Could you do laundry as your great grandmother did?

I only have one memory of my great grandmother.  It was her standing in an upstairs window watching me play in the yard of my grandmother’s house.  I don’t remember talking to her, but I can still see her standing at that window. 

As she was facing the last years of her life, I was a little girl full of life with no cares about what tomorrow would bring. I often wonder what she was thinking as she was watched me play.  Was she reminiscing about a time when she watched her own children play, or was she remembering her own childhood? Maybe she was dreading making her homemade laundry detergent and starting wash.

How I wish, I would have taken time to get to know her better. To learn how she spent her days, what she did to pass the time, and what she dreamed of for her own children. 

What I am sure of is her days would have been filled with taking care of her home and children. Not so different than what we do today, other than the modern conveniences we’re privy too now.

Today as I stared at a mound of laundry I couldn’t help but think how laundry day in my great grandmother’s time would have been so much different than the buttons I push today. 

How spoiled we have become. Before the days of electricity and washing machines, wash day would have been an all-day ordeal. It would’ve been filled with multiple tubs of water, scrubbing boards, and handmade soaps. The water would have been hauled from the well and heated over open fires and the chore would have been back-breaking, to say the least.

I’d love to say I have what it takes to live as my great grandmother did — but probably not.

old fashion clothespinsI finally found heavy duty clothespins.

I’ve been line drying clothes for years, and have gone through many different styles of clothespins. From plastic, to peg, to cheaply made China pins, and no matter which ones I bought, I never could find any heavy duty clothespins that would hold up to the wind we get here on the farm. My clothes would always end up on the ground. Since I was introduced to these hand-made heavy duty clothes pins I don’t have to worry about anything ending up on the ground!


With the trend toward simplicity, many of us are looking for ways to return to our roots and live much as our ancestors did.

Am I ready to give up my washing machine…no, I think not! But I certainly can be a bit more self-sufficient by saving money on our electricity by line drying and relying on an old fashion laundry detergent recipe that my great grandmother may have used.

Old Fashion Homemade Laundry Detergent

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub. Use 1/4 cup of powder per full load.

I wonder what she’d think if she knew her great-granddaughter was more inspired to live in her time than her own — I think she’d tell me I was crazy.

How about you? Could you work as hard and live as your great grandmother did even on wash day?

Old Fashion Laundry Detergent Recipe

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