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Blue bags

(26 Posts)
TrendyNannie6 Tue 03-Mar-20 20:33:49

Just having discussion with my husband, talikung about insect bites, lol he mentioned when he was young he has a bee sting and his mum used a blue bag to cover the sting, I’ve never heard of this before and I’m older, does anyone know what he’s talking about as I have never heard or seen these

TrendyNannie6 Tue 03-Mar-20 20:34:06


midgey Tue 03-Mar-20 20:36:38

Blue bags were used for washing, I can’t remember what was in them....but I do remember them!

Jessity Tue 03-Mar-20 20:39:25

Yes, I remember my mother talking about using a blue bag for a sting. I think they were also called dolly blue. Wonder why?

crazyH Tue 03-Mar-20 20:46:52

Was it something called indigo blue and used when you washed whites ?

Squiffy Tue 03-Mar-20 20:47:22

I think they contained soda, hence being used on stings.

TrendyNannie6 Tue 03-Mar-20 20:54:53

Thankyou All for answering I just told him that you said they were put into the wash, he said yes that’s them, I still don’t remember them though, oh well you learn a new thing every day

NotSpaghetti Tue 03-Mar-20 20:57:31

They were blue because they contained a synthetic ultramarine.
It was wooshed through the last rinse when washing whites. My grandmother called it "blueing" and it was the equivalent of modern "optical whiteners".

NotSpaghetti Tue 03-Mar-20 20:59:42

Presumably the bicarbonate of soda was the "active ingredient" for stings.

MiniMoon Tue 03-Mar-20 21:00:06

When my mother was a little girl at school, she was stung by a bee. The teacher sent her home and told her to ask her mum to put a blue bag on it. She lived at the bottom of the school lane so didn't have far to go.
Here is an article from Australia that explains it.

TrendyNannie6 Tue 03-Mar-20 21:06:55

Thanks so much for that Minimoon I remember now as I’ve just seen the muslin bag,

Purpledaffodil Tue 03-Mar-20 21:07:24

And you can still buy them on Amazon. Reckett’s blue bags.
I remember my mum using them to blue white washing.

Chewbacca Tue 03-Mar-20 21:09:55

Weren't they called Dolly Blue Bags? A little cloth bag, filled with blue powder and they had a little wooden stick pushed down into the middle? I think they were 4d each.

Welshwife Tue 03-Mar-20 21:37:05

My aunt used them to give her hair va blue rinse! 😂😂

Gaunt47 Tue 03-Mar-20 21:58:16

They were called Reckett's blue in our house.
Although when I saw the subject heading I immediately thought of the blue bag of salt in Smith's crisps smile

Xander Tue 03-Mar-20 21:58:18

kept on the window sill in kitchen ready for stings!!!

chicken Tue 03-Mar-20 22:15:38

My mother kept a blue bag in a little jar by the sink and swished it through the rinse water to stop the "whtes" looking yellow. All the washing was done by hand, scrubbing the sheets etc. with a bar of green soap against a ribbed washboard and then putting it through the mangle.Doing the washing took all the morning leaving no time for cooking lunch, so it was always cold meat and beetroot in vinegar on Mondays!

chicken Tue 03-Mar-20 22:25:32

The name "dolly" would be from the dolly which was used to pound the washing and stir it around in the wash boiler. It was a wooden stick like a short broom handle with a thing like a tiny three-legged stool on the end. It was also known as a posser or poss stick.

Grandmafrench Tue 03-Mar-20 22:34:36

Sounds as if you lived in our house, chicken smile

Juliet27 Tue 03-Mar-20 22:36:37

Does anyone recall a childhood song I'm vaguely remembering....'First we wash and then we blue
Dolly's socks and dresses too' ?

Chewbacca Tue 03-Mar-20 22:41:58

Our house too Grandmafrench! We also had a mangle. I remember that it was a dark green metal thing, with 2 cream rollers and a wooden plate that caught the washing from the opposite side. The dolly tub was galvanised metal and the posser was as chicken describes but ours had a copper dome on the end of the stick instead of the 3 legged stool. Such hard physical work for women on laundry days back then.

callgirl1 Tue 03-Mar-20 22:43:40

There was something similar for biscuit coloured net curtains, but I can`t remember what it was called.

Marydoll Tue 03-Mar-20 22:48:38

Until the mid-20th century Reckitt’s blue-bags were well-known in many countries, sold as penny cubes to be wrapped in flannel or muslin, or sold ready bagged. The product had various names over the years: Reckitt's Blue, Bag Blue, Paris Blue, Crown Blue, Laundry Blue, Dolly Bags. The main ingredients were synthetic ultramarine and baking soda, and the original "squares" weighed an ounce.

I remember these being used in the tenement wash house. On washing day, neighbours shared the wash house, to save money.
We would be sent to search the back courts and ask in shops, for old wooden fruit boxes to fuel the fire and heat the water in the stone boiler.

SilverDarlings12 Tue 03-Mar-20 22:57:51

"The Blue Works" used to be by the river in Backbarrow,
South Lakes near me. It was a chimney factory and they
sold Dolly Blue Bags.

Purpledaffodil Fri 06-Mar-20 11:39:00

I grew up in a Victorian farmworkers’ cottage in the 1950s which had a wash house attached. The copper boiler with a fire under it had been removed from ours but our neighbour still had hers and did all her washing in it. Wonderful whites! My mother used to save any old shoes to give to her as they gave the best heat apparently.