Blue = White?

Source: Adapted from MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook by MaryJane Butters (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2005).

Bluing is a washday product that restores your dingy whites to their former sparkling glory. Miniscule particles of alkali left in clothes from laundry detergent and other washing compounds can leave your whites with a dingy or yellowish tinge. Adding bluing to your final rinse can restore
whites to their original luster.

Why blue? If you look around, you can see that whites come in many different shades—yellowish white, pinkish white, and bluish white, to name a few. Color experts say that there are nearly three hundred different shades of white! The brightest white has a slightly bluish tone. Many artists use a blue color to intensify whites in their paintings. The bluish whites simply reflect more light, making them appear whiter. Place a new white garment next to one you’ve had for a while, and you’ll easily see the difference. Bluing, which actually contains a small amount of blue dye, adds a
bluish tint that makes your fabrics look snowy white. My favorite bluing on the market is Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing (, which claims to be nontoxic, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly. It contains a very fine blue iron powder suspended in water, with a nontoxic amount of a pH balancer. It’s been around for 120 years, and has a fun, old-fashioned
label depicting the original “Mrs. Stewart.”

To be perfectly sure the bluing you use is harmless, you can make your own bluing mixture. Simply mix 1 ounce of the finest Prussian blue powder (found at art supply stores) and 1/2 ounce oxalic acid (try your local drugstore) in 1 quart of purified water.

For more bluing action on table linens, don’t rinse them after bluing. Just hang the dripping-wet linens on your clothesline to deepen their luster.

The best way to prevent dinginess and discoloration in fabrics is a dose of good old-fashioned sunshine and fresh air. Available year-round, sunshine is a disinfectant, and fresh air is a natural ozone cleanser. Line dried clothes have the smell of ozone, that familiar intoxicating smell you remember from rain and lightning storms. T-shirts, towels, and sheets can go outside year-round. Even if it’s too cold for them to dry thoroughly, you can bring them in after nature has cleansed and scented them. Though many detergent manufacturers have tried, nature still provides the ultimate
laundry perfume, your reward as you gather the items in your arms for your next laundry chore.

For over 400 pages of wonderful farmgirl thoughts and ideas like these, check out: MaryJanesFarm Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook and to learn more about MaryJanesFarm, visit