Oilcloth, as its name implies, is a type of cloth treated with oil to make it waterproof. Its origins date back to the 18th century when sailors covered discarded sails with linseed oil to create waterproof tarpaulins. This material quickly found its way into domestic use, proving popular for floor cloths and table coverings due to its water resistance.
There are two main types of oilcloth, each with unique properties. Traditional oilcloth, made by treating lightweight cotton with a layer of boiled linseed oil, is known for its robustness and high level of water resistance. Modern oilcloth, on the other hand, is made by coating a cotton mesh with PVC, making it easier to clean but less hard-wearing.
While oilcloth is relatively low maintenance, it does require specific care to prolong its lifespan. It's not suitable for machine washing or dry cleaning - instead, it should be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild detergent. Furthermore, oilcloth should not be folded as this can cause the material to crack. When storing, it is recommended to roll the cloth to avoid damage.
In conclusion, oilcloth's history is deeply rooted in its practicality, and its unique features make it a favorite choice in various sectors, from fashion to home dcor. By understanding its properties and learning to handle it properly, users can ensure they fully enjoy the benefits it offers.