Do we always wash our hands or just stand there and watch them clean themselves? Anyway, that’s a discussion for another day. Today, we focus on another “conundrum” that has been around for ages: laundry!

Very few people, if any, love this chore. Yet, it remains a significant part of human existence. Over time, technological inventions such as washing machines and detergents have helped “ease the burden.” However, why do we do it the way we do? This article serves you some interesting laundry facts.

1. Jacob Christian Schaffer Invented the First Washing Machine

Before 1767, there was no single washing machine; hand washing was the main technique available. Germany’s Jacob Christian Schaffer was the first person to develop the washer before subsequent innovations happened in other parts of the world.

In 1782, Great Britain’s H. Sigier invented his version of the washing machine, a cranking rod cage. By 1797, other people had made similar inventions, and Nathaniel Briggs patented his first. The early 1800s saw other inventors, such as James King and Hamilton Smith, join the bandwagon.

Interestingly, William Blackstone created and gifted his wife a washing machine for her birthday when these items were few and far between.

2. You Can’t See 70% of the Dirt on Your Clothes.

Which criteria do you use to tell whether your items need laundry? Do you wash them because you wore/used them once, or do you look for physical dirt? If you are the type that “measures with your eyes,” there is news for you: you are doing it wrong!

About 70% of our clothes’ dirt is microscopic; we can’t see them with the naked eye. Skins cells, body oils, and sweat contribute to the “dirtiness” of our clothes, bedding, or anything else that requires occasional laundry.

3. College Students Used to Mail Home Dirty Clothes for Laundry

Looking back, the period between the 1910s and 1960s was fascinating! Apparently, people used to mail their dirty clothes for laundry, which was a lucrative business. It was an option for anyone who didn’t have the time to handle the chore alone. These included military personnel, summer campers, and, wait for it… students.

4. You Can’t Do Laundry on Sunday in Switzerland

Neighbors in Switzerland respect each other a lot. For many, Sundays are for total resting, which requires utmost calmness! Generally, every activity that can generate noise, including laundry and hanging clothes, is prohibited.

For a country well-known for its recycling laws, disposing of trash at a recycling center near you is illegal on Sunday. And by the way, mowing your lawn is also prohibited on this day – strictly no noise.

5. Before Soap and Detergents, There Were Ashes and Urine

Debates on whether urine is a suitable antiseptic aside, do you know people used wee and ashes to do laundry before soaps and detergents saved the day? This was popular during Roman times and was also prevalent in Medieval Europe.

Urine contains ammonia, so people used it to loosen dirt, remove stains, and bleach yellowing fabrics. Looking back, we give them full marks for the idea, but still, urine just isn’t it.

6. Sea Voyagers Used to “Drag” Their Clothes on Water

Rather than hand washing, sea voyagers tied their dirty garments on their ships and then dragged them over water for cleaning. Talk about efficiency at its best: you sail as you do your laundry.

7. Detergents Are a Result of Soap Shortage During World War I

In the 1900s, animal and vegetable fats were the primary ingredients in making soap. However, during WWI in Germany and some parts of WWII, there was a shortage of these raw materials, so chemists devised other methods of achieving similar results.

They collected other raw materials, and after synthesis, they produced the now-popular washing detergents. Of course, fragrances and other additives have been added over time.

8. An Electric Washer Cost $81.50 in the 1920s

The price of an electric washer in the 1920s cost about $81.50. This might sound affordable until you consider the inflation rate and whatnot. You realize the amount is the equivalent of $1235.68 today. It’s safe to say that very few households could afford it.

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Last Update: July 24, 2023