Laundry course in 1895

(Source: B. Gauchat, Colombier † 2004)

In order to obtain a clean laundry, care must be taken to place the dirty (laundry) in a dry, easily ventilated attic, and hang it up.

Do not put too much linen on top of one another to avoid it getting wet; wet or just want clothes are soon covered with mold stains.

To prepare for the laundry, it is necessary first of all to make sure to have dry wood available, dry soap, all the necessary utensils, such as: vats, clothes ropes, baskets, sticks, tweezers, ashes, soda, starch, blue, wax and borate.

Always soak the vats for one or two days. The linen must be sorted and counted.

The white linen is soaked in warm soda water for two or three hours, then soaped. There are various washing methods; the oldest and still the best is to sink the laundry with boiling lye made with ashes.

The colors, as well as the ammonia solution, are recommended for small households (2 tablespoons ammonia, 3 tablespoons turpentine).

It is with rainwater that the filthy elements emerge the best. The spring water in which we added soda makes the same service.

Soap, sodas such as Crystal, Phenix, Richard, Bienna, ashes, etc., are good ingredients for washing clothes. You must not be too economical nor too prodigal.

When washing the linen, it must be done carefully, not to spoil it. For fine linen, a washboard is not recommended; for coarse linen, it is used successfully. When the laundry has been boiled for the last time, rince it in cold water and leave it until the water is clear.

To raise the brightness of the whiteness, pass the linen in an indigo solution; these blue colors (in the form of tablets, pellets, etc.) are placed in a flannel cloth and diluted with warm water.

Care must be taken not to let the linen rest in that water because it stains. It must be rinsed, shaken and put in a basket at the bottom of which was placed a coarse cloth and hang immediately.

The linen is stretched on tight strings, It must be brought a little symmetry by putting the pieces of the same nature together, the wrong side on the rope and the name below. A well-laid laundry is a credit to the housewife.

The staring gives some pieces (petticoats, curtains, aprons) a firm and brilliant finish. It is necessary that the starch is well cooked and the laundry dries quickly to become firm.

Raw starch is also used, especially for men's shirts; a little borax (2 tablespoon per 1 of starch) is added to facilitate ironing and to give gloss.

Ironing is learned by practice, with zeal and attention. The blankets of wool are necessary, they are placed on a table and stretched with a white cloth. Ironing is facilitated when the laundry is moistened. It is necessary to pass with straight wire with the iron and not to make false folds.

If it is possible, we fold the laundry that we do not iron immediately, it is dry so that the folds are formed properly.

We stretch the pieces one after the other, we put the beautiful side in and we bend them regularly so that the corners are equal. The fringes are struck on the edge of a table or rope. Spoiled linen is set aside for repair as soon as possible.

The linen closet must be the pride of the good housewife for the order and cleanliness that reign there. After each washing, all the rays are cleaned, the linen counted, stacked, the one that has just been washed is placed under it so that the one that still remained is used in the first place.

Colored linen

It is advisable to separate the good-looking linen from the one whose colors are delicate as well as the clothes of those of cotton. We must not use soda and not too much soap it must be extended in the shade because the sun makes the shades pale. For delicate shades, mix a little vinegar with warm water and rub with soap of pitch. Starch should not be too hot when soaking the laundry.

Woolen fabrics in general should not stay in the water for a long time and should not be bent or rubbed as the fabrics shrink and tear. It is good to beat them in good ammonia soap and then rinse with warm water to remove all soap. The black woolen fabrics are washed without soap in a decoction of Panama wood or saponary roots cooked in water for 20 minutes.

The marked spots are rubbed with a soft brush with a white thread, rinsed with hot water and stretched without bending.

de et étirées sans pli.


Cours d'économie domestique, by Cornélie Chavannes, Director of the Ecole normale supérieure of the canton of Vaud (1840).