Doing Laundry in the OLD DAYS

Another post by my father Fred Kirkpatrick Jr. explaining how they used to do washing before the advent of automatic washing machines. The people back in the day used to work very hard at home just to keep ahead. The women usually stayed home however so it was better than today with women having to work then come home and still take care of a family.

While a boy I learned to do laundry the old fashioned way.  Not on the scrub board, I saw my mom do that, but with a electric powered Maytag.  It was not an automatic as we have now, but an honest to goodness washing machine. It required two tubs and our tubs had legs, which made it extra handy. 

     The washer consisted of a basin mounted on legs with the motor which drove the back and forth rotating paddle or roter in the basin and also produced power for the ringer which was located on one of the corners of the square basin.  This ringer which consisted of two rubber rollers would ring out the clothes you passed through it.  It had a handle on top which would reverse the direction of the rollers and a quick release handle in the middle in case you happened to get caught in the rollers.  This ringer mechanism could be rotated around to ring the clothes into different  rinse tubs which were pulled up next to the washer.  In this manner the ringer could be used to ring the clothes taken from the washer or either of the rinse tubs.  The washer would be filled with hot water and the tubs with warm and one with cooler water.  In the last tub we added bluing which gave the water a bluish tint and made the white clothes and sheets look brighter. 

     We would begin by washing the white clothes, and then the colors and then the jeans and overalls.  Sometimes there were multiple loads of each one, but the same water in the washer and the tubs.  So by the time you were through washing the water was well used.  As I remember it Purex was a favorite soap, and it was powdered or granular in substance.

      The clothes were rung from the washer into the first rinse tub, and thoroughly rinsed by hand.

They were then rung into the final rinse, the one with the bluing in it, and rinsed again and finally rung out and carried to the clothes line which were multiple  steel wires strung between close line posts.  The clothes were placed and pinned to the line with clothes pins, which were kept in a bag hanging on the clothes line.  There were two types of pins, both made of wood.  One was entirely wood and slipped over the clothes and pushed on to the wire.  The other pin had a spring

mechanism which held the clothes on the line they action of the spring.

     The water from the washer and tubs was dumped in either the sewer or sump.  We had a sump which operated by using fresh water that provided a suction for emptying the sump and the water was pumped on to the yard.  The only problem with that was that there was some soap scum which accompanied the washer water and formed a residue on the grass, but who cared.  The washing was done.  I didn't describe the starching process, but that's another story.