Kitchens of Early Settlers - circa 1920s
Assiniboia and District Historical Museum
Chapter Two- Monday- Laundry
2Monday was the logical day to do laundry because clothing was generally changed on Sunday, and with the leftovers from Sunday dinner no meal planning was necessary.
4Very early on Monday mornings the housewife lit the fire in the coal and wood stove. Then the boiler that had been placed on stove Sunday night would be moved back over the fire box. She was preparing for a grueling day ahead after her daily chores.
6The washstand, wringer, and tubs were placed in the kitchen from its storage space. The cost of the tub was $1.25. The tub stand could be homemade. This is a commercial one that folded down.
8The shaved laundry bar soap had to be liquefied in a small crock over night after the boiling water had been poured over it - as seen in Chapter Eight. Later one could buy powdered soap. The small square package was 'bluing' that was used in the rinse water to brighten the white clothing.
10The water is now hot and the laundry begins. The water placed in one of the tubs, soap and white clothing are added. The hand plunger was used to force the hot water through the soiled clothing to release the dirt. This could take 10 minutes or so for each batch of clothing. This plunger was called "'the vacuum clothes washer' it compresses, forms strong suction forcing steam and suds through the clothes". Cost 98 cents.
12The very soiled clothing would be rubbed on the washboard. For extra soiled spots rubbing of the laundry bar soap could be used. Cost 45 cents.
14When clean, the clothing was put through the wringer, to remove as much of the soapy water as possible. The wrung articles were dropped into the second tub which contained the cool rinse water. The plunger was then used again to force the rinse water to remove the excess soapy water. The wringer could be moved to have the clean clothes drop into a basket. This continued until all the sudsy clothing went through this process. Cost wringer $6.25.
16The evolution of the washing appliance was soon seen. The following are some of the innovative washing machines, still labour intensive but 'state of the art' in its time.
The 'Laundry Maid' - "open type washing machine. Simply push the handle back and forth. The barred rubbing board, working on a corrugated surface, squeezes and rubs the clothes at the same time. Empties by plug on the side". In the 1901 T. Eaton catalogue "Dowswell washer" sold for $3.50.
18Made of wood and can be seen in the 1895 Montgomery Ward Catalogue priced at $2.75. Also in the 1901 T. Eaton Co catalogue "Canadian washer" priced at $3.50. Note the wooden spokes as agitator.
20Very early washing machine - the lid was corrugated, which could be used as a wash board.
22This is a gas motor washing machine (minus the motor - likely utilized for another purpose, when the machine was replaced by a newer model?) It is an improvement in efficiency and esthetically built.
24Machine operated by gas motor was decidedly several 'notches' above hand operated washer. Note starter pedal.
26No dryer as we know it today but the trusty outdoor clothesline and nature's wind. It was a happy wash day that the wind blew in the right direction, drying the clothes giving off a wonderful fresh scent. The wind direction was important, if it blew straight on the result was less ironing, rather than twist around the clothesline itself to cause excessive wrinkles.
Hanging clothes was an art! Undergarments were hung on the inside lines away from prying eyes. Each garment had a particular method to which it should hang, i.e. man's shirt hung upside down and pinned at the seams; pants were hung carefully from bottom of legs, the wet material having weight avoided excess ironing; socks pinned at the top opening, etc.
28On rainy days the clothes may have been hung in attic, or in the kitchen near the stove on makeshift clothes line, or on a clothes rack. This was also the way clothes were dried in winter. It was placed outside for the morning and brought in later. The ease of this method avoided standing at clothes line and having cold hands.
30In winter clothes could be hung on clothes line, the cold would absorb some of the moisture. They were then brought in to complete the drying process.
32In some households when the washing was completed some homemakers would make the weekly bread and iron on the same day as to take advantage of the hot stove. This was especially true in the hot summer.
34The mark of a good homemaker was that her tea towels - whether made from flour sacks or were purchased - had to be WHITE! To achieve this, they could be whitened with a bit of bleach or bluing agent could be added to the rinse water. Also towels could be put into a large vessel of very hot soapy water and boiled on the stove. In summer - whites could be placed on the green grass with the sun as the bleaching agent. Once dried, the clothing to be ironed was sprinkled; (certain items had to be starched) rolled tightly together to produce uniform moisture so to be ironed into a superior finish.
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