Medieval Monday: Dirty Laundry

Allison D. Reid

Those dirty clothes really pile up, don’t they? Especially when you have kids. As much as I grumble about having to wash and fold, I’m not really doing the work—the washing machine is taking care of the hard part for me. Our medieval counterparts certainly didn’t have that luxury, or many others that we don’t give much thought to. So in honor of my growing laundry pile, I thought today’s post would answer the question of “how would I have done it back then.”

Laundry was unquestionably women’s work. Some cities had communal wash houses, where women could come to share news and gossip while they worked. Soapwort, an herb with cleansing properties, was sometimes used to get fabric clean. It was also beaten with “beetles”, rinsed, and wrung. Marjoram could be used to give washing water a pleasant scent. Clothing could also be washed in natural bodies of water…

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4 thoughts on “Medieval Monday: Dirty Laundry

  1. I wouldn’t have done well back then – I’m thinking of my aching back, cracked hands even more than the drudgery. There are times I actually enjoy folding the fresh laundry – from the washer.

    Liked by 1 person

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