Mar 10, 2010

Monday: Wash Day

For decades (longer?) women generally did their housework according to the order of a particular poem:

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Marketing Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

For several years I've actually followed a modified version of this. The reason? The order was based on common sense that still works for today! I don't think that I have much "wisdom" to share about this, but I think it could be somewhat interesting to share together about how we go about the necessary work to take care of a home. This is my interpretation of the poem.

At the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, there is a house that was moved from Massachusetts to the museum. It tells the story of five families who lived in that house over a span of 200 years. (Click HERE to see more details.) The Lynch family, Irish immigrants, lived there in the late 1800s and took in washing. They did all the washing . . . by hand. Here are the steps for washing whites:
  • Step 1: Soak overnight.
  • Step 2: Scrub in hot lye suds.
  • Step 3: Boil white linens and cottons.
  • Step 4: Rinse.
  • Step 5: Rinse again with bluing powder.
  • Step 6: Dip in starch and hang to dry.

Oy! Now, as a modern woman, I am about to share with you the steps I take to wash whites. I'll wait while you go and get a pencil and paper.

  • Step 1: Start washing machine, using hot water.
  • Step 2: Add detergent to water. Mine is homemade, y'all!
  • Step 3: Spot treat anything suspicious.
  • Step 4: Put clothes in washer.
  • Step 5: Wander off until washer is finished.
  • Step 6: Take out of washer and either put in dryer or hang to dry.

Did you see that? I have six steps, too! Maybe things haven't progressed as much as I thought . . .

Notice that I gave two options for Step 6. I have a clothes dryer. It runs on a combination of electricity and propane. I do use it, but try my best not to for a couple of reasons: It saves money and I LIKE to hang clothes on a clothesline! I call it "laundry euphoria." I've talked about it before HERE.

When I think of laundry billowing on a line, this image comes to mind:

That is not my clothes line and not my clothes. This is what I actually have. (Since it's winter, I couldn't take a picture of my actual line, so this is someone else's yard, and clothesline, and fence, and clothes.) Though it has been known to go airborne when filled with sheets on a gusty day, I must say that I like it's compactness.

What about winter, you say? (I could hear you as you laid your pencil down to get a sip of your coffee.) I really wanted to take advantage of the fact that we have a basement and that we NEED more moisture in the air in the winter. My husband rigged me up a way to use my rotary dryer down there! (This IS my actual dryer, with my actual clothes, actual unused exercise equipment, and actual messy basement.)

Isn't that cool? It works for us really, really well. The reason it works so well is this: I have strayed from the Monday Wash Day pattern. I wash ONE load of laundry each weekday. Ma Ingalls, please forgive me.
For us, washing one load a day has worked so well that I've been following it for years. I used to do all the laundry in one day, but I have found that what I do now takes so little effort that it doesn't seem so daunting. (Don't forget: There are only THREE of us.)
  • Monday: Whites
  • Tuesday: Sheets, towels, and misc. items
  • Wednesday: My clothes
  • Thursday: Son's clothes
  • Friday: Husband's clothes
I load the washer first thing in the morning. Then I take the wet clothes to the clothesline and hang them. In the winter I let them dry until the next morning. I remove them from the line and put them in the dryer for 15 minutes on "no heat" to make them less stiff. Fold, put away.

Wait. That's more steps than the Lynchs had. Cool!

That's my take on Monday Wash Day. We've got it SO much easier, but it's still a task that has to be done regularly, so we might as well enjoy it.

Do you have any tips to share regarding laundry?

Next time: Ironing Day
Click HERE for all the days.


Eva Girl said...

Your 'wash day' sounds a lot more like mine. I usually do Monday, Wednesday, Friday, one or two loads each. I hang mine in the basement too : )

Roxanne said...

Isn't it nice that we have the luxury to do laundry on different days without breaking a sweat?

Excuse me while I go and kiss my washing machine.

Anonymous said...

just reading this makes me miss my old washing machine and a one day a week at the laundrymat girl now(we now live in an apartment)

Lexi said...

dang...thnks for reminding me...I have clothes in the washer!

kai said...

I love it! For some reason I have never assigned days to certain washes - I just do them as needed. Which means I do a load most days & hang to dry. I usually load mine at night (after I put the baby to bed) & put it on a delayed start so it's actually running early in the morning. Then I can hang them almost all day.

MaryB. said...

I also let the wash loads dictate when I wash. At the moment, DS's dark load is finishing in the washer. We have rain threatening so I'm afraid it will mean using the dryer for the heavier items. Light stuff like tees, socks, undies etc will go on my retractable line on the patio (it's covered and enclosed so things still dry on there.

Roxanne said...

MommaShayBay--I've had to go without a w/d in my home only one time in my life (so far!). It was an 8 month period and I didn't have any children yet.

I enjoyed the actual laundromat time as everything got washed and dried at once, but I HATED the hauling back and forth and hated, even more, the cost.

That was several years ago. I imagine it costs even more now. My heart goes out to you!

Roxanne said...

Lexi--Get those clothes done, woman!

Roxanne said...

Kai--WHAT!! Washing machines have a delay start???? I wonder if mine does?

Oh, that would be so cool!

Roxanne said...

MaryB--In the summer I use my covered screen porch when the weather is bad.

When I lived in FL, it took the laundry forever to dry in the summer because it was so humid.

Ma Ingalls commented about how quickly the clothes dried somewhere in the prairie because it was so non-humid and windy.

Oh, the variety!

Packrat said...

Be sure to hug and kiss your washer and dryer.

Let's add a few more steps to the way laundry was done, and I am probably missing a few steps.

Butcher. Render fat. Gather ashes. Make soap. (If one was rich, it might have been purchased.) Shave bits off bar so that soap will dissolve.

Haul water. If lucky there was an inside pump. Gotta pump by hand!

Step 1: Soak overnight.

Cut lots of wood and kindling get fire going good and hot.

Step 2: Scrub in hot lye suds - bending over and using a washboard without plastic or latex gloves to protect your hands.

Step 3: Boil white linens and cottons. Stirring with a big stick or rod or using a plunger.

Haul more water and heat it.

Step 4: Rinse.

Ring by hand or (if lucky - don't know when these were invented) with a roller ringer that had to be hand cranked. (The rollers would break buttons and fasteners.)

Haul and heat more water.

Step 5: Rinse again with bluing powder.

Ring by hand.

Haul and heat more water.

Step 6: Dip in starch and hang to dry.

My grandmother did laundry using a washboard and boiler until ???. We still have them. Grandma then used a wringer washing machine until I was in the seventh or eighth grade.

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