18th century clothes, 18th century clothing, authenticity, common dress, common people, common soldier, interpretation, laundry, living history
“It looks like you rolled in dirt,” I said to the Young Giant when he dumped a gritty mess on my lap.
“I did,” he said, “but it was rolling with a purpose. We dug a fire pit, and then I had to keep the fire going. So I was on my belly in the dirt.”
This was followed by, “Mom, you need to mend my shirt.” But first, I needed to wash that shirt.
I’d like to wash that shirt right out of my hair, but there it is: it’s got to be attended to.
I did what mending I could before I washed it, since some areas seemed more likely to disintegrate further in the wash.
That’s clean linen verus dirty linen, the 18th century wrestling match. Patch secured, I very nearly packed this into a priority mailing container for delivery to the esteeméd Red Shoes Laundry, but I took a deep breath, and put the lobster pot back in the cupboard. (Yes, I considered boiling this on my stove top on a 95° day. Wouldn’t you?)
Instead, I trekked down to the cool of the basement and ran the water as hot as it gets and added Oxiclean (used by some of the finest weavers I know when they encounter dyes less fast than anticipated.)
The first tub achieved a kind of colloidal slurry of mud and sweat and soap. Delicious. Five rinses and an overnight soak later, dirty shirt became just a shirt again.
I took advantage of the clear weather to dry this outside on the grass, hoping the later sunlight would aid in whitening.
Wondering about that patch? Wonder no more, compare:
It’s another one of those “is it done? it’s perfect” situations. I’d love to wash my clothes with historically correct methods, but for now, the shirt’s clean enough for final mends and wearing in October. The winter should give me time to figure out stove top washing.