08/08/2016
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Remembering washday - Scottish nostalgia

20738a19-3a50-4c57-8a58-1138ec997d20

Sheila Grant recalls the many chores, as well as the sights and sounds, that surrounded washday in bygone Scotland.

Do you feel intimidated by the vast array of cleaning products on supermarket shelves? Are you putting your family at risk by not using a selection of these products? Was it the advent of supermarkets that brought about this multitude of cleaners, sterilisers, antibacterial cloths and liquids?

In the 1950s there was never such a plethora. My parents and grandparents did have a few dusters, but old vests, shirts and even underpants (they were bigger then) were cut up and used as cleaning cloths on a regular basis. For floor cloths, old towels and terry nappies (remember them?) were ideal.

Washing soda was used for many cleaning jobs. Before going off on holiday my mother used to put some washing soda down the drain followed by a kettle of hot water. it cleaned the drain and stopped it smelling.

Incidentally washing soda is now a coarse powder. When I was young it was pebble we spat our first saliva of the day on a piece before rubbing it on to warts or corns. They soon healed.

THE USE OF SOAP

Prior to 1916 ordinary soap was used to wash dishes but World War One caused a shortage of fat to make soap, and the first detergents were created. They bore little resemblance to what we now use to hand-wash dishes.

I remember my mother had a gadget resembling two halves of a small cage into which she placed the last remnants of bars of soap before clicking the cage shut. There was a handle like a spoon handle and whilst holding that she would swirl the item in a bowl of warm water until it became foamy and soapy. It could then be used to hand wash delicates like woollen jumpers or fragile items.

The bedding, towels and shirts were washed weekly in the washhouse boiler. The fire was lit, usually by Dad before he went out to work, and by the time we were off to school Mum would be out in the washhouse, her rubber apron on, and her hair tied up in a scarf. Her flushed face could barely be seen for steam. It was usually Monday and should the weather be against her, she had no option but take her turn at the `green`.

If wet we came home at lunchtime to clothes horses and pulleys weighed down with drying washing and broth! It was always broth on washing day and I hated it. The old-fashioned soup bowl with the lip was an ideal place for me to deposit the hated butter beans and peas.

 

 

(Image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)

Back to "Memories of Scotland" Category

08/08/2016 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Scottish conductor and composer James Muir Mathieson was born - On this day in history

Conductor and composer James Muir Mathieson was born on 24 January 1911.


James Stewart Earl of Moray was assassinated - On this day in history

James Stewart, Earl of Moray, regent for James VI, was assassinated by a firearm on 23 January 1570. ...


Unique Robert Burns letter to go on display at National Library of Scotland, Ediburgh

A letter from Robert Burns to one of his oldest friends, which has not been seen in public for more than 100 ...


Rare film screenings for Burns Night 2018 - 'Reanimating Robbie' at the University of Dundee

A free event at the University of Dundee on 25 January will celebrate Burns Night with screenings of rare ...


Other Articles

Scottish MP Joseph Hume was born - On this day in history

Scottish MP Joseph Hume, who founded the memorial to the Scottish Political Martyrs in Edinburgh, was born on ...


Robert the Bruce state sword now on public display in Edinburgh

The state sword of Robert the Bruce is one of several historic treasures which are on display at Bonhams ...


The Brontë sisters, Scotland and Robert Burns

Author Nick Holland explores the fascination of the Brontë sisters for Scotland, and in particular the work ...


Top three accessible visitor attractions in Edinburgh

Saga Magazine presents its top three accessible visitor attractions and things to do in the city of Edinburgh. ...