Historical information

This little bag of "whitener" additive for the washing of white clothes was manufactured in Hull in the United Kingdom mid and later 1900's. The Manufacturer, Ricketts, was one of the first manufacturers to employ women in equal proportions with males (a rarity before 1914). This product was used to improve the appearance of white fabrics. This ability to use a product that would "whiten" clothes chemically rather than the "hard boiling" of clothes was a time saver and a lot easier on the fabrics. This is a boon to rural families where time was of the essence (boiling took time). The blue coloring was introduced because the white colour perception is enhanced by the blue (fadeable and not permanent). The "washing machine industry" of the late 1900's emphasised
"whitening" agents that were not so haphazard in producing blue stains, and allowed a "gentle" washing action.


This item is very significant in detailing the early 1900's rural household domestic "chore" of washing white clothes to a "social" standard of cleanliness. White shirts were the mark cleanliness that those outside of the family judged the family unit by. The best clothes were worn to church on Sundays. Hard and mostly rural activities/work in the Kiewa Valley encompassing farming, crop cultivation, cattle/sheep and "field work" to do with the SEC Vic Hydro Scheme involved provided a stain prone environment. As appearances, of clothing, was on the whole not significant it was a different scenario at social and religious scenes. The ability to attain "brilliant" white shirts, dresses and bonnets by a less drastic method to that of "boiling" of clothes in vats, was a boon of that "era". The anti establishment revolt came later in the 1950's onward took longer to migrate from the cities and larger rural townships to eventually sneak into the Kiewa valley.

Physical description

This "blue bag" is a whitening agent wrapped in flannel or muslin, or sold ready bagged (1 ounce).It was used in the final rinse to "whiten white coloured clothes" The string was used to facilitate finger grip onto the "bag" after the wash had finished for easy removal to stop the hand and other surfaces from being stained by the blue colour residue drips.