Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Washing Day

Pear blossom by Curzona Frances Allport (1860-1949)

In many early artistic works in Australia the simple domestic life of women settlers featured as a subject. In some paintings the humble days of washing is just visible in the backdrop of the Australian landscape. In other domestic paintings the domesticity of wash day intrudes into the landscape. The wash day by these artist was not seen as unromantic like the Hills hoist clothes line found today in numerous back yards. Yet even the Hills hoist has its benefits, no line falling to the ground in the mud, for example.

A woman of the house hangs out her laundry in a full laundry apron, while smoke comes from a fire for the copper boiling in the laundry room.

Washday, usually Monday, was part of everyday chore of house keeping. Some home keepers managed to brighten the existence and rise above it by using whimsical and charming pieces of craft work, such as the simple  peg bag. Washday, was and still is a large part of domestic housekeeping and even today novel homemade pieces explore the theme of washing the family clothes.

-Wait until you have a full load before running your machine. If you have a smaller wash, remember to rest the water level. 
-Stick to a short cycle, which is usually sufficient for all but heavily soiled items.
-Don’t use any more detergent than you need. It won’t make the clothes any cleaner.
-Use eco-friendly detergents that are petro-chemical and phosphate free or low in phosphate.
-Clean the washing machine filter regularly to keep your machine working efficiently.

-Whenever the weather permits hang your washing outside to dry. Ultraviolet light from the sun will eliminate bacteria and dust mites.
-Shake and smooth out clothes prior to hanging them, to reduce need for ironing.

½ cup washing soda
1 cup finely grated pure soap
½ cup salt
½ cup borax
½ cup bicarbonate of soda

Put the washing soda crystals in a clean plastic bag and crush them fine with a rolling pin. Mix the crushed washing soda with the rest of the ingredients and store in an airtight box or jar.
Use 1 tbsp for a small load. 1 ½ for a medium load and 2 for a large load. Dissolve in jug of hot water before adding to a top- loader. If using for hand washing be sure to use rubber gloves.

-Add 1 cup white vinegar to your washing machine during rise cycle. If your washing machine is a front loader, add 2 tbsp of white vinegar to the fabric conditioner dispenser.
-For a fresh fragrance add a few drops of lavender, lemon, rose or eucalyptus essential oil to the vinegar.
-Bicarbonate of soda is also and excellent fabric softener. Add ¼ cup to the wash with a few drops of essential oil.

-1/4 cup borax to 500 ml water. Pour mixture into spray bottle. Use it on stains before washing but shake the spray bottle first.
For stubborn stains:
-3 tablespoons mild, colour-free dishwashing liquid, 3 tablespoons vegetable glycerine and 375 ml water in a spray bottle. Spray. Leave for 15-30 minutes before washing.
-Soak nappies overnight in a bucket of hot water with ½ -1 cup borax. Wash as usual, adding 1 cup vinegar to the rise.

Instead of using products with chlorine bleaches some of these tips will brighten up your whites
-          Add 1 cup each methylated spirits and cloudy ammonia to help dissolve and lift off settled dirt
-          Add ½ cup borax in hot water
-          Use old fashioned washing blue
-          Washing white bed linen with blue towels has a similar bluing effect

This recipe is ideal for blankets, quilts, and pillows. The Eucalyptus oil helps to keep the wool soft and also repels moths.

2 cups soap flakes
½ cup methylated spirits
25 ml eucalyptus oil

Add all the ingredients together in a wide mouth jar. Cover with lid. And shake until combined.
Use 2 tbsp wool wash per liter of warm water, then rise.

I hope every one is having a good day or evening where ever you are.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I look forward to the day when Mondays are the only day I have to wash.....one day.

    Nevertheless, this is a really interesting and comprehensive post on the subject...I never thought of adding plain salt to the wash either....hmmmm.

    1. Phil,
      We're spoilt with washing machines. Still a good thing to look forward to in retirement.

  3. This was such an interesting post to read about from times past. My Mom always hung her washing on the line. I have never had a clothes line as the homes I've lived in had covenants which prohibited them. But nothing smells nicer that freshly laundered linens dried under the warm sun.

    1. Lilly's Mom,
      I've heard of some rules about washing on the line, how to hang it, whether or not you can and so on. So it doesn't seem odd to me knowing there are rules out there. Thank you for commenting and following. I'm following you back as well.

  4. Oh my, we are on the same "page"! I have a wash day post coming next week too! I really loved reading yours! :) Thank you for sharing it on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

  5. Good morning! I just wanted to let you know that this post was *featured* this week at the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Thank you for linking up with us :) And we hope to have your share again this week!