Laundry

Soap, sand, soda – a clean trio

sand soda seife soap

German kitchens used to have a decorative shelf with a set of pots, neat and tidy, filled with three essentials for a clean home: soap, sand, and soda. Although English-speaking countries never had a special storage unit like this, and didn’t think of the “three esses” as a trio, they also made much use of […]

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Antique laundry tool for today

antique breathing washer aka posser

When a reader told me she’d seen a “Manual Washing Machine” on sale looking just like a traditional posser, but with the advantages of plastic, I was intrigued and read every word of the customer reviews, wanting to know who liked it. I already knew that many visitors to our sister site at Old and […]

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Asbestos Sad Irons – cool ironing days

Asbestos Sad Iron

The Asbestos Sad Iron design really did use asbestos. It was under the handle, inside a “hood” or cover that fitted over a heated “core”. It “bottled up” the heat, said an ad, so it was all channeled through the hot solid steel surface that pressed the clothes smooth. No heat rose upward to bother […]

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Fluting machines, ruffles, and the Dudley fluter

Dudley fluter

Once in a while a reader sends me a splendid picture of a charming object. This fluting machine photograph came from George Short, and it made me curious about who, why, what, and where.  George told me it was patented in 1876, a time when fluted ruffles were a fashionable trimming for ladies’ clothing. He […]

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Sock stretchers, stocking airers, and sock blockers

sock blockers stretchers

In the late 1940s a Canadian housewife, Joan Colborne,† counted her sock stretchers before tackling a backlog of laundry. She “only” had four pairs and so could not wash more than eight woollen socks at a time. If socks were not stretched out while drying they might shrink. Stretchers like the ones in the photo […]

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Household expenses for a “middling” 18th century family

18th century family budget

What could you afford if you were of “middling station” in England in the 1760s and 1770s? You would have plenty of beer, ale, meat, and soap, but no wine, according to a detailed budget in Madam (Mary) Johnson’s book on household management. She suggests the mistress of her middle class home will spend £16 […]

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Drying clothes near the ceiling

ceiling clothes dryer

It’s winter in northern Europe, and there’s no electricity. How can you dry your laundry? One of the best places of all is a laundry room in the servants’ quarters of a mansion house. A generous ceiling height means you can have frames for wet clothes and household linen in the warmest, dryest part of […]

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