Textiles and Dress Designing - Clothing Care | 12th Textiles and Dress Designing : Chapter 5 : Selection of Clothing and Clothing Care

Chapter: 12th Textiles and Dress Designing : Chapter 5 : Selection of Clothing and Clothing Care

Clothing Care

All fabrics and clothing’s need proper care in order to maintain their lustre, texture, shape, appearance and strength.

Clothing Care


All fabrics and clothing’s need proper care in order to maintain their lustre, texture, shape, appearance and strength. The life of fabric increases with proper care. Due to cost and importance of clothing’s their proper care is always required.


1. Washing

Washing clothes is an important skill. Washing is one way of cleaning namely with water and often some kind of soap or detergent. It is an essential part of good hygiene and health. Getting clothes clean is not hard if the correct methods and laundry products are used.

1.  Principles of Washing and their Applications

Home laundering is one of the most important and common household chores. Humans have developed   many specialized  methods for laundering, ranging from the earliest pound clothes against rocks in running stream to the latest in electronic washing machines and dry cleaning.

The dirt which soils fabrics may be classified as

1. Loose dirt on the fibres.

2. Fixed dirt which is held fast by grease.

Loose dirt is removed in steeping and mechanical means such as brushing and shaking. Fixed dirt is removed by means of absorption, washing and dry cleaning.

2.  Hand Washing

Hand washing is vital for clothes, fabric and dyes that cannot take the stress and strain of machine agitation and spin. It is very practical for a small wardrobe and is the best way to prolong the life of a piece of clothing.

The appropriate method for the treatment of dirt and kind of rubbing is given below:

3. Washing by Machine

A washing machine is a machine designed to clean laundry such as clothing, towels and sheets. Clothing had been hand washed for thousands of years to remove loose dirt, rubbing with soap to remove oils and stains. For particularly dirty clothing covered with mud or dirt, it is necessary to constantly rub and flex the cloth to break apart solids and help the soap penetrate through thick, dry or sticky layers of soil on the cloth.

Washing machine technology was developed to reduce the drudgery of this scrubbing and rubbing process.

Before using a washing machine it is important to study the maker’s instructions.

A typical household machine takes a load of 6 to 7 lb. The machine should never be over loaded.

·               When washing a load of mixed fabrics wash according to type of fabric.

·               Collars and cuffs may need a gentle rub by hand to remove completely the already loosened dirt.

·               Give time according to the articles being washed.

·               Rinse thoroughly.

Types of Washing Machine

Although most washing machines have same basic functions each machine may be slightly different so it’s very important to read instructions. Washing machines are either front loading or top loading machines. For front loading washers, the door is located on the side in front while top loading machines have the lid on the very top of the washer. Most washing machines have several settings that will determine the correct temperature of the water and the length of each spin cycle.


2. Fabric Softeners

Fabric softener (called fabric conditioner) is used to prevent static cling and make fabric softer. Some brands of washing powder have fabric conditioning built-in which is claimed to save money when compared to buying ordinary washing powder and fabric softener separately.

Fabric softeners work by coating the surface of the cloth fibres with a thin layer of chemicals. These chemicals have lubricant properties and are electrically conductive, thus making the fibres feel smoother and preventing build up of static electricity. The other functions are increased resistance to stains and reduction of wrinkling.



Fabric softener are classified into two types

a) Cationic Fabric Softeners

b) Anionic Fabric Softeners

a) Cationic Fabric Softeners

Cationic fabric softeners usually contain cationic surfactants of the quaternary ammonium type as the main active ingredient. Cationic surfactants adhere well to natural fibres but less to synthetic fibres. This softener should be added in the rinse cycle of washing machine. Fabric softener reduces the absorbency of textiles, which adversely affects the function of towels and microfibre cloth.

Conventional softeners, contain 4–8 % active material, which have been partially replaced in by softener concentrates having some 12–30 % active material.

b) Anionic Fabric Softeners

Anionic softeners and antistatic agents are often used together with the conventional cationic softeners. Cationic softeners are incompatible with anionic surfactants in detergents because they combine with them to form a solid precipitate. They should be added in the rinse cycle. Anionic softeners can combine with anionic surfactants directly. Some compounds, such as ethoxylate phosphate esters, have softening, anti-static, and surfactant properties.


Method of using Fabric Softener

·               After pouring in detergent, locate the fabric softener dispenser on your machine.

·               Pour in the recommended amount.

·               If your machine doesn’t have a specific dispenser, you will have to manually add the fabric softener during the last rinse cycle. Do not add fabric softener to the main detergent dispenser because it needs to be used at the end of the wash cycle.

·               Never pour fabric softener directly on to clothes.

·               Alternatives to using fabric softener can be used as dryer sheets or a combination of detergent with fabric softener.

Most modern washing machines have a dispenser to add liquid fabric softener to the load of laundry automatically on the final rinse. Some brands of washing powder have fabric conditioning it is claimed to save money when compared ordinary washing powder and fabric softener separately.


3. Starching

Starch is most commonly and widely used stiffening agent. The most appropriate starch for use in laundry is one which penetrates the fabric well to make pliable, smooth and glossy that will prevent direct contact of dirt with fabric. A stiffening starch is applied to cotton and linen fabric only.


Types of Starches

The different kinds of starches commonly used as stiffening agents are;

Rice Starch

The grains of this starch are very small and make a viscous solution in water. This starch is suitable for most fabrics. Since starch gelatinizes easily in cold water, it is known as cold water starch. As the size of grains are very small, this penetrates easily into the fabrics.

Wheat Starch

The grains of this starch exist in two sizes large and small. This starch forms a viscous solution leaving fabric very stiff and pliable. It requires boiling of solution and is very uneconomical and expensive.

Maize Starch

This starch also gives a viscous solution. But it produces undesirable stiffness which is rough to touch. It is cheap and hence can be used after mixing with other starches.

Tapioca Starch

The starch is obtained from roots of cassava plants. For this purpose the roots are dried, sliced and then crushed into pulp with water. It is then washed several times and then dried when the final starch becomes available in the form of lumps which can be ground.

Potato Starch

This starch has largest grains of all the starches. Potato and sweet potato are used. Potato is ground to pulp washed several times and then water is evaporated. It is not a very suitable laundry stiffening agent.

Commercial Starch

Various types of commercial starches are available in the market. These are made by blending two or more different types of starches.


Preparation and Application of Starch Solutions Boiling Water Starch

Preparation of Standard Starch Jelly



Mix the starch in cold water to a smooth paste in a basin. Add borax and wax (The function of borax is to make the starch resistant to atmospheric condition. Wax is added for easy ironing of the fabric). Then pour boiling water till the colour of the solution is transparent. A little formalin can be added to this jelly to avoid microbial spoilage.

Application on Fabrics

The standard starch jelly is diluted with cold water depending upon the amount of stiffness required.

Cold Water Starch

Preparation of Starch Solution



Dissolve borax in boiling water and mix with cold water. Pour the mixture over starch followed by turpentine. Stir well till a viscous solution is formed. Strain the starch solution through a muslin cloth and use after half an hour.

Application of Starch

This rice starch is used to provide great stiffness.

For Example the cuff and collars, the fabric should be dry before starching. The article is then kneaded and squeezed in the starch solution. It is then rubbed with a muslin cloth to remove excess starch. The article is then wrung out tightly in cold water.

Wheat – Bran Starch

The outer husk of wheat is known as wheat bran. With water it forms a colloidal non-alkaline solution, having small amount of starch and proteins. This is a very useful starching agent for fabrics of uncertain dyes and embroidered clothing. Bran water cleanses and stiffness the fabrics, besides preserving their colour.

Preparation of Wheat Bran Starch Solution


Procedure and Applications

Boil wheat bran with water in a pan. When boiling starts lower the heat and simmer for half an hour. Strain the solution through muslin cloth.Cool the starch to room temperature and use for washing and rinsing. Soap solution can be added for very soiled articles. The article is ironed when it is half dry.

Gum Arabic

This gum is used on fabrics requiring light stiffening. It is marketed in both granulated as well as powdered form. Granulated gum dissolves more readily than the powdered one. This is formed of arabic acid, lime, magnesium and potassium salts.

Preparation of Gum Arabic Solution 


Procedure and Application

Dissolve the gum arabic in water. Stir well to dissolve gum arabic to form a clear solution. Dip article in the solution by steeping. Squeeze the excess solution by light pressing and dry in air. Gum arabic is an expensive stiffening agent.


Preparation of Borax Solution Ingredients

Procedure and Application

Mix borax in water. Immerse the clothing into this solution by kneading and lathering. Lightly squeeze excess solution and air dry. Borax gives light stiffening to fabrics like laces.


4. Laundry Blues

The laundry blues are used to remove the yellow tint of fabrics, yellow tint in fabric arises due to repeated washing. In the last rinse of washing cotton and linen, laundry blue is added.


Types of Blues

Depending upon their solubility in water, blues are classified into two categories:

a. Insoluble Blues

Do not form clear solution in water. e.g., Ultramarine and Persian blue.

b. Soluble Blues

When dissolved in water, form clear solutions. e.g. Coal-tar dyes, methyl violet and methylene blue.


a. Insoluble Blues

Ultramarine Blue

This is more commonly used laundry blue. It can be safely used on the fabrics. This does not have any harmful effect. It is made from chemicals like, soda ash, sodium sulphate, charcoal, sulphur and clay. It is available as a fine powder which forms an even micro-suspension in water.

Persian Blue

This is not commonly used. This is undesirable as it is formed from iron sulphate and potassium ferrocyanide. This gives rusty marks when the treated fabric is ironed.


b. Soluble Blues

All the soluble blues are chemical dyes. These are available in large number of varieties. These are employed in commercial laundries. These are preferred in laundries because insoluble blues, produce an even colour and leave no sediment.


Bluing Process

Bluing is done as the last rinse of the fabric after washing. For this purpose care should be taken that no soap is left in the fabric before bluing. The blue is tied in a muslin cloth and squeezed in cold water until the required colour in water is obtained. The articles are dipped in the solution once or twice, taking care that after taking out no solution is left filling in pockets or bag shaped parts. The blued fabric is then squeezed off to remove excess solution and dried.


5. Drying Equipments

The washed clothes can be dried conveniently under direct sun rays when sufficient open space is available. The lack of open area in urban areas has stressed the need for other appliances. These appliances can be used for drying of clothes in limited space, as well as in rainy seasons. The commonly used appliances under such situations are;


6. Outdoor Drying

Cloth Line or Cord and Clips

This is a simple rope or cord made of galvanised iron, plastic, hemp or coconut fibres etc. It is tied at the two ends. The air as it moves across the clothes, draws away the cloth moisture till they are dried. The cloth line should be of sufficient length and strength to accommodate the number and weight of the wet clothes. To avoid rust-staining of clothes, clips of plastic or aluminium are widely used, but these must have strong holding capacity.


Indoor Drying Aids

Several drying aids are particularly developed and are in use for indoor area, like flats and also when it is raining. One of these is a “wooden rack with rope and pulley” arrangement. The wooden rack has many horizontal wooden bars on which the wet clothes are spread. Therefore, it is pulled to the roof level with the help of a rope passing over a pulley fixed to roof.

In additional, many types of folding racks are used for drying purpose. A rack consists of a three-legged iron stand with a central vertical rod projective upward. To a disc attached at the top end of the vertical rod. The clothes are spread on these horizontal rods and the racks positioned at a cross-ventilating place till they are dried. The folding race can be folded with a straight bar shape for accommodation in a corner of the room. Many horizontal bars can also be fitted to the wall at a ventilated place, one above the other, for drying of clothes. Similarly, these may be fixed to a vertical stand, at different heights. These racks can be of wood, aluminium or a chrome plated metal and may take any shape available for drying.

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