Blue Bag

Before we had modern laundry detergents with optical brighteners, there was a mysterious little blue bag that was stirred around in the final rinse water on washday. This was laundry blueing or blue.

A factory-produced block was the “modern” (mid-19th century onwards), commercial version of older recipes for whitening clothes, with names like stone blue, fig blue, or thumb blue.

It disguised any hint of yellow and helped the household linen look whiter than white.


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