Where would we be without washing machines?

Where would we be without washing machines? 

I don’t know about you, but I think I spend at least two hours washing, hanging up and putting away clothes every week. It is a chore that I loathe, particularly the putting away bit, which is fiddly and time consuming. But that is with modern electrical washing machines. Imagine how long it would take without one?

The small amount of hand wash items in my collection is bad enough and that amounts to only five items. Imagine if you had to wash ALL of your washing by hand. For some households that could easily be 10 loads a week! All that soaking, rubbing, rinsing is enough to give anybody arthritis in the hands.

The first special-purpose washing device was the scrub board – a ridged contraption that could be placed in a tub of water and used to scrub clothes on. This was invented in 1797. Before then people scrubbed their clothes on rocks in streams in an attempt to get them clean.

Next came the rotary washing machine in the 1850s, first powered by hand, then powered using a single cylinder engine. It was not until the early 20th century that the electric washing machines that we know and depend on today were on the market.

Back then washing machines had to be anchored to the floor to stop them from walking! Sometimes when my machine is spinning it feels like it could quite easily do the same! Our washing machine has recently started making a loud screeching noise when it is spinning… I am starting to worry that it could break soon, which would not be good. So in an attempt to keep it going for longer I have been researching washing machine maintenance ideas. Here is what I have found:

  1. Read the instructions on your washing detergent. Using this the wrong way can clog things up and cause problems. Some go in the drum, some go in the drawer, it can be confusing so make sure you check. Especially if like me you change your detergent depending on what is on offer in the supermarket!
  2. Run a ‘maintenance wash’ once a month. Essentially this involves running the machine without any clothes in it. Use detergent, set it to run at a temperature of at least 65C and leave it alone. This will wash the machine and help you to avoid having to wash by hand.
  3. Wash out the soap drawer. Do you have soap scum building up in the drawer? Most soap drawers can be easily removed, washed and replaced.
  4. Leave the door open after use. This will prevent mould and stale odours building up, although the chance of that happening in my house is small given the amount of washing we get through!
  5. Clean the filters. Every six months or so it is worth doing this, but be careful to read the instructions that came with your washing machine carefully, and remember, it is electrical.

I have started running a maintenance wash each month and cleaned out the soap drawer, and while the washing machine still squeaks every now and then, it’s not every time and I am a bit less panicked about life without it!

My advice, if you can’t imagine life without your washing machine, is to treat it with care. Start running maintenance washes and make sure you read the instructions on your detergent every time you buy a new one. You would be surprised what a difference those simple steps can make and will save you having to spend hours doing all of your washing by hand!

A natural born writer, Stacey Barton writes professionally and for fun across a wide range of niches with particular attention to how classic brands can continue to offer the same product for decades and somehow survive the turbulent and ever changing consumer market.