Washing and Finishing of Garments | Laundry Work | Home Science

After reading this article to learn about the methods of washing and finishing of cotton, silk and woolen garments.

Laundering of clothes consists of two processes:

1. The process of removing dirt.

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


The process of washing and finishing includes sorting, pretreatment, soaking or steeping, determined by the texture of the fabrics, the type of the article its colour, and the type of the dirt present on it. Washing should be done in soft water. If water is hard, washing soda may be added to soften it. Good laundry soap and detergents help in the effective washing and cleaning process of the fabrics.

Washing and Finishing of cotton and Linen Garments:

Cotton and Linen are easy to clean.

The laundering of these fabrics depends upon:


(1) The texture of the fabric,

(2) Colour fastness,

(3) Finishes appropriate to the fabric.

At the time of washing, care must be taken to avoid the methods and cleansing reagents that weaken the fabric, to prepare the whiteness of white fabric and colour of the coloured fabrics, to finish the fabric to make it look like new one.



1. Mend the tears and darn the wholes if any.

2. All pockets should be made empty.

3. Close the zips, otherwise, they may not close smoothly after words.

4. Turn all garments inside out.

5. Remove the stains if any before washing.

6. Separate the white from the coloured garments and very dirty from the slightly soiled garment.

7. Sort the garment according to the fiber texture size, colour, degree of dirt.


1. All clothes should be steeped. Overnight in cold water if soap is to be applied. Rub soap on very dirty parts.

2. Clothes should be steeped in soap solution or detergent solution for certain hours before washing when soap is not used.

3. The length of time required for soaking depends on the type of dirt and grease. Lightly soiled clothes should be soaked for 10 to 15 minutes and heavily solid for 2 to 3 hours. For coloured cotton add some common salt or vinegar in steeping water to fix the colour.

4. Handkerchiefs should be soaked separately in a saline solution. Some disinfectant like detol or carbolic acid can also be added to water in case of children’s garments.

5. The temperature of water used for steeping should be 140°F for cotton and linen fabrics.


1. This process involves the application of pressure or frication in the presence of soap and detergents.

2. Wash systematically over the whole article paying more attention to heavily soiled parts like cuffs, collars of shirts, the center of pillows, lower leg of chudidars etc.

3. For coarse materials and strong cottons, friction can be applied by the use of scrubbing brushes. Delicate fabrics may be washed by kneading and squeezing method.

4. Wring out again and again, when the water becomes dirty, drain it and replace it.


Clothes may be boiled for cleaning and disinfection. It also whitens the clothes and helps in removing stains. If white clothes have become yellow, they should be boiled. Coloured articles should not be boiled.


After clothes have been washed and boiled, rinse them thoroughly in plenty of hot clear soft water. The final rinse should be done in cold water.

Starching and Blueing:

Cotton and linen fabrics may be given bluing and stiffening agents in one operation.

1. Make the starch solution to the required strength.

2. Tie the blue loosely in a muslin cloth and stir the bundle in the starch water, till a light blue colour is obtained. Liquid blue can also be added to starch water.

3. Wring the article, shake it out and lower slowly into the solution. Soak well.

4. Wring out all the moisture and hang up to dry.

5. Bran water is often used on cloured garments for moderate stiffening.


1. White cotton and linen garments can be dried outside in sun rays for proper bleaching. But coloured fabrics should not be dried under sunrays.

2. Hang up by the thickest part with selvedge threads running lengthwise which keeps the garments in a good shape.

3. Sheets and large pieces should be placed from 1/4 th to 1/2 over the line and fastened securely at two to three places.


Starched cotton and linens give an excellent finish when allowed to dry completely. They are damped evenly before ironing. This prevents the starch from sticking to the iron. Air the garments before storing. If there is a chance of running the colours from the coloured garments, cover the ironing table with another cloth.

Washing and Finishing of Silk Garments:

Silk is an animal fiber. It is a delicate and fine textured fiber which needs special care for laundering.


Mending and stain removal must be done before washing.


Steeping is not essential because silk is cleaned very easily. Vary soiled clothes may be steeped in warm water for a short time. Some amount of borax may be added to the steeping water for effective cleaning.


1. Prepare a warm soapy water using a gentle soap, detergent or soap solution to make a good lather.

2. For coloured silks, ritanut solution may be taken. It has a cleansing action as well as it helps in preserving the color.

3. Small garments must be washed by kneading and squeezing method by hand or suction washer.

4. Rub lightly, the most soiled parts with extra lather, Borax or ammonia may be added to the cleansing solution if the fabrics are very soiled.


Rinse thoroughly in warm water till no trace of soap solution is left in the garment. Lastly rinse the fabric in cold water adding to it a little lime juice or vinegar as this brightens the fabric and gives a shinning appearance to the fabric.


Silk fabrics require no stiffening due to the presence of a natural gum in it.

The fabric becomes stiff when it is ironed. Silk can also be stiffened with gum arabic solution if necessary.


1. Silk must be evenly damp when ironed.

2. Sarees should be wrapped in a thick damp towel and unrolled gradually for ironing.

3. White silk should be ironed on the right side for more shining.

4. Dark coloured silks should be ironed on the wrong side.

5. Air after ironing and store.

Washing and Finishing of Woolen Garments:

Wool is an animal fiber of delicate texture.

So the following things should be avoided while washing woolen fabrics:

1. Application of friction.

2. High temperature.

3. Hanging of fabrics while wet.

4. Use of alkalies.


1. Mending and stain removal are to be done before washing if required.

2. Mark an outline of the shape of the garment on news paper, as woolen garment often stretches out of shape on washing. The garment can be placed on this outline, shaped properly and dried flat on the outline.

3. Prepare all washing and rinsing water at the same temperature.

4. Have a thick towel ready at hand.


It is better to avoid steeping in the case of woolens as it weakens the fiber.


1. Shake off all dust from the garment.

2. Dip the article fully in a mild soap solution. Wash by kneading and squeezing method gently by hand, Friction should not be used as it may cause the wool to mat.

3. Lift the article out of soapy water and squeeze it with the hands.

4. Rinse thoroughly in water for two to three times to remove all soap.

5. Squeeze gently by hand, then lay the garment flat on a thick towel, roll and pat on all sides. This will remove moisture to a great extent.

Washing Woolens


1. Shake, stretch into shape in the newspaper and dry flat.

2. Dry the woolens in very dry and shady place.

3. During drying, lift, shape and turn occasionally and pull it to its shape.


Woolens are finished by pressing, knitted woolens require no finishing. When the materials become dry, place a damp muslin over them and press with an iron. Excessive finishing will spoil the elasticity of woolen fabrics.

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