Were you up before dawn to start the day’s wash? Neither was I, but let’s take awash tub - rub board
look back at the good old days. Had you lived in a log cabin at the turn of the
nineteenth century, you wouldn’t have had electricity to power the work. 

Wash day 2But after 1797, you might have had a scrub board to help you with the elbow grease. It’s said a man invented it, but I have an idea he got the idea from a woman who wasn’t interested in beating those rocks against each other in a cold stream.   

The first machine was made in 1851. But, of course, it was still hand operated, so the poor woman had to do all the work. (No wonder people wore their clothes until they smelled so bad they had to change them.)   

                        In 1874, a man wanted to give his wife a special present for her birthday so he created a machine that cleaned away the dirt. I admit in those days a washing machine would have been a lot more exciting gift than another flannel nightgown.


The first electrical washing machine was invented in 1908 by the Hurley Machine Company. It was a drum type washer with a galvanized tub and was patented in 1910. Finally, the women who were lucky enough to afford the machine had an easier way of doing the laundry.  Thank goodness for electricity. The Frontier life sounds exciting in the cowboy romances, but it’s hard for me to imagine life without all my electric appliances. 

Still, a hunky cowboy would come in mighty handy. And speaking of hunky cowboys, my book, TRUMPED UP CHARGES, is still available. Please check it out. It’s available in digital and paperback and regular or large print.                           

Breath-stealing suspense. Heartwarming Romance

trumped-up cover

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  1. Up until about 1980, my grandmother used to still wash clothes the old fashion way using the wash board. I remember having to hang up clothes on the clothes line afterwards. We’re so blessed to have washing machines and dryers. Having had that experience with her, it makes me appreciate our modern day appliances more.

  2. I love your post and it sure makes you appreciate the washing machine you step up to use week after week.I will look at it differenly now!

  3. I used to help my Grandma dip the rainwater into tubs placed onto a wood stove to heat for the wash. Then I stirred so the soap would dissolve before we even started the engine on the washing machine. I wasn’t allowed to put the clothes through the wringer for fear I would injure myself which is exactly what I did when I got married and had my own pink Wringer machine! Laundry day was soooooo much work in the good ole days!

  4. Joanna, this brings back memories. My mother washed on a wringer type washer back when I was young. I loved trying to help her. One day I got my hair caught in the wringer and it scared me to death. Thought it was going to rip my hair out. But my mom got it stopped and I didn’t end up scalped. I learned a valuable lesson though. I’m so glad that we have things much easier now. These young women don’t know what others had to go through to get to this stage. Thanks for the interesting post.

  5. My mother had her wringer washer for the longest time. And I was out of the house before she broke down and bought a dryer and even then she would put them in for a small amount of time and still hang them up!!!! I am sure her clothes lasted a lot longer than mine but all that work…

  6. Yep. I love my washer and dryer. Still like making a big pot of red beans and rice, though, which was standard washday dinner in south Louisiana for years. It’s still a Monday lunch special at many New Orleans restaurants.

    Sorry to be leaving this great group of readers and writers for awhile, but life is running away from me and I have to round it up and bring it back into the corral.

    Visit me anytime at http://www.joannawayne.com. And, remember, I give away a book each month.

  7. Hi Joanna. YIKES, my fingernails are cracking just reading this post. I’m a modern girl, all the way. We’ll miss you in the Junction…I barely got to know you.

  8. As much laundry as my husband and four boys go through I would have scrubbed my hands off. I’m so very thankful for our modern appliances!

  9. I washed my clothes with a washboard and tub for three years while in the Peace Corps. Once you get used to it, it isn’t too hard. It is time consuming and I wouldn’t want to have to tackle really dirty jeans. I wouldn’t want to have to do laundry for a large family this way.

  10. Hi Joanna. When I was growing up, I helped mother on laundry day. We had a family of 10. The clothes were first boiled in a iron wash pot that hung over a fire outdoors. (This was after my brother stomped on them soaking in a wash tub. Then mom put the clothes in a tub of soapy water and washed with a Rub board. Then rinsed in another another tub of cold water. And, then mixed blueing to rinse the white clothes in. Last was the starch for the dress clothes. Then onto a clothesline. Was an all day job. I also done this sometimes in my bathtub after I married at 16, because had no wash machine and sometimes no car for the laundrymat. Maxie Anderson

  11. Enjoyed the post, Joanna!

    I used to help my grandmother wash clothes in her wringer washer, she would also scrub the dirtiest pieces on a washboard before running them through the wringer. And what a pain in the neck, the bluing rinse & starching process was! Clothes were always hung outdoors to dry, & I always hung the family laundry outside, when I was growing up – for many years, my mother never wanted a dryer.

    I am so thankful for my electric washer & dryer!

  12. I’m with you all the way. Love just tossing the clothes in the wash and then to the dryer. Our clothes dryer was the first large purchase my husband and I bought on the installment plan. The gas company brought it out and installed for a small amt. added to our gas bill each month. Best purchase I ever made. But it was neat visiting Tuscany two years ago and seeing all the colorful clothes hanging on the lines. But then, they didn’t even have to go outside to do it. They just reeled the line in from their windows. Now that’s no so bad.

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