Chores for Each Day of the Week

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:   

Wednesday, July 10, 1912:  Did some ironing this forenoon and puttered around this afternoon.

Picture Source: Approved Methods for Home Laundering

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Each day of the week used to have its own tasks. An old booklet called Approved Methods for Home Laundering published by Proctor & Gamble said that most of the ironing should be done on Wednesday.

Plan for the Week’s Work

MONDAY

1.            Put the house in order.

2.            Plan and cook for Tuesday.

3.            Sort clothes.

4.            Mend clothes (rents grow in washing).

5.            Take out stains.

6.            Soak soiled clothes.

7.            Lay fire for morning.

8.            Fill boiler.

9.            Get tubs and other things ready.

TUESDAY

1.            Light fire and heat water.

2.            Make soap solution.

3.            Do washing.

4.            Sprinkle and roll clothes.

WEDNESDAY

1.            Iron and bake.

2.            Do thick starching.

THURSDAY

1.            Finish ironing.

FRIDAY

1.            Put house in order.

SATURDAY

1.            Bake and plan for Sunday.

There was some variation from one list to the next in which things should be done on which days. (This list doesn’t quite match the recommended tasks for the various days of the week in the old Round and Round the Mulberry Bush ditty.)

19 Responses

  1. Monday used to be the day for all the washing when I was young including when a copper was used. Can’t recall when starching was done -I thought at the same time. I certainly recall all the difficult-to-iron things needing sprinkling and they’d then be wrapped in a towel until you ironed them. What a process it was. I don’t blame Helena for puttering around!

    • I think that one of the things that has changed the most (and for the better) over the past one hundred years is the way that laundry is done.

  2. Oh my! I’m way behind according to this list of household duties. Like years. Maybe I’ll tend to the pile of ironing today now that I’ve been reminded of it, only with my steam iron, though. Thanks!

  3. Make fire? Make soap? I’m lucky if I get the iron plugged in to the outlet HA. I will have a new appreciation for their hard work when I look at vintage family photos where they’re all turned out in their best.

  4. Not a moment to think with all that work. And they don’t mention the half of it , the things that had to be done daily in addition to all of that – cooking three meals a day, watching the children, etc. So glad I missed it!

    • I also noticed that the list didn’t include many routine household chores. I think that this probably was because the list was in a booklet of laundry tips–and the author probably missed a lot of things that weren’t related to doing laundry.

  5. While in Gettysburg we attended a few demonstrations and one of them was on doing laundry – God bless those ladies. It was a lot of hard and tedious washing. But what I thought was interesting, they did not wash the outer garments often – instead the hem on the bottom of dresses came off to wash, and in the winter they added sleeves to their clothes which was also easily removed and they used dress shields and don’t forget they used aprons. So it was mainly shirts and the under garments that were washed weekly. I wonder if they did it that way in your grandmothers day too. The person doing the demonstration said there was so many inner garments that the outer garments did not often get as dirty. They also had morning dresses, afternoon dresses etc… depending on what they were doing and who they were seeing. regardless those ladies are an inspiration from what they did. Blessings! Patty

    • Thanks for sharing what you learned. It is really interesting how they figured out ways to minimize the amount of laundry that needed to be done.

  6. My mother had a wash board she scrubbed clothes in the bath tub. It seemed she was washing and ironing something everyday because we had few things. Mom would admonish us to keep our clothes clean so maybe we could get another wear before washing, which was so hard for us children to manage.

    • I can also remember my mother admonishing us about keeping our clothes clean. We’d change out of our school clothes the moment we got home from school to keep them clean.

  7. One of my childhood books said Wednesday was washing day. I still have the book in the attic. I’m going to look at it again.

  8. When I was a teenager we lived in Greece for a couple of years in the early 1970s. We did our laundry in the bathtub until my mother found and bought a used wringer washer for us to use. What an experience!

  9. I still starch my pillow cases. I make my own and the crochet lace looks better if I starch them in liquid starch and hang them out to dry, then I dampen and iron. The starch actually keeps the body oils from absorbing into the cotton. There was a reason why they used heavy starch on white shirts, they wore longer.

    • It’s awesome that you still make pillow cases. I have some old ones with the crocheted lace on them that great aunts made for me years ago. I carefully save them to use when guests come to visit because I think that they look so much nicer than regular pillow cases.

  10. […] the 20th century, women’s chores were assigned a day of the week, as described on the blog, A Hundred Years Ago. When I was a child, I loved play houses, and the settings in these illustrations seemed to take […]

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