Wednesday, September 26, 2012

History of Buckets & Wash Tubs

Buckets and wash tubs were a staple in pioneer days. They were used in almost every aspect of life, from carrying water from the well, washing clothing, harvesting food from the garden, and bigger wash tubs were even used for bathing.

Photo taken at Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center.
Galvanized buckets came on the scene in 1837. Galvanized buckets replaced leather buckets as the firefighters' bucket of choice. The galvanized tub above most likely would have been used with a washboard to do the family's laundry.

An old chore nursery rhyme summed up what a chore laundry could be:

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.


Doing the family's laundry would take an entire day just to wash, first the water would be heated, most likely on a wood stove or in the fire place. Once it came to a boil, shavings of soap would be added and the water stirred until they dissolved. Beginning with the whites the clothing would be dumped into the hot water and washed. After the whites, colored clothing would be washed, and then the dirtiest of the work clothes. Clothing was allowed to boil for 10 minutes, then it was taken out, rubbed with homemade soap and scrubbed across the washboard. Fresh water was added to the tub in order to rinse the soap out of the freshly cleaned clothing. Then the clothes would be hung out on a clothesline in order to dry.

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