Changing Underclothes? – December 1904

How often should flannel underclothing be washed? The obvious answer to that question is “whenever it is dirty.” The common rule for families which do not employ a laundry maid is to change the under linen once a week.

Duchesses and princesses, we are told by the all-knowing press, change their garments daily. Picture them shrinking in disgust from an under vest which the previous day had been worn next to their own skin.

So that the question resolves itself into one of how often we can afford —- labour, time and money — to have our things washed. The great drawback to woollen undergarments is that, unless carefully treated, they wash badly and become too small and thick in texture instead of wearing out , unlike the faithful time-tried long cloth which wears unnumbered years, preserving its shape and colours until it refines itself into ribbons.

It is only the other day that the last of the night gowns of my school stitching days was sent to the rag bag. The tale of its years, I could not number with certainty. A flannel garment for regular alternative wear in winter lasts two or three years, according to the quality of the material.

But in respect of washing. The common rule for common folk is —- after a fortnight’s wear as we find from experience that some wool does not soil so readily as cotton or linen nearest to the skin. It does not retain the impurities from the skin as do vegetable substances.

Thus we can wear wool with comfort next the skin three or four times longer than cotton. Again the length of time we may wear our underclothing depends much upon whether we change to the skin at night.

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