Days Gone By - stories from the past

FiF: Fix it Friday – Dangerous ways our ancestors preserve the colors of garments in the wash

Our ancestors valued colors in clothes and look for ways to keep them from fading when washed, but using turpentine to set colors and sugar of lead to wash calico dresses was dangerous. (Click here to read about the fatal attraction of lead and how sugar of lead was made)


How To Wash Colored Garments

Delicately colored socks and stockings are apt to fade in washing. If they are soaked for a night in a pail of tepid water containing a half pint of turpentine, then wrung out and dried, the colors will “set,” and they can afterwards be washed without fading.

WAshing compound poster (Library of Congress)Washing compound poster ca. 1910 by artist Louis Rhead (Library of Congress)

For calicoes that fade, put a teaspoonful of sugar of lead into a pailful of water and soak the garment fifteen minutes before washing.

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague. See Thomas Jefferson’s recipe and in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past Now in paperback, makes a great gift!

Vinegar of the Four Thieves: Recipes & Curious Tips from the Past


By (author): Donna R Causey
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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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One comment

  1. Victoria Stanz Abernathy

    Still wondering if the common practice of stiffening felt with mercury may have contributed to the early death of a great aunt who was a gentle lady with a talent for creating glorious hats. She also was an entrepreneur, selling them at her husband’s, formerly her father’s large store.

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