Friday, 13 July 2012

Washday Blues


However it is not so much the washing as the drying which has caused the problem lately. Thank you Carole for this one.


Speaking of washday blues, did you know they still make Reckitt’s Blue [dolly bags] first produced 150 years ago? Containing synthetic ultramarine and baking soda, it’s primary use is as an optical brightener in your laundry [check here]

But they also claim it can be used for horse and dog grooming [Liz, explain that one please!]

Back in my childhood, I remember blue bags, and a steaming copper, Robin Starch and sheets squeezed through the mangle…

reckitsbluead 2

dollyblue adrobinstarch ad 2

It is all a long, long way from today’s automatic washing machines, Persil Small and Mighty Non-Bio, and the power of Vanish!


  1. Hi Angela!
    I remember my mother using a soda pop bottle to sprinkle starch on my dad's shirts. She'd roll them up and put them in a plastic bag before ironing them.
    I think the soap companies are getting a little carried away with the scents they put in detergents and fabric softeners. Some smell so weird that they disturb my sleep at night.

  2. I make my own laundry powder...much cheaper for me than the bought stuff...but I do use a washing machine rather than beat the washing with rocks in the pond.
    Jane x

  3. I used to use Reckitts Blue in the rinsing water when bathing light grey horses or the legs of horses with white socks (sadly not detachable!) to make them look whiter. Actually, perhaps I should get some to make MY white socks look whiter!

    1. Thank you - I wondered how horse-owners would use the stuff!

  4. Ah yes - I remember my mum's mangle when I was a very little person. And they always did the washing on Monday, no other day! If I tried to stick to one day only, it just wouldn't work! xCathy

  5. When I was working in a uni laboratory we were given some funding by Reckitts (now Reckitt Benckiser) to do some research into stain removal for their detergents - they were looking for better ways of getting rid of blackcurrant type stains. For a few months the shop on the campus thought we were bonkers the amount of Ribena we were buying!

  6. We're so spoilt nowadays when it comes to ease of laundering. I finished a book last year, called "Inside the Victorian Home", and the chapter on laundry was truly horrific. It's a wonder anyone survived washday.

    How nice that we don't wear such loads of clothing either as our Victorian foremothers did. (I think Miss Read, in some of her books, comments on the huge difference between the amount of clothing children wore in the late 1800s and what they wore in the 1920s.)

  7. Thanks for all these comments - I think it HAS definitely got easier. Modern lightweight fabrics mean less layers needed to keep us warm, and they wash and dry quicker. Furthermore we are blessed with easier access to hot water, and machines to do so much of the work.
    Frugal Queen did a good post on cleanliness this week!


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