Cole & Wilson

Gentle care detergents, est. 1927.

A Few Interesting Facts About Laundry That You Might Not Know

Published on the 18th of July 2018

Laundry has been part of history since we started to wear clothes, it is a universal task that’s carried out on a regular basis.

Over the centuries doing the laundry has got easier as technology as evolved and now we take our machines and laundry detergents for granted.

To help brighten up your laundry day, here are a few facts about washing clothes you might not know:

1. Romans used urine to keep their togas white!

Ancient Romans used ammonia from urine  to clean and whiten woollen togas in a manner similar to modern day dry cleaning, and the collection of urine was taxed.

The Romans would collect urine, let it rest in the sun for a few days until it broke down into ammonia - which is an active ingredient in bleach. They would then dilute it with water, soak the garments, press with their feet to work it through the fabric (just like wine!), and finally rinse the garment in fresh water and hang it out to dry in the sun.

2. Spaced out

Rather than wasting water on doing laundry, NASA astronauts on the International Space Station eject their dirty worn clothes into space to burn in the Earth’s atmosphere.

How easy is that!

3. Laundry overboard

One of the earliest form of washing clothes can be traced back to long sea voyages, when sailors would jam their laundry into a cloth bag, toss it overboard, and let the ocean’s waves force the dirt and grime out the clothes.

4. Petticoats and handkerchiefs say it all

During the American Revolutionary War in the 1770’s, local tradition claims that The Culper Ring, a spy ring organised under the orders of General George Washington, used laundry drying on a washing line to send messages between members.

5. The Mighty Norse God Thor

The first mass-marketed electric washing machine in the US was called the Thor. A tumble washer produced by the Hurley Machine Company in 1908.

6. Walt Disney – a world of washing

If you were to wash and dry one load of laundry every day for 52 years, you’d clean as much as the folks at Walt Disney World Laundry do in a single day. The cast members there launder an average of 285,000 pounds each day. In addition, between 30,000 and 32,000 garments are dry-cleaned daily.

And last but not least…

7. May 9 1949 - A big day for the British Housewife

Britain’s first launderette opened on May 9 1949 setting a revolution in motion.  Called Central Wash, in Bayswater, London, and still open today, it meant that for 2s6d 9lbs of washing could be put in a machine, left and picked up half an hour later.  Despite the fact that airing ones dirty laundry in public was a very un-British thing to do, there was soon a launderette on every British high street.

Happy wash day!