Laundry History

The Evolution From Wash Houses To Laundromats

January 29, 2021

Evolution Of Wash And Fold Image

So what is a wash house?

Today, a wash house is another term for a laundromat. Back in the day, however, a wash house was a designated house that was used for washing laundry and sometimes one’s self. (If you were really lucky the building would be used to process meat as well)

Obviously, wash houses were quite different than they are today. The first wash houses required lugging buckets of water from a well or a river to the building where the water was then boiled. “Washer women” then used lye and animal fat to scrub the clothes clean. Laying the laundry over bushes outside so the combination of sunlight and chlorophyll acted as a natural bleach. If it was a rainy day the laundry was hung over racks inside and sometimes dried and pressed with an iron that had been heated over the fire.

We sometimes complain how long our laundry takes us to do, but a few hours is a definite improvement over a couple of days.

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