When the worst part of the washing business is over

We’re having some lovely weather, and I’m taking advantage of it to get heavier items of washing done such as towels and blankets. These items don’t need ironing of course, and can just be folded away and put in the airing cupboard. I don’t mind ironing too much if there is something on TV to watch, something which doesn’t need to much concentration. These days I don’t watch a lot of TV anyway, for no real reason except I’m usually here writing.

I was looking through  a school text book, ‘Domestic Economy’, published in 1899 as a class book for girls, in The Royal School Series, – ‘for the use of The Commission of National Education in Ireland‘, and came across these helpful hints for ironing:

Folding and ironing 1 – 5

  1. When clothes are “on the line,” the worst part of the washing business is over, unless the line or the pegs are dirty, when the clothes may need  washing once again. Lines and pegs should  be kept in some clean and secure place, and not be left in the drying yard longer than necessary. When taking in clothes, an apron should be worn into which the pegs should be dropped instead of being thrown on the ground.
  2. After drying, the clothes should be brought into the folding-table in a basket, turned to the right side again, damped by gentle sprinkling, and folded closely together, that the damp may be equally absorbed by every thread. After damping, they should lie close together in the basket for some hours; for unless the damp has time to penetrate, they will not iron well.
  3. All articles of house linen without buttons – such as sheets, table-cloths, and towels – may be mangled. These should be carefully folded and counted, as they are generally sent out and mangled at so much a dozen.
  4. Articles of wearing-apparel should be ironed. The object of ironing is to make the surface smooth. A smooth surface does not present so many irregularities to catch the dirt as a rough one.
  5. Clothes not thoroughly rinsed from soap and soda will readily scorch under the iron, and also turn yellow.

I’m guessing that these washing and ironing instructions were taught to girls who would go into service, before having their own families. I remember my mum wiping our washing line with a damp because everyone then had coal fires and the air was full of smokey smuts which might alight upon the line!

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