When I was growing up Monday was always the day when the household’s washing was done. This was right across the country, not just where I lived, so I decided to look into the reasons for Monday being the chosen day.
Monday as washday is a very old tradition, based on pure practicality. Before there were automatic washing machines, doing laundry was an all-day task. Then drying and ironing might take most of the week (depending on the climate) and the whole thing had to be out of the way by Sunday, the official day of rest.
The precursor of the electric washing machine – a single tub which boiled water for washing laundry, especially large items such as bed sheets. My mum had a pair of wooden tongs exactly like that for fishing water out of boiling hot water,
After being washed in the sink, a boiler like the above, or the bath, clothes were wrung out using a free-standing mangle or wringer like this which was often outside.
My mum’s very first washing machine was like this. It combined the two items above but as it was electric you didn’t have to turn a heavy handle on a mangle. It was wheeled into position in front of the kitchen sink then filled with a hose from the tap. After being heated and swirled around for a while the wringer was turned on and the clothes fed through (watching your fingers as it wouldn’t stop if they got caught) and they went into a sink of clean water for rinsing. Then the wringer was swung around 90 degrees and the washed, rinsed clothes were fed through and landed on the draining board ready for being pegged out. We thought it was SO modern and sophisticated!
Most households had these airers positioned above an open fire or range. The clothes were aired here after drying on the line outside.
This stuff was added to a whites wash to make them extra white. I also remember my grandmother using one on me when I was stung by a wasp!
The wooden clothes horse for airing clothes before they were ironed and put away. Ours was exactly like this one with the same white fabric hinges. We also used it for making dens. On rainy days wet washing could be dried from wet on one of these in a shed or outhouse. or in the house if there wasn’t an outhouse – making for a very steamy house!
The washing powders I remember are Daz (which my mum favoured), Tide, Surf and OMO. Whilst researching for this post I learned that OMO stands for Old Mother Owl! I also remember my grandmother using a bar of carbolic soap to wash clothes.
Credit to Google, Google Images and Wikipedia.
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