Fresh as a Daisy - Part Six



MECHANICS OVERALLS can be a real pain to wash.
First, spread them out on a flat surface in a good light, & use a blunt knife to scrape off as much solid grease as possible. Finish off with crumpled newspaper. Then soak them in a bucket of VERY HOT water which contains a 1/4 bottle of oil of eucalyptus. Remove while water is still warm, spread out again & scrub the spots.(I use an old toilet brush) Then rub well with soap, & wash in very HOT water containing plenty of ammonia or washing soda. The water should feel really slippery. Also add further 1/4 bottle of oil of eucaluptus. Rinse several times in WARM water before wringing & hanging out to dry.

The dirty water should not be put on the garden.

If mineral oil is used, proceed as above, but without the scraping & scrubbing.
If vegetable oil is used, wash in warm, NOT hot water. Heat polymerises vegetable oils, & results in solid 'gunge' which will never wash out without the use of heavy duty liquid detergents.

This often needs prolonged soaking, with either household ammonia or bicarb.soda in the water. Change the water at least every 24 hours, oftener in hot weather, or it will start to smell.
The articles can be rubbed & squeezed with each change of water, & any other time you think of it. When washing, rub really well. Rubber gloves will protect your hands. The dirtier something is, the more rinsing it will need. So go on rinsing in several waters until the water is clear. Hand washing is more economical of water than the machine for this reason , but there is no reason you should not use the full cycle to wash & rinse, then do the extra rinses by hand.

When articles are being soaked, they need to be completely submerged, or they may watermark. If, even after you have pressed as much air out of the articles as you can, they still won't stay under, use clean bottles filled with water to weigh them down.

STAIN REMOVAL is a subject in itself. Many books & magazine articles are published on the subject. But one thing they never tell you is that for fresh food or small fresh blood stains saliva works best of all, because it contains enzymes which dissolve organic matter. So if you drop a little food, or prick your finger, spit on the stain & use your tongue to loosen the mark, then suck it out of the fabric. Rinse with cold water & blot dry. For older or larger stains, try cold water first, (hot water sets stains containing protein) then plain soap. The sooner you treat a stain, the more likely it is that it will come out successfully. Avoid using substances that you know are toxic. Many stains can be disguised with appliqué, embroidery, or fabric paints.


Commercial bleaches are harmful to the environment, so why not try using the sun. It bleaches & sterilizes very efficiently. Place the article to be bleached in the sun, wet it, & wet it again each time it dries out, until the stain is removed, or the article is white enough. Remember that a stain which shows faintly when the fabric is wet will be fainter still or even invisible when the fabric dries out.

DRY CLEANING is a definite environmental no-no! so avoid buying things that require it, unless you think you can successfully wash them yourself.
Many articles that are labelled ‘Dry-clean only’ can be washed, if handled carefully.
Try to work out why the article needs dry-cleaning.
The article may be fragile - in which case wash it gently, as for woollens & if using a spin dryer, wrap article in a towel before placing in the dryer. Dry flat.
If article is not colourfast, soak briefly & separately, in water to which a little salt has been added. (this water should be used to flush the loo, not put on the garden!)
Then wash quickly, rinse separately, & remove as much water as possible before hanging out to dry, to prevent dye running. Place a piece of old cloth over your ironing board when ironing it.
See also Washing a woollen underquilt.
Check the label to see what fibres are in ‘Dry-clean only’ garments, & set your iron accordingly.

The information on labels is designed as much to protect the manufacturer against law-suits as it is to help the consumer.
To prevent useful information being obliterated by constant washing, remove labels from garments before wearing, & keep somewhere where they can be referred to when necessary. Don't forget to mark the label to remind you what it came from. You can write on the back of some with a biro, others may need to be kept in a small plastic bag with a note containing the details. I usually pin labels to the coathanger used for each garment.


Note:In researching & answering questions about earthwise living, Margaret offers information, opinion, & personal experience, but no quick fixes! Readers should evaluate these offerings in the context of their own situations; they are suggestions, *not* recommendations. Any responsibility for their implementation rests *solely* with the reader.

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