If you have not noticed, you could quickly tell the time setting of a movie according to how the people washed their clothes. When you see that a character is by a river beating a garment over rocks with a laundry beater, it depicts the setting of the movie that could be during primitive times. People relied on the source of water of their local river since they did not have access to water in their homes due to lack of plumbing. However, when a character is putting clothes inside a washing machine or gets a dry cleaning pick up in Singapore, you are watching a movie set in the 20th century.
Every movie that includes washing clothes tells us that laundry methods have not always been done using a washing machine. Before we got to enjoy what a laundry service offers, various washing methods helped develop what we have today. Hence, it is only fitting that we pay homage to the essential part of our everyday life by knowing its history!
Here, you will discover the interesting history of laundry cleaning, how our ancestors used to scrub their dirty outfits that paved the way for technology to make washing clothes easier!
Doing Laundry in the Ancient Times
Early civilisations were usually established around at least one source of water. Whether it was the Nile or the Yellow River, our ancestors survived by using water for hydration, food supply, and of course, to clean their bodies and clothes.
Garment beating was their washing method to effectively remove dirt out of the fibres of their clothes. If not beating, they would stomp, twist their clothes, or slap them against the rocks. Thus, it was initially actually a man’s job to do laundry due to its physical demands.
Resourcefulness was the perfect description of people in these times. With only nature to get help from, ancient Romans even managed to develop the concept of washing into a commercial industry, making laundry services a necessity. It emerged Fullers Shops, “Fullers” or “Fullones” were the cleaners who collected lye (a nickname for human urine) in public restrooms and used it to dye clothes to maintain the whiteness of a toga.
The Laundry Communal Experience in the Middle Ages
With the emerging cities and growing population, river beds and rock piles can no longer accommodate many people. The solution? The production of laundry items, such as large wooden wash tubs and dolly-tubs.
Even with the laborious method of beating and stirring clothes in these tall tubs, dirty laundry was only held by poor servants and washerwomen. It was when Romans did their laundry in their homes, and they relied on the public service of laundry cleaning from these servants. It is a period of the gruelling process, especially how they give the “great wash” service wherein it takes them days to finish a batch of dirty laundry. It involved a pre-wash, a 24-hour soaking period, a wash that uses lye, re-washing to dissolve lye from the linens, and rinsing and drying. While it could be seen as a service for a deep cleaning today, it was a gruesome process that washers did back then.
In cities across Europe, however, developed communal washhouses. More known as the lavoirs, these were found in small villages across the French countryside that were initially used by the social elites in the 17th century. Women gathered here to do their laundry together but soon abandoned when access to French houses became available.
Innovative Laundry Tools During the Industrial Revolution
Can you imagine paddling your set of curtains in a tub base instead of going to a curtain cleaning service? People who lived in society post World War II did not have both choices because of the innovations that relieved them from the dreaded wash day. It was none other than the washing machine!
James King, Hamilton Smith, and William Blackstone were inventors credited in the making of early washing machines. Blackstone, being the one who invented the first automatic washing machine as a gift to his wife, went on to place his invention on the market.
At this time, the laundry process was mechanised. Shortly after, commercial laundry shops started sprouting across the globe. People no longer dread wash day, thanks to the clothes washing services they can get from these shops. To add variation in their services, shops included carpet cleaning, curtain cleaning, and alteration services in their garment care offers.
Modern Day Laundry Services with Us!
Technology evolves to cater to the needs of people living in the rapid globalisation of today’s fast-paced world. Singapore, being one of the top potential world-leading technology hubs, is not behind in the advancement of laundry technology. Hence, we at Presto Drycleaners, evolve with our customers to give personalised care to your garments!
Today, we have come to develop a laundry service in Singapore that is borne out of our pure intention to help our customers with their garment care. From restoring shrinkages to dry cleaning, you can count on us to provide it for you.
To get our personalised dry cleaning and laundry services, you can reach us on our website to book a pick-up at your most convenient time.