Advert for the Old Established Shirt and Collar Dressers, laundry house
Medium: Print on paper
For most of the 19th century, working class families in particular faced a number of problems doing their laundry. Soaps and detergents had a high, abrasive soda content, and clothing materials tended to be very thin or delicate - so repeated washing with soap would eventually destroy the clothes. Not washing the clothes, however, and leaving dirt and sweat on them, would ultimately have the same effect. Working class families tended to handwash their clothes in communal washhouses.
Very wealthy families were the only ones with private laundries. The middle classes used establishments such as this laundry house. A laundress would call to the home to collect dirty clothes, returning them cleaned and ironed within a few days.