At my last family gathering, I ended up engaging in a discussion about laundry with my two grown up sons. Now normally laundry would be the last thing we would ever talk about, but I think the presence of new grandson Zach, whose secondary job, when not engaged in keeping his parents awake at night, is producing dirty laundry, inspired the discussion. And so we reminisced about the good old days when the boys were in college and unabashedly threw light and dark clothes in the same washer load, because, hey they were young, and guys, and once in a while they just wanted something clean to wear that hadn’t been fished out from underneath a beer keg.
Anyway, this led me to share about how I only put white clothes in with other white clothes, except if I had something light blue, I could throw that in with the white clothes too, because it would help the white clothes stay white. “Oh mother, please tell us the story of how blue clothes can help white clothes stay white, oh please, please.” And so begins the tale of bluing.
Back in the olden days, days so bygone that it was even before I was born, people had very few options for getting clothes clean. There were no whiteners, brightners, or Tide Stain Sticks. They couldn’t just “Shout it out.” Instead, people had only three things: a vat of hot water, lye soap, and a stick. People, or I should say women, because that’s who traditionally was stuck with the job of doing laundry for the whole family, would boil water to get it hot, dump the clothes in with some lye soap, stir them with a stick, fish them out and dump them into another vat with rinse water, then fish them out again and hang them on a clothesline to dry. This took so much time that the women had very little time left to look at their iPhones or update their Facebook status. If they did have time to update their status, it would have been something like “OMG – still doing the #$&*ing laundry.” Without the wonderful laundry additives that we have today, it was very difficult to get white clothes white. So one day someone, probably Mrs. Blue, in the kitchen, with the laundry tub, accidentally spilled a few drops of blue dye into the laundry vat. Why she had a bottle of blue dye sitting about, we’ll never know. Anyway, when she fished the white clothes out of the tub, to her surprise, they were sparkling white, so white that if sunglasses had been invented, Mrs. Blue would have had to put them on. Mrs. Blue didn’t understand by what process the blue dye had made her clothes white, as logically, it should have made them, well, blue. All she knew is that it worked. Women everywhere began adding blue dye to their white laundry loads, and voila’ the custom became known as bluing, although it really should have been called “whiting.” Anyway, eventually Mrs. Blue’s neighbor, Mrs. Stewart, decided to steal the idea from Mrs. Blue and market it on Google sponsored ads, and thus we now can purchase Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing wherever fine laundry products are sold.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Blue and Mrs. Stewart could not access Wikipedia, so they never knew the scientific reasoning behind the bluing, er whiting process, but if you want the true scientific gibberish, click here.
I’ll stand back out of the way now, because no doubt everyone reading this will rush past me to run out and buy a bottle of Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing. The best part is, besides being able to finally get your whites really white, you’ll also be able to engage in fun activities with your children such as growing your own salt crystal rock gardens. That is if you can get them away from their iPhones.
© Huffygirl 2011