Wash day for Gran - and keeping the lid on the old spin dryer

17 April 2024
Wash day for Gran - and keeping the lid on the old spin dryer

Another lovely article from Jodie Houghton for the Travellers’ Times. This time Jodie writes about her Gran’s wash day routine, fixed in her memory since she was a little girl and brought back to life by the sounds and the smells of doing the laundry today, and – of course – a few handfuls of Daz!

For as long as I can remember, my Gran and Gramp had a weekly routine and Mondays and Wednesdays were always wash day. We would wheel out the huge twin tub into the middle of the kitchen alongside the mangle and the spin dryer, and sometimes the washboard would make an appearance. Gran would stand over the twin tub transferring the washing from one tub to the other, Gramps oily overalls soaking in a bowl, and the tea towels boiling away on the cooker.  

I loved to peer into the tub watching the grey arm swishing around back and forth, creating bubbles that would just about rise to the surface, and the fresh smell of the Daz washing powder being poured into the water, the rubber pipes from the taps leaking water here and there, so a cloth was always on the side of the tubs to mop up. 

The final part was the spin dryer, the lid would be pushed down and with that it would shake and shudder across the kitchen floor, whoever was there to help that day would sit close with a bowl catching the water as it ran from the spout. This was my favourite part!

Finally, we would take the fresh laundered washing into the garden and hang it on the homemade line, using the prop to push it high into the breeze. 

Selina Houghton
Selina Houghton always wore her heels! Photo courtesy of Jodie Houghton

I know that when we lived on the yard, wash day was much harder and Gran did not have a modern twin tub that made the task any easier, with six children and a husband to keep in clean clothes she worked nothing short of a miracle. My Gran was extremely house proud, and this extended to her appearance and her families, always clean and tidy, however hard it was. 

Gran would often wash the trailer carpets in a big tin bath, running them through the mangle, other times she would use hot soapy water and a broom to give them the once over, and back through the mangle they would go. I often remember carpets hanging on the line, and my cousins and I beating them with sticks, sometimes we were allowed to make a tent under them - we always found fun ways to entertain ourselves. 

Something so simple and as routine as “wash day” evoke so many fond memories of Gran wearing her pinafore apron, sleeves rolled up, curly hair pinned off her face and, as always, her wedge-heeled shoes. Gran always wore her heels! It warms my heart picturing her standing there in the kitchen, and if I close my eyes, I’m stood there right with her.

By Jodie Houghton

(Lead stock photo by Nong on Unsplash)