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.
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.
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
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
The appropriate method for the treatment of dirt and kind of
rubbing is given below:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Various types of commercial starches are available in the market.
These are made by blending two or more different types of starches.
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
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
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
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
Preparation of Borax
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.
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
b. Soluble Blues
When dissolved in water, form clear solutions. e.g. Coal-tar dyes,
methyl violet and methylene blue.
a. Insoluble Blues
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.
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 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.
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;
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
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.