( Originally Published Early 1900’s )
Importance of proper care.-Not a small share of the dissatisfaction that arises among consumers of textiles regarding specific fabrics is due to lack of proper care of the cloth. Each textile has its own constitution and therefore needs its special attention. Linen must be treated differently from cotton, and both in turn must receive a care quite different from that needed by wool. Silk calls for still different care. A textile fabric cannot be expected to give its fullest service unless cared for according to its specific qualities.
GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR CARE OF TEXTILES
Certain general observations concerning the care of textiles are applicable to all alike; these we shall first note. Such little attentions as keeping garments and fabrics free from dust by frequent brushings are matters of everyday knowledge by all, but are by no means always observed. Nor is the danger from dust clearly understood. If dust were simply dead, inert matter as it seems to the eye, there would be little danger of loss from letting garments and cloths go undusted for some time. But dust, unfortunately, usually contains great numbers of little germs, living organisms, that fly about with currents of air, seeking food and resting places. It so happens that the textile fibers are excellent foods for some of these germs. Leaving the dust on a garment may mean leaving some of these hungry and industrious little germs which attach themselves upon a fabric and multiply at a very rapid rate, soon covering entire spots if not whole garments. When this has occurred, no amount of brushing can dislodge them all. They eat their way into the very heart of the fiber, leaving it weakened, discolored, and dust stained.
Protection from mildew.-One of the commonest forms of cloth destruction is that called mildew. Mildew is caused by the penetration of large numbers of microscopic plants into the cloth fiber. When the work of these tiny forms of life has gone far enough, the color of the fabric changes and in time the cloth actually falls to pieces; nothing remains but the mildew plants themselves and their waste matter. Knowing these facts concerning the dangers of dust, we can see the value of the injunction to brush clothing after every using and to store it or hang it away only after it is perfectly dry. Moisture helps these little organisms materially.
Unused garments should be hung away carefully so that wrinkles may not form. Sleeves of valuable garments should be pressed out flat or filled with tissue paper. All spots should be removed as soon as possible for fresh spots or stains are always more easily eradicated than old ones. Light injures some colors, especially on fabrics that were never intended for daytime use. Such fabrics should be kept in dark, cool closets, or should be so wrapped as to keep out sharp light.
Storing textiles.-Storing goods is a science in itself. Providing the right temperature and the right amount of moisture, regulating the light-such things are matters which need to be carefully studied by anyone who has anything to do with textiles. Cloths and garments to be stored should, as a rule, be wrapped in blue, brown, or other dark-colored paper, first, for the sake of protection from light which penetrates lighter papers more easily, and, second, because light papers-whites and yellowstend to spot light-colored fabrics with yellow, as the bleaching process used in whitening paper is cheap and somewhat imperfect.
Goods to be packed should be perfectly dry, clean., brushed, and in order, that is, properly folded. All steel pins should be carefully removed or rust spots will form. Cloth should be rolled into bolts, ribbons into rolls, embroidery and laces should be wound on cards. This is, to be sure, the way in which these goods come to the retail store; but the point needs to be emphasized that in this same fashion these goods should be kept, even at home, and in small quantities. Consumers should carefully heed this caution.
Protection from insects.-All textiles are subject to attacks by insect or other living organisms, commonly called pests, the particular variety depending upon the given textile. As we have already seen, mildew attacks cotton and linen. Mildew is similar in nature to molds, several of which attack not only vegetable fibers but also wool and silk. Housewives of the past kept insects out of their linen chests by using aromatic oils or essences, such as cloves, tobacco leaves, camphor, cedar sprigs, wintergreen, and so on. This practice had some value but these aromatic substances simply acted as deterrents. They by no means prevented all depredations. There is only one certain preventive and that is to keep the textile goods where insects cannot get at them. Above all, textile goods should be frequently looked over, aired, and dusted, so as to prevent anything that does attack them from getting a very long start.
Prevention of destruction of textiles by moths.-Recently the Bureau of Entomology of the United States Department of Agriculture concluded some practical investigations on the best methods of preventing the destruction of textile goods by moths and published a circular on the subject entitled, “The True Clothes Moths.” The following description and recommendations as to remedies are taken therefrom:
“The destructive work of the larvae of the small moths commonly known as clothes moths, and also as carpet moths, fur moths, etc., in woolen fabrics, fur and similar material during the warm months of summer in the North, and in the South at any season, is an altogether too common experience. The preference they so often show for woolen or fur garments gives these insects a much more general interest than is perhaps true of any other household pest.
“The little yellowish or buff-colored moths sometimes seen flitting about rooms, attracted to lamps at night, or dislodged from infested garments or portieres, are themselves harmless enough, and in fact their mouth-parts are rudimentary, and no food whatever is taken in the winged state. The destruction occasioned by these pests is, therefore, limited entirely to the feeding or larval stage. The killing of the moths by the aggrieved housekeeper, while usually based on the wrong inference that they are actually engaged in eating her woolens, is nevertheless a most valuable proceeding, because it checks in so much the multiplication of the species which is the sole duty of the adult insect.
“The clothes moths all belong to the group of minute Lepidoptera known as Tineina, the old Latin name for cloth worms of all sorts, and are characterized by very narrow wings fringed with long hairs. The common species of clothes moths have been associated with man from the earliest times and are thoroughly cosmopolitan. They are all probably of Old World origin, none of them being indigenous to the United States. That they were well known to the ancients is shown by job’s reference to a “garment that is moth eaten,” and Pliny has given such an accurate description of one of them as to lead to the easy identification of the species. That they were early introduced into the United States is shown by Pehr Kalm, a Swedish scientist, who took a keen interest in house pests. He reported these tineids to be abundant in 1748 in Philadelphia, then a straggling village, and says that clothes, worsted gloves, and other woolen stuffs hung up all summer were often eaten through and through by the worms, and furs were so ruined that the hair would come off in handfuls.
“What first led to the association of these and other household pests with man is an interesting problem. In the case of the clothes moths, the larvae of all of which can, in case of necessity, still subsist on almost any dry animal matter, their early association with man was probably in the role of scavengers, and in prehistoric times they probably fed on waste animal material about human habitations and on fur garments. The fondness they exhibit nowadays for tailor-made suits and other expensive products of the loom is simply an illustration of their ability to keep pace with man in his development in the matter of clothing from the skin garments of savagery to the artistic products of the modern tailor and dressmaker.
“Three common destructive species of clothes moths occur in this country. Much confusion, however, exists in all the early writings on these insects, all three species being inextricably mixed in the description and accounts of habits.
“The common injurious clothes moths are the case-making species (Tinea pellionella L.), the webbing species or Southern clothes moth (Tineola biselliella Hummel), and the gallery species or tapestry moth (Trichophaga tapetzella L. ) . “A few other species, which normally infest animal products, may occasionally also injure woolens, but are not of sufficient importance to be here noted.
“The case-making clothes moth.-The case-making clothes moth (Tinea pellionella L.) is the only species which constructs for its protection a true transportable case. It was characterized by Linnaeus, and carefully studied by Reaumur, early in the last century. Its more interesting habits have caused it to be often a subject of investigation, and its life history will serve to illustrate the habits of all the clothes moths.
“The moth expands about half an inch. Its head and forewings are grayish yellow, with indistinct fuscous spots on the middle of the wings. The hind wings are white or grayish and silky. It is the common species in the North, being widely distributed and very destructive. Its larvoe feed on woolens, carpets, etc., and are especially destructive to furs and feathers. In the North it has but one annual generation, the moths appearing from June to August, and, on the authority of Professor Fernald, even in rooms kept uniformly heated night and day, it never occurs in the larval state in winter. In the South, however, it appears from January to October, and has two or even more broods annually.
“The larva is a dull white caterpillar, with the head and the upper part of the next segment light brown, and is never seen free from its movable case or jacket, the construction of which is its first task. If it be necessary for it to change its position, the head and first segment are thrust out of the case, leaving the thoracic legs free, with which it crawls, dragging its case after it, to any suitable situation. With the growth of the larva it becomes necessary from time to time to enlarge the case both in length and circumference, and this is accomplished in a very interesting way. Without leaving its case the larva makes a slit halfway down one side and inserts a triangular gore of new material. A similar insertion is made on the opposite side, and the larva reverses itself without leaving the case and makes corresponding slits and additions in the other half. The case is lengthened by successive additions to either end. Exteriorly the case appears to be a matted mass of small particles of wool; interiorly it is lined with soft, whitish silk. By transferring the larva from time to time to fabrics of different colors the case may be made to assume as varied a pattern as the experimenter desires, and will illustrate, in its coloring, the peculiar method of making the enlargements and additions described.
“On reaching full growth the larva attaches its case by silken threads to the garment or other material upon which it has been feeding, or sometimes carries it long distances. In one instance numbers of them were noticed to have scaled a fifteen-foot wall to attach their cases in an angle of the cornice of the ceiling. It undergoes its tranformations to the chrysalis within the larval case, and under normal conditions the moth emerges three weeks later, the chrysalis having previously worked partly out of the larval case to facilitate the escape of the moth. The latter has an irregu lar flight and can also run rapidly. It has a distinct aversion to light, and usually conceals itself promptly in garments or crevices whenever it is frightened from its resting place. The moths are comparatively short-lived, not long surviving the deposition of their eggs for a new generation of destructive larvae. The eggs are minute, not easily visible to the naked eye, and are commonly placed directly on the material which is to furnish the larva: with food. In some cases they may be deposited in the crevices of trunks or boxes, the newly hatched larvae entering through these crevices.
“The webbing, or southern clothes moth.-The webbing, or southern clothes moth (Tineola biselliella, Hummel) is the more abundant and injurious species in the latitude o£ Washington and southward. It occurs also farther north, though in somewhat less numbers than the preceding species. It presents two annual broods even in the northern states, the first appearing in June from eggs deposited in May, and the second in August and September. It is about the size of pellionella. The forewings are, however, uni formly pale ocherous, without markings or spots. Its larva feeds on a large variety of animal substances-woolens, hair, feathers, furs, and in England it has even been observed to feed on cobwebs in the corners of rooms, and in, confinement has been successfully reared on this rather dainty food substance. The report that it feeds on dried plants in herbaria is rather open to question, as its other recorded food materials are all of animal origin.
“The larva of this moth constructs no case, but spins a silky, or more properly cobwebby, path wherever it goes. When full grown, it builds a cocoon of silk, intermixed with bits of wool, resembling somewhat the case of pellionella, but more irregular in outline. Within this it undergoes its transformation to the chrysalis, and the moth in emerging leaves its pupal shell projecting out of the cocoon as with the preceding species.
“The tapestry moth.-The tapestry moth (Trichophage tapetzella, L.) is rare in the United States. It is much larger than either of the other two species, measuring three-fourths inch in expansion of wings, and is more striking in coloration. The head is white, the basal third of the forewings black, with the exterior two-thirds of a creamy white, more or less obscured on the middle with gray; the hind wings are pale gray.
“This moth normally affects rather coarser and heavier cloths than the small species and is more apt to occur in carpets, horse blankets, and tapestries than in the finer and thinner woolen fabrics. It also affects felting, furs, and skins, and is a common source of damage to the woolen upholstering of carriages, being rather more likely to occur in carriage houses and barns than in dwelling houses. Its larva enters directly into the material which it infests, constructing burrows or galleries, which it lines more or less completely with silk. Within these galleries it is protected and concealed during its larval life, and later undergoes its transformation without other protection than that afforded by the gallery. The damage is due as much or more to its burrowing than to the actual amount of the material consumed for food.
“REMEDIES.-There is no easy method of preventing the damage done by clothes moths, and to maintain the integrity of woolens or other materials which they are likely to attack demands constant vigilance, with frequent inspection and treatment. In general, they are likely to affect injuriously only articles which are put away and left undisturbed for some little time. Articles in daily or weekly use, and apartments frequently aired and swept, or used as living rooms, are not apt to be seriously affected. Carpets under these conditions are rarely attacked, except sometimes around the borders, where the insects are not so much disturbed by walking and sweeping. Agitation, such as beating, shaking, or brushing, and exposure to air and sunlight, are old remedies and still among the best at command. Various repellents, such as tobacco, camphor, naphthaline cones or balls, and cedar chips or sprigs, have a certain value if the garments are not already stocked with eggs or larvae. The odors of these repellents are so disagreeable to the parent moths that they are not likely to come to deposit their eggs as long as the odor is strong. As the odor weakens the protection decreases, and if the eggs or larvae are already present, these odors have no effect on their development; while if the moths are inclosed with the stored material to be protected by these repellents, so that they cannot escape, they will of necessity deposit their eggs, and the destructive work of the larvae will be little, if at all, restricted. After woolens have been given a vigorous and thorough treatment and aired and exposed to sunlight, however, it is of some advantage in packing them away to inclose with them any of the repellents mentioned. Cedar chests and wardrobes are of value in proportion to the freedom of the material from infestation when stored away, but, as the odor of the wood is largely lost with age, in the course of a few years the protection greatly decreases. Fur and such garments may also be stored in boxes or trunks which have been lined with heavy tar paper used in buildings. New papering should be given to such receptacles every year or two. Similarly, the tarred paper moth bags obtainable at dry-goods houses are of some value; always, however, the materials should first be subjected to the treatment outlined above.
“To protect carpets, clothes, and cloth-covered furniture, furs, etc., these should be thoroughly beaten, shaken, brushed, and exposed as long as practicable to the sunlight in early spring, either in April, May, or June, depending on the latitude. The brushing of garments is a very important. consideration, to remove the eggs or young larvae which might escape notice. Such materials can then be hung away in clothes closets which have been thoroughly cleaned, and, if necessary, sprayed with benzine about the cracks of the floor and the baseboards. If no other protection be given, the garments should be examined at least once a month; during summer, brushed, and, if necessary, exposed to sunlight.
“It would be more convenient, however, so to inclose or wrap up such material as to prevent the access of the moths to it, after it has once been thoroughly treated and aired. This can be easily effected in the case of clothing and furs by wrapping tightly in stout paper or inclosing in well-made bags of cotton or linen cloth or strong paper. Doctor Howard has adopted a plan which is inexpensive, and which he has found eminently satisfactory. For a small sum he secures a number of the large pasteboard boxes, such as tailors use, and in these packs away all winter clothing, gumming a strip of wrapping paper around the edge, so as to seal up the box completely and leave no cracks. These boxes with care will last many years. With thorough preliminary treatment it will not be necessary to use the tar-impregnated paper sacks sold as moth protectors, which may be objectionable on account of the odor.
“In the case of cloth-covered furniture and cloth-lined carriages, which are stored or left unused for considerable periods in summer, it will probably be necessary to spray them twice or three times, viz., in April, June, and August, with benzine or naphtha, to protect them from moths. These substances can be applied very readily with any small spraying device, and will not harm the material, but caution must be exercised on account of their inflammability. Another means of protecting such articles is to sponge them very carefully with a dilute solution of corrosive sublimate in alcohol, made just strong enough not to leave a white stain.
“The method of protection adopted by one of the leading furriers of Washington, who also has a large business and experience in storing costly furs, etc., is practically the course already outlined. Furs when received are first most thoroughly and vigorously beaten with small sticks, to dislodge all loosened hair and the larvae or moths. They are then gone over carefully with a steel comb and packed away in large boxes lined with heavy tar roofing paper, or in closets similarly lined with this paper. An examination is made every two to four weeks, and, if necessary, at any time, any garment requiring it is rebeaten and combed. During many years of experience in this climate, which is especially favorable to moth damage, this merchant has prevented any serious injury from moths.
“Cold storage.-The best method of protection, and the one now commonly adopted by dealers in carpets, furs, etc., is cold storage. The most economical degree of cold to be used as a protection from clothes moths and allied insects destructive to woolens and furs has been definitely determined by the careful experiments carried out at the instance of Dr. Howard by Dr. Albert M. Read, manager of a large storage warehouse company in Washington, D. C. These experiments demonstrated that a temperature maintained at 4o degrees Fahrenheit renders the larval or other stages of these insects dormant and is thoroughly effective: The larvae, however, are able to stand a steady temperature as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit without apparently experiencing any ill results. Dr. Read’s experiments have extended over two years, and his later results as reported by Dr. Howard are very interesting. They have demonstrated that while a temperature kept uniformly at 18 degrees Fahrenheit will not destroy the larvae of Tineola bisellinella or of the black carpet beetle (Attagenus piceus), an alternation of a low temperature with a comparatively high one invariably results in the death of the larvae of these two insects. For example, if larvae of either which have been kept at a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit are removed to a temperature of 4o degrees to 5o degrees Fahrenheit, they will become slightly active and, when returned to the lower temperature and kept there for a little time, will not revive upon a retransfer to the warmer temperature.
“It is recommended, therefore, that storage companies submit goods to two or three changes of temperature as noted before placing them permanently in an apartment kept at a temperature of from 4o degrees to 42 degrees Fahrenheit. The maintenance of a temperature lower than the last indicated is needless and a wasteful expense. Where the cost of cold storage is not an item to be seriously considered, the adoption of this method for protection of goods during the hot months is strongly recommended.”
Care in laundering.-Care of textiles in laundering is highly important. Many a valuable fabric has been ruined by improper washing. Beautiful colors are sometimes spoiled, while soft, smooth, finely finished goods come out of the laundry rough, hard, and ugly in appearance. How goods shall be cleaned is a matter of great importance and one upon which the salesman needs to inform his customers so that they may get the greatest service out of their purchases.
There are four things to be considered before laundering or cleaning any textile fabric:
1. The kind of weave and the probable effect of washing and rubbing upon it.
2. The kinds of textile fibers used in the fabric.
3. The weight and strength of the fabric.
4. The degree of fastness of the colors.
Kind of weave.-The kind of weave is important to this extent, that if the weave is loose and sleazy, the fabric will not stand rubbing. Certain brocades and satins or sateens, for example, are not to be rubbed because the Jacquard figures would be damaged by so doing. The plain weaves show dirt the most easily, but likewise wash the most easily. Closely woven goods in twills do not soil easily, but hold dirt very tenaciously; such fabrics need most careful washing. Any weave that helps the cloth to absorb is in its nature more difficult to clean than an open weave fabric.
Kind of fiber.-The kind of textile fibers used in the fabric should be determined in advance, for each textile fiber demands methods of laundering different from the others. For example, cotton can stand more rubbing and more soaping than any of the other fabrics in proportion to its weight and strength. But cotton is quite susceptible to damage when brought in contact with acids. The chief difficulties in laundering cotton goods are in retaining brightness of dye or printing and in ironing with irons of proper temperature. Cotton can stand a great deal of what would be abuse to other textiles.
Linen is similar to cotton in most respects. Bleached linens show tendencies to yellow with time; they then require special treatment such as exposing to sunlight and laying out on the snow or grass.
Wool, on the other hand, presents a number of entirely different problems. Wool is in danger of shrinking, hardening, and scorching, as well as of losing its colors. Washing in too hot or too cold water, the use of alkalies or strong soaps, or rubbing and running through tight wringer rolls shrinks and hardens wool fabrics. Alkali may even destroy wool fiber. For these reasons wool needs special care in laundering.
Silk, like wool, an animal fiber, requires no less careful handling in laundering.
Weight and strength of fabric.-The weight and strength of the fabrics to be cleaned should be considered in order to determine what laundering processes the fabric will stand.
Colors of fabrics.-Finally, the fastness of the colors should be considered. Dyes that are fast under one method of washing may fade under another. Hence in preparing to launder an article, a colored woolen fabric, for example, precautions should be taken to prevent injury either to the wool or to the coloring matters.
Mixed goods.-Mixed or union goods present a special problem that is sometimes difficult to solve. The usual method is to launder the material as if it were entirely composed of the weakest kind of fiber in its composition. Wool and cotton should be laundered as if it were all wool. Cotton and silk should be laundered like silk.
Cleaning wool.-Wool fabrics or garments should be washed in soft water. Before placing the fabrics in the water, the water should be heated to a temperature of 85 degrees to 100 Fahrenheit, little more than lukewarm. Into the water should be placed enough soap of good quality, as free as possible from any uncombined alkali, to make suds. The addition of a little ammonia will help take the dirt out of the fabrics. Next, the garments, blankets, or fabrics, should be brushed and shaken to remove any loose lint, dust, or other particles. They are then to be placed in the water and allowed to soak for an hour, after which they should be kneaded and drawn backwards and forwards, up and down in the suds. They should never be rubbed or wrung. Soap should not be rubbed directly upon the fabric. Soap and rubbing cause the wool to felt; the better the grade of wool, the greater and more rapid the felting. The wool fabrics may now be removed to another tub of water of the same temperature but with less soap and ammonia; here they are stirred about in the same careful manner, rinsed, and removed for a final rinsing to a third tub with pure wafer of the same lukewarm tempera ture. After the last rinsing, the water is pressed out gently and the fabrics are dried. Sunshine and the open air are the best driers, though out of the question in a laundry. The drying temperature should never be more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Napped goods should be freshened after drying by rubbing with a piece of flannel. Soft woolens, delaines, cashmeres, and serges should be soaked for only a short time. If the fabrics need stretching, this should be done just before drying. Most woolens do not need ironing. Those fabrics that must be ironed should be covered with damp muslin and pressed with a heavy iron just warm, not hot. A hot iron will shrink flannel. and turn it yellow. Cashmere should be dampened before ironing.
Laundering silks.-Silks need about the same treatment as that given to wool, although silks do not mat or felt as do wools under conditions of heat, alkali, and rubbing. The water to be used in washing silks should be soft, of an even warm, not hot temperature, and only a neutral soap free from alkali should be used. Silks should not be rubbed but simply drawn backwards and forwards and poked up and down in the water. Nor should silks be crushed, squeezed, or wrung out with a wringer unless placed between folds of linen cloth. Silk goods should be ironed slightly damp, except pongee, which should be ironed dry. The face of a silk fabric should not be touched with a hot iron. The proper method is to protect the silk fabric by covering it with linen when ironing.
Cleaning colored goods.-Colored goods of any kind need special precautions that depend upon the nature of the dyes in the cloth. A complete set of directions for laundering colored goods would take up more space than can be given here. It will be sufficient for present purposes to enumerate the conditions that are especially likely to cause fading.
1. Long soaking in water.
2. Boiling or overheating.
3. Cold water or freezing.
4. Alkalies-washing sodas, washing fluids, washing powders, and poor soaps.
5. Washing two different colors in the same tub at the same time. There may be an affinity between these that may cause either or both to run.
6. Exposing to direct sunlight.
7. Ironing with too hot irons.
Setting the colors.-Colors may sometimes be set so that they will not come out in washing under ordinary circumstances. This desirable object is accomplished by using salt, alum, borax, vinegar, or ox gall in the wash water. The occasions for such agents vary greatly, and no general direction can or should be given. What will set some colors is likely to cause others to fade.
Methods of cleansing fabrics.-The purpose of laundering is both to remove dirt and impurities and to whiten or brighten the cloth. In the ordinary washing this is done both by mechanical and chemical means. The rubbing, boiling, rinsing, and so on, are mechanical means; ammonia, borax, washing powder, and several other substances commonly applied to loosen dirt or dissolve it, are chemical means. Coarse, heavy fabrics that can stand it may have both mechanical and chemical methods applied, but the finer the goods, the more careful the decision must be as to which method is advisable. In general, it may be said that, whenever possible, chemical help should be used, provided it is of such nature as not to injure the fabric; for chemical cleansing saves labor, while mechanical means all require labor or power.
Bluing.-Bluing, commonly a preparation made of Prussian blue, is used in laundering to whiten clothes. Most textiles are somewhat yellowish in tone, and if the bleaching and washing have been imperfectly done, the yellow is very decided. Bluing mixes with the yellow, and the result is a whiter appearing fabric. The use of too much bluing is damaging to both cotton and linen fabrics; it causes stains which are removed with difficulty.
Starching.-Laundered goods are frequently starched. The purpose of starch is the same here as in the manufacture and finishing of textiles. It increases the weight, stiffness, and body of the fabric. But starch serves another important purpose. Starched fabrics are not soiled so easily as soft fabrics, and they wash out very easily. Starch in fabrics makes it easier to remove stains, the starch being an absorbent and therefore drawing much of the stain to itself. Simply washing the starch out removes much of the stain. Starch neutralizes some staining substances such as tannin from tea and coffee. Where the starch is heavy, however, it makes the fabric brittle and breaks it to pieces prematurely.
Yellow discoloration.-Yellow discoloration in fabrics fresh from the laundry is practically inexcusable. It is caused by definitely known practices that can readily be obviated by study, care, and by purchasing necessary equipment. The causes which most commonly produce this yellow discoloration are:
1. The use of hard water. All laundering should be done in soft water. Where soft water is not available, hard water can usualy be made soft by chemical means that will not injure fabrics.
2. The use of too much carbonate of soda or washing soda. Washing soda has little or no cleansing effect in itself. It is an active chemical that seeks to combine with some other substance. In laundering, its chief use is to soften hard water. It can easily be used in too large quantities, making the clothes yellow rather than white.
3. Insufficient rinsing.
4. The use of too little water in the wash tubs. Better results are always obtained by using more water than is necessary rather than less.
5. Washing too hurriedly, and using strong soaps and ammonia to hasten the process.
6. Too quick drying in overheated air.
Theory of removing stains.-The removal of stains is a subject that may properly be considered here. Here, as in laundering, the character of the textile must be most carefully considered. But not only that; the character of the stain should also be known if it is to be removed without damaging the goods. The aim in stain removal is, of course, to find some substance that will attack, draw out, or loosen the staining material, yet leave the goods unharmed. Various substances may thus be used. Some stains can best be removed by covering them with an absorbent material that will draw out the staining substances. Others can be eradicated best by covering them or moistening them with some liquid that will dissolve them but will not attack the dyes or injure the cloth fiber. Sometimes the stain should be treated with a chemical that will combine with the staining material and form a new substance that can be washed out with water. Finally, where all other methods fail, the stain may be removed by bleaching. The removal of stain may, therefore, be accomplished usually by some one of the following methods:
3. Acids or alkalies, or other chemicals.
4. Bleaching agents.
ABSORBENTS.-The common absorbents that may be used for stain removal purposes include blotting paper, common brown paper, powdered chalk, whiting, pipe clay, fuller’s earth, magnesia, gypsum, starch, melted tallow, corn meal, bran, and so on. Absorbents can be used to best advantage on fresh stains still moist. Hot grease, fresh ink stains, coffee or tea stains can be treated in this way, not to remove them entirely but rather to remove a large part of the staining substance and prevent it from spreading further. Absorbents are especially valuable for use preliminary to treatment by some other method.
SOLVENTS.-Solvents actually attack and dissolve the staining substance so that it may be flooded out by the dissolving liquid. Some of the common solvents are water, hot or cold, alcohol, gasoline, benzine, kerosene, turpentine, and chloroform. The removal of ordinary soil by means of washing in water is the most frequent example of this method. Cold water will remove milk and cream stains, stains from sugar, candies, and cocoa. Hot water may be used to remove fresh coffee stains. The mineral oils, benzine, gasoline, and kerosene, are useful solvents of grease, oil, wax, and paint. Gasoline is probably the best for use with woolen and silk fabrics but not with cotton. Gasoline, however, is very volatile, and passes off rapidly in the form of inflammable gas. It should, therefore, be used out of doors in the daylight; and never in a room where there is a fire or a gas flame or kerosene light, otherwise disaster is likely to occur. Vaseline, itself a mineral grease from the same source as kerosene or gasoline, may be softened and loosened by soaking the stained fabric in one of these mineral oils. When sufficiently liquid, the whole may in turn be dissolved in ammonia and water or washing soda and water, whereupon the mineral oil combines with the alkali in the form of an emulsion which can be washed out. Alcohol is a solvent for grass stains, for varnish and paint, and for several other substances. Its great value is enhanced by the fact that it will not harm delicate fabrics. Frequently, too, it is an excellent solvent for medicine stains. Turpentine is the universal solvent for paint, varnish, resins, oils, rubber, and the like. It is also a chemical solvent for iodine, sulphur, and phosphorus. Chloroform is the best of the solvents, and likewise the most expensive. It acts powerfully on grease, wax, camphor, rubber, iodine, and many other sorts of stains. No other solvent is so satisfactory for use on delicately colored textiles. When colors seem faded, chloroform is the best known substance for reviving them. Grease, itself the most frequent staining agent, must be used in some instances as a solvent for other substances. Tar and pitch may be removed by the use of lard, as may grass stains too if they are fresh. After obliterating the original stain, the grease is removed by some regular grease solvent, such as benzine, hot water and soap, or gasoline.
CHEMICAL ACTION.-Stains made by acids, such as fruit juices, wine, or lemon juice, or even by stronger acids, are best eradicated by means of some solvent; unhappily it is not always possible to find at hand a solvent other than water, and this is not effective after the acids have dried. In the failure of solvents, the best plan is to apply an alkali which combines chemically with the acid, forming thus a new substance which ordinarily will be easily dissolved by water. Ammonia is one of the best alkalies for this purpose, not being likely to injure even delicate fabrics.
“For the removal of stains and spots from colored goods and carpets, ammonia takes first place. It is one of the first chemicals to be used. It can be applied to cottons, wools, and silks, and leaves no trace of its use. Grease flies before its application, and when diluted with water, spots caused by orange or lemon juice or vinegar are removed by it from the most delicate materials. From carpets, curtains, and suits of clothing, it will remove almost every stain.”-The Modern Laundry, Vol. IL, page 82.
Washing soda (carbonate of soda) and cooking soda (bicarbonate of soda) are also valuable alkalies for use on uncolored cottons and linens. Furthermore, acid stains may be dissolved and removed by the use of certain weak acids, such as oxalic, citric, and tartaric acids, sour milk, and very weak muriatic acid. The theory seems to be the same as for the using of kerosene on vaseline. The acid liquids combine with the staining material and dissolve it, making it easy to wash out with water.
Acivs.-Acids must be used carefully because of their destructive effects on cotton and linen and on many dye substances. The acids named above, except sour milk and muriatic acid, are all vegetable acids and quite weak: Oxalic acid is made from the sorrel plant. Citric acid is made from lemons or other citrus fruits; tartaric acid, from grape juice. Each of these is valuable in removing fruit stains, iron rust, and old-fashioned, iron-gall, ink stains. When salt is added to any of them, a bleaching process sets in. Tartaric acid is a highly useful and safe acid for stain removal; no textile is injured by it. Since it is, however, a weak acid, its action is neither rapid nor strong enough to remove certain very deep stains.
BLEACHING.-If no other means succeeds a stain must be removed by bleaching. There are several bleaching methods and substances, differing greatly in effectiveness. Practically none of them can be used on colored goods without endangering the colors in the fabric. Some are destructive to the fabrics themselves and must be used with care and judgment. A few of the most common may be named here.
Oxygen.-Sunlight and air together form a gentle but effective bleaching agent provided that haste is not imperative. All discolored white goods may be improved by exposure to sunlight. Sulphur fumes are used most frequently for wool and silk goods. The method of application is very simple. The spot to be bleached is dampened in water and then held over burning sulphur so that the fumes penetrate the spot directly. After the stain has whitened, the fabric needs washing in soapsuds, and rinsing in clean water.
Bleaching powder.-Bleaching powder or chloride of lime is the most frequently used bleach for cotton and linen goods. It is valuable in removing refractory stains such as ink spots, mildew, old blood stains, and iron rust. The spot is covered with chloride of lime and moistened with some acid such as vinegar, oxalic acid, tartaric acid, or sour milk. The bleaching is rapid and should be stopped by rinsing thoroughly in water just as soon as the stain disappears. A bleach weaker than chloride of lime but working on the same principle is known as Javelle water. Javelle water is made as follows for household use:
1 pound sal soda or pearl ash,
1/4 pound chloride of lime,
2 quarts cold water.
After this mixture is allowed to stand for several hours, the clear liquor is poured off for use. It must be kept in a dark, cool place if it is to retain its strength. Javelle water may be used for the same purposes as bleaching powder, and, being less active, it does not require such cautious handling. Many housekeepers use Javelle water for practically all sorts of colored stains. This doubtless saves time, but is hardly economical, for Javelle water does destroy textile fiber.
Peroxide of hydrogen.-Peroxide of hydrogen is an excellent bleach, and should be used much more frequently than at present, for it seems to have no destructive effect on textile fiber. Its only disadvantage as compared with Javelle water is its higher cost.
Borax may at times be used as a mild bleaching agent in laundering clothes that show yellowish tints or streaks. Lemon juice and salt make a bleach that works much like chloride of lime, though it is not quite so strong. Any acid added to salt starts chemical bleaching.
PRINCIPLES OF REMOVING STAINS.-In concluding our study of the principle of removing stains, we may enumerate certain points of practice:
1. The sooner the stain is attended to, the better. Fresh stains are always easier to remove than old ones.
2. Use stain removers in the following order until something is found that is strong enough to remove the stain: absorbents, solvents, chemical combinations, bleaching agents. Never use a stronger means of removing a stain than is necessary.
3. Determine first, if possible, what caused the stain and work directly upon that information.
4. Do not rub a chemical into a stain. Dab it in, using a cloth, sponge, or the fingers.
5. Use pure chemicals in removing stains. Impure ones are likely to leave other stains fully as difficult to remove as the original stain.
6. Strong chemicals, such as acids, should be applied drop by drop to the stained fabric moistened with water or steam. The use of a medicine dropper for this purpose is most convenient. Using this, one can readily watch the progress of the remedy and control it.
7. To keep stains from spreading under the influence of solvents, it is best first to apply the solvent in a ring around the stain and then gradually to work in towards the center of the stain.
STAINS AND HOW THEY MAY BE ERADICATED.-The following list of stains arranged in alphabetical order gives the more ordinary ones together with the best means for treating each. Some stains are quite indelible, such as certain ink stains and brown stains from scorching. In such cases, the only remedy is to cover the spot by dyeing; even then the stain may show through the dye.
Acid.-To stop the corrosive action of acids spilled on fabric, the fabric should be dipped at once, if possible, into ammonia. If the stain becomes dry, ammonia will not be strong enough. Tie up a little washing soda or cooking soda in the stained part, make a lather of soap and cold soft water, immerse the fabric, and boil until the spot disappears. This treatment frequently causes colored goods to fade, but moistening with chloroform will often restore the original color. If chloroform fails a solution of nitrate of silver will often be of service. If this does not succeed there is no hope of recovering the fabric without redyeing. When yellow stains on brown or black woolen or worsted goods are caused by very strong acids, such as nitric acid, they should be padded repeatedly with a woolen pad soaked in a concentrated solution of permanganate of potash.
Aniline and aniline inks.-Wet the stained spot in acetic acid, and then apply diluted chloride of lime, and wash out carefully.
Apple and pear.-Soak in paraffin for a few hours and then wash. The paraffin, when melted, is a strong absorbent for such fruit colors.
Blood.-If fresh, soak for twelve hours in cold water; then wash in tepid water. If the mark still remains, cover it with a paste of cold water and starch, and expose to the sun for a day or two. Old stains require bleaching with Javelle water, or an application of iodide of potassium diluted with four times its weight of cold water.
Brass.-Brass stains on fabrics may be removed by dabbing with rancid lard or rancid butter.
Burns.-These are caused perhaps by overheated irons. If bad, they are hopeless, and must be hidden by dyeing. Slight burns yield to treatment with soap and water.
Changed colors.-Stains are often caused by local fading of dye. They can, in most cases, be removed by reviving the dye. The manner of doing this depends upon the kind of dye. If the nature of the dye is unknown, dilute ammonia should be tried, or dilute acid, or chloroform. It does not matter which is tried first, but the effect must be carefully watched, and the first chemical washed out at once when it is clear that it wil’ not be successful. The solutions of acid or ammonia should be very dilute, at least at first.
Coffee.-Pour boiling soft water through the stain, and while it is still wet hold in the fumes of burning sulphur. Washing with soap and water is, however, usually sufficient without using the sulphur. Glycerin also removes coffee stains; it should be diluted by the addition of four times as much water and a little ammonia.
Chocolate and cocoa.-Cocoa stains can be removed by using cold water. Otherwise the treatment should be the same as for coffee stains.
Fruit.-Fruit stains can be treated like coffee stains if fresh; if old, rub on both sides with yellow soap, cover thickly with cold water, starch, and bleach by exposing to the sun and air for three or four days. Fruit stains are acid stains and may also be removed by treating with alkalies. One method is to apply ammonia and alcohol mixed in equal proportions.
Grass.-Dab with spirits of wine or alcohol. Application of tartaric acid or cream of tartar is sometimes effective if used in boiling water, the stained fabric being dipped in several times. A grass stain may sometimes be removed by rubbing lard over the spot and then washing. Grass stains differ greatly in ease of removal. Sometimes ammonia will take out such stains, especially if it is found that an acid treatment has no effect. Intractable spots need bleaching.
Grease.-Grease stains if still fresh should be treated at first with absorbents such as fuller’s earth, chalk, talcum powder, or flour. Ironing small grease spots over brown paper is sometimes helpful. The use of absorbents should be supplemented by some solvent such as benzine, gasoline, turpentine, or chloroform. To keep the grease from spreading, the solvent should first be applied in a ring around the outside of the spot, after which the spot may be covered. In using the grease solvents any proximity to fire must be carefully avoided.
Ink.-The great difficulty in removing ink stains is due to the fact that ink is made from so many different chemical substances. The best way to treat an ink stain is to apply some solvent that will not harm the fabric no matter what sort of chemical caused the stain. Fresh ink stains may frequently be washed or rubbed out in milk. If the stains do not begin to fade at once, the fabric should be allowed to stand in the milk for at least twelve hours. In the meantime, the milk beginning to sour, the weak acid will make itself felt on the stain. If this does not remove the stain, it should next be treated as for aniline ink. Most of the directions given in household guides for treating ink stains are valueless because they apply to inks that are now no longer made and used. If the methods suggested above do not succeed, then the stain should be covered with melted tallow for a few hours. This should be removed by washing in hot soapsuds. If this fails, then the spot should be bleached out with Javelle water.
Iodine.-Soak the stain in ammonia. Rub with dry bicarbonate of soda (cooking soda) until stain comes out. Iron rust.-Apply citric acid, oxalic acid, or tartaric acid. If this acid treatment does not remove the spot, bleach it by covering it with lemon juice and salt and exposing it to sunlight.
Medicine.-Medicine stains may usually be dissolved and removed by means of alcohol.
Mildew.-Treat as for iron stains. Boiling in strong borax water is recommended. Mildew is usually very refractory. The bad color can be removed by bleaching if the remedies proposed above do not seem sufficient, but it is more than likely that the fabric will be very tender after the bleaching process.
Milk and Cream.-Milk stains can be removed with cold water or with cold water and soap. Hot water sets the milk stain and makes it difficult to remove.
Mud.-Dip in gasoline or benzine. Small spots may be concealed by using chalk or white watercolor when it is not convenient to have the cloth cleaned with a solvent at once.
Paint.-Dab with turpentine. A mixture of turpentine and chloroform is often very effective in removing old paint stains from even delicate fabrics. Naphtha soap should be used in washing out paint oil stains.
Perspiration.-Use strong soap solutions and expose to sunshine. Perspiration under the arm is of a different chemical composition from that of other parts of the body, and is neutralized by dilute hydrochloric acid. The acid should be very dilute, about one part acid to seventy-five or a hundred parts water.
Tar.-Cover with lard, let stand a while, and then wash in hot soapsuds.
Tea.-Treat as for coffee stains. Tea contains tannic acid, and may therefore be treated by using ammonia or some other alkali.
Varnish.-Treat like paint stains.
Vaseline.-Vaseline is not soluble in acids or alkalies, but can be dissolved in kerosene or benzine, and then washed out with hot soapsuds.
Wine.-Treat like fruit stains. Fresh wine can be very largely neutralized by spreading salt over the spot while wet.