Advantages of Soft Water - How to Soften Hard Water - Soap - Soda - Borax - Ammonia - Starch

Blue - Salt - Gum Arabic - Turpentine - Bran

Water. A plentiful supply of soft water is very necessary for laundry purposes. By soft water is meant water in which soap will lather easily, and this depends upon whether the water contains certain mineral substances or not. Rain-water is the softest water obtainable, and if it can be collected clean, and in sufficient quantity, it is the best for washing clothes. When hard water has to be used, some softening substance must be added to it, such as soda, ammonia, or borax. It is impossible to wash well in hard water, as the soap does not dissolve.

Soap And Soda

Soap. Common yellow soap is the best for washing. A good quality should be bought, as the cheap makes contain a large percentage of water and waste quickly. Soap should be bought in fairly large quantities, then cut into pieces and left to thoroughly dry before use.

Soap has great cleansing properties; it renders grease soluble, and forms a lather with water; it would be impossible to cleanse most clothes without it.

Soda. Soda is used to soften water, but must be dissolved in boiling water previous to use. It acts on grease, making it easily removable. Soda must never be used for coloured things, as it will either fade or entirely take out the colour. Neither must it be employed for woollen things, as it has the property of shrinking these and making them hard. Soda is specially valuable in the washing of strong and coarse articles, and things that are dirty and greasy. It should be put into a covered jar and kept dry. It is cheaper when bought by the stone.

Borax. This is also used to soften water, and it is a much simpler preparation than soda. It does not destroy colour, and can be used with the finest articles. It is also used for stiffening and glossing linen. It may be obtained either as a powder or in lump form. The latter is the purer, but as it has to be dissolved before use, the powder is usually preferred.

Ammonia. This is another water softener, and is particularly valuable in the washing of woollen goods. It must not be used too freely, or it will weaken the fibre of the wool, and never for the washing of coloured articles. The quantity to be used will depend upon the strength of the ammonia. It should be kept in a tightly corked bottle.

Other Laundry Requisites

Starch. This is used for stiffening different kinds of material. It gives clothes a fresher, crisper appearance, and prevents them becoming so easily soiled. Starch is obtained from every kind of grain, but principally from wheat and rice. The best and finest work is done with rice starch. According to the amount of stiffness required, the starch is mixed with hot or cold water. Cold water makes the stiffer starch.

Blue. This is added to the water in which white things are rinsed, to give them a good colour and to counteract the yellow tinge given by wear and washing. There are many different kinds of blue, but the solid or stone blue is the most easily managed. When a cake is required, it should be tied in a small woollen bag or piece of calico.

Salt. Used for fixing certain colours. It is usually put in the rinsing water, as it would be impossible to wash in salted water.

Gum Arabic. Used for stiffening purposes, especially fine articles such as lace and silk.

Turpentine. This is used in cold-water starch to give a gloss and to make the iron run smoothly.

Bran. It is used in laundry work for the washing of sewn work where the colours are liable to run. It also gives a slight stiffness.