The sun, as it bleaches white fabrics, may be counted in this group. Chemical bleaches are used to whiten clothes, but should not be re-sorted to unless clothes are yellow from poor washing, as in the end they weaken the fabric. Commercial laundries sometimes use an excess of acid for this purpose. Cream of tartar is a harmless bleach. Javelle water is another household bleach, chloride of lime being the bleaching substance. This is also a good disinfectant.
Dissolve cream of tartar in hot water,
1 teaspoonful to each quart. After the yellowed fabrics have been thoroughly washed and rinsed, lay them overnight in a solution of this strength, rinse, blue, and dry in the morning.
| pound chloride of lime, 1 pound sal soda,
2 quarts of cold water. Dissolve the chloride in half the water cold, and the sal soda in the other half boiling. Stir together thoroughly, allow the mixture to stand several hours, pour off the clear water with care, and bottle it. Use a tablespoonful of the solution to a gallon of water, and heat the yellow fabric in this mixture after thorough washing, for half an hour, not allowing the temperature to rise above 100° F. Rinse very thoroughly before bluing and drying.
Bluing is used to neutralize the slightly yellowish tint of the fabric, when it cannot be completely bleached.
Ultramarine blue is sold in small balls and cakes.
Aniline blue is a strong color, and in a very dilute solution gives a pleasing pearly tint to the fabric, especially when the violet tint is used. Mix an ounce of the blue with one gallon water, and bottle for use.
Prussian blue is to be avoided, since it is a salt of iron, and often yellows or spots the clothes. It is usually sold in liquid form. To test, mix the liquid blue with a strong solution of washing soda and heat. If the mixture turns red, and there is a reddish precipitate, the blue is this salt of iron.
Starch is used to fill the interstices of fabrics and give a smoothness and stiffness to the cloth that prevents the rumpling of garments. Both wheat and cornstarch are used for laundry purposes when only the natural starches are available, the wheat starch being better for home laundering, as the cornstarch gives a quality that is too stiff and crackling. Recently, however, the manufacturers have learned to make "thin boiling" starches from corn and have placed on the market a variety of such modifications of cornstarch for laundry use. Rice starch or "rice water" is used for very thin muslins.