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Saturday, 19 December 2015


The first known record of laundering goes back almost 4,000 years to a tomb at Beni Hasan in Egypt. On the wall of the tomb is a representation of two slaves washing a cloth. One pours water over the material while the other rubs it. The water runs into a trough below. In some parts of the world clothes are still washed by similar crude methods.

The early Romans were proud of their togas and the other garments they wore draped in graceful folds as they strolled in the Forum. Garments were ordinarily sent to a public laundry where the fuller, or laundryman, washed, whitened, redyed, and pressed the garments.

After they washed the clothes, the laundrymen placed them in a fuller's press. This consisted of two uprights, two planks, and a large screw top. Turned by cranks, it flattened the cloth between the planks. This press was probably the first step toward the development of manglers.

Excavations at Pompeii seemed to have unearthed the oldest soap factory in the world. However, this was later proved to be incorrect. Chemical analysis showed that the product found there was Fuller's earth, used for washing clothes but not the body.

People in seventeenth-century England used ashes, bread, and urine to clean their clothes.

Washboards are usually constructed with a rectangular wooden frame in which are mounted a series of ridges or corrugations for the clothing to be rubbed upon. For 19th-century washboards, the ridges were often of wood; by the 20th century, ridges of metal were more common.

The first laundry is thought to have been started in 1837 by Independence Stark in Troy, New York. Stark had a collar factory and opened a plant for laundering his product. He called it the Troy Laundry. Many laundries are named Troy after the first one in the United States.

The first complete power laundry in the United States was most likely born of the needs of the "forty-niners" during the gold rush days of California. Oakland was then a struggling settlement with a population made up almost entirely of men. There were no women to wash their clothes.

Though a few Chinese operated individual laundries along creek banks, some men ended up sending their laundry all the way to Hawaii. They had to wait up to six months for delivery.

In 1851 a man named D. Davis established the Contra Costa Laundry in Oakland. At first all the work was done by hand. Later a 12-shirt washing machine was built and operated by a ten-horsepower donkey engine.

The man who is credited with making power laundries commercially practical is Hamilton E. Smith of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1863 he patented the reciprocating mechanism to reverse the movement of the revolving drum in the washing machine. That same year he established a power laundry in the St. Charles Hotel and the Monongahela House located in Pittsburgh.

In 1909 the United States census figures showed that laundry earnings had increased to $104,680,000. In spite of this phenomenal growth, it remained chiefly a shirt-and-collar business until about 1915. Then, along with the development and successful marketing of electrically operated washing machines, came "wet-wash" laundries.

J.F. Cantrell opened the first washateria (laundromat) on April 18, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas. It only had four machines.

Astronauts don't do laundry but rather eject their clothes into space to burn up in the atmosphere.

Source Comptons Encyclopedia

1 comment:

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