When we moved into our hand-built house in 1975, it soon became apparent that the lack of electricity and running water was going to make the issue of clean clothes a problem. Rather than spend time and money at the laundromat we decided to go the old fashioned way.
We found two big galvanized tubs, an old washboard, a hand cranked wringer and an agitator – the cone shaped thing on a stick in the photo. Water was hauled from our shallow well and heated on the wood cookstove which was great in Winter but a bit overwhelming on hot Summer’s days. Clothes were thrown in one tub with some soap and then we would use the agitator like a toilet plunger to ‘work’ the clothes. Stains would be rubbed off on the washboard. The clothes would rinse in the second tub, be hand wrung and then go through the hand wringer. In the Summer the laundry was hung on the line to dry but in the Winter we draped laundry all over the house. Our windows were steamed up all day and it felt like living in a swamp.
When we got married in 1977, my family gave us a small generator for a wedding present. Though useful for tools, we found it a noisy thing so would only use it for essential jobs. We picked up an old electric wringer washer and wash day became considerably easier. We used it for many years until it finally packed it in. It now serves as a planter for our Helleborous (Christmas Rose). I must admit that wash day is one thing I don’t miss from our early simple living days.