This Is the Way We Wash Our Clothes So Early Monday Morning

by Oldbabe February. 25, 2008 4499 views

Mrs. Julia McNair Wright wrote in her 1879 book The Complete Home: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Life & Affairs:

“Remember that washing is very hard work; more young women break down their strength with washing than with any other toil. If young women would only remember not to mix together work with washing; if they would not hurry too much to be ‘smart about getting done;’ if they would lighten the task by soaking the clothes, and by using a clothes–wringer…instead of straining their chests and ruining their backs by lifting whole tubs of water, or boilers of clothes, or by carrying to the line a basket heaped with wet clothes…we should have fewer broken–down women.”
Old Time Laundry Tips:

To Remove Candle Grease
Candle grease yields to a warm iron. Place a piece of blotting paper or other absorbing paper under the absorbing fabric; put a piece of the paper also on the spot, apply the warm iron to the paper and as soon as a spot of grease appears, move the paper and press again until the spot disappears.

Remove Grease From Clothes
Mix four tablespoons of alcohol with one tablespoonful of salt; shake together until the salt is dissolved and apply with a sponge.

To Remove Grease
Cut a very ripe tomato and rub material over a kitchen table. Tomato juice will also remove stains from and whiten the hands.

To Remove Wagon Axle Grease
Lard will remove wagon grease. Rub the spot with the lard as if washing it, and when it is well out, wash in the ordinary way with soap and water until thoroughly cleansed.

To Make Linen Beautifully White
Prepare the water for washing by putting into every ten gallons a large handful of powdered borax; or boil with the clothes one teaspoonful of spirits of turpentine.

To Remove Tar from Cloth
Saturate the spot and rub it well with turpentine, and every trace of tar will be removed.


Today's Monday, today's Monday
Monday is washing day
Is ev'rybody happy?
You bet your life we are.

In many pioneer families Monday was washday. Washboards were frequently used up until the 1950s. The steps involved in doing laundry were basically 1. water was hauled and put into washtubs. 2. Clothes were rubbed against the washboard in soapy lye water to remove dirt. 3. Clothes were wrung out. 4. Clohtes were boiled briefly and stirred with a big stick. 5. Clothes were soaped, rinsed and wrung again and put into large wicker baskets. 6. Clothes were hung to dry.

Lye soap, bluing & soap trading cards. Many years ago, clothes were cleaned with homemade lye soap.Bluing - a weak blue dye - was frequently used on whites. Bluing would make the whites look just a bit brighter. Soap trade cards were used around 1880-1900 to advertise soap and other products. Local merchants and street walkers would hand them out.

Ads for washboards, laundry soap, blueing, clothesline. etc from April 13, 1904 newspaper.

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There are 5 comments , add yours!
Tracy 12 years, 4 months ago

Man am I glad I lived AFTER the 1950's! Sounds like hard work! Your posts have been so very interesting! I look forward to them daily!!

12 years, 4 months ago Edited
Allison 12 years, 4 months ago

This is very cool. Thanks for the lesson. My dad always washed my clothes for me! LOL :) I'm still not a good "washer". My job is to fold and put away! Cool shots. The the whole set.

12 years, 4 months ago Edited
Marsha 12 years, 4 months ago

Love the set.. Where did the washboard come from mmmm?? I remember the old way of washing clothes.. But I agree with the others Thank the inventors of the washing machine and Dryers. Now don't give me guff about hanging clothes outside.. Been there done that (laughter).

12 years, 4 months ago Edited
Picturemom 12 years, 4 months ago

your sets awe me in the quality of your photos with your point and shoot, the info you give us and the cool quotes. great job. I'm with artbug - although my dryer broke this a.m. :(

12 years, 4 months ago Edited
Julie 12 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the history lesson. I love history((: I know I would have never survived during this time period. Not just because of the torturous work of doing laundry, but mostly because I could have never survived without air condition.
Very interesting post.

12 years, 4 months ago Edited