Laundry the Victorian Way

Laundry the Victorian way

The girls tried their hand doing laundry the Victorian way.  Laundry was a hard, hard job which Victorian women did entirely by hand.  They did not have the luxury of a washing machine.  Nor did they have enzymatic laundry tablets.  Instead, they had a boil, soap or washing soda and fire.

Laundry the Victorian way consisted of the following steps, all of which we attempted to replicate:


As we were only washing old tea towels, there was no mending to do.  Well, actually there may have been but I didn’t ask the girls to do it!


The girls sorted by dirtiness and fibres (this was very simple as we were only washing some very old, tattered tea towels)

Soaked with washing soda

The girls added a cup of washing soda, and allowed it to sit and soak for an hour:

Laundry the Victorian Way Laundry the Victorian Way


The girls scrubbed the tea towels with a scrubbing board using soap and water.  This was way harder than the girls thought it would be.  They were very enthusiastic.  But that waned very quickly 🤣

victorians-2 victorians-5


The girls boiled with dollying (agitation) – the cloths were beaten and swirled for half an hour of strenuous washing.  We used a large wooden spoon and did not agitate for the whole 30 minutes (yes, I know.  We are such light weights!):

victorians-6 victorians-7

Wringing out and Rinsing

The washing was wrung out, the water changed and the clothes redunked in the clean water:


Blue Rinse

The clothes were rung out once more, the water changed and a blue dye added.  The clothes were dipped for one last ‘blue’ rinse, rung out and hung up to dry:

victorians-9 victorians-10

What blew me away was just how dirty the water was after washing already laundered tea towels.  I took a photo but was too horrified to actually post it.  I am wondering if the Victorians possessed more expertise than us me with regards to the laundry……

Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our foray into washing laundry the Victorian way!

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  1. Fantastic! so great to see your younger girls experiencing all the fun their older siblings had learning about history. Re the colour of the dirty water – sometimes it’s best not to know!

  2. Our current laundry soaps leave residue behind, which is probably some of what you saw.

    A historical costuming blog I follow lived for 2 weeks as if she was in the Edwardian era (early 1900s, specifically about 1912), and she wrote in great detail about the work of doing laundry. It was fascinating. Also the lessons she learned about wearing properly fitted corsets.

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