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how best to clean a moldy spinning wheel?  RSS feed

 
Annie Gibbons
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Location: NE Ohio
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Last winter I was gifted a spinning wheel, and when things got busier this spring and summer, it sat idle for a few months. We have a real problem with mold/mildew, and by the time I thought to look, it already had quite a bit of growth (though not sure what I could have done, had I thought of it earlier...). We've started to fire up the woodstove again, so the air is drying out and I'd like to take the wheel apart and clean it thoroughly so that I can spin again. Any tips? (And what about the singles that I had stored on bobbins on the wheel - should I wash these now, or let them be and just wash once they are plied?)

Thanks!
Annie
 
Judith Browning
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Hi, Annie, I'm always interested in anything to do with the fiber arts. I don't have a spinning wheel anymore and when I did, humidity was a problem causing the wood to swell and shrink with the seasons and our wood heat added to that. Do you know what kind of finish is on it? We are learning that linseed oil as a finish tends to mold, at least it appears so. I would probably lean towards wiping it down well with a damp rag to remove anything on the surface and just start using it a lot. I added this to the woodworking forum so that you might get a wood persons advice here also.
I think I would be more concerned about moths showing up in the wool on the bobbins........I use a little lavender oil in any wool that I store. Is the wool moldy or mildewed also? I think that will weaken it.
Is it a walking wheel or a treadle? or anything else? I had an ashford for a long time and tried to spin to keep up with my weaving and it was just impossible so I eventually gave it up. I was a very fast weaver and I could have spent months spinning and then weave it up in a few days.
Post some pictures if you can!
 
R Scott
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It is important to know what the finish on the wheel is now.

I would be inclined to clean it with a soapy rag and possibly a little vinegar or lemon juice. Then re-oil it with a mix of a good furniture oil (compatible with what is on there already) and anti-fungal essential oils of your choice.
 
Annie Gibbons
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The wheel is an Ashford Kiwi - a good compact fit for our small house. It was a craigslist deal, used briefly by a man of many interests and he just decided it wasn't worth it for the small amount of time he used it (funny enough, I think he was a weaver, also, and found himself spending more time on the weaving).

So - I believe that it is not finished at all (which, I realize I probably should remedy, but feel intimidated by doing - and when I got it, I just wanted to start spinning...)

When I clean it with a damp/soapy cloth with some vinegar/lemon juice, should I take it all apart to make sure I get it all, or do you think I'd be fine just leaving it together?

And then yes, I'm hoping to get back to using it a lot

Then re-oil it with a mix of a good furniture oil (compatible with what is on there already) and anti-fungal essential oils of your choice.


What about sewing machine oil? That's what I've used before. Also, about the anti-fungal essential oils:
1. I only have a small amount of experience with eos - what are some good anti-fungals?
2. Do you think it would be ok to add a few drops to the soap/water/vinegar cleaning mix? Though the air is starting to dry out such that it might not be an issue - I've cleaned so many moldy things this summer that need to be cleaned again after a week or so - if there is something I can do to try to prevent having to re-clean the wheel, that would be great.

I think I would be more concerned about moths showing up in the wool on the bobbins........I use a little lavender oil in any wool that I store. Is the wool moldy or mildewed also? I think that will weaken it.


How do you apply the lavender oil to the wool? After I realized how moldy my spinning things were getting, I did bag up all the wool that was skeined that I've spun in plastic zip-lock bags. Is this protection enough?

I'm not positive about mold/mildew - one of the bobbins does smell/look like there is some on the wood. The other (the one I'd really like to save) - doesn't look as obvious. Would it be possible to wash it with some gentle soap and anti-fungal eos?

Thanks for the ideas!

 
Judith Browning
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I am pretty sure an Ashford would have a finish on it...you could probably find out what they use in particular in an online search. Did you mean sewing machine oil for the moving parts? that would work, it doesn't get gummy...I don't know a non-petroleum counterpart. It would not be the right thing for the wood though. That would still depend on what finish is on the wood originally.
I don't remember what areas you would oil on the wheel's moving parts...that is another thing I think I would search for on line and I bet you could get a diagram of your particular wheel.
I think R Scott's advice is the right thing to do for the wood...I tend to take things apart to clean, does it look like you can do that easily and still get it back together ?
I just put a couple drops of lavender oil in a bag with my wool. Airing and light and clean wool are some of the best moth preventatives also. Soiled and closed up in the dark the most attractive to the moths. I think that I would wash the wool and put away clean and dry with a couple drops of lavender oil per bag. I suppose then you would only want to ply the singles that had been washed together and not a fresh yarn.
I am using big ziplocks now too...I don't like using plastic but it is wool that I just haven't got around to doing anything with in so long and it is in deep storage...........I've also had good luck with small cloth bags if I am using it frequently.
Tea tree would be the anti fungal oil to use on the wood, I think.

this looks really useful....
pdf assembly instructions for Ashford Kiwi
 
R Scott
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There are a lot of antifungals: tea tree, lavender, lemon, oregano, patchouli, rosemary just off the top of my head. Pick one you like the scent, or a blend--most oil brands sell an antifungal blend. Tea tree is one of the best, but not the best smelling. Lavender lemon with a touch of tea tree is one we use a lot.

Use a wood oil on the wood. Tung, Danish, etc. Or a butcher block oil like walnut or food grade mineral oil.
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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R Scott wrote:There are a lot of antifungals: tea tree, lavender, lemon, oregano, patchouli, rosemary just off the top of my head. Pick one you like the scent, or a blend--most oil brands sell an antifungal blend. Tea tree is one of the best, but not the best smelling. Lavender lemon with a touch of tea tree is one we use a lot.

Use a wood oil on the wood. Tung, Danish, etc. Or a butcher block oil like walnut or food grade mineral oil.


I love the smell of patchouli.........I had to quit wearing it in public around here though... I used to wear a long black raincoat and was dropping off some cash for a friend (payment for some tomatoes) where he worked..........later I heard the rumor that the boss there said I 'reeked of pot' and he thought that I was finishing up a 'deal' at his place of business.
I mix those same three...lavender, lemon and tea tree for some uses...nice scent
Isn't eucalyptus a bug repellant? I know it is definitely an odor absorber.
 
R Scott
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: Yes, Patchouli=Pot in many minds.
 
Annie Gibbons
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Great - thank you so much!

Yes - sewing machine oil just on the moving parts! I've already got it, so that's why I'd use that.

I really don't think the wheel has a finish on it, though I can look around to see what options might have been available - it just doesn't feel or look like it's got anything on it.

So I'll just plan to use a mix of soapy water with some anti-fungal essential oil for cleaning (will take a look at the diagram - I was lucky and it came with the manual - to see about taking it apart or cleaning as is). Then rub some wood oil on. I think we have some tung.

I'm not crazy about plastic bags, either, but as "everything" made of natural materials seems to be molding at the moment, it's the best solution for now. I'll try adding some lavender oil, too.

Yikes on the patchouli = pot misunderstanding

Thanks again for all your help!
 
Peter Ellis
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Lots of people use bleach for many things. Vinegar is at least as effective as an anti-fungal and much less generally damaging.

My first choice for this sort of thing is a wipe down with white vinegar, then a wash with an appropriate soap. For leather it is saddle soap, for wood, something like Murphy's Oil Soap.
 
Annie Gibbons
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Thanks everyone! I did go ahead and partly disassemble the wheel, then wipe it down with a wet rag soaked in a mild soap/rosemary & tea tree oil mix. Once it was dry I rubbed it down with tung oil with some rosemary & t.t. oils added. So far so good!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I usually just read this forum, as I often don't get the time to work in this medium as much as I would like, other that some sewing these days. Nevertheless, some recent comments about "Bleach" caught my eye.

As a master woodworker, and historical conservation-restorationist that has covered everything from wood objects to Native American medicine bags and number of other vintage artifacts, I can share that in the museum sciences you must always go with the least invasive modality first...water. Then perhaps...slowly...move to more aggressive (and toxic) methods. I would then also want to suggest kindly, that this is a "permaculture" forum, where traditional and natural methods are what the culture here tries its very best to promote and make work.

As both a woodworker and a vintage materials conservationist, I can promise that wood fibers do not like bleach and the damage it does to them. I can also strongly suggest that taking away the historic patina of an object is absolutely forbidden. Clean something yes...strip...never...

A mild "oil bath" and/or white vinegar is "pest practice," and much past this is over kill in my view as a professional.

Regards,

j
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Warm water with tea tree oil would do the trick, I have used this with decent results, the tea tree oil is a unpleasant thing for mold, bacteria, fungus, and also smells good and covers any remaining "grandmas attic smell"

Hope you find the right solution for a useful solution!........I know it's a really painful joke but I had too!!!
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