Today we are surrounded by all kind of appliances in our houses that serve as entertainment, such as television and others which help us to do housework, making them more bearable, making these machines work harder. In every kitchen you can see a large number of electrical appliances such as microwave ovens, stoves butane gas or electric, refrigerators, blenders, and countless utensils. One of the appliances was an important step in simplifying household chores was the washing machine.
In the 60’s of the twentieth century began to enter homes these devices, always depending on the purchasing power of each family, buying mostly in installments. Until the late 50’s all these tasks were executed by hand by women, dedicated to these tasks most of the day, while the men worked in the various workshops throughout the day, not only the stipulated hours, because after leaving to work they would work to other workshops. The 12-hour days were common. It was a flourishing period for the furniture maker sector and work abounded although wages were very low.
Keep in mind that it was not only problem of not having washing machines, but had no running water in the houses and electricity was unsafe, because continuous cuts occurred. During the 50’s there were many houses that had no running water.
The day in homes began to make fire for cooking and heating the house, mothers looked after children and send them to school. They also made the food. While daily sustenance was done was the time of the cleaning. You had to go for water to the sources that were in the town, many of them still exist, and people usually washed the clothes in the sink with a wooden board with rounded longitudinal grooves, was the washboard clothes ( the one that we show you in the first picture).
Women washing clothes in rivers because the in houses there was not running water. The laundry is carried in a tin pails. They also wore wooden board to wash clothes in some places is called slab. The soap they washed with was made by soda and with the fat that left over from the pig slaughter. Washing in the river, was a particularly heavy and hard work in the winter, because the temperature was very low and the water was freezing. They washed mainly in streams, because according to some women, the river water was very “hard”.
Washing in the river
A part from laundry home, some women were washing clothes of other families with more economic resources than paid for undertaking this task, both in the river and at home. Some houses had their own laundry rooms near the kitchen, but the water had to bring her sources or river.
The hardest task was to “do the laundry”. It was a job done by women over the house with their daughters, and it was not washing clothes, but whiten using ash from home. Casting work was done at home, where sometimes there was a room alone to do laundry. This was done once a month, or even every two or three months, but in summer it is more often did. A kettle to boil water, a “cocio” that was made of mud, a cotton cloth or canvas (and lye), fine ash mainly of oak and slabs of wood with which rinsing was done: to do laundry several objects were needed. The first thing to do was to put clothes soaked and then put it in layers and most widespread possible in the “cocio”. The “cocio” was covered with cotton or cloth and lye, which is well fastened to the top with a rope or cord. Then ash and lye above was laid. While, the water was boiled, they put it above the ash with a saucepan. Water seeped through the ash and lye the past to COCIO, soaking the layers of clothing. Water seeping through oak ash lye had an effect that was getting clean and whiten clothes.
The casting lasted several hours, depending on the amount of laundry and how dirty it was. Once casting was over, the garments were clarified in wells in the river, in ditches, public laundries etc. extending over the meadows and allowing them to dry in the sun before rinsing them.
For drying clothes, depending on the area or parts or directly on the lawn they stood, giving the sun directly, tamped with some stones.
The laundry was the most painful occupation spend all your time outdoors, great physical efforts were made and disease developed either because the legs were soaked up to the knees, the back position and the cold of winter water ( often he had to break the ice with a stone to wash).
Having soaked clothes for long hours produced colds, rheumatism, pneumonia, bronchitis and skin conditions. Hands often bled, and were planted with chilblains caused by cold and moisture.
Harresi Kulturala Elkartea, 2013, Cuando no había lavadoras. Retrieres from: https://harresi.org/2013/04/28/cuando-no-habia-lavadoras/
Casimiro Sainz Saiz, 2015, ¿Cómo se lavaba la ropa en el S. XVIII?. Retrires from: http://blog.myheritage.es/2015/08/%C2%BFcomo-se-lavaba-la-ropa-en-el-s-xviii/