Washing Historical Clothing and Getting It White

Although the park provides our clothing, wherever we work, the park does not (unfortunately) do the laundry.  And, when we are wearing our historical clothing, we can end up pretty dirty.  Tom, especially, is great at getting his clothes soiled.  As the blacksmith, he is often coated with black soot by the end of the day.  I get my apron dirty on days I cook and occasionally end up with black in unexpected places.  But it is all part of colonial living.  Another part of colonial living is washing our historical clothes.

I got frustrated this year by how difficult it was to get the white clothing white.  Tom wears white gaiters and a white shirt and tie.  I wear a white apron, neckerchief, and cap.  It seemed no matter how much Shout I used, the black stains just wouldn’t come out.  No matter how much Clorox, the stains stayed put.  So I did some research online to find out what to do.

Review after review told me to use Oxi Clean in a prewash soak to get out really stubborn stains.  The reviews also said to be careful to follow the directions.  So I bought some Oxi Clean Versatile Stain Remover and tried it the next time I did the washing.  I put two pods of Oxi Clean in big kitchen sink and filled it with the hottest water possible.  Then I added all the whites that needed to be cleaned.  Finally, I let them soak for the instructed six hours.

Six hours seemed like a long time to soak.  The first time I tried the Oxi Clean I used the washing machine soak and it only let them soak for 90 minutes.  This made no appreciable difference in the stains.  But, when I let them soak for six hours in the sink, I was amazed at how clean and white things came out.  And how dirty and dark the water left behind was.

Now I have a routine.  After two days of living history (three or four for Tom) I gather all the white stuff and soak it overnight in the sink.  Then, the next morning, I wring everything out and carry it over to the laundry room.  After washing the load regularly, the laundry looks great and the whites are the best I’ve ever seen.

I don’t usually get excited about washing clothes, but it is important to me that our historical clothing looks good.  Now that I have a routine, I will be able to get the whites clean every time.