How to dry clean your clothes at home?

Home laundering is an Art. Like an art, it requires patience and practice to learn the right techniques.

Laundry Equipment

The average housewife in India carries out her laundry work with comparatively few appliances due to various reasons. The most common being the economic aspect. Most housewives cannot afford better equipment. However, new fabrics, new equipment, new laundry supplies- all demand changes in traditional practices. The housewife must have the knowledge of various laundry equipments, its use, maintenance etc. The essential household equipments for laundry consist of:

1. Sink

2. Boiler

3. Tubs and buckets

4. Enamel bowls and basins

5. Scrubbing brushes and boards

6. Suction washer

7. Drying racks clothe lines and pegs or clothe pins.

8. Irons, ironing boards or tables.

Methods of Laundring and their principles

Laundering of clothes consists of two processes:

The process of removing dirt from the clothes, and

The process of finishing them to regain the appearance of neatness as a new fabric.

(a) The process of removing dirt from the clothes or cleaning:

The nature of the fabric and the kind of dirt, determine the methods used for removing dirt and cleaning the clothes. The dirt that soils the fabric consists of the dust particles, which are either on the surface of the fabric or are held in the fabric by grease. The loose dust particles may be removed by sharing, brushing or by the action of pedesis in steeping.

For removing the dirt, it is necessary to remove the grease first from the fabrics by means of emulsification or absorption and thus liberate the dust particles. The essential factor is the process of cleansing, therefore, is the use of grease solvent or absorbent to remove the grease and an application of hard or delicate pressure to remove the dust. The application of pressure is done in four ways:

1. Application of friction.

2. Application of light pressure

3. Application of the principle of suction.

4. Washing machine.

1. Application of Friction:

Friction may be applied by means of the following ways:

(a) Hand Rubbing:

It is suitable for washing small articles which are lightly soiled e.g. blouses, handkerchiefs etc. When friction if applied by hand, then there is less strain on the clothes.

(b) Scrubbing by Brush:

Scrubbing by brushes is possible only on strong fabrics and for heavily soiled clothes. It is advisable to scrub the clothes only in one direction i.e. away from the worker.

(c) Rubbing and scrubbing:

Friction may be applied by beating lightly with a cloth stick or beating the cloth against the hard floor or board.

Whatever the method of application of pressure may be the process of washing is the same. The clothes are soaped first or soaked in soap solution before friction is applied. Water or soap solution is sprinkled from time to time during the application of friction. The clothes are then squeezed of dirty soap solution and rinsed clean.

2. Application of light pressure:

The application of light pressure renders itself well in the case of washing of the textures, coloured and delicate clothes. The process consists of kneading and squeezing of the articles by hand in the soap solution. The pressure applied is light, and hence safe on the delicate clothes. No special equipment is required for this process and hence considered one of the easiest methods.

The kneading is continued till there is some lather left as disappearance of lather indicates the presence of dirt. The heavily soiled portions could be brushed with a soft brush and the clothes rinsed clean.

3. Application of suction or suction washing:

This method is suitable for cleansing small and large articles of any fabric or colour. It is generally used to cleanse heavy articles, such as trousers, coats, blankets which are not possible to clean by kneading and squeezing and which will not stand friction. It is a most practical method, which saves time and labour. The clothes are seeped in soap solution first and then the suction washer is worked up and down to remove all the dirt.

4. Washing machine:

With the help of washing machine clothes can be cleansed. However, the use of washing machine is still not very popular with the Indian housewife, either due to economic constraints, ignorance or reluctance to try new methods and innovations.

In India, where labour is still cheap, the need for investing in a washing machine is not favoured. The washing machine consists of two parts- firstly; washing is possible by agitating the clothes in a soap solution by revolving or moving by special arrangements. Rinsing is also possible with the same arrangement. The second part in the wringer to remove the excess moisture from clothes before drying.

(b) The process of finishing:

Clothes, after the process of cleansing, need to be straightened to look like new. Finishing is the process used to straighten the clothes, so that the appearances are attractive and neat.

It is essential that the fabrics contain sufficient amount of moisture, so that it is pliable enough to be pulled into shape during the process of finishing. The methods used for finishing in laundry are:

1. Damping:

It is done to soften the texture of the fabric. Fabrics like cotton and linen are damped before finishing. In case like silk and wool, where the sprinkled water does not spread evenly, these should be left half dry for finishing.


i. Use warm water as it spreads more quickly.

ii. First damp all the hems, folds and pleats by running wet fingers over them.

iii. Spread the garment on a clean table, dip the hand in water and sprinkle it lightly over the article.

iv. Roll up the article and wrap it in a towel and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Ironing:

This process consists of running a hot iron backward and forward along the selvedge threads of the cloth with pressure. The heat of the iron and the pressure applied is controlled according to the texture and the nature of the fabric. For example, silks are not ironed with a very hot iron and a fine muslin cloth does not need much pressure to smoothen its surface. Cotton and linens are all corned with a hot iron. All silks and art silk except velvet and crepe are ironed with a warm iron. Woolens as a rule do not need much finish and are not ironed.

Rules for ironing

i. The article to be ironed should be opened at and shaped carefully and placed on the table.

ii. Ironing is always done along the selvedge threads of the garments to avoid stretching garment out of shape. Avoid forward and backward motion of the iron on bias of the fabric. Iron from hem to neck, making iron travel from right to left in straight line (Fig. 39)

iii. Use even and heavy pressure for flat articles and pleats.

iv. For ironing laces, trimmings, scallops and gathers, use pressure at the pointed edge of the iron.

v. Iron all embroidered materials and laces on the wrong side.

vi. All double and thick parts such as seams, hems gather pleats etc. are ironed wrong side first and then on the right side. Press heavily until dry, to avoid rough drying afterwards.

vii. Garments should be ironed to complete dryness.

3. Pressing:

Pressing is the process of placing a hot iron on the creased portion of a garment and lifting it off and on. There is no backward and forward motion of the iron as in ironing. There are two ways of pressing the fabrics.

(a) Dry pressing:

In this pressing iron is used without dampening the cloth.

(b) Wet pressing:

A damp piece of muslin is spread on the garment for pressing. Pressing is used for finishing woolen and fabrics with a special texture such as georgettes, crepes.

4. Steaming:

This process consists of allowing the steam to pass through the surface of the cloth. Fabrics with a pile surface, such as, velvet and velveteen are finished by this process. The passing of the steam through the pile of the fabric on the wrong side helps to raise and freshen the pile.

Process of steaming

i. Damp the article and hold it in front of a very hot Iron or place it before the spout of a kettle of boiling water (Fig. 40)

ii. The steam from the kettle escapes through the fabric with sufficient pressure to straighten the surface of the cloth.

5. Mangling:

It is used only in case of rough articles, such as tweeds, jharans etc, where the surface is expected to be neat but not very smooth. The article immediately after washing and before drying is passed through a mangle several times and then put to dry. This process helps to straighten the threads.

6. Calendaring:

It is used in commercial laundries to finish straight pieces of cotton and linen articles, such as table cloths, curtains and bed sheet. Drying and finishing is done in the same process. The straight pieces of articles are passed through two heated metal rollers which continually rotate. The process dries up the moisture and the pressure, caused by the rotation, irons out the material.