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I do have some items of clothing that are more delicate and not suitable for washing in the washing machine. For these items I hand wash them and use soap flakes, this is something that is not as easy to find as they used to be as they are deemed to be quite old fashioned and more and more washing machines are being made with hand wash and gentle programs. Personally I would still rather hand wash my delicate garments to ensure that they handled delicately and that no damage occurs to the fabric allowing the items to last longer. For this I buy the dri pak soap flakes which are designed for woollens, delicates, babywear and breathable fabrics.
The Dri Pak soap flakes are quite difficult to find, my last purchase was from Wilkinson's and cost just £1.25 for a 425g box which is estimated to do 8 washes.
The soap flakes come in a blue box which has a perforated push in tab on the side which allows the flakes to be distributed. On the box you can find all the necessary information that you need to know about the flakes including, how they work, warnings, environmental information, and directions for use. The box is also made from 80% recycled board and is suitable for recycling.
The soap flakes, are exactly as they sound small flakes of soap with nothing else added. The flakes are fragrance free and therefore designed to be delicate for your clothes and your skin. These soap flakes are designed for hand washing only and should not be used in a washing machine as they can cause a blockage.
To use the soap flakes it states to put the recommended amount (depending on your water area) into a jug, add hot water and stir until dissolved. I find that this is the best way to dissolve the flakes as if you add them straight to a bowl of warm you tend to get a few stubborn flakes that do not dissolve fully. Then add the dissolved solution to a bowl of warm water and hand wash the garments. I then rinse the garments a couple of times until the water runs clear and either drip dry them or place them in the washing machine on a spin only cycle depending on the garment. I have always found these soap flakes to work extremely well on my delicate items and I have never encountered any problems. You do not get a strong fragrance as you do with the more modern soap powders but I think it is more important that my delicate items stay in good condition and these soap flakes always ensure this. Overall I think that these are great value and help my delicate and often expensive clothing items stay in great condition often preventing large dry cleaning bills. These are certainly something that I will continue to buy in the future and would recommend.
I always keep a pack of soap flakes handy in the kitchen cupboard for all my delicates such as woollens, silk items and specially treated outdoor clothing such as gaters and raincoats. I sometimes use them for towels and my son's bibs too as they can help prevent a build-up from all the more artificial conditioners and improve their absorbency.
My raincoat has been washed in soap flakes a few times since I first bought it and is still just as water-repellant and breathable as when it was new - they are just as effective as the washing solutions that you can buy from camping shops and far, far cheaper.
Another benefit to using soap flakes is that they are safe to use on clothing even for really sensitive skin - they are hypoallergenic and perfume-free. When I was pregnant, my eczema flared up; my doctor recommended using soap flakes on my clothing - this was particularly helpful when the skin was broken as it did not irritate it further. This also makes them ideal for handwashing although I would still say it is best to wear gloves and/or use a hand cream afterwards.
There are a few minor problems with this product. They can cause residue and scum to build up in your washing machine, it is a good idea to run a hot wash without any clothes or detergents to occasionally flush this out. Also, for the same reasons it is best to put the flakes directly into the drum and not the drawer. Lastly, if they do not rinse properly, they can leave quite an overpowering soapy smell to your clothes; I would recommend adding an extra rinse cycle to your wash and adding some conditioner if this happens.
Price-wise, they are cheaper than anything else on the shelf in the supermarket (around £1.50 per box) and fairly longlasting. For information on other products by Dri-pak that can be used in conjunction with the soap flakes, visit http://www.dri-pak.co.uk/ .
Mention Soap Flakes to your Gran, and she will undoubtedly know what they are although the only brand people seem to remember is Lux. Apparently the only manufacturer now is a company called Dri-Pak.
A friend recommended them for my little girls sensitive skin. She was being irritated by other brands I had been using to wash her clothes, and they are the only product that seemed to work (as they are hypoallergenic).
Apart from using them for my daughters clothes in the washing machine, it turned out they are also great for hand washing my delicates such as silk nighties, wool jumpers and lingerie just add a handful of flakes to a bowl of hot water until they dissolve, wash your clothes and rinse thoroughly before drying.
I even used Soap Flakes to wash my duvet and its come up looking like new just putting it in the bath with a generous amount of Soap Flakes, and leaving to dry for about a day works a treat.
The great thing about Soap Flakes is that they are gentle on your skin, and clean clothes equally as well as big brand detergents. They are also fragrance free and leave clothes smelling fresh rather than masked with artificial perfumes.
Soap Flakes come in 500g boxes for about £1.50 from hardware stores.
For washing delicate fabrics; woollens and specially treated microfibre fabrics such as waterproof sports and outdoor clothing.