Back when the original Victorian pajamas were in use, fancy detergent and electric-powered washers weren’t around. How did they keep their clothes clean? In fact, many pieces of clothing for children and nighttime or undergarment clothes were purely white. This was considered the easiest color to clean, as you could boil it and be rough without bleeding precious dyes. How about today when we have the technology and know-how to gently clean our nicest, whitest clothing? When you decide to purchase a pretty white lace nightgown, how do you keep it looking fresh as the day you bought it?
It turns out the internet has plenty of helpful suggestions, so a few relevant bits of washing wisdom are collected right here for you.
Material plays a big part in how you wash whites. Percale weaves, for example, are sturdy, pill-resistant and tend to get softer with each wash. That being said, you want to use cold water, not warm or hot, to minimize any shrinkage. Cotton percale especially is susceptible to shrinkage when washed in hot water. The Victorians must have made their clothes a bit on the large side to account for shrink while boiling their linens!
Obviously, a piece of cloth like linen guest towels don’t have to be coddled as much. Even if they shrink a smidge, they’re not going on anyone’s body.
So how do we wash whites without hot water? Here are a few tried-and-true tips:
- Keep all white clothing separated from colors and darks for wash cycles. No red socks turning your white nighties pink!
- Add a half cup of borax or a cup of baking soda to the load along with your usual detergent.
- One cup of distilled white vinegar during the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener helps strip any detergent residues from white fabrics.
- Use laundry bluing or optical brighteners to trick your eyes into believing your clothes are bright and white.
- Dry clothes outside in the sun. The sun’s natural UV rays help gently bleach the fabric and keep it bright-looking.
- Drying clothes in the sun is also a good fail-safe for leftover stains you miss after the wash process; drying stained clothing on high heat in a dryer can lock in the stain. If you notice a stubborn stain, hold off on drying the fabric. Re-treat it and wash it again.