logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

Clearing up after the weekly wash
in ordinary households in the early 1900s

YOU ARE HERE: home > work

fence in the yard outside a Victorian scullery with tin baths hung up

Fence outside the scullery showing the tin baths stored away - a computerised composite of several original photographs, created to illustrate my mother's recollections.

After the washing was done and put out to dry, the clearing up began.

to top of page

Putting away the tin baths

First of all, the tin baths were put away on hooks on the fence in the back yard outside the scullery door, alongside the mangle.

to top of page

Cleaning up the scullery floor

Next my mother scrubbed the scullery floor with a scrubbing brush and a bucket of soapy water. She also scrubbed and the copper which she then hearth stoned over.

Hearth stone

I understand that hearth stone was a kind of stone used in particular for cleaning door steps. If you can supply further information, please let me know.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

to top of page

Bringing in the washing and putting away the clothes line

Tin baths hanging on the outside scullery wall of a small 1900s house.

Tin baths hanging on the outside scullery wall of a small 1900s house. Note the typical cloth hat worn by the man in the garden. A computer edited photograph of a TV showing the 1943 film Millions Like Us.

Once the washing was dry, it was taken. It was not just left in a pile. Since the fabrics were natural ones, almost everything needed to be ironed. So, in preparation for ironing the next day, every item of the wash was neatly folded.

Then the clothes line was looped up and hung on a hook to make the garden look tidy.

to top of page

How the work affected women

You can see how hard women had to work on washday. Tempers certainly frayed, and you can understand why. My mother had to do her mother's wash too, as well as her own family's, and this was by no means unusual in families.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

Not only were women tired out, their hands were always chapped and red because of the washing and cleaning that they did. Even on high days and holidays, when everyone was dressed up, it was easy to tell which women did and did not have help in the home, just by looking at their hands. There were no waterproof gloves.

to top of page