Monday, June 18, 2018

Wash-houses and Laundries

From Geri Walton:
Because eighteenth and nineteenth century houses generated lots of laundry, laundry facilities were an important part of any home. Sometimes laundry facilities were completely separate from a house and located near the Stables, but it was a chore to move the entire laundry of household to an area far from the house. One reason laundry facilities might be located next to the Stables was because it was difficult to attach Drying or Bleaching grounds near a house. Part of the decision about laundry locations was often based on the number of inferior servants tasked with accomplishing the chore. Additionally, if the mistress of the house or the head laundress wanted to supervise laundry operations more closely, and if drying outdoors was dispensed with, indoor drying might be used it. Among the areas associated with laundry were the Wash-house, Laundry, Drying-room and Hot Closet, Linen-room, and Soiled-Linen Closet.
  • Wash-house: For a country home a Wash-house was usually 20 to 30 feet by 15 to 20 feet wide. It needed to allow steam to escape and fresh air to be admitted, which meant numerous air-flues, louvered ventilators, etc. needed be provided. If a Wash-house was attached to a house, it needed to be placed far away from the lawn and rooms families used so as to avoid permeating such areas with laundry smells. Wash-houses usually had a dresser containing several wash trays with hot and cold water. These trays had a plug and a way to let the water drain. There was usually some sort of grated washer to scrub clothes with wooden boards in front of them. Sometimes boilers supplied hot water and sometimes some sort of washing/wringer machine (the first patent for these was in 1691) was available. There was also a large table to help fold clothes and a stone floor with a drain to allow water to flow away. In front of the wash trays were standing boards to ensure stable footing for the laundry maid. Additionally, it was also nice to place such a room near the Coal-cellar or have a special coal or wood bin close by.
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