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Boiling dishes and boiling clothing.  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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Boiling Dishes
I have a very efficient and lazy way of washing dishes, when using my masonry stove. I simply pack the dishes tightly,  into a four gallon stainless steel pot, and bring to a rolling boil, for a few minutes, before allowing it to cool. A small amount of soap is used.

 The energy used to heat the water is inconsequential since I have a never ending supply of free wood, and it is part of my thermal mass.

 After the water cools to just warm, the dishes are taken out and rinsed.

..... I'm not one of those who thinks that dishes need to be sterilized. I'm sure nobody pooped in them. It's just the easiest way to get them clean. The bubbling action seems to help.
........
Boiling Clothing

 I'm wondering about doing the same thing with clothing. Would it ruin them? I have already had good success in boiling socks,  dish cloths and towels.

 Most of what I need to wash are things like denim pants and work shirts. I don't have a lot of fine evening wear.

 I wonder if bringing dress clothing to a boil,  would damage the fabric and possibly any elastic materials. I supposed there may be some danger of setting in stains and of removing stain inhibitors. But will it destroy the fabric?  That is my man concern. Will regularly boiling, significantly reduce service life?

Please share your thoughts and experience.
 
r ranson
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Neat question!

Grab a coffee... this might take a while.

Different fibres react differently to different temperatures... so, short answer - it depends on what you are boiling.

Linen for example is the perfect candidate for boiling. Not only does it help to whiten linen, especially new linen, but it softens it as well. I don't recommend this with your heirloom great grandmother's linen, but for everyday linen, boiling can do the world of good. Because the linen fibres are quite smooth, the boiling water helps to release most of the dirt particles. When boiling linen it helps to add a pinch of washing soda or baking soda to the water for longer lasting linen.

Synthetics ... there are so many different kinds, but I'm balling them up into one big category because I'm not much of a fan. I'm including some of the new rayons like bamboo (not silk, RAYON - silk is just a marketing ploy), soy rayon, sea cell, and the usual synthetic suspects like viscose and polyester. Many of these have a lower melting point than natural fibres. I don't imagine that boiling the cloth will do any good, in fact, it might melt the fibres and help the dirt to permanently attach to the cloth. It would likely destroy any elastic material in the cloth as well, like stretchy waste bands - this falls into the synthetic category. Plastic, bone, horn and possible shell buttons will also be an issue.

Cotton is another one that dosen't mind boiling. Because of the structure of the fibre, it will probably shrink the cloth a fair amount, the same way as going into a steamy room automatically takes 4 inches off my hair. The individual fibres go from straight-ish to curly. Kind of neat with hair. Fine with a towel. Not so good for a shirt. You may need to 'block' it as it drys - which is to stretch it to the shape and size you need, then keep it there somehow. As for getting dirt off, boiling water and cotton work okay. Over time, it would weaken the cotton fibres, or at least that's the common opinion in textile books. My thoughts are my pudding cloth get's boiled loads and it shows no sign of weakening.

Wool and animal fibres are a different story. hot water yes, but boiling will most likely result in felting. The motion of the boiling water causes the fibres to rub together, which when wet is how we create felt.

Here endith the theory part of the post.


In real life, I think it's worth a go. Especially with cotton and linen fabrics. It may work or it may not. It depends a lot on how the fabric was constructed - every element of how it was constructed from method of spinning the thread, through to how the seams were sewn... and what the seams were sewn with (synthetic thread that will melt?). Maybe start with clothes that you don't mind loosing. Give it a try and let us know how it goes.
 
Jami McBride
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Cleaning materials of stains and light soils is fairly straight forward.

Most all 'dirt' will only be set by added heat, so boiling is not a good idea for cleaning of isolated spots, stains and debris.
Pre-treating, a problem area before washing is always recommended. In some cases, like oil and blood, only cold water is to be used.
In the case of caked on soils, physically removing all you can with a stiff brush is recommended before even pre-treating is done, as in the case of mud. {Do allow the staining material dry first}

However for general whitening, freshening and/or disinfecting of 'natural fabrics' (thanks RR) boiling works great. Think cloth diapers

There are many soil removal charts on the Net where you can look up how to remove this or that, here is one www.cleaninginstitute.org

 
Olga Booker
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Yes you can boil clothes, I do and have done for a long time. I use what here in France they call a "Lessiveuse". It is something my grandmother used to use. Basically, it is a fairly large metal container with a lid. Inside, there is a double bottom and something like a chimney attached to it. I put the clothes around the chimney, fill the container with water, add a bit of grated Aleppo soap and put it on the stove, When it starts to boil, the chimney acts like a coffee percolator. There is a constant motion of the water coming up through the chimney, falling on top of the clothes, and coming back through again. When it has cooled down, I just rinse and dry outside. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else than in France, but it does not mean that it does not exist somewhere else. Boilingt is great for bedding, towels, jeans, shirts, in fact anything cotton or linen. It does eventually ruin anything that has elastic in it like cotton boxer shorts or fitted bed sheets. If there are particularly nasty stains, I deal with them prior to boiling.

If you understand a bit of French, you can Google lessiveuse, if not, it's worth looking at some of the pictures anyway. In any case, I think any large container will do. Happy Laundry!
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Lessiveuse
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you all. Lots of good information. The big coffee pot looks neat. I don't speak French, but this picture from Wikipedia shows how it works. In order to not ruin my elastic lululemon stuff😂, I'll have to cart one of these to the top of Mt Everest, where water boils at 160 F. Seems like a safe temperature.
Lessiveuse-principe.gif
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r ranson
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You know, I was so focused on the cloth, I completely forgot about the dirt. Thanks for reminding me.

A protein based stain (blood, manure, some foods &c) is going to set in hot water. I've found found Orvus paste to be the best (aka, least work) solution for this. It's what a lot of people use to wash their lambs prior to showing them at the fall fair. It's available in a big tub at the feed stores in town, and you need at most 1/4 tsp per large load of laundry. One tub will probably last 10 to 40 years of laundry. It also degrades so it's sceptic safe. I use the wash water on my garden, directly on the plants, and it's good aphid control.

A lot of dirt will come out with pure mechanical effort. Aka, shake the wool sweater so the dust falls out. Wool is especially good at releasing dirt with a simple shake. I met a woman last week who had these beautiful wool mitts. She recently fell in the mud while cycling her bike. Poor thing, nasty fall. But her mitts which took the brunt of the impact looked fine. I asked her how she washed all the dirt out she said she didn't. She just brushed it out. Looked as good as new.


I'm going to have to come back to this. Brain is full of snot (got a cold) and the coffee isn't penetrating the memory retrieval system like it normally does. I know I have this information in there somewhere.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Stains are not an issue for me. Work clothing.

I have constructed many rudimentary,  bread box style solar water heaters. It would seem that if overheating work clothing is not a problem, I could use a big solar heated,  stainless tank as a clothes washer.

 Load the washer in the morning, take the clothes out at night. A system like this might keep the clothing in hot water for as much as eight hours.

I have done this with a black garbage can placed in the sunniest spot on a job site.  It gets really hot when covered with clear plastic.

Very little agitation is required with well soaked clothing. Just heat and time, seem to be enough to release most dirt.

 Boiled dishes required no scrubbing at all. 
 
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