The cleaners' bill is a serious item in the household expenses, especially during the foggy winter months. Comparatively few people, however, are aware that not only white and darker-coloured fur stoles and muffs, children's white furry caps, capes, and hoods, but light cloth coats and skirts, silk and satin evening frocks, white and light-coloured suede or kid gloves, satin slippers, and lace and net blouses - almost everything which will not wash, in fact - may be dry cleaned satisfactorily at home with the help of such simple commodities as cornflour, bran, dry salt, and petrol.
Petrol, however, must be used out of doors only, far away from any fire or light. Petrol should not be allowed in the house on any pretext whatever; for, while perfectly harmless if used in the open air and invaluable for dry cleaning purposes, the vapour which it gives off, directly it comes in contact with the air, is terribly explosive and inflammable. A glowing cigarette end or a lighted match is enough to cause a terrible accident in the confined space of a room.
Ermine can be cleaned splendidly with cornflour, which must be scattered thickly over the fur and rubbed well in with the tips of the ringers, and then brushed out most thoroughly with a clean, soft, white-bristled brush. If the fur is very dirty repeat the process, and it should then look absolutely glisteningly clean and just like new.
For white fox and Arctic hare bran, which has been piled up in a big dish and put to heat in the oven until it is so hot that one can scarcely bear the hand in it, is the best possible cleaning medium. The stole or muff to be cleaned is laid on a white cloth on a table, and the hot bran heaped over it and rubbed thoroughly in, brushed out again, and again covered with a second dishful of hot bran. It must then be brushed and lightly beaten out with a fine cane, and given a final wiping with a fine, dry, white huckaback towel, when it should look absolutely snowy white again.
Both the cornflour and the bran cleaning processes create a great deal of white dust, so that it is wise to tie an enveloping handkerchief round one's hair, and, if possible, to conduct one's operations in the bathroom, where the fine powder can easily be wiped up with a damp cloth after it settles, or, better still, at a table placed out of doors. Light-coloured fur, such as baummarten, may also be cleaned with hot bran, but if one adopts the plan of keeping a slightly damp towel always in readiness up in one's own room for the special purpose of wiping one's furs - be they marten, sable, the popular squirrel, or black fox - thoroughly on either side every time one takes them off before putting them away, they will keep perfectly clean and fresh until they are worn out, even in London or when used in the foggiest weather.
White furs can be successfully cleaned with hot bran, which is twice rubbed well in and then brushed out again. Finally, the fur should be wiped with a fine towel
To clean light-coloured cloth coats and skirts successfully plenty of dry kitchen salt - crushed to a fine powder - and a cleaning-pad composed of a large piece of white linen or nainsook are all that is required.
Lay the garment to be cleaned on a table and proceed to scatter salt over it with a liberal hand. Spread it gently with the finger-tips until a thin powdering of salt is evenly distributed over the entire surface. Next take the pad and rub the salt into the cloth with long downward sweeps, not round and round, as this would tend to roughen the surface and so destroy the sheen of the material. Now brush all the salt out, and go over the more soiled parts, such as the hem of the skirt and cuffs and collar of the coat, a second time, and when it has again been thoroughly brushed the excellent result achieved by this simple method will be found quite astonishing.
To clean silk and satin frocks spread a large, clean dust-sheet on a big table placed out of doors or on a piece of matting on the ground, providing in the latter case a small cushion to kneel on, and, having placed two large washhand basins, an old toothbrush, and a rather soft-bristled nailbrush in readiness, fetch the dress or dresses to be cleaned. When everything is absolutely ready, unscrew the top from the can of petrol and half fill the first basin. Screw the petrol stopper in again, and then begin cleaning operations.
First, dip the skirt or dress into the basin of petrol, and give it a gentle squeezing and sousing in it, and then proceed to spread out the dripping garment, and swiftly brush it all over in long downward sweeps, the right way of the material, from top to bottom, and then rinse and souse it up and down in the petrol again. If the dress is very dirty repeat this process a second time, and then, should it still need it, give a good rubbing to the hem with a folded pad made of white cloth, always remembering to work downwards and never round and round.
The second basin must now be half filled with petrol and the dress thoroughly rinsed in it, then gently squeeze as much petrol as possible out of it, and hang it up on a line out in the open air to dry.
Pull the dress carefully into shape before hanging it up, and again after a few minutes as it is beginning to dry. Leave it for about an hour in order to ged rid of all smell of petrol; and then, if absolutely dry and free from smell, it may be brought indoors and carefully ironed, when, if the petrol process has been properly carried out, it should look as delightfully fresh and dainty as though it had just returned from a most expensive cleaner's.
To Clean Suede Gloves
To clean white and light-coloured suede or kid gloves is a very simple matter. Sort the gloves to be cleaned, putting the white, delicately coloured, and dark-coloured ones in three separate heaps, and, having placed or nainsook
For cleaning light'coloured cloth garments, kitchen salt; crushed to a fine powder, should be applied with a pad made of white linen a couple of small bowls of petrol out of doors, and rolled one's own sleeves up above the elbows, if evening gloves are to be manipulated, proceed as follows:
Begin with the white gloves, and place them in the first bowl of petrol for a moment to soak. Then put on a pair, and, drawing them well up the wrists and arms, rub them exactly as though washing the hands in water. Rub the finger tips of one hand against the palm of the other, and pay special attention to the backs of the knuckles or to any other parts which may have been specially soiled. Peel them off and squeeze them well, and then souse them in the second bowl of fresh petrol, and, having squeezed out as much petrol as possible, pull the gloves gently but firmly into shape, seeing that the fingers are straight and not twisted before hanging them over a clean line to dry. Clean the rest of the white gloves in the same way.
Net and lace blouses clean splendidly in petrol. They must be squeezed, not wrung, after being soused, then pulled into shape and hung in the air to eliminate any odour of petrol
Next put the delicate, grey, or tan gloves into the first bowl of petrol, if not too dirty; or, if there is a decided deposit of dirt in it, put the dark gloves in to soak, and clean the light ones in the rinsing bowl.
To Clean Satin Slippers
White and delicately coloured satin slippers clean beautifully with petrol. If only slightly soiled, they may be merely rubbed over with a rag dipped in petrol, but if rather more dirty they should be put bodily into a bowl of petrol and brushed gently, the right way of the satin, with a soft toothbrush until all marks have been removed, then they should be taken out of the basin and all superfluous petrol squeezed out. They must then be firmly pulled into shape and the toes stuffed with tissue paper, and left out in the air until almost dry. Then the paper must be taken out - it will have become more or less saturated with petrol, and must, therefore, on no account, be brought in contact with a fire - and the shoes must be left out in the open air for another hour, when they are ready to be wrapped up and put away. If the nap of the satin has been at all rubbed, either in dancing or incidentally during the cleaning process, it should be smoothed down gently into place directly the shoes are taken from the petrol and while they are still wet.
As a rule, all net and lace blouses which will not wash will clean splendidly in petrol. They should be well soused, and the soiled parts, such as the collars and cuffs, well scrubbed with a soft brush, then squeezed - not wrung - pulled carefully into shape, and hung up to dry; and when thoroughly dry and free from smell, after hanging in the open air for at least an hour, they should be carefully ironed, and stuffed with tissue paper before being put away.
It should be remembered that it is easier to clean things the first time than the second or third. Surfaces roughen with use, and dust, smoke, and dirt fasten more quickly to a rough material than to a smooth, and are much more difficult to remove. For this reason the rubbing of the finger-tips in gloves, or the soiled parts in satin shoes or bodices, should be done with as gentle a hand as is compatible with removing the grime. And no hard brush should ever be used.
Before cleaning, all necessary mending should take place, for thin places, if not efficiently strengthened, will probably become full of holes with the handling.
If there are holes under the arms in a blouse, put some thin material of the same quality and darn over, or remove the side piece altogether and put fresh. If the cuffs are frayed, turn in, bind, or retrieve them before cleaning.
With gloves, the mending process should always be done before cleaning, for the place where the seam has come unstitched is sure to stretch with cleaning. Buttons should be sewn on, so that when the gloves are cleaned on the hands they are not pulled out of shape.
Gloves and satin slippers are best cleaned with petrol. As this is most inflammable, the process should be carried out on a table out of doors, never in an ordinary room or near a fire or light Photos G- B. Crozier