The History of Wash & Fold Laundry: 1776 Edition

July 03, 2024

070324 WW Blog Image

Whether you have a washer and dryer at home or pay for a laundry service, we can all agree that the process of getting the laundry done has come a long way. During the American Revolution, laundry was a time-consuming process, done by hand and in the military encampments, there was a crude way of getting the clothing clean.

In some households, not much has changed; the process of doing the laundry was an all-day affair; however, most of our modern methods are not powered by people.

In 1776, clothing went through a soaking process using a "bucking" tub or basket. The highest-quality fabrics were washed first when the water was cleanest. Bucking broke down grease, loosened dirt, and whitened yellow linen. Once the clothing was thoroughly soaked, lye soap was added and the clothing was scrubbed by hand. In some cases, a brush was used to work with stain removers such as lemon juice or vinegar on fabrics like wool, cotton, and silk.

Indigo, a blueing agent, was used as a brightener and part of the final rinse. Starches like potatoes, rice, wheat, and horse chestnuts were used as well.

Once the laundry was whitened and rinsed, clothing was set out to dry in open spaces, on lines, or clean surfaces. Now that most of the day was gone, the next step was ironing. This was true art! If the clothing needed to be ironed, it needed to be damp. A wooden roller or solid metal iron was used to smooth out any creases.

Fast forward to the year 2024, laundry is still a chore that not everyone loves to do. We have come a long way when it comes to getting the laundry done. Enjoy your freedom this week and schedule a laundry Pick-Up or use our Wash & Fold laundry service. Visit our Wash Works location , 169 Hancock St. Springfield, MA.

Join The Discussion!