Scouring with benzine has proved to be one of the best methods, since the end is accomplished without shrinkage or injurious effect upon the colour or finish, so that the garments need not be taken apart, nor lace or velvet trimmings be taken off, while with men's clothing it is not noticeable that they have been washed. The articles, freed from dust and dirt by beating them while dry, are thoroughly moistened with benzine in a tinned-copper or stoneware vessel, and well squeezed in it with the hands; silk pieces, ribbons, and heavier portions that may require it being brushed well on a zinc-covered table supplied with a tube beneath for re-collecting the benzine. The deepest stains are marked and treated more thoroughly. The articles are similarly treated in a second bath of benzine, and then carefully dried in a centrifugal machine for 10 to 15 minutes, the benzine being recollected in a vessel beneath. On removal from it they are smoothed out and hung in a warm drying-room, with access of air. It will require 10 to 12 hours after they are dry to remove the odour completely.
Since benzine acts principally upon fatty matter, stains of street mud, meal, etc, may remain, and must be removed by gently rubbing with a soft sponge dipped in cold water to which a little alcohol has been added, and then drying with a soft silk cloth. Sugar, champagne, and egg stains are also removed with cold water, and the colour is brought up again with a little acetic acid and alcohol in water, the spots being well rubbed out. Blood spots are treated similarly. In all these cases the formation of marginal stains around the spots must be prevented by thorough use of the soft sponge and soft silk cloth. An article that still retains decided stains is brushed with a cold decoction of soap-bark, to which some alcohol has been added, and is then rapidly passed through water, and then through water slightly acidulated with acetic acid, and dried rapidly. Kid gloves are well rubbed with the hands, separately, in benzine, and each finger then rubbed on a stretcher with a rag, and after being blown out are hung up to dry. Articles treated with benzine need but little subsequent finishing, and this may be accomplished by applying a solution of gum arabic in water, and a little alcohol, uniformly with a rag, and ironing.
Portions of coats that have been taken apart need simply to be stretched and moistened uniformly with alcohol, and allowed to dry rapidly. Heavy cloth, velvets, etc, after being well steamed, are treated on the wrong side with so little dressing (best of tragacanth) that it does not go through, and are then placed on the finishing frame or warm drum. White furs and angora tassels are passed immediately from the benzine through pulverized chalk, and allowed to dry, and are then beaten out, when the leather will remain elastic and the fur look well. Benzine that has become turbid by use may be purified by stirring 10 drops of oil of vitriol thoroughly into about 2 bucketfuls of it, and allowing it to settle. The operations must, of course, not be conducted near the lamp or fire, on account of the combustibility of benzine.
The scouring board for French cleaning ought to be 6 ft. long and 3 ft. wide, and should be made of 1-in. American pine, free from splits and knots, and planed very smooth and level. One side of this board is covered with green or drab baize, stretched very tight and smooth, and fastened to the edges by tinned-tacks. Besides this board will be required 3 silk - scouring brushes, of different degrees of hardness - these should be bought of a dyers' brush-maker; a large sponge, some clean pieces of flannel, and some clean India-cotton cloths and sheets.
Camphine is a variety of spirits of turpentine, and is obtained from the Pinus australis of the Southern States of America. It is sold in sealed tin boxes or cans, containing 1 qt., 2 qt., or 1 gal. each, and can be obtained at almost any oil shop or drysalter's. When it is too dirty for further use, it is taken back to the shop at which it was purchased and exchanged for clean; one pint of clean camphine being given for each quart of that which is dirty.
Common Sour is prepared by stirring into clean water sufficient oil of vitriol to make it taste sharp. The vitriol is to be bought at a dry Salter's, not at a chemist's.