Caring for your CLOTHES
Go back to basics and clean your clothes the old-fashioned way - with powerful antimicrobial herbs and other natural ingredients.
Forget oxi action, optical brighteners and power gels – good old soap and water, together with herbs, are time-honoured means of removing dirt and grime. Eucalyptus oil, for example, is a powerful natural antiseptic and is invaluable for removing stains. Pour a few drops onto a moist cloth and dab grease and perspiration stains from the edge to the middle, then clean as usual.
Soapwort ( Saponaria officinalis), too, has been used as a cleanser for centuries. Its stems, leaves and roots contain saponins, which form a mild soap-like foam when mixed with water. Before phosphates, people used this plant for washing all and sundry – themselves, their hair (it does not produce much in the way of suds, but it does remove grime and dirt), their clothes and linens. It’s still used today to clean delicate fabrics and old tapestries as it helps to restore colour to these valuable pieces without the harsh chemicals. In her Book of Herbs (1968), Dawn Mcleod writes of some 18th-century brocade drapes that were transformed from dull to dynamic with the use of soapwort. “Not only were the ancient fabrics cleaned gently and efficiently… the herb actually put new life into the fibres from which they were woven” and that “the color the dye… was… restored to its original brilliance and depth.”
Whether using soapwort for your hair or for brightening delicate fabrics, soapwort should be boiled in pure water, either spring water or distilled, for best effect. The roots have the best properties, although the leaves and flowers can be used.
To make a soapwort cleaner, use as much cleaned root as possible. If not much root is available, add some leaves and flowers.
Place in a non-metal saucepan, cover well with pure water and very gently simmer with the lid on the pot for 20 minutes. Strain and use the resulting cooled liquid for your hair and delicate fabrics.