The usefulness of liquid ammonia is not as universally known among housewives as it deserves to be. If you add some of it to a soap-suds made of a mild soap, it will prevent the flannel from becoming yellow or shrinking. It is the potash and soda contained in sharp soap which tends to color animal fibers yellow; the shrinking may also be partially due to this agency, but above all to the exposure of the flannel while wet to the extremes of low or high temperatures. Dipping it in boiling water or leaving it out in the rain will also cause it to shrink and become hard. To preserve their softness, flannels should be washed in tepid suds, rinsed in tepid water, and dried rapidly at a moderate heat.
Wash with the hands in warm suds (if much soiled, soak in warm water two or three hours), rinse thoroughly, and starch in thick starch, dry out doors if the day be clear; if not, place between dry cloth, roll tightly and put away till dry; then, with the fingers, open each row and pull out smoothly (have a cup of clean water in which to dip the fingers or dampen the lace); then pull out straight the outer edge of each with the thumb and finger, and draw the binding over the point or side of a hot iron. If the ruche is single, or only two rows, it can be ironed after being smoothed (the first process). Blonde or net, that has become yellow, can be bleached by hanging in the sun or laying out over night in the dew.
- Take a table-spoon of alum, and dissolve it in enough lukewarm water to rinse a print dress. Dip the soiled dress into it, taking care to wet thoroughly every part of it, and then wring it out. Have warm, not hot, suds all ready, and wash out the dress quickly; then rinse it in cold water. (White castile soap is the best for colored cottons, if it can be commanded.) Have the starch ready, but not too hot; rinse the dress in it, wring it out, and hang it wrong side out to dry, but not in the sun. Place it where the wind will strike it rather than the sun. When dry, iron directly. Prints should never be sprinkled; but, if allowed to become rough dry, they should be ironed under a damp cloth. It is better to wash them some day by themselves, when washing and ironing can be done at once.
Make a strong suds of boiling water and soft soap - hard soap makes flannels stiff and wiry - put them in, pressing them down under the water with a clothes-stick; when cool enough rub the articles carefully between the hands, then wring - but not through the wringer - as dry as possible, shake, snap out, and pull each piece into its original size and shape, then throw immediately into another tub of boiling water, in which you have thoroughly mixed some nice bluing. Shake them up and down in this last water with a clothes-stick until cool enough for the hands, then rinse well, wring, shake out and pull into shape - the snapping and pulling are as necessary as the washing - and hang in a sunny place where they will dry quickly. Many prefer to rinse in two waters with the bluing in the last, and this is always advisable when there are many flannels.