Wash Day in the Wash House

Wash House

Take a peek inside a well preserved weatherboard wash house and woodshed dating from 1913.  The wash house was a feature of houses built between 1900 and 1950 in Western Australia.  A woodshed alongside the wash house held a ready supply of wood chopped to size, ready to light a fire under the copper to produce hot water.

Wash day was a strenuous task, which often took all day to complete.  Items were firstly washed in concrete troughs, before being transferred to the boiling water in the copper.  For safety, a copper stick was used to swirl the clothing around, until the washing had been thoroughly rinsed.  Then the wash was transferred once again to troughs for a final rinse in cold water.

Excess water was squeezed out of the wash, using a wringer (or mangle to English people).  Finally, after a lengthy process,  the washing was hung out on a clothes line to dry.  For the older generations, the wash house is a trip down memory lane as they reminisce about life in childhood homes.  Young students and visitors, more familiar with the laundry located INSIDE modern homes are surprised to learn about the outdoor wash house, and the heavy manual work necessary to do the weekly wash for large families, 100 years ago.

An impressive range of irons and trivets plus a stove once used in a commercial laundry are on display, together with wash day essentials such as starch, blue tablets used in the rinsing water to keep whites whiter, and wooden dolly pegs to hang the washing on the clothes line in the backyard.


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