If the morning happens to be Monday, the washing is probably in progress in the average American family. The mistress should understand the chemical principles involved and every detail of the work, in order that the best results may be secured, and that the clothes may not be harmed.
The fibres of cotton, silk, and wool vary greatly in their structure and a knowledge of this structure as shown under the microscope, may guide to proper methods of treatment. Fig. 17.
The fibres of cotton, though tubular, become much flattened during the process of manufacture, and under the microscope, show a characteristic twist, with the ends gradually tapering to a point. It is this twist, which makes them capable of being made into a firm, hard thread.
The wool fibre, like human hair, is marked by transverse divisions, and these divisions are serrated. These teeth become curled, knotted or tangled together by rubbing, by very hot water, or by strong alkalies. This causes shrinking, which should be prevented. When the two fibres are mixed, there is less opportunity for the little teeth to become entangled and therefore there is less shrinkage.
Linen fibres are much like cotton, with slight notches or joints along the walls. These notches serve to hold the fibres closely together, and enable them to be felted to form paper. Linen, then, will shrink, though not so much as wool, for the fibres are more wiry and the teeth much shorter.
Silk fibres are perfectly smooth and when rubbed, simply slide over each other. This produces a slight shrinkage in the width of woven fabrics.
Cotton and wool differ greatly in their resistance to the treatment of chemicals. Cotton is very little affected by a solution of the alkalies, when the cloth is well rinsed. If the alkali is not removed completely, however, it becomes very concentrated when the cloth dries, and as it generally acts for a long time, the fibre may be weakened or "tendered."
Cold dilute solutions of the acids have no very great effect on cotton, provided always that they are completely washed out. Strong or hot solutions of acids have a very decided deleterious action, and even a very minute quantity of acid dried on the goods tenders the fibre badly.
Wool resists the acids well, but is much harmed by the action of the alkalies. A warm solution of caustic soda or caustic potash will dissolve wool quickly and completely. The carbonates, like washing soda, have not such a decided effect, but they make the wool harsh and less flexible.
Linen resembles cotton and silk is much like wool in the resistance to chemical action, but the linen is more affected by the alkalies than cotton and silk is more acted on by acids than wool.
That cotton fibre is not seriously affected by alkalies is shown by the process of mercerization. In this process, patented by Mercer in 1852, the cotton threads are treated with a strong solution of caustic soda while under tension. The fibres lose their twisted and hollow shape and become more rod-like and nearly solid, as shown in Fig. 18. The threads have a tendency to shrink considerably, but are prevented by the tension. This and the method of manipulation gives the mercerized fabric the characteristic gloss somewhat resembling silk.
In laundering, the best practice seems to be to soak the white clothes at least, in cold water or in luke-warm suds. The badly soiled portions may be soaped and rolled tightly to keep the soap where it is
Fig. 16. Dish Washing Machine Used in Large Hotels and Soaking most needed. The water should be well softened, and a very little extra washing soda solution may be added. The soaking loosens the dirt and saves much rubbing and hence wear on the clothes. It is probable that the cleansing wears out the articles which make up the weekly wash more than the actual use they receive.
After washing the clothes, they may be wrung out and put into a boiler of cold water, which is then heated and boiled briskly for a little while. Whether to boil, or not to boil the clothes depends largely upon the purity of the materials used. If there is any iron in the water, or elsewhere, it is sure to be deposited on the goods, thus producing yellowness. Soap may be added to the clothes in the boiler, or borax may be used, allowing a tablespoonful to every gallon of water. The borax serves as a bleacher and as an aid in the disinfection of the clothes. One great advantage of boiling is the additional disinfection which this insures.
After washing, the clothes should be thoroughly rinsed. They cannot be clean otherwise and proper rinsing is essential to successful washing. The more thoroughly the wash water is removed between rinsings, the less number of rinsings will be required to give the same results.
Bluing is frequently added to the last rinsing water to counteract, or cover up, any yellowness. A light blue appears to the eye whiter than a light yellow.
The color is, however, gray in comparison with white, Most of the liquid bluing now on the market contains Prussian Blue, a compound of iron. This compound is decomposed by soap and alkalies, when the goods are next washed, making a slight yellow stain of iron on the cloth. Frequent repetitions of this action may give a distinctly yellow shade to the white goods. The indigo blue used a generation or more ago did not have this objection. It is said that white goods which have never been blued, never require bluing.
Stains and all special deposits should be removed before the goods are treated with soap or soda, as these frequently set the stains. Hot water will spread any grease and also set many stains, so the clothes when not soaked, should be wet thoroughly in cold or luke-warm water before washing.
Colored goods and prints require more delicate treatment than white goods. If they are soaked, the water should be cold and contain very little soap and no soda. Only dissolved soap should be used in washing them, and this should be of good quality, free from alkali. They should be dried with the wrong side out and in the shade, for direct sunlight fades colors about twenty times as much as reflected light.
All wool goods require the greatest care in washing. The different waters used should be of the same temperature and never too hot to be borne comfortably by the hand.
Fig. 17. Textile Fibres Much Magnified, a, Wool; b, Mohair; C, Cotton; d, Silk; e, Linen
The soap used should be in the form of a thin soap solution. No soap should be rubbed on the fabric and only a good, white soap, free from rosin, is allowable. Make each water slightly soapy and leave a very little in the fabric at the end, to furnish a dressing as nearly like the original as possible.
Many persons prefer ammonia or borax in place of the soap. For pure white flannel, borax gives the best satisfaction on account of its bleaching quality. Whatever alkali is chosen, care should be exercised in the quantity taken. Only enough should be used to make the water very soft.
The fibres of wool collect much dust upon their tooth-like projections and this should be thoroughly brushed or shaken off before the fabric is put into water. All friction should be by squeezing, not by rubbing. Wool should not be wrung by hand. Either run the fabric smoothly through a wringer or squeeze the water out, that the fibres may not be twisted. Wool may be well dried by rolling the article tightly in a thick dry towel or sheet and squeezing the whole till all moisture is absorbed. Wool should not be allowed to freeze, for the teeth will become knotted and hard. Above all, the drying should be accomplished quickly, and in short, the less time that is taken in washing, rinsing, and drying, the less will be the shrinkage and the better will be the result.
Fig. 18. Sections of Ordinary and Mercerized Cotton Fibres
Some of the clothes are starched. This in addition to making them stiffer and giving them a better appearance helps to keep them clean longer. Practically all the household starch on the market is corn starch, although in the textile industries and large laundries, wheat, potato and rice starches are used. Corn starch has the greatest stiffening effect, but wheat starch and rice starch penetrate better and give a more flexible finish.
To make cooked starch for ordinary work, wet 1/4 cup with 1/4 cup of water and pour on one quart of boiling water. Boil thoroughly till clear. Use double the quantity of starch for stiff starching. Borax may be added - 1/2 to I level tablespoon to a quart - to increase the gloss and penetrability and to prevent the iron from sticking. Lard, wax or paraffine is sometimes cooked with the starch for the same purpose - 1/4 tablespoon to a quart.
For very stiff starching, as for collars, the thick paste should be rubbed thoroughly into the goods and the excess wiped off with a damp cloth, after which the goods is dried before a fire.
The prepared starches, to be used cold, contain borax. This may just as well be added to cheaper preparations. As the uncooked starch depends upon the heat of the iron to swell and stiffen it, a hotter iron is required than with boiled starch.
For producing an ecru shade in curtains, coffee is sometimes added in quantity to give the desired color. A solution of gum arabic is sometimes used to stiffen dark colored clothes which would show the white color of the starch.
A Method Of Folding Dresses, Shirts And Sheets OR Table Cloths
Method Of Folding Underclothes