Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
The 1900 House The Scullery illustrationThe BedroomThe BathroomThe KitchenThe ParlorThe Scullery
Intro House Cleaning Laundry Servants



Rubbing, pounding, boiling, and squeezing are not actions most of us associate with doing laundry, but at the turn of the century, this was the way they washed the clothes. Forty years before the advent of washing detergents,
See the Video Clip
laundry was a Herculean task -- it could take days just to clean the family's underwear. Outer clothes were merely brushed down in order to reduce the back-breaking chore of washing, which required soaking items in boiling water and then scrubbing them with soda crystals by hand -- as many as three times. The process, including a number of other laborious steps, was not only exhausting but also rubbed hands painfully raw.

image Home The Family Behind the Scenes The House Lesson Plans About the Series Resources image