"Thursday was washday and Mrs Letts came to knead our clothes"

A glass washboard
GNU Free Documentation LicenseA glass washboard - Credit: Yannick Trottier
In the Victorian era, it was usual to have a week-long program for the washing of clothes, with each day set aside for a particular laundry-related task. Whilst the majority of housewives had to contend with their own washing, those from the upper classes either used the services of a laundry or a washerwoman (laundries, although more expensive, were more popular as washerwomen, who often lived in slum areas, were notorious for spreading diseases). The dirty laundry was soaked overnight then washed the following day in a large copper tub full of soap and boiling water. Washboards and dollies were used to knead the clothes in the water, which were then removed with tongs, fed through a mangle and hung out to dry. Folding, starching, ironing and airing took place on the following days and then the cycle could commence again.