FOLKS: Recipe For Washing Clothes

Knowing that I am recently enfianced to a fine southern gentleman, my good friend and historical folklorian Bobbye Wade of Dora, AL has bestowed some wifely instruction upon me – A Recipe For Washing Clothes. And “Yes. It is for real Yankee girl.”

Years ago an Alabama grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe. (This is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrapbook -with spelling errors and all):


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. 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 piles1 pile white,1 pile colored,1 pile work britches and rags.
To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down withboiling water.

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don’t boil just wrench and starch.

Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench water in flower bed. Scrub porch with hot soapy water. Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

(For you non-southerners – wrench means rinse.)

Bobbye went onto to explain: That was true in this area and other rural areas in the South until the early 1940s. You have a lot to learn if you plan to stay in the South very long. I think you will be learning a new language.

With the advent of T. V., the Scotch-Irish language is receding into the background and will soon be gone forever. The southern mountain language, Appalachian, is an almost perfect English of England in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth century. Remember they have been isolated for over 200 years until the 20th century……radio and then T. V.came along and the language is rapidly changing.

One thought on “FOLKS: Recipe For Washing Clothes

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Ruth

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