Laundry can be:
History of laundry
Laundry was probably first done by immersing cloth in streams and letting
the stream carry away the materials causing stains and smells. In many Third-World
countries and rural regions, laundry may still be done this way. Agitation
helps remove the dirt, so the laundry is often rubbed, twisted, or slapped
against flat rocks.
Various chemicals may be used increase the solvent power of water, such
as the compounds in
yucca-root used by Native American tribes.
Soap, a compound
of lye, from
wood-ash, and fat, is an ancient and very common laundry aid. However, modern
washing machines typically use powdered
in place of soap.
When there were no streams to use for laundry, laundry was done in water-tight
vats or vessels. Sometimes large metal cauldrons were filled with fresh
water and heated over a fire; boiling water was even more effective than
cold in removing dirt. The
a corrugated slab of a hard material such as metal, replaced rocks as a
surface for loosening soil.
Once clean, the clothes were wrung out -- twisted to remove most of the
water. Then they were hung up on poles or clotheslines to dry, or sometimes
just spread out on clean grass.
Industrial Revolution completely transformed laundry technology.
First came the
in the 18th century -- two long rollers in a frame and a crank to revolve
them. A laundry-worker took sopping wet clothing and cranked it through
the mangle, compressing the cloth and expelling the excess water. The mangle
was much quicker than hand twisting.
In the early 20th century inventors further mechanized the laundry process
washing machines. Typically, these machines
used an electrically-powered
agitator to replace tedious hand rubbing against a washboard. The earliest
machines were simply a tub on legs, with a hand-operated mangle on top.
Later the mangle too was electrically powered, then replaced by a perforated
double tub, which spun out the excess water in a
Laundry drying was also mechanized, with
were also spinning perforated tubs, but they blew heated air rather than
Washing machines and dryers are now fixtures in homes around the world.
Apartment buildings and
often have laundry rooms, where residents share washing machines and dryers.
Usually the machines are set to run only when coins in appropriate amounts
are inserted in a coin-slot. Those without home machines or access to laundry
rooms must either wash their clothes by hand, visit a commercial
Use a car as agitator. If clothes are put in a water-tight container,
with soap or detergent, and the container is placed in the trunk of a car
or the bed of a pick-up truck, a few hours of stop-and-start driving or
a stretch of bumpy road will agitate nicely. The clothes may then be rinsed
and dried. This method is said to be used by some ranchers in the Western
part of the United States.