Laundry

for bleaching, drying, ironing, and folding. Professional washerwomen in towns took care of clothing from surrounding estates as early as the fourteenth century. Traveling washerwomen teams stayed for a day or two in their customers' homes at the end of the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, cheaper cotton clothing generated more laundry, which was sent out each week or two by middle and upper-class city residents, or laundered by a professional washerwoman who came to the house once a week.

The old-fashioned laundry was a sweltering, damp place, steamy from the boiling coppers, the drying closets, and the iron-heating stoves or grates. Laundry was originally washed in large wooden troughs with washboards. By the early twentieth century, large glazed earthenware sinks replaced these. In addition, the wash-house was furnished with wooden tubs where laundry was churned by wash-sticks. A built-in boiling copper was filled and emptied with buckets and a dipper, and heated from underneath.

Hand-held agitators that were twisted or pumped up and down in a wooden tub inspired the first washing machines. The earliest washing machine patents date to 1752, while the first practical machines were those produced by Mr. Harper Twelvetrees in the 1850s. Clothes tended to get knotted around the legs of the agitators in this early equipment (Fig. 32-1). Other machines were patterned on washboards. Mr. Bradford of Saltram, England, patented the Vowel machines in 1861 (with A, E, I, O, and U models), which consisted of a hexagonal box that rocked and vibrated so that clothes rubbed against the ribbed wood lining inside. These machines were tiring to use and needed constant attendance.

Before homes had running water piped into them, laundry was frequently an outdoor task. Clothes were beaten clean with wooden bats on a riverbank or in a communal washing cistern. Clothing was washed more often in warm spring and summer weather than in the winter, when drying was a major problem. Before the age of cheap cotton, clothes were laundered as little as possible. Originally, no soaps were used, and clothes were beaten to knock out the dirt. This was very hard on fine fabrics. Eventually, clothes were soaked in an alkaline solution called lye, made from furnace ash, bird dung, bran, or urine, all of which worked well to remove perspiration and greasy dirt that tended to rot fabrics. Soap, which was made from vegetable oils and animal fats, was expensive to buy and tedious to make.

In England, the size of a country-house laundry of the eighteenth century varied from a single washhouse separate from the main house, to a whole suite of rooms

C. 1850 washing machine

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Figure 32-1 Clothes washers.

By the 1860s, piped hot and cold water was standard in newer homes. The first electric washers with motorized rotating tubs were developed around 1915 in both England and the United States. The motor under the machine lacked a protective casing, and water dripping on it caused frequent short circuits, fires, and shocks. Many of these early machines had to be filled manually with buckets and drained by hand. Clothes were removed wet, and the machine continued to run until the plug was pulled. Later machines had a central agitator and could spin clothes almost dry. It wasn't until 1939 that the first washer was manufactured with automatic timing controls, variable cycles, and preset water levels.

Today's washing machines are expected to wash clothes better with less water and less energy. Because they use less water, efficient washers also use less detergent and reduce the sewage treatment load. Heating water uses 90 percent of the energy consumed by washing machines. Appliance manufacturers met the 1993 DOE Standards by removing the option for hot water rinse from the regular cycle and by using better tub designs.

5Q- In 2001, the DOE announced new standards for ^ clothes washers which, when fully implemented, will lead to approximately $48 in utility bill savings per year for consumers and save over 7090 gallons of water per year for the average consumer. The standard requires new clothes washers to be 22 percent more efficient by 2004 and 35 percent more efficient by 2007. Several clothes washer models currently offered on the market meet the standard outlined for full compliance in 2007. The energy and water savings result primarily from design innovations. More accurate sensors lead to more efficient use of hot and cold water. Higher spin speeds that remove more water from clothes result in less drying time, thereby saving energy.

Horizontal axis machines, which are usually front-loading, are generally much more efficient than vertical axis machines. Horizontal axis machines use about one-third as much water, thus saving about two-thirds of the energy use. They also clean more thoroughly than conventional machines. Because horizontal axis machines spin faster, less water is left in the clothes, which saves time and energy in the dryer. Front-loading machines may allow a dryer to be stacked on top for space savings. The money saved on energy and water may add up to around $100 per year, which along with the rebates often offered by manufacturers and utilities make the newer horizontal axis machines a wise choice.

Wash and rinse cycle options, especially cold water rinses, and water level settings save energy, as do machines that adjust automatically to the size of the load. Locate the washing machine as close as possible to the water heater and insulate all hot water pipes for further savings. The washing machine should be located in a heated space if possible. Sound protection is sometimes a valuable option, although operating noises may let you know what stage the load is in. Washers usually require a 120V, 60Hz, AC, 15-A or 20-A grounded electrical outlet.

Clothes were originally twisted dry, leading to the women's fashion for tight pleats in the eleventh century. In the late eighteenth century, mechanical wringers that squeezed clothes between rollers were screwed to sinks, and these became a standard feature of early washing machines. By 1880, rubber rollers pressed water out of clothes.

Once wrung out, clothes were spread on lawns in the sun to dry, or on rosemary and lavender hedges that scented the clothes as well. Only in wet or cold weather were clothes dried indoors, on drying rods suspended from the ceiling, or on airing racks hoisted overhead on pulleys. In France in 1800, M. Pochon invented a device called a ventilator. Hand-wrung damp clothes were put in a circular metal drum pierced with holes. Cranking the handle rotated the drum above an open fire. The clothes either dried slowly or burned, and smelled like soot. In the mid-nineteenth century, drying closets were constructed in large homes and institutions. Drying closets are brick enclosures built over furnaces or networks of hot pipes. Metal frames with racks pulled out from the drying closet to load and unload laundry.

Modern clothes dryers work by heating and aerating clothes. Gas dryers are much less expensive than electric dryers to use. Automatic shut-offs save energy and are easier on clothes. The best automatic shut-offs use moisture sensors in the drum, and don't just sense the temperature of the exhaust air. Cool-down and moisture sensing options also reduce the energy needed for ironing. Electric ignition, rather than pilot lights, is now required in gas dryers. Dryers should be located in heated spaces. Designing an area for air-drying delicate items protects clothes and also saves energy.

Some dryer models have drop-down rather than side-opening doors, making it easier to keep that loose sock from falling to the floor. Sound protection is a valuable option where a noisy dryer could be disturbing. Service requirements for electric dryers are typically a 120/240V or 120/208V, 60-Hz, AC, 30-A grounded electrical outlet. Gas dryers need a gas connection, of course, and a 120V, 60-Hz, AC, 15- or 20-A grounded electrical outlet.

Vent dryers—especially gas dryers—directly to the ^ outside, with short, straight sections of metal duct. Flexible vinyl duct restricts airflow, and can be crushed. Vinyl duct may not stand up to high temperatures. Electric dryers may be vented inside the home during the winter if the house air is dry and the vent is properly filtered. Compact apartment or condominium dryers are sometimes vented indoors, but may cause condensation of moisture on windows. Dryer exhausts should have a vent hood that blocks air infiltration and seals the exhaust duct very tightly when the dryer is not running. Standard dryer vent hoods use a simple flapper, which is not as effective. Tightly sealing hoods cost a few dollars extra.

In this day of wash and wear, those of us who still iron our summer linens are a vanishing breed. The earliest piece of machinery to be used to iron sheets, tablecloths, and other flat linen was the mangle. The mangle combined pressure provided by a screw with a smoothing technique involving wrapping linens around smooth wooden cylinders and rolling them to and fro under pressure. For other items, flat irons in different sizes were used, often in pairs so that one could be in use while the other heated on a stove. Box irons were heated internally with slugs of hot metal or charcoal. Box irons are still in use in some parts of the world where power is unreliable and expensive. Beginning in the 1890s, paraffin, oil, and petroleum irons were available. H. W. Seeley of New Jersey patented the earliest electric iron in 1882, which dubiously featured flying sparks and weird noises. Today's irons are much safer, if less exciting. Models that will turn themselves off if left unattended are preferable.

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