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Thursday, July 14, 2011
Washing Whites, Cottons And Linens The Old Fashioned Way
Whether you're interested in laundering your clothing the old fashioned way, or are just interested in reading how our ancestors did their laundry, here are some instructions for whites, cottons and linens.
Soaking...this is important for whites. It is advisable to soak them for a few hours(some prefer overnight), for soaking loosens the dirt, makes less rubbing necessary, and therefore saves both time and wear. A very simple way to soak white clothes is to cover them with warm water early in the morning. When you are ready to go on with the washing, more hot water may be added to that already used for soaking and the clothes may be washed easily.
If clothes are to be soaked overnight, use cold water rather than warm, because warm water expands the fibers of the fabric, brings the dirt to the surface, and then, during the night, cools and closes the fibers so that by morning the dirt is held very tightly in the fabric and is difficult to loosen again.
When clothes are soaked overnight, soap the very soiled parts as they are put into the tub. Some people roll the soaped articles, this works well although it takes more time.
Washing...After soaking the clothes, put them into a tub half full of hot, soapy water and rub them on a washboard, or, if you have a washing machine, put them in that. In either case, when the soap has been "killed" by a quantity of clothes passing through the suds and the water is cold, change to warm, fresh suds. No suds and cold water make lifeless, heavy laundry; therefore, rejuvenate by new, hot suds. The results repay many times for the effort.
If a washboard is used, do not rub too vigorously, as this may injure the fabric. The idea is to force the suds through the clothes and thus carry the dirt away. Consequently, the portions being rubbed should be dipped almost constantly in the suds, so that there will be no rubbing of the material after the water has been squeezed out. For very coarse goods, a hand brush will prove helpful. Another point to remember is that the soiled parts of the clothes should be rubbed on one side and then turned and rubbed on the other side. Rubbing with the palm of the hand will save the skin on the knuckles.
If a washing machine is used never fill it too full. Not only because the mechanism will be injured, but also because the free movement of the clothes will be hindered.
Boiling...If white cotton or linen clothes are very soiled, or if it seems desirable to sterilize them, they may be boiled. After first washing in hot water, wring the clothes, rub the soiled spots carefully with white soap, and place in a boiler containing cold water. Put a few soap chips or a little soap jelly into each boiler full of clothes and heat the water gradually. Use a clothes stick to keep the clothes stirred and pressed down. After the water has begun to boil, allow the clothes to remain in it about five minutes. Boiling for a longer time tends to turn fabrics yellow.
Another helpful fact to know is that the carefully strained juice of one or two lemons added to a boiler of clothes will help to whiten them.
Rinsing...After taking clothes from soapy water, very careful rinsing is essential. It is advisable to rinse in clear hot water, but this is not always practical, as usually lukewarm water is more easily provided. In either case, shake out each piece carefully to remove all soap. Repeat the rinsing process at least twice, and preferably three times, because the removal of the soapy water has much to do with the efficiency of cleansing and the freshness of the clothes when dry. An ideal way is to have the first rinse water hot and the successive rinse waters gradually grow colder so as to prepare the clothes for the bluing. All soap must be removed by these rinsings; otherwise the clothes will be spotted when the bluing comes in contact with the alkali of the soap.
Do not use washing soda to soften the rinse water, as it is too strong to be left in the fabric. A little borax may be used in the first and second rinse waters; but, after the soap has been removed, there is no need for a water softener, for it is only in the presence of soap that a scum is formed.
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