Friday, 7 January 2011

scouring, or not

pootled over to the Maiwa pages today and discovered a post about the scouring of cloth before dyeing.
Maiwa are very firm about the need for this.

folks who have wandered with me will know that i don't bother with this process
i am dealing with greasy wool straight from the sheep
i cannot resist something silken from a thrift store
can tell [using my nose and fingertips] that some clot has permitted the garment to be maltreated by a "dry cleaner"
[i use the wiggly bits because the process is not dry at all, it involves having your precious garment sloshed about in a vat full of petrochemicals along with filthy garments belonging to complete strangers who have been doing goodness-only-knows-what in them ... eeeww]

here's why...

if we look at the Japanese system for mordanting cotton ie soaking in soy solution then alternate dips in soy and ash, drying each time so as to build up layers
having a layer of starch on new cloth [they apply it so the fabric will look good in the store]as a beginning could be an advantage.
at least i think so.
and if it's so strongly attached to the cloth that you have to boil it off with dangerously strong chemical assistants then you might as well leave it there.

if you're using thrift store cotton/linen/hemp then every wash that the garment has been through in its life will have helped to build up a mordant layer on the surface [very few washing aids do not contain sodium carbonate aka washing soda, an excellent mordant for yellows...]

and for bundle dyeing aka ecoprint [my preferred method] it doesn't matter...dye is forced into the cloth directly from the plant matter by steam and seems to bond firmly anyway
except of course if things have been drycleaned

in which case a good hot wash with dishwashing detergent is quite helpful

i don't understand why folks have their clothes chemically cleaned anyway. silk and wool can be handwashed. no problem.
treat silk the way you would treat your hair [teaspoon of vinegar in the rinsing water works the same way as conditioner...they just make conditioner gluggy so it won't run out of your hand in the shower]
and as long as you don't vary the temperature of your wash/rinse water by m ore than 5 degrees C or 9 degrees F or jiggle it about too much you shouldn't have any problems either.

here endeth the lesson
have a nice day.


  1. never had anything cleaned, could never stand the smell first off. guess have a good sense of smell is useful. as far as the dyeing goes, in my littlest experience, i agree, not necessary to scour etc. thank goodness, i have a pile of laundry i never get to anyway.

  2. some people, most, probably, think "dry cleaning" is best for their clothes, certainly it is easier (as in being a lazy bum). i love hand washing (particularly) and even the machine humming away makes me happy. no dryer here, all is dried in the sun or upstairs in winter.

  3. I appreciate the lesson especially about hair care :-)

  4. My mother is a dry cleaner groupie. Totally devoted... and her clothes seem to last forever, (of course formaldehyde does preserve things). But I'm with you, the whole idea of a chemical bath for my clothes just freaks me out!

  5. dry cleaning might reduce the incidence of washing machine "wear" but I had it on good authority [some years ago] from a former fashion & textiles curator at the National Gallery of Victoria
    that after a dozen trips to the dry-cleaners, the surfaces of textiles would be completely destroyed. silks lose their sheen
    and cellulose fibres develop a greasy feel.
    according to legend, the process was discovered by Frenchman Jean Baptiste Jolly after accidentally spilling kerosene on a piece of stained cloth. i expect [given the flammable nature of the substance] that some of his experiments may have been quite exciting...

  6. Scouring works best for precision dyeing where consistency is important. Scouring also removes any other crap that lands on, is sprayed on, is soaked in previously. It removes sizing etc. Dishwashing detergent removes some of the oils from silk and leaves it crunchier to my touch.Some of them have colours and even a little bleach. Oh and there is the issue of lightfastness, colourfastness, and the old covalent bond.

  7. dear material witness
    thank you for your contribution

    swing by
    to see

    lightfast + washfast eucalyptus dyes on wool [and silk] with covalent bonds working nicely

    thank you for stopping by

  8. Thank you for the lesson in washing and in not dry cleaning. Much appreciated.