Our ancestors weren’t as lucky as us in many ways. They didn’t have life-saving medical treatment, air travel or on-demand entertainment subscriptions like Netflix. And you know what, washing clothes and linen was even more of a chore than it is now.
But what about the laundries of yesteryear?
Read on to learn more about the humble beginnings of professional laundry services.
Washing down by the river
Washing down by a lake or river is still the preferred method in some parts of the world. It’s how our previous generations washed too, and that’s because it works!
When we look back in history, we see most civilisations were built around at least one body of water. Necessary to sustain life, water is also used to wash people and their clothes.
How did it work?
- Garments were hit against rocks,
- Scrubbed with abrasive sand or stone, and then
- Pounded with wooden instruments or underfoot.
The beginnings of commercial laundries began with the Romans, when cheaply produced garments became more popular than homemade fabrics. This is when Roman fullers (cleaners who dyed, washed and dried clothes) became very valuable in Roman society.
Did you know?
Urine was the most important cleaning agent in Roman and Medieval times
Collected from public restrooms, urine, which contains ammonia, was used to remove stains, grease, dirt and bleach yellowing fabrics.
Aren’t we glad that modern commercial washing machines call for alternative cleaning agents?
As civilisation progressed, populations and cities grew, a new style of laundry was needed.
This era saw washing aids like large wooden washtubs become the norm. Clothes were submerged in these massive tubs, beaten and stirred with a plunger by poor servants and washerwomen.
The ‘great wash’ was a long and gruelling process taking a few days, and this is what it involved:
- A pre-wash,
- A 24-hour soaking period,
- 15-hour wash (due to continual reheating of the lye),
- A wash of lye-soaked linen, then finally
- The rinsing and drying process.
Many people chose to wash everything at once, every few weeks.
There was no such thing as commercial washing machine suppliers…yet.
Industrial washing and the modern commercial laundry
The Industrial Revolution saw laundry become more advanced thanks to the washboard.
The washboard was a small, portable and effective wooden frame device that became very popular in Victorian households. Society became more conscious of health and hygiene and soap became more accessible and affordable.
In just 1893, the “Maytag Washing Machine Company” was founded by businessman Frederick Maytag, before branching into Commercial Laundry equipment in the 1950’s.
One of Frederick Maytag’s first washing machines was the “Pastime” washer using a wooden tub. A dolly was turned by a hand crank via wooden pegs. This turning action would pull clothes through the water and force the clothes along the corrugated tub sides producing cleaning action. A pulley allowed the machine to be operated from an outside power source such as a tractor or a windmill.
The first electric-powered washing machine was invented in 1908, followed by the first automatic washing machine in 1951. Now, with just a click of a few buttons, our washing is done.
With all the technological advancements of the 21st century, your laundry could benefit from a relationship with your trusted commercial washing machine suppliers.
Time after time, wash after wash, look for Dependable Laundry Solutions for your laundry.
Want to know more about commercial laundries of the future?