Yesteryear’s Memories: Dirty Laundry

January 11, 2022

The 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s had a lot of labor-saving devices, like the venerated wringer-washer. These lasted decades for a reason — they worked, and worked well. Mid-century tables, chairs, and décor are popular with antique lovers and nostalgic types. Those “I Love Lucy” style kitchen appliances are fun and are being reproduced in huge numbers for today’s homes. One item that isn’t quite as popular is the wringer style washer, but perhaps it should be!

Today we have super-duper high efficiency washers that use a handful of water and a shot glass full of detergent, and yes they are impressive. They quietly churn away while we watch a comedy show or eat our cheeseburger and fries. And as long as the little computer inside functions, your clothes come out fresh as a basket of daisies in May. But with over four thousand parts mostly made in a country that launches missiles like bottle rockets on Independence Day, there just may be a chance that some of those parts won’t always work as advertised.

Off-grid enthusiasts are touting the virtues of these relics from the past. Some can be hand-cranked or run on gasoline. They last decades. Parts are still available. They are mechanically simple and even when they do break, it doesn’t take a computer technician and a seven hundred dollar repair. And they work with home-made soap just as well as the super-duper special detergent that the fancy new technology requires. Pour in water of the desired temperature. Dump in clothes and soap. Turn on the motor and let ‘er rip. Feed the clothes through the rollers and squeeze out the water. Rinse and repeat.

I’m not trying to sell anyone on these, and I don’t get kickbacks or “associate referral fees.” But I do get a kick out of pointing out what is becoming more obvious every day. If the power grid goes down, or if your power bill is more than your first down payment on your house, there are alternatives. Grandma seemed just as happy as anyone even when she cleaned, cooked, and worked in the garden all day. And her clothes were as clean as ours, maybe cleaner. And she still had time to watch “I Love Lucy.”

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