How to Clean Your Civil War Uniform

By: Paula and Coach McCoach

How necessary is cleaning your Civil War Uniform?

The every day Confederate or Union soldier’s uniform was actually never made to be washed. They wore out so fast that many of them were never cleaned - ever.

This leaves us with the question –

Do you really need to wash or dry clean your Civil War uniform?

Some reasons for cleaning a uniform may be

1. To prevent it from smelling really bad.

(Some hardcore reenactors feel that smelling really bad is part of the mystique? What do you think about having an “authentic smell?)

2. To prevent the various body chemicals that the uniform can absorb or acquire like sweat, body oils, from destroying the integrity of the fabric.

3. To have your uniform look good.

4. To do some type of seasonal, yearly, monthly maintenance to preserve your uniform.

So, considering all of these things, if you still want to clean your uniform, here are my suggestions.

1. Do as little as possible. Less is better.

2. Jackets, pants, and vests (wool/jean cloth) - None of mine have ever been laundered.

3. What I do is I put them outside on the porch on a hanger and let them air out.

4. If I want to get some of the dirt out, I use a nice stiff brush and brush the dirt out of it.

(A stiff hairbrush works fine.)

5. If you still really want to clean it, I would suggest soaking it in cold plain water with some type of wool fabric cleaner like Woolite.

Any cleaning tips you have please send them to coach@civilwaruniforms.net, so we can pass them on to other reenactors.

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© 2004. Permission granted to reprint this article in print or on your website so long as the contact information is included to coach@civilwaruniforms.net and

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