How Cleaning Has Changed in My Lifetime

I was born in the era of the wringer washing machine and a clothesline. 

One of my favorite memories was at my grandmother’s house and her shiny wringer washing machine. Wash day was once a week. It was a huge chore to set everything up for laundry day. Everything in the house was washed on that day, from linens to bedding to clothes to greasy overalls. No water was wasted. 

You started with the whites and worked your way to the darks. You used one tub of water for washing everything, drained then filled with clean water for the rinse. 

My grandmother never gave in to the pressure to buy an automatic washing machine when they were invented. However, she did splurge on a dryer, only to be used on rainy days or in the winter. 

Her beautiful wringer washer sat in the corner of her kitchen. It had a cover for the days it wasn’t being used. I loved to be there on wash day because she let me use the wringer to wring out the clothes. 

She would make tea at the table, always served in fancy tea cups with cream and sugar. The sound of the swishing and purring of that washer in the background while we sipped our tea is a memory and a sound I will always cherish. To this day, I love doing laundry. 

circa 1947: A woman wearing an apron washes her clothes in a General Electric wringer washer, in a kitchen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Back then, we didn’t have fancy stain removers, and Tide® was always a staple in the home. My grandmother taught me how to sort laundry and get stains out with her secret recipes. They were then passed on from my grandmother through the generations down to my own kids. We had to learn from our mothers and grandmothers; we didn’t have Google or even a TV. 

Money was usually short, so a box of Tide® was used to clean everything: floors, dishes, walls, even bathrooms. A bottle of bleach would appear when sickness would follow one of us kids home from school. To this day, my sisters and I reach for a bottle of bleach if something needs a deep clean or a disinfecting scour. (That and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.)

Today we really do have things easy. We just push a button, and a machine does all the hard work. We have so many choices for cleaning products and appliances to help us with our busy lives and household chores. But that doesn’t make it any less important work.

I am so grateful for my grandmother and mother teaching me how to clean and care for my home. I am also thankful that when I taught my kids, they were paying attention! 

Finally Master Laundry

I realize that not everyone was taught how to do laundry from a young age. For many, it’s a dreaded task with more questions than answers. But the truth is that it’s a lot simpler than you think. 

Want to learn the ins and outs of doing laundry the House Work way? From which products to use (and which ones to avoid) to the dirty little secrets of laundry stripping, we cover it all in our House Work Laundry Guide.

For a list of our favorite products, click here.

Either way, this resource makes things super easy!

– Trudy

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