Cleaning Clothing

As we re-enact a campaign unit, it is not necessary (or possible) to keep uniforms perfectly clean.  Period documents indicate soldiers routinely had only one or two of an item to last the season (unless additional items were “procured”).  Uniforms and other clothing with the remnants of mud, grass, and powder stains are appropriate.

The first and simplest way to clean your clothing is to brush off loose dirt with a stiff clothes brush and should be done after each wearing. 

To remove smells but maintain stains and the “washed in a stream or lake” appearance, hand wash the items in with baking soda in the water.  This “sweet water” is described in period documents.

White vinegar is an excellent multi-purpose cleaner (except on leather.  Never use vinegar on leather).  It works on mold, many stains, and animal odors.  Bleach is not required for white linen and cotton items.  Simply lay them in the sun for an hour or more and the sun will “bleach” the fabric white. 

Due to shrinking, it is not advised to use a clothes dryer to dry any clothing.  Air dry and hang to remove the wrinkles.

Test all fabrics for colorfastness, especially the red facings, by sponging a section through.  Never use detergent containing chorine bleach -- real bleach disintegrates wool.  Felting is caused by “shocking” the fabric with rapid temperature changes (very hot to cold) and agitation.

Cleaning Regimental Coats

Hand washing:

To hand wash Regimentals (or other woolen items) safely, use tepid water and a mild detergent that is recommended for wool, or that is very gentle, such as Dreft.  No dyes, and unscented if possible. Fill a shallow trough or your bathtub with luke warm water and allow the water to come to room temperature, (over night if necessary). Lay coat or other woolen item in the water and sponge it through with the detergent.  Work the soap and water through, the especially dirty parts.  Rub gently on surface stains.  Rinse thoroughly.  Once done, make sure you get the bulk of the water out and lay it flat to dry.  Do not hang the Regimental up.  Unlike modern sports coats and shirts, 18th century coats and garments bear most of their weight in the bottoms.  Hanging it will pull at the neck line and distort it.

A Regimental Coat may also be dry cleaned.  Ask the shop to dry clean it only and to not press it.