Mary's Wash Day
Mary's Wash Day

The whole family went to church today so I know tomorrow is Monday.  Monday the wash is done and it takes most of the day.  We are fortunate because we have a cistern close to the house. Before the boys go to school they carry in lots of water.*

Sometimes on Sunday night the clothes are put in warm water to soak but other times washing does not begin until early Monday.  We change underwear and shirts only once a week.  Shifts are washed more often than our gowns.  Josh said his mother made him change his underwear every day.  I never heard of that.  Brent said laundry did not take all day in his house.  I would love to see where they live.  Maybe someday…….

On Monday morning the ladies place water in big kettles to soak the clothes.  Then they are scrubbed on a washboard with lye soap.  I have a small washboard for my dolly clothes. The collars and cuffs get rubbed very hard.  I don’t like the smell and it hurts everyone’s hands.  The clothes are stirred with a paddle or a pole in the boiling water. It seems as though someone always gets a burn.  After that, they are lifted out of the kettles with a wash stick, rinsed twice, wrung out and placed to dry.

We try hard to keep our good gowns clean or cover them with a smock or apron because they are very hard to wash.  The buttons and trimming have to be removed.  Then the lining has to be removed.  If the skirt is full enough that the weight of the wet fabric would cause it to stretch unevenly, the skirt has to be taken off the
bodice and the gores taken apart at the seams.  Then it is all washed, dried and checked to see if the lining and garment still match up in size, then make any necessary adjustments and finally sew it back together. I cannot do this kind of sewing and I try hard to keep my good clothes clean.

*Washing, boiling and rinsing a single load of laundry used about 50 gal. of water.

by Mary Beekman

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