How To Clean Your Silk Dress (In The 1850s)

How To Clean Your Silk Dress (In The 1850s)
-> 1850s day dress

If you ever wondered what you’d have to do in the 1850s to get your silk dress clean again, here’s the answer. First, you’ll have to unpick every seam! 😀

Mix together:

  • 2 large, peeled, grated potatos
  • 1 l cold water

Let it stand for 3 hours; then strain it.

Now you’d have to sponge part of the silk (on the wrong side) with the potato-water, hang out to dry, sponge the next part, and continue till you’re done. When it’s dry enough you’ll have to iron it on the wrong side.

That was a great deal of work! But it illustrates how valuable silk was already back then. And, probably, they’d just 1 or 2 silk dresses; and else cotton morning dresses which could be washed, and wool dresses which could be brushed. One advantage of this cleaning method is that the dress could be stitched together differently, if it was necessary, to fit a changed body shape or another person. Or it could just be trimmed differently according to the newest fashion.

The recipe was published in ‘Miss Leslie’s New Receipts For Cooking’ in 1852. The original recipe can be found here.

Here you’ll find more information about Victorian laundry: Washing and stain remover recipes.

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