Ticking is a type of cloth, traditionally a tightly-woven cotton or linen textile. It is traditionally used to cover mattresses and bed pillows. The tight weave makes it more durable and hinders the stuffing (straw, chaff, hair, down feathers, etc.) from poking through the fabric. To make it even tighter, ticking could be waxed, soaped, or starched. Tick materials designed to hold foam may be knit, or more porous. In English-speaking countries ticking commonly has a striped design, in muted colors such as brown, grey or blue, and occasionally red or yellow, against a plain, neutral background.
Although traditionally used for mattresses and pillows, the material has found other uses, such as serving as a backing for quilts, coverlets, and other bedding. It is sometimes woven with a twill weave.
Ticking is no longer restricted to a utility fabric and has found uses in interior decorating styles intending to evoke a homespun or industrial aesthetic. Modern uses for ticking include furniture upholstery, cushion covers, tablecloths, decorative basket liners, and curtains. Occasionally, lighter weight percale cloth is printed with a striped pattern made to resemble ticking fabric, and used to make garments.
A homemaker writes, "We've had sickness in the family. I'd like to clean the feather pillows. Is it possible to wash them?["]
Home management specialists of the U. S. Department of Agriculture say that you may wash pillows with the feathers in them if you wish. Or you may remove the feathers, from the ticking, put them in a large muslin bag and wash the bag of feathers and the ticking separately.
Whether you wash the feathers in the ticking or put them in a muslin bag, the method of washing is the same. Use warm water with lots of suds. And scrub the pillow of bag of feathers with a weak washing soda solution.
You can tell whether you need to put the pillows through a second suds. You will need to rinse them two or three times. Use lukewarm water. And squeeze the water out. Then let the pillows dry in warm air and in sun, if possible. During the drying process, beat the pillows two or three times so they will be fluffy.
If you wash the feathers and ticking separately, starch the ticking so the feathers won't work through. Make a good stiff starch and apply it to the inside of the ticking with a sponge or a soft cloth. This will act as a seal or coating to the ticking and the feathers won't work through.