Wringing, drying berets, pegging corsets… and other washday tips

As I’ve mentioned before, nearly every time I do those repetitive household chores, like washing clothes, hanging them out, ironing them… I think back to my mum doing the same. This makes it sound as if neither my dad nor my husband ever did/do those things, well, yes they did/do, it’s just for some reason I think of my mum!

Glancing through Ruth Drew’s amusing, useful and historically interesting book, The Happy Housewife, it’s interesting to see aspects of these everyday chores which are  so different – usually because thanks to modern technology and modern cleaning materials and detergents, most of these things are so easy – oh and in the case of laundry, the easy-wear/wash/iron fabrics we have.

Here are just a few of the differences I saw today when I was reading her book for the umpteenth time:

  • when putting clothes through a wringer, see that the buttons and trimmings are folded inside for protection – Good advice – but no-one these days has a mangle or wringer, surely!
  • berets and caps can be dried successfully on plates or basins of the appropriate size – I shall bear this in mind… except I don’t think I’ll ever have a beret, and should i have a wet cap I will put it in the airing cupboard or on a radiator
  • Do not peg corsets or girdles for drying by shoulder straps or suspenders. Hang lengthwise – I do not have either item of clothing, not even my mum had a corset or girdle – and why would either have shoulder straps? I am bemused!
  • Getting really dirty collars clean – Wet the collars overnight. Massage in some soapflakes, or detergent powder. Roll each up tightly, like a Chelsea bun. This loosens dirt gently –  I’m guessing these are detachable collars… maybe collars don’t get so dirty since fabrics are better, people are cleaner, and hair products are often wash out-able
  • To cope with handkerchiefs… I don’t want to go there, use paper ones and throw them away!
  • To wash delicate old lace – pour some suds made with the best quality detergent into a jam jar or wide-necked bottle. Pop the lace into the jar, cover the top, and shake really well. Rinse thoroughly and roll in a towel to absorb the moisture – OK… should I ever have a piece of old lace in need of washing I will remember!
  • To wash corduroy at home – the bath is the best tub! Move the corduroys up and down in a rich lather. Don’t rub or twist. Go over very dirty places with a soft nailbrush. Hang to drip dry – no wringing please!  – once again, modern fabrics and detergents make life so easy – and if in doubt, I would take them to the cleaners – if I ever had any corduroys!