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Fabric Care & Clothes Cleaning

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Renovation, Clothes Cleaning, etc., Explanation of.—Renovation is the art of making new after injury or partial decay-remaking, from the Latin re, again, and novare, to make new. This word, then, may very properly be applied to the cleansing of wearing apparel of all kinds, gloves, hoots and shoes, paint and grease about the house; ink, paint, tar and grease spots upon clothing; also re-coloring faded and worn garments-in fact, everything in the line of cleaning or renewal may come under this head. It will be my purpose, then, to so explain as I proceed, the art of renovation that those who desire to do so may restore their faded or injured or soiled garments to be nearly equal to new. In the cities there are those who follow the various branches of this art with great success and profit. The following recipes and - instructions will give the people the secrets of doing it at home just as well as to pay for doing it away from home, and, no doubt, also give some of the professional renovators some things new to themselves. The following compound or soap will, probably, clean a greater variety of colored garments, without injuring the cloth, than any preparation in use. Of course, I have not practiced this art myself, but I obtained these recipes from a woman who lived for a year or two in a house owned by me at the time, and who practiced the art, and had renovated clothing for myself and other members of the family, so I know their reliability. And I may be excused for saying I paid more for these recipes alone (5) than I get for the book.

1.Renovating Soap.—Marseilles (French) or Parker's best soap, such as used by barbers (I have seen Babbitt's common soap used, but the above was the original recipe), 1/4 lb.; alcohol, 1 oz. ; beef's gall, 2 ozs. ; saltpeter, borax, honey, sulphuric ether and spirits of turpentine, of each, oz. ; camphor gum, 3 drs. ; pipe clay, 1 dr.; common salt, 1 small tea-spoonful. DIRECTIONS—Put the camphor into the alcohol, the powdered pipe clay into the beef's gall, pulverize the saltpeter and borax and put them and the salt into the honey. After 2 or 3 hours slice the soap into a porcelain kettle, with the gall mixture, and place over a slow fire, stirring till melted; take off and let stand until a little cool; then add all the other articles, stir well together and put into a glass fruit jar as soon as possible, as it soon hardens; then screw on the top, to prevent the -evaporation of the strength, keeping in a dark closet, ready for use, as light decomposes or injures it.

Remarks.—Those desiring to engage in the business permanently can take double or four times these quantities, according to the amount of work they may expect to do.

2. Clothes Cleaning.—GENERAL DIRECTIONS—TO clean a pair of pants or coat (any color) that has been considerably soiled, open the jar, and with a stiff spoon loosen up some of the renovating soap and take out % an oz. (a rounding table-spoonful) and dissolve it in 1 qt. of boiling soft water in a porcelain kettle, so as to keep it hot. Now whip and brush the article to be cleaned thoroughly, to remove all the dust; then, with a scouring brush (a partly worn, consequently stiff, broom brush will do very well), saturate, or wet the soiled spots thoroughly with the hot solution from the kettle; and, as a general thing, it will be best to saturate the whole garment, else a part will look . new (that which is renovated) and the rest will look old or dirty, except in cases of getting spots upon new clothing. After thoroughly wetting the garment with the solution, dry as thoroughly, in the open air is best. This wetting of the garment is best done by drawing it on a press-board, if you have one, as -described below, also by spreading on a table or counter to be handy. After being dried, press the garment well, using what is called a " sponge-cloth, of stout unbleached muslin or drilling. If this is to be followed far a business, buy 2 yds. and tear it in two, lengthwise, keeping one for light shades of clothing, the other for dark. When ready to begin to press the garment take a basin of soft water and put into it some aqua ammonia, at the rate of 1 table-spoonful to 1 qt. of water, and, with the ammonia water, keep your sponge-cloth wet while pressing.

Remarks:—For those following the business, a press-board, which can be got up by any good joiner, so that a pant's leg may be drawn upon it, and a smaller one suitable in size to enter a coat-sleeve, will be found more than sufliciently handy to pay their cost, as they will be found almost absolutely necessary in applying dye to black clothing where the color has been spotted or faded, as explained under that head further on. The press-board referred to has two parts, a base, or bottom piece, then the pressing-board proper is supported by two standards about 5 or 6 inches from the bottom piece, with one end running out free to allow the leg or sleeve to be drawn upon it 15 to 18 inches for convenience of pressing the single thickness of cloth, instead of double, if the leg -or sleeve is simply spread out on a table or counter.

3. Alpaca Dresses—To Remove Wrinkles and Brighten their Luster.—Dust them nicely with a brush and spread them upon an ironing-board, or press-board, as referred to above, then, having wet the sponge-cloth with the ammonia water, as directed for pressing clothing above, pass a moderately warm iron over them quickly a few times, and the work is complete.

4. Renovating Dye for Black Clothing, to be Applied Only on the Outside—Cheap Ink, etc. —Logwood chips, 1 lb.; soft water, 1 gal.; bichromate of potash, 24 grs.; prussiate of potash, 12 grs. Put the log-wood into the water and let stand 12 hours, then boil 1/2 hour, strain while warm, and having dissolved the potashes in a little boiling water, add them to the dye. Bottle, cork, and keep in a dark place. This is to be applied to spots on black clothing, coat collars, etc., where the color has been injured or faded out, the spots having been renovated and dried as given under the head of renovation; then, first having sponged the spots with suds, or the whole garment, if it is to be applied to the whole, applying the dye with a brush, and dry again before the pressing is done. This dye may be used also to color worn or injured spots upon black kid gloves, black kid boots, etc., in place of ink, spoken of under those heads; in fact, this makes a very good, cheap ink for school children.

1. GLOSSY LINEN-How it is Done.—To give starched linen the appearance so much desired put a small bit of paraffin (size of a small pea for each bosom, or its equivalent of cuffs) into the hot starch, and when it cornea to ironing use a small iron having a rounded point that is very smooth, and rub with great pressure and for a considerable time. A great deal of "elbow-grease " is absolutely necessary.

2. Scorched Linen in Ironing, To Whiten.—If a linen shirt bosom, or any other article, has been scorched in ironing lay it in the bright sunshine, which will remove it entirely.

Flat-Irons, To Clean from Rust or Starch.—Flat-irons often have starch stick to them, and occasionally a spot of rust from a drop of water shows upon them, and I have often seen directions for cleaning them with salt, but the following plan is the only sensible way of doing it that I have seen: Have a piece of yellow beeswax in a coarse cloth; when the iron is almost hot enough to use, but not quite, rub it quickly with the beeswax cloth and then with a coarse cloth.

Oil-Cloth—To Keep Bright.—Oil-cloths should never be scrubbed` with suds, but carefully swept with a soft hairbrush and washed with a cloth dipped into milk and water, half-and-half, but no soap, and dry and polish with an old soft cloth. In this way they will keep their original color a long time.

2. For goods not needing to be starched, make a solution of ,1/2 lb. of the tungstate to each gal. of water, wet thoroughly, and dry, twice, if to be absolutely sure against blazing. Soft water always. May be ironed.

Cloths, to Water-Proof.—Dissolve sugar of lead, 10 ozs.,in a common wooden pail of water; do the same with the same amount of powdered alum in another pail of water, and then pour together, and thoroughly wet the cloth therein, and dry, better without wringing. If weighted and allowed to soak awhile, all the better.

1. CLOTH.—Fire-Proof. For clothing to be starched, put 3 as much tungstate of soda as you use of starch; starching as usual, and ironing, which does not affect its fire-proof qualities. The tungstate of soda is often used as a mordant in dyeing, which, of course, makes them much less inflammable. There is so much life lost by dresses taking fire now-a-days it seems that advantage ought to be taken of this plan of fire-proofing them when starched.

Water Proof Solution, or Paint, for Awnings, etc.—Put 1 oz each of rosin and beeswax, to each pint of linseed oil needed. Apply 1 to S coats, as you desire.

Oiled Cloth for Hot Beds; Boxes for Hills, for Early and. Safe Culture from Bugs, etc.—Linseed oil, 4 ozs.; lime water, 2 ozs.; white of eggs, 1 oz. ; yolks of eggs, 2 ozs. DIRECTIONS—Mix the oil and lime water with a very gentle heat; beat the eggs, separately, then mix all together. Keep these proportions for any amount wanted. Take stout, white, cotton cloth, of a close texture; stretch and tack it closely upon frames, or boxes, of any size you wish; then, with a paint brush, spread 2 or 3 coats of the mixture, as each coat dries, till the cloth is water proof.

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