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Monday, October 3, 2011

Airing Our Dirty Laundry

This week’s post is about remembering laundry the way it used to be. It’s a dirty job and few of us like to do it, but maybe with a little retrospection we’ll grow an appreciation for how it’s done today! Long ago, after beating clothes on a rock, but before steam cleaning, laundry was done thusly…

 Women rose early and made a fire to boil the water to wash. The tub was made of tin and the soap was probably homemade lye soap. Soap was a precious commodity, so even the smallest slivers would be caught up in a soap saver to be melted down and reused. 

The clothes were rubbed by hand on a rub board also made of tin or sometimes glass for a lady’s delicates.

After being washed and then rinsed in a separate tub to which “bluing” was added to make whites extra bright, the clothes were wrung dry by either twisting to squeeze the water out, or by using a wringer just like this circa 1910 Horseshoe Brand clothes wringer Paula displays in her bathroom. 

Hers was manufactured by The American Wringer Company of New York and was patented in 1888. As she does laundry in the 21st century she thinks about our sisters who clamped a ringer like this one to an iron tub with their wash board and a bar of lye soap near by just 100 years ago. 

Special pins used to clip the clothes were carried in big apron pockets or a designated laundry bag. 

While the laundry dried there was plenty of time to take the carpets outside and give them a good cleaning with the rug beater.

After hours of warm sunshine and fresh air, the clothes were brought in to be starched and ironed. EVERY thing was ironed!!! Sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, and handkerchiefs… you name it, it was ironed. If clothes became stiff from the starch, you just grabbed your sprinkle bottle and doused them as you ironed with an extremely heavy iron that was heated in the coals. Yikes!!

Now our biggest dilemma is top loader or front loader! Yes, laundry has come a mighty long way. So the next time you want to grumble about the wash, (before you push the button), think about what wash day used to be like, and smile. Now if they could just figure out a way for them to fold themselves…

Patti & Paula

We're linking to the following parties:
Inspire Me Monday @ Singing Three Little Birds
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogieboard Cottage
Glitter Link Party @ Running With Glitter
Amaze Me Monday @ Dittle Dattle
Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Making The World Cuter Monday @ Making The World Cuter
Making Monday Marvelous @ C.R.A.F.T.
Mingle Monday @ Add a Pinch
Show Off Your Cottage Monday @ The House in the Roses
Debbiedoos Newbie Party @ Debbiedoos Blogging and Blabbing
Mosaic Monday @ Little Red House
Thrifty Treasures @ Southern Hospitality
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday @ Coastal Charm
Tuesday's Treasures @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Club G.W. @ Charm Bracelet Diva
Time to Shine @ A Diamond in the Stuff
Anything Goes @ Type A
Twice Owned Tuesday @ Creating a House of Grace
Knick of Time Tuesday @ Knick of Time Interiors
Market Your Biz Blog Party @ Homemaker on a Dime
Table Top Tuesday @ A Stroll Thru Life

Fall Into Fall @ DIY by Design

Wow Us Wednesday @ Savvy Southern Style
Linking Party @ Passionately Artistic
Fall in Love Link Party @ Modern Country Style
Whatever You Want Wednesday @ Free Pretty Things For You
Wow Me Wednesday @ Ginger Snap Crafts
Primp Your Stuff Wednesday @ Primp
Wednesday Link Party @ Very Merry Vintage Style

WLWW Link-Up Party @ Women Living Well
Amaze Me August @ Bella Before and After
Show and Tell @ Blue Cricket Design
Works for Me Wednesday @ We are THAT Family
Reality Shot Thursday @ Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday @ Delightful Order
Treasure Hunt Thursday @ From My Front Porch to Yours

Open House Party @ No Minimalist Here
Time Travel Thursday @ The Brambleberry Cottage
Transformation Thursday @ The Shabby Creek Cottage
Vintage Thingie Thursday @ The Coloradolady
Pearls and Lace Thursday @ Faith, Grace, and Crafts

Pin'Inspirational Thursday @ The ArtsyGirl Connection
Thrifty Things Friday @ The Thrifty Groove
Farmhouse Friday @ LaurieAnna's Vintage Home
Fridays Unfolded @ Stuff and Nonsense
Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home
Vintage Inspiration Friday @ Common Ground
Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Inspiration Friday @ At The Picket Fence
Potpourri Party @ 2805
Simply Link Party @ Simply Designing
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home

Saturday Nite Special @ Funky Junk Interiors

Seasonal Sunday @ The Tablescaper
Sunday Favorites @ Happy to Design
Sister Sunday Link Party @ Sisters of the Wild West


Scrappy Pink Corner said...

Oh, wow. You continue to amaze me with all of your beautiful treasures.
Thanks for sharing.

Karen G @ It's Still Life said...

Your laundry treasures are wonderful. Thanks for a walk down Past Lane.

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

This was a great post! You guys have fabulous pieces of history.

Debbiedoos said...

My gosh can you imagine back then doing laundry. I think it is such a chore now LOL, and we have it made. These are great vintage treasures and I thank you for sharing.

Cottage and Broome said...

Love the picture of the old ringer washing machines, classics! Pretty post even about laundry, thanks for sharing, Laura

Jillian's Bella Rosa Antiques said...

I love all of your vintage vignettes! Fun post. I love your ending...yes, I take for granted what I am saving myself when I just push that button! Yay!

Grammy Goodwill said...

This was a great post for me today. I've been saving money by air drying all our clothes. I worked hard to get all of it done by the time I left for the game Sat. My hubby had to work and couldn't go. When I came home, I heard the dryer running. What could be in there? He SAYS I put the basket of clothes in the closet and he assumed they were dirty. So he washed all of them - AGAIN - then stuck them in the dryer. grrr
(sorry if this is TMI - your post just got me started. hehehe)

La Vie Quotidienne said...

this is such a great post...and you have such a wonderful collection of artifacts. Amazing. Great photos too.(-:

Dreaming of Vintage said...

Lovely photos! I guess I should appreciate that we don't have to do laundry the "old fashioned" way anymore! :)

Kim, USA said...

Wow you have beautiful stuff. And last era's way of washing clothes seems like hard labor ^_^ Thanks for sharing your post.

Yellow Rose

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

This was a great post! So much history and detail!! You guys are amazing with your vintage finds! I will think about this post every time I push those buttons on my front loader; and I'll stop complaining about having to do another load of laundry!

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

Being a baby boomer, I have done my share of hanging clothes out on the line (which I would till do if my condo board would let me), sprinkling and rolling them into the pillowcase to iron later.

I remember my MIL saying "there was nothing good about the good old days."... Don't ya luv it?

Cindy Adkins said...

I just adore your blog! Yep, now I'm ever more grateful for my washer and dryer! I wonder, though, how did they dry everything in the wintertime? I guess they hung things indoors? Very interesting!

Cindy Adkins said...

P.S. My Mom used a "wringer-type washer" when I was very young, though, because my elder sister broke her arm by getting it caught in the rollers! I was too young to remember this, though.

lvroftiques said...

No kidding! I'm so thankful for my lovely washing machine *winks* Great post ladies! Vanna

Sylvia said...

I will never ever complain about my washing machine again!!! LOL


Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME said...

I enjoyed this post. I have many of the same items in my laundry room...and I remember my mom and grandma washing on the wringer machines!! Such pretty pictures!!

Uniquely Ella said...

Hi Paula, so nice seeing this weekend. OMG we are so blesse that we don't have to do loundry like that. Love these vintage treasures, beutiful. TFS

Suzy said...

Oh my goodness - I will never gripe about doing laundry again! Thank you so much for this great post. Visiting from ASTL.

Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads said...

Just yesterday my SIL and I were talking about this very thing. I was telling her that I got my arm caught in a wringer and how much it hurt. Mom shut it off before it broke! We are so lucky today.

Sue said...

Growing up, we had a wringer washing machine. Guess that was a big improvement over using a washboard, right? :-) I remember helping out my mom by wringing out the clean clothes before they got rinsed. I caught my hand in the wringer and the only thing that stopped my finger from being broken was the silver and turquoise ring that got mangled as it got caught in between the rollers! Needless to say that I screamed bloody murder for my mom to come release my hand! I never did laundry with that washer ever again- shortly afterwards, we got an automatic machine. Oh the beauty of technology! WHat a good share you have here. ~ Sue

Our Hopeful Home said...

You are so right! We don't know how good we have all the vintage laundry goodies. Thanks for linking up over at my Club G.W. with Charm Bracelet Diva Party. You always share such great stuff!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


It is so nice to see you! Thank you for coming by! Oh, how busy school has been for me...

I LOVE THIS POST. I remember when I was a little girl living in South Central Los Angeles. My mom was always a stay-at-home mom and she did the laundry the OLD-FASHIONED WAY. I even remember an old washing machine with the wringer. She would hang the clothes outside and had a special apron with a large pocket to put her clothes pins in. Oh, those were the days!

Have a great day, Patti! Anita

Tina said...

I do have to admit that I hate laundry days! But after reading your post, I like it just a tad bit more!! Thanks for taking us back in time.

Have a great week.

An Oasis in the Desert said...

You have a great knack for vintage vignettes, & it was a truly wonderful story to go along with it. I remember my grandmother using Bluing & the wringer machine.
:) CAS

Angie @ Knick of Time said...

Gorgeous vignettes and beautifully told! Just loved your post today. Almost makes me want to do laundry...almost!

Thanks so much for linking up to Knick of Time Tuesday!

Angie @ Knick of Time

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Oh I so remember when I was a really small child my mother had a wash tub with a wringer and she was always telling us to move and not put our fingers in the wringer. We use to shave soap also and she would fix us a small dispan with a tiny scrub board to do our doll clothes in. Great memories, but I am so glad I can use todays fabulous washing machiens. Great post. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

At The Picket Fence said...

Such a neat post ladies!! Everytime I find myself grumbling about housework I try and remember my grandmother and all she had to do helping to run a farm, raise 4 children, keep farmhands fed, take care of her elderly father-in-law, etc. It definitely puts my life into perspective! Thanks for sharing this with us! :-)

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

Excuse me, I need to go hug the washer. lol I love to look at those vintage designs and graphics, but oh how I love modern technology.

Lana Kim White Austin said...

I have fallen completely in love with your blog! Thank you so much for your wonderfully kind comment on my little vintage jewel leaf craft!!! I can't wait to read over your past posts!!! It's truly a pleasure to meet you!!!!


Unknown said...

Love your post on Laundry, thanks for stopping by my blog! What an amazing group of laundry items, I love all of it and remember some of them from my Grandmas farm. Hugs and have a great week! Marilou

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by and becoming a follower, I'm already following. Love the vintage laundry treasures. I have 3 washboards in our laundry room and would love to find more great treasures like those.

very merry vintage style said...

Ok I definitely won't be complaining about laundry this week. Your things are amazing and such a great history. Thanks for linking to Share the Love Wednesday

Jennifer Grenko said...

I can't believe I complain about having to do laundry in the basement and I hardly iron either...
What a spoiled girl I am! I enjoyed a series that I believe was called "The 1900 House" on PBS. If you didn't see that, try to find a way to. It really amazed me to see what women went through.

Angela said...

I love those memories, my grandmother used to wash her laundry in the garden and used a wringer.
She would let me turn the handle and I loved to be with her, thank you for sharing your precious pictures and taking me down memory lane.

Sandi~A Cottage Muse said...

What a great post! I am tired just reading about the old process!! Great photos too! Thank you for visiting today!

d e l i g h t said...

This brings back so many wonderful memories of when I spent the summers with my grandmother on her farm and every Monday was wash day and we did the wash exactly as you have described!! I never liked the smell of her homemade lye soap but it really got clothes clean! Thanks so much for this post! I love remembering and thinking of my wonderful grandmother!

Julia @ Vintage with Laces said...

You both have a wonderful collection of laundry related items. I've never seen such a wringer before. This is so amazing and such an eye catcher.

Curtains in My Tree said...

yes honey I heard my grandmother tell me the same story when she was a child, lye soap and all

I think that is why so many grandmothers & aunt's from the 1950's was so clean they knew what it was like not to have soaps and keep things really clean.
my Grandmother was born 1907 and she came a very long way before her death

you always have a great post

Barb said...

Goodness, glad I didn't live back then. Great post. Thank heavens for modern appliances.

Following you back. Come to see me again soon.

Barb ♥

CLD said...

Thank you so much for your recent visit and comment. I just visited your blog...oh my is just wonderful. Your photographs are fabulous. Thank you for sharing such beauty! Bobbie

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

What a lovely idea for a post. So original - and so full of lovely information. Now I feel like the luckiest girl having a washing machine!!!

Thank you so much for linking up to my Fall In Love party. Your blog is lovely! I've followed you!


Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

Darling post, I can remember when I first married I had a wringer washing machine girl I was in heaven. No.. I'm not that old, lol.. thanks for the walk down memory lane. hugs ~lynne~ said...

Isn't it amazing how times have changed. Love all of your photos. I still put my clothes outside on the clothes line when it is nice. There is nothing more wonderful than getting into a bed with sheets that were dried in the fresh air:) hhhhmmmmmm
~Debra xxx
Capers of the vintage vixens

Anonymous said...

Patti and Paula, what a wonderfully fun post this was! I also collect vintage laundry items. They hang or are on shelves in my laundry room. But it's a chore I still don't like! LOL!
Thank you for visiting my blog today.
I'd like to add yours to my list of faves.
Diane :-)

Doni said...

That is such a wonderful post! And Paula, I LOVE your wringer! It's just perfect sitting on your sink top! The graphics on it are awesome!
Great job ladies! Loved all your information as well as the lovely pictures! Thanks so much for joining me again this week for Pearls and Lace Thursday!
Have an awesome week,

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Paula, I love the post and the wringer is fabulous! Thank you so much for linking to the Open House party this week.

Susan Freeman said...

Hi you two! What a wonderful post! I actually like doing laundry and especially love to hang up the laundry on the clothes line. I am glad I don't have to do it all by hand though. I love your banner and am your newest follower. I hope that you both will stop by to visit Bentley and me sometime soon!

Susan and Bentley

Pamela said...

What a fun post! Thanx for coming to the party!!

Pink Roses and Teacups said...

Wow, we do have it made today, and we still complain. lol thanks for sharing all these great treasures with us.


Favourite Vintage Finds said...

Wonderful items! Great post and photos!

Southwest Cottage Designs said...

Thank you for your sweet comment! Yes, I've got a basket full of inspiration - definitely starting off with a bang for my favorite time of the year. Your post brings back wonderful memories of way back when, the times I used my grandmothers' rub boards, hung the clothes out to dry. I'm delighted to have you as my new follower - and I'm following you now, too! Happy Autumn:)

Claudia said...

Thanks for joining Reality Shot Thursday! You are so right - laundry wasn't for sissies! I Love all your pretty treasures.


c. Joy said...

Now I'm having guilt because I've gotten annoyed that I have to fold my laundry. Thanks for reminding me how good I have it. I still can't believe women were thought of as the weaker sex.

GardenOfDaisies said...

I am ever so grateful for the washing machine that I have here in my house.! :-)

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Such a wonderful laundry related collection. I love you photo story.
- Joy

Red Rose Alley said...

That is funny that you mention this because I do think about how it used to be back in the days when they did the laundry, and I always have that in the back of my mind when I do my own laundry. Those wash boards are so crafty. I watch Little House on the Prairie, and I just love how the prairie women lived. I have so much admiration for them. I just loved your post today.
~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

Unknown said...

OMG, I remember some of the things you show in this post. My Grandma got a new Auto washing machine in the mid 60;s when I was little, but i remember her wringer washer. Being from Cincy P&G's Ivory soap was everywhere.
I just found your's so fun! I am your newest friend/follower. I hope you can stop by my blog soon.

Debra@CommonGround said...

Hey gals what a great post. I have a filigree tissue holder just like yours, aha! dryer sheets! thanks so much for linking up to the party! xoxo

Honey at 2805 said...

A-a-ah! The good ole days! ;). What a cute and fun post today! Thanks for sharing airing your laundry!

I'm delighted you linked to Potpourri Friday and appreciate your participation!

The Polka Dot Closet said...

OMG that is sooo cute, thank you for sharing. I love vintage linen and go through the old fashioned rituals to clean it, boil water, hang out to dry, starch and iron, I think it is fun.....Once in a while!


Babs said...

I'm old enough to remember my grandmother boiling clothes in an iron pot outside and then hanging them on the line. My mom had a ringer washer before the 'automatic' one. I also have my grandmother's old clothes iron (cast iron) which I use for a bookend for my cook books in the kitchen. Thanks for a fun post.

Paula Jo @ Home and Garden Decor said...

It's amazing how washing clothes has come a long ways. I kind of feel sorry for the way women had to do the laundry, but I guess they didn't know any other way. I can remember my mom hanging the clothes out on the line and doing all the ironing. I remember her even ironing the pillow cases. Wow! I kind of feel lazy now. lol

Susan said...

Patti and Paula, reading your post takes me back to my childhood. I remember the wringer washer my mom used to wash my clothes. Also I remember her ironing way into the night and the sprinkle bottle. She use to have a clothespin holder that looked like a child's dress that hung on the cloths line.

Deborah aka Miss Bee said...

I'm lovin' your blog! Love the name! I've looked a little ways back and saw those gorgeous embellished bottles...swoon! I'm going to follow you and come back later to see what else Ivy and Elephants has been up to.

Deborah in NC

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Hi ladies...

What an awesome and interesting post, my friends! I loved looking through all of your olden laundry paraphanalia! I really can't imagine all the time and effort that it must have taken to wash a few pieces of clothing. Hmmm...maybe thats why most folk didn't own many clothes! Hehe!

Thank you so much for sharing your neat collection with us! I just love coming to your place!

Warmest wishes,

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love doing laundry but I wouldn't have done well back in the olden days! Love all of the neat things and the history though! ♥

DearHelenHartman said...

I promise to stop whining about doing laundry. Okay, okay I will keep whining but I promise to add, "Whew, am I ever glad I didn't have to do this in the olden days!"

Debbie said...

This post was so interesting, and the vintage treasures with it were just wonderful. You are SO RIGHT that we have no good reason to grumble!

Aisling said...

I recently returned from a trip to rural Romania where a lot of the village women still wash the clothes in the stream. They build little dams to make a deeper section and they squat in the river and get the laundry done! didn't get any photos of that because it felt intrusive.

Alison Agnew said...

you have such lovely
vintage keepsakes here
to remind us all of
the way it used to be

i am firmly convinced
that the reason we all have to go exercise
is because of all our energy saving appliances

thanks for sharing at fridays unfolded!


Anonymous said...

Patti and Paula,
I love your post! Thanks for reminding me that my 2 to 3 load a day job is far from a chore!
Thanks- Diane in Phoenixville

rusty hinge said...

HI! Thank-you for the sweet comment on my blog! By you finding me, I found you and am your newest follower. Love your blog!

The French Hutch said...

Your vignettes are always lovely and you have so many beautiful and interesting things. Your post is so interesting and I love your last thought, if only they could fold themselves.........If Only!
Have a fabulous weekend.

The French Hutch said...

Now I don't feel so bad doing laundry! We are blessed with technology! Thank goodness! have a great weekend, Debbie

Miss Gracie's House said...

Boy, things sure are easier now, aren't they? LOVE the wringer...the patina is beautiful! GREAT post!

abeachcottage said...

Lovely post with great information. That wringer is so cute too :)

Coloradolady said...

amazing...makes me feel silly for complaining about the laundry!!! Happy VTT!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this post!! It is so amazing how doing laundry has changed over the years. I still love hand laundering my vintage linens, it is such a relaxing process.
Hope you both have a lovely weekend.

Ellen said...

What an amazing post. Quite entertaining as I blog in between loads of laundry,not sure if I am enjoying this new fangled life or feel blessed that I have this new fangled life...LOL as I sign off to go switch the laundry I will have a smile on my face as I walk the hallway to retrieve my warm towels from the dryer. LIFE IS GOOD.

Flea Market Lynn said...

Congratulations you all have been selected to receive The Versatile Blogger award. For more info you can go to my blog at:

Congrats and have a great weekend! Lynn

Lynn said...

I love it! Yep, no more complaining about simply pushing a button:@)

mtashie said...

As I listen to my washing machine churning'm THANKFUL my laundry day wasn't like it was years ago! Thank goodness for laundry technology!! Thanks for stopping by my site and your lovely comments!

Karena said...

Can you believe it. Some of my family grew up and lived in rural areas and did not get some of today's luxuries for quite some time.

It is no wonder few women worked outside of home. Their job was time and 1/2 already!!

PS Come let me know what you think of my Autumn decor and oh, I have a New Giveaway!

Art by Karena

Patina said...

We've come a long way, and I'm so glad we have! Love all your vintage laundry items.
Fun post!

Becca said...

What a fabulous post and wonderful lesson ... I won't gripe about doing laundry ever again! Thank you for sharing such amazing treasures and, yes, I agree with you ... if clothes could only fold themselves! And, thanks again for your thoughtful comment about my Fall dining room !! *Becca* (new follower)

scrambledhenfruit said...

I remember that when I was little, my grandma had a wringer washer in the basement that she washed our clothes in. My mom was always afraid that we'd get our body parts caught up in the wringers, and she never let us go near when grandma was doing laundry! Thanks for the memory! :)

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Hi Ladies...

So happy to have you join in with the Sunday Favorites repost party this week, dear ladies! As I mentioned in my comment above...I just loved this post! I, for one, am very thankful for all of my modern day conveniences! Hehe! It's so interesting to see and learn how it was done in days gone by though! Thanks for sharing with Sunday Favorites!

Warmest autumn wishes,

The Charm of Home said...

Girls, this is an entertaining post. It is mind blowing isn't it! Praise the washing machine! Thank you for linking it to Home Sweet Home!

Diann said...

What a fun post! And great info. It really does make you thankful for our washer and dryer! Thank you for being part off TTF and have a wonderful day!

The Tablescaper said...

Great post! Glad that you became a part of Seasonal Sundays.

- The Tablescaper

Intern said...

Thanks for sharing such an informative work. Meanwhile, here’s also the laundry service you can visit too our website offering services in affordable prices. thankyou!


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