Saturday, December 7, 2013

History of Laundry Starch

From Old and Interesting:
Starchmaking could take up to a month, with long boiling, soaking, draining, rinsing, drying and so on. In the 17th century the use of wheat was criticised as wasting food on fashion. The 18th century saw experimentation with different sources of starch, including horse chestnuts and potatoes. In the 19th century new ingredients and manufacturing methods were developed in the quest for pure white, refined starch. Rice starch was considered to give a good glazed finish. Corn starch made a more opaque mixture but could be made at home. There were recipes for this and other starches in US domestic advice manuals. It was also used in North American branded laundry starch products: often called "gloss starch" to distinguish it from cooking starch.

Even when some starch could be used "cold", home boiling with water and other additives continued. It depended not only on the type of starch but on the kind of fabric, the judgment of the launderer etc. etc. Some starch mixes were milky and more suitable for thicker fabrics. Good laundresses were expected to "clear-starch": preparing transparent starch mixtures and knowing how to use them. Clear-starching meant keeping delicate muslin and similar fabrics from being clogged with starch granules in the loose weave, and avoiding thickening caused by visible traces of starch clinging to the threads. (Read more.)

1 comment:

tubbs said...

Articles like this make me realize that there was a good word to describe our grandmothers ---
and that word is "polymath."