Modern Laundry

The Modern Home Laundry. The Home Economics Department, The Procter & Gamble co. 1937.

In the archives of the Hoole library at the University of Alabama, there exists a bound book titled “The Modern Home Laundry”. Covered in a blue and pink pattern, the 96-page informative piece aims to teach housewives about laundry. Procter & Gamble, a company that sells washing machines and soaps,

published the title to promote the sale of their own products. However, the book scientifically approaches laundry and goes into the details that support soap’s superior effectiveness over plain water. For example, the chapter titled “Soap” directly compares plain water with soap water. An experiment pits the solutions against each other by dipping a dirt covered cloth in both. A picture shows the results and the reader cannot deny the cleaning power of soap. The subsequent chapters focus on important procedures for washing different garments and dealing with certain types of stains. By including helpful and nuisance advice, the author gains the reader’s allegiance. Coupling scientific experiments with good advice, the book works to inform and persuade at the same time. The evidence and knowledge the book provides, proves beneficial to anyone that does laundry.

All in all, this book illuminates upon the education that my great grandmother may have received. As washing machines revolutionized the laundry business, many housewives learned unfamiliar and new techniques that their parents had no experience with. Confined to her home as a housewife during the 1930s, my relative may have learned to do laundry from a source similar to “The Modern Home Laundry”. This book shows a glimpse into how she managed to learn the new ways to do old things.