The Soaking Process - The Question of Economy - The Need for Good Management Preliminary Arrangements

Whether washing should be done at home, except where a laundrymaid and a well-equipped laundry are kept, is a much-asked question. From the economical housekeeper's point of view the answer would certainly be " Yes," where the necessary accommodation exists, even though a full laundry establishment is lacking. The saving of actual money is perhaps not very great, but the saving in the wear and tear of the clothes themselves is unquestionable. Another advantage is that when the washing is done at home there is not so likely to be a grudging use of clean linen as when everything has to be sent out and paid for separately. Cleanliness is one of the first laws of health, and restriction in the use of clean linen should be the last means of saving resorted to.

The discomfort of a washing-day frightens many people from attempting such work at home, but with a little forethought and management it is quite possible to reduce this discomfort to a minimum, and have the washing done and the wheels of the household still run smoothly. One very important point is to have the work started early in the day; early rising is indispensable, and two hours added to the washing-day is not too much. Then, of course, a considerable amount of practice is necessary before skill can be acquired, and, although theory alone is of little value, the more we learn the more we can save ourselves.

The Need for Good Management

Nowadays no woman despises knowledge of domestic detail, but it is not only knowledge of how the work should be done that is necessary, but organising skill. Good management, as well as knowledge of details, is the basis of peace in a household, and even cleanliness is dearly bought if it is to be at the expense of everyone's comfort and good temper.

Preliminary Arrangements

Washing should be done as early as possible in the week, and preparations made on the previous day. It is much better to wash each week rather than to allow soiled linen to accumulate.

Collect all the soiled clothes and divide them first into three different lots:

1. Flannels.

2. Coloured prints, coloured muslins, and fancy articles.

3. White things.

Shake the flannels, to rid them of any loose dust, and put them, dry, into a bag or basket until the next day.

Do the same with the coloured prints and muslins and fancy articles, except in the case of prints where the colour is known to be fast. These may be soaked in cold water overnight.

White things should be subdivided into smaller lots, according to the number of tubs' available for soaking, such as:

1. Underclothing and bed-linen.

2. Table-linen.

3. Pocket-handkerchiefs.

4. Collars, cuffs, and shirts.

5. Muslins, laces, and fine things.

6. Kitchen towels and coarse cloths and aprons.

Remove all stains, untie all strings, unfasten any buttons, remove studs, and run together any tears with a needle and thread to prevent their being made worse in the washing.

The Soaking Process

Then place each lot in a tub or large basin and cover with warm water. If the water is hard, either borax or soda may be added.

Soda must only be used for the coarser and dirtier things, and in the proportion of one ounce to a gallon of water. It must be dissolved first in boiling water, or it may cause brown marks, or even burn holes in the material. *

Borax is safer to use in the case of finer articles, and a tablespoonful to a gallon of water will be sufficient. It is quite harmless, and at the same time helps to dissolve the grease in the clothes.

Rub soap on all the more solid parts of the clothes or add a little melted soap to the soaking-water.

Handkerchiefs should always be soaked by themselves. A large basin will be sufficient for the purpose, and it is a good plan to add a handful of salt to the water, especially if colds are prevalent in the house.

Very dusty things, such as window-blinds and muslin curtains, should be soaked in plain cold water, and the water should be changed several times until some of the soot and dust is removed.

Allow the clothes to soak all night, or at least for several hours. The steeping helps to loosen the dirt, and thus saves a certain amount of rubbing, which is so injurious to many fabrics.

Other Preliminaries

To make soap jelly (recipe for which was given in the article on Fine Flannel Washing, Part 1 Every Woman's Encyclop∆dia); clear or hot-water starch and cold-water starch; to lay the boiler fire and fill the boiler; to see that all utensils are clean and ready for use, and all necessary materials to hand.

On the morning of the day on which the washing is to be done, light the boiler fire; then, while it is drawing up, take a light breakfast or cup of tea or coffee before commencing the work.