Before washing a new dress, try a small piece of the material, and see if the colours are likely to stand of themselves. They are generally fast, if the article is so well printed that the wrong side is difficult to distinguish from the right. If you obtain from the store a small slip for testing the durability of the colours, give it a fair trial, by washing it through two warm waters with soap, and then rinsing it through two cold waters. No colours whatever will stand, if washed in hot water. Some colours, (very bright pinks and light greens particularly,) though they may bear washing perfectly well, will change as soon as a warm iron is applied to them; the pink turning purplish, and the green bluish.
The colours of merinoes, mousselines de laine, ginghams, chintzes, printed lawns, etc., may be preserved in washing by mixing a table-spoonful of ox-gall in the first and second waters, (which should not be more than lukewarm,) and making a lather of the soap and water before you put in the dress, instead of rubbing the soap on it afterwards. At the last, to brighten the colours, stir into the second rinsing-water a small tea-spoonful of oil of vitriol, if the dress is that of a grown person; for a child's dress, half a tea-spoonful will suffice. If washed at home, one of the ladies of the family should herself put in the vitriol, as, if left to the servants, they may injure the dress by carelessly putting in too much. Vitriol is excellent for preserving light or delicate colours.
The colours of a common calico or mousseline de laine may be set by putting into each of the two warm waters a large handful of salt, and into each rinsing water a tea-spoonful of vinegar.
No coloured articles should be allowed to remain in the water, as soaking will cause the colours to run in streaks. As soon as the dress is washed and rinsed, let it be im mediately wrung out, hung in the shade, and, as soon as dry enough, taken in and ironed at once. Each dress should be washed separately. The washing of dresses should only be undertaken in fine weather.