Art Friday: Handwashing

Hand washing 

After discussing hand-washing earlier this week (LINK), I thought it would be fun to look at some art on the very topic. I enjoy hand washing a few things, but if I had to do it all the time, I think the enjoyment would wear off very quickly!!!  And I am sure it would be more fun in summer than in the middle of winter. We also use soaps and detergents that are kinder on our hands — not that many decades ago, soap was much harsher and damaged the hands. Plus we all have water in our homes that supply hot and cold — really ladies, its a luxury to hand wash in 2016 compared to 1816 or even 1916!!

"Laundry Girl" by Morgan Weistling
Laundry duty - Morgan Weistling

This Is the Way We Wash Our Clothes by George Dunlop Leslie
A Little Laundry Maid~Vintage Postcard

Whilst I might enjoy doing a small amount of hand washing during the week — most women of the past were thrilled to see the invention of the machine washer. It reduced the amount of time spent washing and was far less physical.   They would think we were mad wanting to do more hand-washing!

However not all hand washing is pleasant and enjoyable. For many women in past centuries, it was a full time job which brought misery, affected their health, hurt their hands and wore them out completely. Whilst we romantize the past, it wasn't all beautiful and for these women, it was very unpleasant. 

Abram Arkhipov The Washer Women


  1. I love these paintings Jo. I had to hand wash all my laundry for 3 months before our container of household goods arrived on the homestead. It was hard work. I had no wringer and that was the most difficult part to do -- to squeeze all that water out. My hands were sore. My back also so my husband built a platform. You are very right, when that washing machine arrived I praised the Lord. That machine did (and does) change lives! :) Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Washing all the big items would be tough - towels, sheets etc.... You machine probable was more loved than usual once it arrived!!!

  2. I started to enjoy laundry when I had my first child. I absolutely loved seeing the little clothes hanging on the line. I'd fold them with such pleasure. Funny, I hated doing laundry when I was growing up. Today, I still enjoy laundry. In fact I look forward to it!

    1. It is rewarding to see all the clothes drying on the line :))

  3. Hand-washing would be tough if that was the only way we could wash - Dolly thinks it would be fun to hand-wash all our laundry... Sometimes I wonder if I should let her try just so she really KNOWS what she's talking about!!! haha! I am thankful for my washing machine, it really does help... But I do love hanging out my washing - no drier for me! I don't really think they are time-savers like washing machines. I suppose in some places they're probably necessary, but not here!

    1. Hand washing towels and sheets would be a pain!!! and without a ringer, it would be very hard to remove the excess water. I do love the machine, it is very handy :)) but for the sake of some of my clothes, I am happy to hand wash and make sure things last as long as possible !


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