If the family washing be done at home, the duty will either fall upon the maid, or she will have to assist the washerwoman who may be engaged for the purpose. In some families, everything is washed at home; in others, only the coarse things, such as sheets, towels, &c., are washed at home, and the rest are sent out to the laundress; and in others, again, everything is sent to the laundress.
In either of these cases, the maid will probably have to collect and sort all the dirty clothes, and to make out a list, or lists, of the different articles for the wash, and to see that everything is right, in state and number, when the washing and ironing are over. In some families, the mistress, or one of her daughters, likes to make out the list, or lists, as .the maid calls the things over.
Q. What are the preparations you have to make for the wash?
A. I must first collect all the sheets, towels, pillowcases, and toilet-cloths, from the bags in the bed-rooms; all the gowns, petticoats, chemises, handkerchiefs, caps, shirts, collars, cravats, waistcoats, light trowsers, and stockings, all the table-cloths, dinner-napkins, coarse cloths and towels from the kitchen, and throw them on the floor of the room used for the purpose.
Q. What next?
A. Then I sort them into heaps, such as bed-room towels in one heap, coarse towels in another, sheets, shirts, gowns, waistcoats, each in a separate heap. The stockings I draw one into the other, to keep them in pairs.
Q. And what then?
A. I examine’ each article separately, to ascertain what may require mending.
A. The most economical way is to have such things as may require mending, excepting stockings, mended before they are washed, that they may not receive further injury in the washing; but some ladies prefer having them tied up by themselves, washed, roughdried, mended afterwards, and then finished by folding and ironing, or mangling.
Q. But if sent to the laundress, how should this be arranged?
A. They should be sent to the laundress separately, with instructions for her to wash and rough-dry them, send them home to be mended, and then to receive them again to be finished.
Q. Well, having sorted all the things properly, what do you do next?
A. I make out a list of them, naming the articles and the number of them in each: as, 3 table-cloths, 5 napkins, 2 gowns, 7 shirts, and so on. And if the things are to be sent to the laundress, I make a copy of the list, and give it to her; and then, when she brings them home, I can ascertain, by my own list, even should she have lost hers, whether the return is right.
Q. Is there not a better method of managing this?
A. Yes, ma’am; if you please to buy one of the Improved Family Washing Books, which are sold by most stationers, some trouble may be saved, mistakes will be less likely to occur, and the book may always be kept for reference.
Q. What is the plan?
A. Each page of these books has two printed lists of all such washing articles as are used and worn in families; and between the two lists is a scroll or cheque. Having written down the number of every article you send to the laundress, against its name in the lists, you have only to cut off one list, through the cheque, and give it to the laundress, letting the other list remain in the book. Then, when the linen is brought home, and the different articles are called over by the list, it is seen in an instant whether anything be missing.
Q. Well, should there be anything missing, what do you do?
A. I make a mark in the list of the article missing, and either apprise you, ma’am, or desire the laundress to bring it home.
Q. What do yon do after all the linen has been properly got up, or sent home from the laundress’s?
A. I take care that everything is properly aired; and then I place all the different articles in the bed-rooms of the parties to whom they belong.
Household Work, Or, The Duties of Female Servants by J. Masters