Lye Soap and Rheumatism Medicine

Fer those of you who have read my articles faithfully for the last 30 years, you have come to realize I’m “Old School.”  Old  TV shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies are shows I still enjoy.

Recently a fella sent me a picture of his shirt soaking method. He thought he was getting fair results, but wanted to know if I had any suggestions. (This picture reminded me of “Granny” making a batch of Lye Soap, back by the cement pond.)

While I applaud cleaners and launderers always trying to put out a better quality product, don’t make work out of work. Soaking white mens laundry shirts overnight is a great way to put out a better garment and be able to upcharge as well.

There’s a difference between doing something and doing it right!

You don’t need fancy contraptions to do this. Many of today’s washing machines have the capability to program an overnight soak cycle, then go right into the wash cycle.

Now for you folk that say “My shirts are white enough just by washing them,” I say “Hold your horses.” I don’t mean no harm here, but I would be willing to bet a chopped beef brisket sandwich, if you took one of your washed shirts, and one shirt soaked overnight in sodium perborate, you would see the difference.

Here’s what you need

Any container that will hold water with a lid (a tote, plastic trash can on wheels, old ice chest/ cooler, old soap container, even plastic buckets)

Plastic or wooden stir stick (don’t use metal)

A neutral lubricant or a really good spray spotter A.L.Wilsons’ RiteGo comes to mind

Clean, white beach towels


In a clean container add warm water( approximately 125 degrees) and for every gallon of water add 2 ounces of sodium perborate ( Do Not use on wool fabrics). Add 4 oz. of RiteGo or neutral lubricant (it makes the water wetter and allows better penetration of the bleach into the fabric.

Using your wooden dowel, stick or spoon, mix throughout making sure the powder is dissolved. 

Add your dirty white shirts.

Take your clean white towel and put over the soaking shirts. This prevents part of the shirts from bubbling out of the bath and helps to hold the water temperature.

Cover the container, again to hold the water temperature

Let soak 8 hours or overnight, then wash as usual.

Note: When using sodium perborate in a soak for whitening discolored wedding dresses make sure to neutralize with  tannin formula or acidic acid afterwards. Failure to do so will cause the garment to yellow over time.

Back home, at the Ol’ Wagon now, but please keep the cards and letters coming…

Kenney Slatten

10936 East Apache Trail # 71

Apache Junction AZ 85120

Phone (480) 3542497

Ask Kenney and Jeff

I flew out to see Kenney in September on Labor Day weekend, we had a great visit and ate some BBQ.

We spoke about all the rivers we rode together. I remembered that a customer had e-mailed me a stain removal question, so zip, thought I would pose it to my mentor…

How do you get whiskey out of drapes? This was an actual question!

Kenney thought about it for less than a minute, leaned forward in his chair and said… “Wring affected area into a glass, add ice!!” Problem solved.

Jeff “The Stain Wizard” Schwarz


(201) 240-9446 – cell

(800) 526-1188 – office

About Kenney Slatten

Kenney Slatten Training Company is a Dry Cleaning and Laundry Consulting Firm Specializing in Environmental Training and Certification. Kenney Slatten Training Company, or KSTC, is based in Texas with offices in Arizona and California. Kenney Slatten is a certified instructor/trainer for the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), is actively involved in the San Diego Drycleaners Association, the California Cleaners Association, is an Allied Trade board member of DLI, the Executive Director of Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association, a member of the International Drycleaners Congress, and a columnist for American Drycleaner and Western Cleaner and Launderer magazines. The Kenney Slatten Training Company provides the only complete environmental training and inspection process. Started in 1987, Kenny became the first instructor for California E.P.A, OSHA, and state regulations. Kenney publishes a 36 point plant requirement every year in trade publications which is his guide for plant training and certification. We are the only company that provides dry cleaning and laundry specific environmental training. Kenney Slatten is a third generation drycleaner/laundryman from Houston, Texas. His company, KSTC, can teach you the skills you need to have a successful plant. His wagon is found all over the country parked under a tree just waiting for the next call to come to your plant. He can be reached at (800) 429-3990; e-mail: or go to: www.

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