to these reasons:
* Higher chance to get shrink.
* Some people feel itchy to work with acrylic.
* Some other concern about environmental reason, living with minimal amount of plastic. Also, during the process of the acrylic making which involve some kind of chemical that are harmful to the nature.

After all those informations, despite of the disadvantages of using acrylic yarn, it  involves in advancing human creativity through crochet and knit. Maybe in the future human being will be able to make synthetic acrylic yarn that has features as good as natural fiber but less negative impact to environment and proven harmless for human too. Who knows, science never have barrier.


Unknown said...

So informative! Jazzak allah sister! now i know what & how to do with my yarn.. 😊

Sri Kartika Wijaya said...

Glad to know that it is beneficial for you..
Thanks for coming to my blog.