Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday wash day

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Traditionally, Monday was wash day. 
In the early part of the 20th century, wringer washers were all the rage.  (Actually, depending on the brand, they were made until the late 1980s and early 1990s!)  And what a luxury it was following the days of a washboard and a tub of soapy water.   Have you ever used a wringer washer?  Or even seen one in use?  Well, it just so happens that I have one in my basement that was here when I moved in.  I have an automatic washer on the other side of the room, but what kind of fun is a washer where you throw the clothes in, add soap, then pull it out later?  Not much.  I had to get a lesson since I'd never operated, much less touched one before.  But here's how it works....and why I like mine so much--seriously! 

The washer agitates like any other washer, but I decide how long I want the wash cycle to be for each load--2 minutes or 2 hours.  My automatic washer only gives me choices between 4 and 14 minute wash cycles.  I start with the "cleanest" load of laundry.

I just hold the piece of clothing near the rollers and it will feed right through the wringer and into the rinsewater tub. Then, I add the next load.  I can re-use the same water for several loads, just adding a little if necessary.  I usually start with lukewarm water and by the time I get to the dark clothes, the water has cooled perfectly.  I don't add soap to every load to keep it from getting too soapy.

 And then I swing the wringer arm around and run the clothes from the rinse tub into the basket ready to be hung to dry. 

An older lady explained to me how she used the washer. After she had washed all the clothes, starting with the light-colored and finishing with the darks, she would wash a load of rags and rugs.  Then she would use the now-dirty water to wash the cellar floor.  She would pour the remaining water into pails and use it to water the garden.  And, she explained, soapy water repels insects and other garden pests.  Clothes cleaned, rugs cleaned, floor cleaned, plants watered, produce protected, a little exercise, a good job done well and nothing wasted. 

How's that for a high efficiency washer?

You may think this process takes a long time.  There are two ways of looking at it, however.  Yes, it definitely requires more hands-on time than an automatic washer, BUT, unlike the automatic ones, you can wash and rinse loads at the same time which makes the process go quickly.  I can wash, rinse, and hang a week's worth of laundry in a couple of hours.
The way my basement is set up, I can walk up the stairs right into my yard to hang the laundry.  It seems like this beautiful fall day was long, long ago....

If you ever see a wringer washer at an auction or garage sale, snatch it up!  And use it!


  1. we used to have one of these when I was younger at our camp - it was lots of fun.

  2. I agree! Who knew laundry could be fun?

  3. I had something similar when I lived in China in the late 90s and early 2000s. Thanks for bringing back some very fond memories. :)