Mourre washhouse information desk

A little history… The laundry of yesteryear!

First of all, this operation was not frequent. Sheets and heavy work clothes may well only be washed twice a year during the “big laundry”, other items of laundry, at best every week. Families therefore had a large quantity of laundry, in order to have clean sheets while waiting for the next wash.

Most of the work, exclusively female, took place at home or in the farmyard. The dirty laundry was placed flat in a large wooden tub at the bottom of which a drain that could be unblocked allowed the water to drain. He first stayed a whole day in this tub filled with lukewarm water.

The following day, after emptying this first water, a large linen cloth was stretched over the laundry. On this rudimentary sieve, a layer of ashes carefully reduced to powder was spread from oak logs or dry ferns that had been burned. This ash, rich in potassium carbonate, has been known since Antiquity for its cleaning power. Buckets of hot but not boiling water were then gently poured onto this layer so as not to cook the stains and the linen was left to soak in this XXL infusion until the next day.

It was only on the third day that the contents of the tub were transported to the river or the washhouse, in baskets or in a wheelbarrow. This is where, in clear water, each piece of linen was rinsed, beaten, and rinsed again then wrung out and brought home to dry on the grass, on the hedge or stretched out on a line.

At the origin of laundry…

Laundry detergent has ancient origins, dating back to the use of natural methods such as wood ash, soapwort and orris roots. Wood ash, rich in alkali, was mixed with water to form a cleaning solution. Soapwort, a plant containing saponins, and iris roots were also used for their cleansing properties and flowery scent.

♬ La bugado es finido – Provençal song

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