View Full Version : Washing a Battleshirt

03-20-2006, 05:10 PM
I was at a Battalion drill this weekend wearing a heavy cotton battleshirt.It's a good shirt,warm,of cream color cotton.Only problem is that it became stained with smoke and powder residue.Normally I would not care,but since I will be wearing it alot this year as a "raw recruit",I will need it to look clean.My question is how do I clean it?Just like a regular shirt,hand wash it,how do I do it?
Thank you for your help.
Cullen Smith

03-20-2006, 05:26 PM
Easy on that shirt as you wash it, Cullen. First get a small bottle of wooliteat Wally mart or other store. Then put one cap full (follow directions on bottle) into cold (very important-cold only!) water. Let the shirt soak in the woolite.
Very important to rinse several times with cold water as well.
You can air dry it on a hanger or line outside, Cullen. But the best way to dry it though, is to put it in a dryer with a few other similar pieces of clothes. Air dry with NO HEAT! repeat-air dry with NO HEAT!.
When it is only damp to the touch, take all the ohter clothes out, leave the shirt in the dryer. Then take a couple of wet towels (not dripping-just wet) and place them in the dryer for final drying with the shirt.
To make it really nice, before the shirt is totally dry-just moist to the touch-take it out and let it air dry on a hanger. Or even better, on an outside clothes line. Shake a few times real hard before hanging to eliminate any wrinkles.
Good as new. No shrinking-no fading!
Good Luck
Frank Stevanus
Frank Stevanus

Jim Mayo
03-21-2006, 11:36 AM
Why wash it? Just hang it out and let it air dry until the smokey smell goes away and then put it away until next time. Just don't hang it next to your Sunday suite. If you want to portray a soldier may as well look and smell like one. It was hard for them to stay clean living out of doors all the time.

My wife washed my first fed contract shirt (taking all applicable precautions for washing wool) and it shrunk so much I couldn't wear it. I have had my present one for a couple of years and have never washed it.

When it comes time to go to an event I just open the closet door and whistle yankee doodle and it hops off the hanger ready for use.

03-21-2006, 12:20 PM
I agree with Jim, Why wash it. You got it dirty in one weekend, right?
So how dirty would a recruit get it in just a few days of training??

03-21-2006, 04:29 PM
There are several reasons why.First,I would be portraying a recruit,and if I am a recruit,then how would I have gotten dirty.Second,the bacteria will eat away the thread and fabric weakening it.The longer it goes unwash,the more the bacteria will eat away at the fabric.Third,my girlfriend wouldn't come into my bedroom with unwashed reenacting cloths everywhere,and that is top ruling., :wink: .
Cullen Smith

03-22-2006, 03:23 AM
Although I have not tried it yet, I have heard Dryel works well. I have a very nice shell jacket that I am afraid to even dry clean, but when I do a garrison event it needs to be clean. I'm going to try Dryel on some lesser uniforms first to see the result. Dryel is available in the laundry soap aisle in many stores. I would also like to hear if anyoe else has used it and with what results. The jacket I hope to use it on is vegetable dyed jean cloth.

Jim Mayo
03-22-2006, 09:58 AM
Most jean, wool, satinette will respond well to brushing with a clothes brush. That is also a period method of cleaning. It gets out most of the dirt, dust and mud but doesn't do much for stains. I would not reccomend using that method on cotton.

I would not use any chemical cleaners on vegtable dyed jean unless you have a swatch of material to test it on. You may want to check with the vendor who made the jean and get his opinion. Don't forget to put the swatch in the sun for a while to see how the vegtable dye reacts with the cleaner after exposure to light.

03-24-2006, 10:58 AM
For periodic washing, I've been using baking soda in the machine. When the rinse cycle commences, I add white vinegar. You won't get the volcano action because most of the soda has already gone down the drain.

Stay away from the dryer because accidents happen. Hang the washed clothes outside to dry.

You may still have some staining, but the garment will be clean and sanitized.

I wore my issue shirt at Corinth. It was ripe from wearings at several reenactments, and it had some blood stains from a bloody nose suffered at Corinth. The blood stain came right out, but there are clean spots where the blood was and where the dirt didn't come out.

Silas Tackitt

03-24-2006, 12:13 PM
I've used Dryell on my entire uniform--under the direct orders of the Lady of the House--who also agreed that if it got ruined I would get a new one!

It worked.

The Dryell worked...still have the same uniform...But I did not use the stain remover stuff, so they still look good and stained.

03-24-2006, 01:15 PM
Ok.That's what matters;it won't give me trench foot,broncitis,and crotch rott :shock:.I'll have to clean the stains for a new recruit,but that should only take lye soap and elbow grease.After this year,I'll let it have stains.
Cullen Smith

03-31-2006, 08:59 AM
not to sound like a broken record but; all I do is wash my shirt(s) by themselves in cold water on the gentle cycle. I have tried various types of detergents and combos the like. I have just stuck to ALL washing detergent.

After washing I don't even bother with the dryer (too many things can go wrong in there, even with no heat the tumbling could see the loss of a couple of buttons). I just hang my shirts out on the clothes line or in my bathroom over the tub.

If the event was just a living history then I don't even bother washing. Good old Febreeze works just fine for me. I've almost taken to buying the travel size container and bring it with us after weekend events so the wife of the guy who's driving us wont kill us when we get back and her van reeks of wet, sweaty wool, and men.


05-04-2006, 09:59 PM
Jim is correct. Air the darn thing out, brush it off and wear it. After the first 15 seconds in line, a new recruit would get dirty fast. Think about it.

"Pig-Pen "Charlie Brown fame, is my hero.

05-07-2006, 08:40 AM
Dryell really stinks, though. I use it sometimes for my suits if I can't get to a dry cleaner...and make sure that I do it at least the night before so co-workers don't pass out from the scent. You would have to let your uniform air out for some time to get that smell out of them. I wouldn't do it, but that's me.