Like all garments that had to be frequently bleached clean, nurses' caps were invariably white. Most caps were cut from a flat pattern, so they could be unfolded for cleaning, pressing and starching (compare flat cap 1999.267.22 with folded version 1999.267.21 from the Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing). Very early caps were sometimes made of linen gauze (1999.267.32), but most were made of cotton, starched to a high sheen and cardboard rigidity. Chinese laundries often specialized in this starching technique.
As hospitals expanded in the early-twentieth century, many had to find shortcuts in the maintenance of nurses' uniforms. Cap design was simplified. At the Peterborough Civic Hospital School of Nursing, for example, elaborate gathering of the back of the caps (1999.267.70) was often abandoned for simple folding (1999.267.57). New man-made fabrics were incorporated into caps, along with textured paper and vinyl, which could be thrown out and replaced when worn or soiled (1999.267.52).