The Info List - Laundry

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refers to the washing of clothing and other textiles.[1] Laundry
processes are often done in a room reserved for that purpose; in an individual home this is referred to as a laundry room or utility room. An apartment building or student hall of residence may have a shared laundry facility such as a tvättstuga. A stand-alone business is referred to as a self-service laundry (laundrette in British English or laundromat in American English). The material that is being washed, or has been laundered, is also generally referred to as laundry. Laundry
has been part of history since we began to wear clothes, so the methods by which different cultures have dealt with this universal human need are of interest to several branches of scholarship. Laundry work has traditionally been highly gendered, with the responsibility in most cultures falling to women (known as laundresses or washerwomen). The Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
gradually led to mechanised solutions to laundry work, notably the washing machine and later the tumble dryer. Laundry, like cooking and child care, is done both at home and by commercial establishments outside the home.


1 History

1.1 Watercourses 1.2 Washhouses 1.3 Washing machines and other devices 1.4 Chinese laundries in North America 1.5 India 1.6 Ancient Rome

2 Laundry

2.1 Chemicals 2.2 Cleaning or dry cleaning

3 Shared laundry rooms 4 Right to dry movement 5 Common problems 6 Etymology 7 Laundry
in culture 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

History[edit] Watercourses[edit]

"Man and woman washing linen in a brook", from William Henry Pyne's Microcosm (1806). Unusually, this is depicted as a mixed-sex activity.

was first done in watercourses, letting the water carry away the materials which could cause stains and smells. Laundry
is still done this way in the rural regions of poor countries. Agitation helps remove the dirt, so the laundry was rubbed, twisted, or slapped against flat rocks. One name for this surface is a beetling-stone, related to beetling, a technique in the production of linen; one name for a wooden substitute is a battling-block.[2] The dirt was beaten out with a wooden implement known as a washing paddle, battling stick,[2] bat, beetle or club. Wooden or stone scrubbing surfaces set up near a water supply were gradually replaced by portable rub boards, including factory-made corrugated glass or metal washboards. Once clean, the clothes were rinsed and then wrung out — twisted to remove most of the water. Then they were hung up on poles or clothes lines to air dry, or sometimes just spread out on clean grass, bushes, or trees. Finally, they were ironed. Washhouses[edit] Main article: Lavoir

Washhouse in Sanremo, Italy, at about the turn of the 20th century

Washhouse in Cabeção, Portugal, today. Note the two basins and inclined stone lip.

Before the advent of the washing machine, laundry was often done in a communal setting. Villages across Europe that could afford it built a wash-house, sometimes known by the French name of lavoir. Water was channelled from a stream or spring and fed into a building, possibly just a roof with no walls. This wash-house usually contained two basins - one for washing and the other for rinsing - through which the water was constantly flowing, as well as a stone lip inclined towards the water against which the wet laundry could be beaten. Such facilities were more comfortable and convenient than washing in a watercourse. Some lavoirs had the wash-basins at waist height, although others remained on the ground. The launderers were protected to some extent from rain, and their travel was reduced, as the facilities were usually at hand in the village or at the edge of a town. These facilities were public and available to all families, and usually used by the entire village. Many of these village wash-houses are still standing, historic structures with no obvious modern purpose. The job of doing the laundry was reserved for women, who washed all their family's laundry. Washerwomen (laundresses) took in the laundry of others, charging by the piece. As such, wash-houses were an obligatory stop in many women's weekly lives and became a sort of institution or meeting place. It was a women-only space where they could discuss issues or simply chat (cf the concept of the village pump). Indeed, this tradition is reflected in the Catalan idiom "fer safareig" (literally, "to do the laundry"), which means to gossip. European cities also had public wash-houses. The city authorities wanted to give the poorer population, who would otherwise not have access to laundry facilities, the opportunity to wash their clothes. Sometimes these facilities were combined with public baths, see for example Baths and wash houses in Britain. The aim was to foster hygiene and thus reduce outbreaks of epidemics. Sometimes large metal cauldrons (a "wash copper", even when not made of that metal),[3] were filled with fresh water and heated over a fire, as hot or boiling water is more effective than cold in removing dirt. A posser could be used to agitate clothes in a tub.[4] A related implement called a washing dolly is "a wooden stick or mallet with an attached cluster of legs or pegs" that moves the cloth through the water.[5] Washing machines and other devices[edit]

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The "Woman's Friend" washing machine, circa 1890 U.S.

The Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
completely transformed laundry technology. Christine Hardyment, in her history from the Great Exhibition
Great Exhibition
of 1851, argues that it was the development of domestic machinery that led to women's liberation.[6] The mangle (or "wringer" in American English) was developed in the 19th 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. It was a variation on the box mangle used primarily for pressing and smoothing cloth. Meanwhile, 19th century inventors further mechanized the laundry process with various hand-operated washing machines. Most involved turning a handle to move paddles inside a tub. Then some early 20th century machines used an electrically powered agitator to replace tedious hand rubbing against a washboard. Many of these 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 spin cycle. Laundry
drying was also mechanized, with clothes dryers. Dryers were also spinning perforated tubs, but they blew heated air rather than water. Chinese laundries in North America[edit] See also: Yick Wo v. Hopkins In the United States and Canada in the late 19th and early 20th century, the occupation of laundry worker was heavily identified with Chinese. Discrimination, lack of English-language skills, and lack of capital kept Chinese out of most desirable careers. Around 1900, one in four ethnic Chinese men in the U.S. worked in a laundry, typically working 10 to 16 hours a day.[7][8] New York City
New York City
had an estimated 3,550 Chinese laundries at the beginning of the Great Depression
Great Depression
of the 1930s. In 1933, with even this looking to many people like a relatively desirable business, the city's Board of Aldermen passed a law clearly intended to drive the Chinese out of the business. Among other things, it limited ownership of laundries to U.S. citizens. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association tried fruitlessly to fend this off, resulting in the formation of the openly leftist Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance
Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance
(CHLA), which successfully challenged this provision of the law, allowing Chinese laundry workers to preserve their livelihoods.[7] The CHLA went on to function as a more general civil rights group; its numbers declined strongly after it was targeted by the FBI
during the Second Red Scare (1947–1957).[7] Note that the phrase "Chinese laundry" as in "We set up a Chinese laundry in our ski lodge" is not a reference to the social history described above, but indicates a (usually temporary) system of indoor or veranda clothes-lines, whether well-organized or crudely-improvised, that have been rigged up to get clothes dry. The phrase is presumably kept alive less by historical memories of Chinese laundries in Western countries than by the colorful displays of washing that visitors to China often remark upon.[9] India[edit] In India, laundry was traditionally done by men. A washerman was called a dhobiwallah, and dhobi became the name of their caste group. The places where they work or worked include Dhobi
Ghat in Mumbai. Related to this is Dhoby Ghaut
Dhoby Ghaut
in Singapore and Dhoby Ghaut, Penang
Dhoby Ghaut, Penang
in Malaysia. Ancient Rome[edit] The workers who cleaned the cloth were called fullones, singular fullo (cf fulling, a process in wool-making, and Fuller's earth, used to clean). Clothes were treated in small tubs standing in niches surrounded by low walls, known as treading or fulling stalls. The tub was filled with water and a mixture of alkaline chemicals (sometimes including urine). The fuller stood in the tub and trampled the cloth, a technique known elsewhere as posting. The aim of this treatment was to apply the chemical agents to the cloth so that they could do their work, the resolving of greases and fats. These stalls are so typical of these workshops that they are used to identify fullonicae in the archaeological remains. Laundry
processes[edit] Laundry
processes include washing (usually with water containing detergents or other chemicals), agitation, rinsing, drying, pressing (ironing), and folding. The washing will often be done at a temperature above room temperature to increase the activities of any chemicals used and the solubility of stains, and high temperatures kill micro-organisms that may be present on the fabric. Chemicals[edit] Various chemicals may be used to increase the solvent power of water, such as the compounds in soaproot or yucca-root used by Native American tribes, or the ash lye (usually sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) once widely used for soaking laundry in Europe. Soap, a compound made from lye and fat, is an ancient and common laundry aid. Modern washing machines typically use synthetic powdered or liquid laundry detergent in place of more traditional soap. Cleaning or dry cleaning[edit] Main article: Dry cleaning

Many dry cleaners place cleaned clothes inside thin clear plastic garment bags.

Dry cleaning
Dry cleaning
refers to any process which uses a chemical solvent other than water.[10] The solvent used is typically tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), which the industry calls "perc".[11][12] It is used to clean delicate fabrics that cannot withstand the rough and tumble of a washing machine and clothes dryer; it can also obviate labor-intensive hand washing. Shared laundry rooms[edit] In some parts of the world, including North America, apartment buildings and dormitories often have laundry rooms, where residents share washing machines and dryers. Usually the machines are set to run only when money is put in a coin slot. One name for these is tvättstuga. In other parts of the world, including Europe, apartment buildings with laundry rooms are uncommon, and each apartment may have its own washing machine. Those without a machine at home or the use of a laundry room must either wash their clothes by hand or visit a commercial self-service laundry (laundromat, laundrette). Right to dry movement[edit] Some American communities forbid their residents from drying clothes outside, and citizens protesting this have created a "right to dry" movement. Many homeowners' associations and other communities in the United States prohibit residents from using a clothesline outdoors, or limit such use to locations that are not visible from the street or to certain times of day. Other communities, however, expressly prohibit rules that prevent the use of clotheslines. Some organizations have been campaigning against legislation which has outlawed line-drying of clothing in public places, especially given the increased greenhouse gas emissions produced by some types of electrical power generation needed to power electric clothes dryers, since driers can constitute a considerable fraction of a home's total energy usage. Florida ("the Sunshine State") is the only state to expressly guarantee a right to dry, although Utah and Hawaii have passed solar rights legislation.[citation needed] A Florida law explicitly states: "No deed restrictions, covenants, or similar binding agreements running with the land shall prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources from being installed on buildings erected on the lots or parcels covered by the deed restrictions, covenants, or binding agreements."[13] No other state has such clearcut legislation.[citation needed] Vermont considered a "Right to Dry" bill in 1999, but it was defeated in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee. The language has been included in a 2007 voluntary energy conservation bill, introduced by Senator Dick McCormack. Legislation making it possible for thousands of American families to start using clotheslines in communities where they were formerly banned was passed in Colorado in 2008. In 2009, clothesline legislation was debated in the states of Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Oregon, Virginia, and Vermont. Other states[which?] are considering similar bills.[clarification needed][citation needed] Similar measures have been introduced in Canada, in particular the province of Ontario.[citation needed] Common problems[edit]

Directions for hand-washing New Britain Standard Hygienic Underwear, circa 1915

Novice users of modern laundry machines sometimes experience accidental shrinkage of garments, especially when applying heat. For wool garments, this is due to scales on the fibers, which heat and agitation cause to stick together. In cold countries they dry it with their fireplaces, others just have many or buy more garments in preparation for winter or cold times. Other fabrics are stretched by mechanical forces during production, and can shrink slightly when heated (though to a lesser degree than wool). Some clothes are "pre-shrunk" to avoid this problem.[14] Another common problem is color bleeding. For example, washing a red shirt with white underwear can result in pink underwear. Often only similar colors are washed together to avoid this problem, which is lessened by cold water and repeated washings. Sometimes this blending of colors is seen as a selling point, as with madras cloth. Laundry
symbols are included on many clothes to help consumers avoid these problems. Etymology[edit] The word laundry comes from Middle English
Middle English
lavendrye, laundry, from Old French
Old French
lavanderie, from lavandier.[1] Laundry
in culture[edit]

The launderer by Jef Lambeaux

In Homer's Odyssey, Princess Nausicaa
and her handmaidens are washing laundry by the shore when they see and rescue the ship-wrecked Ulysses. A washerwoman is the disguise adopted by Toad in Wind in the Willows. The film My Beautiful Laundrette
My Beautiful Laundrette
features two laundry enterpreneurs. See also[edit]

List of laundry topics


^ a b "Laundry". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 2012-05-24.  ^ a b Katz-Hyman, Martha B.; editors, Kym S. Rice, (2011). World of a slave : encyclopedia of the material life of slaves in the United States. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. p. 303. ISBN 978-0313349423.  ^ The Oxford English Dictionary. III (Second ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 908: copper 3.a. ISBN 0 19 861215 X.  ^ "Ponch, punch or ?". OldandInteresting.com. Retrieved 2014-03-06.  ^ Maxwell, Lee (2003). Save womens lives : history of washing machines (1st ed. ed.). Eaton, CO: Oldewash. p. 8. ISBN 9780972971003. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) ^ Hardyment, Christina (1988). From mangle to microwave : the mechanization of household work. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. ISBN 0745602061.  ^ a b c "Yung, Judy; Chang, Gordon H.; Lai, Him Mark, eds. (2006), "Declaration of the Chinese Hand Laundry
Alliance.", Chinese American Voices, University of California Press, pp. 183–185 (including notes), ISBN 0-520-24310-2  ^ Ban Seng Hoe (2004), Enduring Hardship: The Chinese Laundry
in Canada, Canadian Museum of Civilization, ISBN 0-660-19078-8  ^ See for instance the article Now that's a Chinese laundry! Washing hung out on students' balconies creates a bright patchwork of colours. ^ "How Does The Dry Cleaning Process Work?". LX. Retrieved 21 November 2014. Dry cleaning
Dry cleaning
is the process of deep cleaning clothing without using water. Usually reserved for dress clothes and delicate fabric, it requires special equipment and detergents. Dry cleaning
Dry cleaning
is typically a 5 step process. These steps are tagging the clothes, pretreating clothes, cleaning, quality checking, and ironing.  ^ "Toxic Substances Portal - Tetrachloroethylene
(PERC)". Retrieved 21 November 2014.  ^ " Tetrachloroethylene
(Perchloroethylene)". Retrieved 21 November 2014.  ^ "The 2008 Florida Statutes". 163.04. Florida Senate. 2008.  chapter= ignored (help) ^ "Why Clothes Shrink". 

External links[edit]

Find more aboutLaundryat's sister projects

Definitions from Wiktionary Media from Wikimedia Commons Textbooks from Wikibooks Travel guide from Wikivoyage

v t e


List of laundry topics


Biological detergent Bleach Fabric softener Laundry



Combo washer dryer Dry cleaning Tunnel washer Wet cleaning Washboard Wash copper Washing machine


Clothes dryer Clothes horse Clothes line Drying cabinet Hills Hoist Mangle


FoldiMate Laundroid


Box mangle Clothes hanger Ironing


Colour fastness Fulling Ironing Posting Shrinkage Stain


Chinese Hand Laundry
Alliance French laundries of California Laundry
and Dry Cleaning International Union Laundry
Workers Industrial Union Project Laundry
List Worshipful Company of Launderers


Dhobi Housekeeping Industrial laundry Laundry


Clothespin Dispensing ball Hamper Laundry
ball Posser Washing paddle


Barbier v. Connolly Kimball Laundry
Co. v. United States Muller v. Oregon Pearson v. Chung Yick Wo v. Hopkins


Baths and wash houses in Britain Dhobi
Ghat Laundry
room Lavoir Self-service laundry Tvättstuga

v t e


Historical clothing • Traditional and national clothing


Blouse Cache-cœur Cardigan Crop top Dress
shirt Guayabera Guernsey Halterneck Henley shirt Hoodie Jersey Polo shirt Shirt Sleeveless shirt Sweater Sweater
vest T-shirt Tube top Turtleneck Twinset


Bell-bottoms Bermuda shorts Bondage pants Capri pants Cargo pants Chaps Cycling shorts Dress
pants High water pants Hotpants Lowrise pants Jeans Jodhpurs Leggings Overall Palazzo pants Parachute pants Pedal pushers Phat pants Shorts Slim-fit pants Sweatpants Windpants Yoga pants


A-line skirt Ballerina skirt Denim skirt Men's skirts Miniskirt Pencil skirt Prairie skirt Rah-rah skirt Sarong Skort Tutu Wrap


Ball gown Bouffant gown Coatdress Cocktail dress Débutante dress Formal wear Frock Evening gown Gown House dress Jumper Little black dress Princess line Sheath dress Shirtdress Slip dress Strapless dress Sundress Wedding dress Wrap dress

Suits and uniforms

Academic dress Ball dress Black tie Boilersuit Cleanroom suit Clerical clothing Court dress Gymslip Hazmat suit Jumpsuit Kasaya Lab coat Military uniform Morning dress Onesie Pantsuit Red Sea rig Romper suit School uniform Scrubs Stroller Tuxedo Vestment White tie


Apron Blazer British Warm Cagoule Cape Chesterfield Coat Covert coat Cut-off Duffel coat Flight jacket Gilet Goggle jacket Guards coat Harrington jacket Hoodie Jacket Jerkin Leather jacket Mess jacket Opera coat Overcoat Parka Paletot Pea coat Poncho Raincoat Robe Safari jacket Shawl Shrug Ski suit Sleeved blanket Smoking jacket Sport coat Trench coat Ulster coat Waistcoat Windbreaker

Underwear (lingerie)


Bra Camisole Undershirt


Diaper Panties Plastic pants Slip Thong Underpants

Boxer briefs Boxer shorts Midway briefs Briefs


Adult bodysuit Infant bodysuit Long underwear Playsuit Teddy


Boot Court shoe Dress
shoe Flip-flops Hosiery Sandal Shoe Spats Slipper Sneakers Sock Stocking Tights


Baseball cap Beret Cap Fedora Hat Helmet Hood Kerchief Knit cap Toque Turban Veil


Ascot tie Bow tie Cravat Neckerchief Necktie Scarf


Babydoll Blanket sleeper Negligee Nightgown Nightshirt Pajamas


Bikini Burkini Boardshorts Dry suit Monokini One-piece Rash guard Square leg suit Swim briefs Swim diaper Trunks Wetsuit


Belt Coin purse Cufflink Cummerbund Gaiters Glasses Gloves Headband Handbag Jewellery Muff Pocket protector Pocket watch Sash Sunglasses Suspenders Umbrella Wallet Wristwatch

See also

Activewear Clothing
fetish Clothing
technology Clothing
terminology Costume Cross-dressing Dress


Fashion Haute couture History of clothing See-through clothing

Authority control

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