Market Lavington Museum

Laundry before the age of plastic

In our recent blog entries, we have considered laundering clothes before the days of washing machines. This was also before we had plastic and many household items were made of metal or wood. We have already met A clothes drainer from the 1880s, which allowed the water dripping from washed clothing to be returned to the copper.

Some very soiled items, such as the collars of shirts, needed to be scrubbed to clean off grime and stains. At the museum we have a very basic board, which shows the signs of wear from much scrubbing. In our kitchen it is tucked behind the Little Dorrit stove for heating the irons.

The locally made laundry basket in this photograph would have been replaced nowadays by one made of plastic.

To avoid ironing in creases, a special ironing board was used, which could fit inside sleeves. Ours is showing its age, which means that we can see that it, too, was constructed of wood.

As plastic begins to fall from favour, due to its causing harm to the environment, it will be interesting to see which materials are used for household objects in the future. Maybe the museum will then need to conserve some plastic items for their historic interest.