The French Method

It is amazing what you find when you move into an new house (about 50 years old, but new to us). Especially when the previous owner lived there for the entire history of the house. We originally found the item in question when we moved in, but we were so amazed by it that we kept it around to show and amaze visitors. We recently came across the bottle of Putnam Dry-Cleaner (The French Method) again while cleaning our basement in preparation for drain-tiling.

When we first came across it we thought, "That's interesting, an old home dry-cleaning solution." As we further examined the box, and the bottle contained within, we thought "That's VERY interesting, and a bit scary."

As you can see, the brief directions on the front of the box instruct the user to dilute one tablespoon of the cleaner in one quart of GASOLINE OR NAPTHA.

The more thorough directions on the back go on to instruct the user to rinse the article with pure clean gasoline. It also advises that kid gloves may be cleaned while ON THE HANDS. I have occasionally dripped gasoline on my shoes, hands or gloves, and that smell is with you for days. Did these people walk around smelling of gasoline? Was this preferable to a slightly soiled garment?

I would have to imagine that working in gasoline, standing that close to an open container for the time it would take to clean your kid gloves, your nose and throat would start to burn. Your hands aren't exactly soaking in Ivory Liquid either.

The box also lists as a tip for successful cleaning to first warm the gasoline. Thankfully the makers saw fit to warn users to keep it away from flame.

As a bonus we get a vocabulary lesson for the day (at least I did). The box warns that both the product and gasoline are very inflammable.

I have always thought (incorrectly) that inflammable meant not-flammable. It in fact means flammable. The "in" is not the negative latin prefix, but instead the intensive latin prefix, related to enflame. Who knew? Maybe The American Heritage Student Dictionary should add inflammable to this list.

Note: Damn permalinks! Fot the information on the vocabulary list go to Collaboratory, it is under the entries for Monday, June 16.

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