Wringers and Automatics


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I’m old, and we’ve been married a long time, so I don’t remember some things very well. One of the things I don’t remember is why I started married life with a wringer washing machine.  I don’t remember if we bought it or if  someone gave it to us.  I didn’t mind, really. My mom used one when I was a little kid.  My mother-in-law used hers most of her life.  She maintained that automatics just didn’t get the clothes as clean as her beloved wringer washer.  Maybe she was right.


Anyway, I used my wringer through four babies, and back then we didn’t use paper diapers. Too expensive.  We kept soiled diapers (after rinsing out the contents into the toilet) in a diaper pail filled with water and detergent of some kind until wash day, and then the diapers were put through the first load in the washer on laundry day. I always dumped the water after the diapers were done and refilled it with fresh hot water and detergent that was used for the rest of the laundry:  whites first, light/delicate next, dark next, and really dirty work clothes last. By the time I was done, the water was black. Each load was put through the wringer into a tub of rinse water, then  again into a second rinse before being put through the wringer again to be put out on the clothesline or, if you were lucky, into the dryer.

This was routine for me.  I really didn’t mind. I had friends who had automatics, and they felt sorry for me. Finally, a family friend bought his wife a new automatic washer, and offered us their old one.  Worked fine, he said; he just thought it was time to get his wife a newer model.

Well, sure.  Why not?  And I loved it!  I could put in a load, go back upstairs and tend to whatever else I was going that day along with my four kids,  and get more than one job done at a time.

Well, the years went by and at one point, when we owned a small motel, I was back to a wringer washer because that’s what came with the motel. Again, I really didn’t mind. It took care of four sheets at a time, so often, during the busy season, I was doing laundry into the afternoon. We had a nice backyard with clothesline already strung. Our guest loved the fresh, air-dried sheets.

Now I have a fairly new front-loading automatic, and I really am thankful I don’t have to contend with the wringer any more. Back in the day, though, a lot of women were delighted to graduate from a laundry tub and scrub board to a wringer washer!




9 thoughts on “Wringers and Automatics

  1. Linda, your wringer days sound both difficult and satisfying. I never used one. But I did use a clothesline when we lived in Arizona. By the time I got to pinning the last items on the line, the first ones were already dry!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still love using the clothesline and am glad I live in a neighborhood where I can use mine. I don’t use it in the winter though. My parents didn’t have electricity until I was ten years old and mom washed out clothes in a wringer washer that was powered by a Briggs and Stratton motor that started like a lawn mower. It was in the pump house, not in the house. Mom never did own an automatic but they did buy a dryer to use in the winter. You sent me down memory lane again. I think maybe people didn’t have weight issues as much because they burned off the calories with old fashioned work. Dad usually pumped the water for Mom and he did use a Briggs and Stratton pump for that too. Do the Amish folks do the same yet today, I wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And many of them have clotheslines rigged with a pulley so then can peg the clothes from the porch or the laundry room window, and then when they’re dry they just pull them back in from the same place. Pretty cool.


  3. Margaret

    Just loved reading this, Linda!

    I grew up helping my mom with baby siblings… late 60’s, right through to the mid 70’s, and we used cloth diapers. I remember helping my mom wash diapers on laundry day in her wringer washing machine, then we’d hang the diapers up on the outdoor line to dry.

    The part I remember most is when a pair of rubber pants went through the rollers the wrong way. BANG! Those rubber pants would pop like a balloon! The loudest bang you ever heard.

    The good old days.


    1. Magaret, those rubber/plastic pants weren’t much help once the elastic around the legs got stretched out 🙂 Ick!

      Thanks for your comment. I’d forgotten I wrote this–almost four years ago!


  4. Margaret

    LOL, Linda, so right you are!

    With my own children, born early 80’s and into the early 90’s, cloth diapers were still the way, at least in our house they were, and when the elastic waistband would go on the rubber pants, I’d pin the rubber pants on like a diaper to get what last bit of use out of them that I could, being as frugal as I was.

    Aside from stretched-out elasticized leg holes and waistbands on those old rubber pants, I still remember the ammonia odour they emitted on a hot summer day!

    So glad to hear from you, and so happy there are wonderful articles like yours that are still alive and well!

    Thank you so kindly for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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