How to Hand Wash Clothes

Learn how to hand wash clothes the old-fashioned way, in a wash tub on laundry day.

| Fall 2014

Several years ago, a grandmother in Alabama gave a new bride a recipe for how to hand wash clothes she found in an old scrapbook. Here is the recipe, printed as it originally appeared — misspellings and all.

Warshing Clothes

Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rainwater.

Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert.

Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin’ water.

Sort things, make 3 piles – 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile work britches and rags.

To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boilin’ water.

Rita Lyons
9/27/2014 10:26:41 AM

This makes me smile. I grew up hearing (and using) "wrench" and "warsh". (And I am only 43.) I miss the old dialect. For those who comment that they are from the south, but haven't used "wrench" I wonder if it is because it is more of an Appalachian dialect not southern? The two overlap, but are not always the same.

8/1/2014 5:10:00 PM

I hear my grandmother's voice in this, and I don't think I ever saw her hand wash clothes, but I have fond memories of helping her hang the "warshin."

8/1/2014 10:59:18 AM

I wasn't born until after my Grandmother got a ringer washer, but she still had the galvanized wash tubs. I'm thankful for my electric Washing Machine. Makes life easier. Also, I was born and raised in the South (Georgia) but I never said "wrench". It was "rinse" I enjoy you e-mails. Thanks for sending them.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265