If the silk is very dirty, spread each breadth on a large table, and sponge it upon both sides with warm water mixed with ox gall. - Rinse the silk several times in clear cold water, changing the water each time. Then sponge it upon the wrong side with a very weak solution of glue. Try the experiment first on a scrap of the goods till you find it as stiff as new silk should be. Dry the silk, and then roll it up in a damp towel and after two or three hours iron it upon the wrong side with a moderately hot iron.
Black, and some dark shades of cashmere, may be cleaned by the same process.
Where a black silk has a shiny, greasy look, its freshness can frequently be restored by sponging it with ammonia without ripping up the dress. Where a silk of any color becomes more defaced with spots than actualty soiled, the spots can be removed by rubbing them with a mixture made by putting half an ounce of camphor and an ounce of borax in boiling water, and adding to it when cool a teacup of alcohol and half that quantity of ammonia.
A favorite way of cleaning and restoring silk, is by sponging it with a preparation made by boiling a large, unpeeled potato and a kid glove together for a long time. The glove should of the color of the silk, and if the shade is very light, the potato must have the skin removed before boiling. After the mixture is cool add a small quantity of ammonia if the silk is very dirty.
No glue or gum will be needed, as the glove furnishes the proper degree of stiffening. After sponging and wiping, with a dry cloth, fold the silk in as nearly as possible the form of new silk, or roll it upon a rod covered with thick cloth. Avoid ironing it if possible, as the texture of the silk is better preserved without the application of heat; but if the wrinkles do not disappear, press it on the wrong side with as cool an iron as can be efficiently used. The glove and potato treatment is excellent for restoring black of all kinds, even veils and shawls.
Another way of cleaning black silk is first to thoroughly brush and wipe with a cloth, then lay flat on a board or table and sponge well with hot coffee thoroughly freed from sediment by being strained through muslin. Sponge on the side intended to show, allow to become partially dry and then iron on the wrong side. The coffee removes every particle of grease and restores the brilliancy of silk without imparting to it either the shiny appearance or crackly and papery stiffness obtained by beer or, indeed, any other liquid. The silk really appears thickened by the process, and this good effect is permanent.
The following method of cleaning silks has many advocates, and is said to be admirably adapted for delicate evening shades: To a quarter of a pound of soft soap put a teaspoonful of sugar and a large coffeecupful of alcohol. Wet the silk all over with the mixture, then rinse it in several waters, being careful not to crease it. Let it dry partially, and iron it upon the wrong side, unless it is smooth enough after rubbing with a soft towel. There is a great difference in silks in this respect. Some that are very soft and of rich quality will be smooth and unwrinkled after cleaning, if simply smoothed with the hands and carefully folded; others need thorough pressing with an iron to put them in good shape. Heat takes the stiffening from silk, and, if it is found necessary to iron it, it is well to dry it and then dampen with water in which a little gum or glue has been dissolved. The wisest way, as suggested above, is, in any of the methods given to try the whole process upon a small piece of the silk to be cleaned. Observation will then indicate if any change is needed in the operation. All of these receipts have been tried with very good results; but to get a good result in cleaning silk takes time, patience and backache.
If silk, after having been done over, or refinished, as it is called, looks well enough to make up again as a dress, it is very important that new linings should be used. Save the old ones to line every-day dresses, but be sure to buy new waist and sleeve linings for the silk, or it will fall into the creases and folds that wearing has produced in the muslin, and have an old expression in spite of all the trouble that it has cost. If the silk is to be cut up for trimmings it will pay to line them. Bias frills and side-plaited ruffles can be lined with coarse Swiss and folds and bias bands interlined with old thin muslin which has been nicely starched and ironed. Attention to these small details will do much toward giving a new look to the material.
Grease spots in any goods should be taken off as soon as they appear, as they yield to treatment much more readily before dirt finds a lodgment in them. Benzine is one of the best agencies in use for removing grease from woolen dresses. Some people consider it best to wet the spot first with cold water, and apply the benzine within the circumference of the watermark, asserting that even upon colored silk fabrics no trace of the benzine will be left after exposure to the air.
Taking out spots which have destroyed or impaired the original color is a difficult matter and one that will need experimenting upon in each case. Sometimes a mixture of camphor and borax is efficacious, and in others strong beer is a beneficial application. If acids have caused the trouble, a weak solution of ammonia will often have a good effect. Sometimes an application of liquid blacking upon the faded or discolored spot mends the matter, but that succeeds best on material that has a nap or rough surface.
A solution made by boiling logwood chips in a little water is said to be very good for restoring the color of black cashmere and the other smooth woolen goods. It should be applied to the spot with a sponge, and the operation should be repeated several times, drying the goods after each application, and finally pressing it with a warm iron.