Many a woman without servants, or with those untrained, must do her own washing and ironing, or train others to do it, and this is the most trying department of housekeeping. The following may aid in lessening labor and care.
It saves washing and is more healthful to use flannel shirts. Farmers, sailors, and soldiers have found by experience that they are more comfortable than cotton or linen, even in the hottest days. Many gentlemen use them for common wear, changing to a cotton-flannel night-gown for sleeping. So young children can have a flannel jacket and flannel drawers sewed to the jacket in front, and buttoned behind, and change them at night for cotton-flannel made in the same way. The under-garments for women may be made of the same material and pattern, and this will save washing and promote health.
Some ladies economize time and labor by wearing three-cornered lace articles for the neck, trimmed with imitation Valenciennes lace, wash them in their wash-bowl, whiten in soap-suds in a tumbler or bowl in their window, stiffen with gum-arabic, and after stretching, press under weights between clean papers. This is a happy contrivance when on a journey or without servants. Those who wish to save all needless labor in washes should have under-garments and night-gowns made in sack forms or other fashions that save in both material and labor. They also should omit ruffles and other trimmings that increase the labor of ironing.
There is nothing which tends more effectually to secure good washing than a full supply of all conveniences. A plenty of soft water is a very important item. When this can not be had, lye or soda can be put in hard water, to soften it. Borax is safer than soda, which turns white clothes yellow, and injures texture. Buy crude borax, and for a common washing use half an ounce. A borax soap is thus made: To a pound of bar-soap, cut in small pieces, put a quart of hot water and an ounce of powdered borax. Heat and mix, but do not boil, cool and cut into cakes, and use like hard 6oap. Soak the white clothes in a suds made of this soap over night, and it saves much rubbing. Two wash-forms are needed; one for the two tubs in which to put the suds, and the other for bluing and starching-tubs. Four tubs, of different sizes, are necessary; also, a large wooden dipper, (as metal is apt to rust;) two or three pails; a grooved washboard; a clothes-line, (sea-grass or horse-hair is best;) a wash-stick to move clothes when boiling, and a wooden fork to take them out. Soap-dishes, made to hook on the tubs, save soap and time. Provide, also, a clothes-bag, in which to boil clothes; an indigo-bag, of double flannel; a starch-strainer, of coarse linen; a bottle of ox-gall for calicoes; a supply of starch, neither sour nor musty; several dozens of clothes-pins, which are cleft sticks, used to fasten clothes on the line; a bottle of dissolved gum-arabic; two clothes-baskets; and a brass or copper kettle, for boiling clothes, as iron is apt to rust. A closet for keeping all these things is a great convenience. Tubs, pails, and all hooped wooden ware, should be kept out of the sun, and in a cool place, or they will fall to pieces.