Wash the clothes, mulatto | Trips

  • By:karen-millen



The tango that was our first protest song, puts the washerwoman in her rightful place. But the brunettes of that time celebrated the premiere of their freedom more than the expectation of authentic equality. That was left for later... and they are still waiting.Do the laundry, mulatto | Trips Do the laundry, mulatto | Trips

To the brunettes add the widows. What was the widow who was not allowed to study or prepare to work in something else going to feed her children? I mean, in the event that he could resist prostitution, a trade that in circumstances like these, must be respected as one of the most noble. Piecework cleaner, seamstress at best. Sad life of the poor woman, who wasted no time in useless complaints and enjoyed the little that life gave her.

Although still insufficient, there was a lot of social progress in the 20th century (because look, solidarity was not invented now, nor does it have a political color), but there was always a romantic look towards washerwomen, until the devilish machines took them away the job.

Take a break with this formidable tango-milonga sung by Raúl Berón accompanying Miguel Caló's impeccable orchestra, before introducing you to this new journey into the past by Alberto Moroy. And don't be too caustic with these things, well, if you In other latitudes, washerwomen and their offspring were condemned for life to shameful poverty. In our little liberal country, conditions were being created for their children to go to school, high school, and university. Of course, it would not hurt for those now exalted to remember what their mother and the Uruguayan legislation did for them.

The art of washing clothes 1850-1950

By Alberto Moroy

As for the clothes, I wash clothes / for the lord and the mistress / I dip them in river water / and I take them out clean. To have the first-class clothes / give it to this black girl / who is the best laundress. / She washes that she washes, this brunette on the river bank / washes her clothes happily, freedom has been born! With these stanzas attributed to the "free" washerwomen in the mid-19th century, as they went to their wells on the coast of the Rio de la Plata, we begin today's Journey. We will see the "paraphernalia" of appliances for washing clothes and also great videos that will surprise you in relation to what handle washing machines were like, even with an internal combustion engine, since the first electric one emerged in 1910 In Montevideo, the first non-automatic electric ones They appeared en masse at the end of 1950. And the automatic ones timidly around the year 1958. However, to "get in the mood", I leave you with an advertising video for Merusa washing machines, which also added a centrifuging bin, and with another one I washed the dishes! Ancient Uruguay: The Modern Woman, A MUST-SEE!

On the boats

For centuries, people on sea voyages would do their laundry by placing the dirty clothes in a strong cloth bag, and toss it overboard, letting the ship drag the bag for hours. Women of all classes tried to find ways to get relief from doing laundry. The wealthy classes used their slaves and later his daughters as laundresses A Rio de la Plata traveler

Many of the laundresses are seen giving themselves up to their habitual work on the river bank, three or four days after giving birth, having the creatures lying on a cold piece of leather, close to them, on the damp ground . Can anyone wonder that because of this they catch cold and die? The same author, in another paragraph of his work, says: "Almost all washerwomen are free blacks or mulattoes."

Do the laundry, mulatto | Travel

Some details of the upper classes

Until the 18th century, even in wealthy homes, laundry was done every four to six weeks. The bad smell of clothes was alleviated with perfumes and colognes, this did not mean dirt, neglect or lack of hygiene, since the socially upper classes had enough clothes to be able to change as often as they wanted. The soap was made from animal fat and boiled with lye and they scrubbed and rubbed the garments on a board. White clothes and indigo were also added to white clothes. To preserve the fabrics and their colors, they used, for example, salt for wool and to maintain the blue color, and alum or vinegar for dark greens. Sheets and bedding were soaked in warm water and a little soda, then left to soak overnight. Greasy clothing was soaked in a solution of half a pound of quicklime to every gallon of water. Clothes stained with candle wax and lamp oil were cleaned with turpentine mixed with fuller's earth. Ink was removed with lemon juice, and fruit stains with hot milk. For bedding, aprons, collars and men's shirts, potato starch or rice flour was used, and ruffled garments were submerged in water over low heat in a kind of gelatin formed by a mixture of starch, melted borax and diluted wax.

.Guild of laundresses in Spain

Those who could afford it hired laundresses or sent laundry away from home. This is how the guild of laundresses arose, famous for their physical strength and their foul language, who animated the public laundries of towns and cities. The laundries were next to running water channels, which were channeled through large pipes and heated by bonfires.

.On Ramírez beach

.The name of this derives, in turn, from the patronymic of José Ramírez Pérez from Seville, who installed his saladero in the area delimited today by Tacuarembó, San Salvador, Minas and Isla de Flores streets, whose facilities operated until 1883 . According to Ricardo Goldaracena, in 1841 he had forty-eight black slaves working in said establishment. Hence the name of the nearby beach, which, however, had also been known as "Playa de la Estanzuela" although covering a much longer stretch, between the mouth of the Médanos stream - in the vicinity of which the small beach of Santa Ana stretched, later covered by the current Rambla Costanera and the Estanzuela stream, which was later drained to build the Parque Rodó Lake. But, likewise, the shoreline of the Estanzuela stream had been a frequentation place for washerwomen from the city since the last decade of the 18th century,

Estanzuela 1897 Rodo Park 1910/ Washerwomen of the Miguelete stream (?)

.From Pocitos to Malvín

Pocitos comes from the time before the creation, since the washerwomen took advantage of the crystalline waters of the springs, and went to wash their clothes making “little pools” on the coast. In turn, at the end of Benito Blanco street, passing Pagola, a small wooden bridge, -commonly known as "Frog Bridge" (because of the "La Rana" store located at its head) allowed the walker to cross the stream . From where 26 de Marzo street today crosses between La Gaceta and Lorenzo Pérez, a stream primarily called “de Silva” ran towards the Río de la Plata and sometimes closed off the mouth of the Río de la Plata with its bar. Attracted by the clean waters of the stream, the washerwomen attended. The stream was then renamed as "de los Pocitos"

Arroyo de los Pocitos


In November 1896, Don Francisco Piria, to whom we owe the foundation of at least 60 of the current one hundred and some neighborhoods in Montevideo, established a new one beyond the Buceo beach. He gave it the name of "Lavaderos del Este", and his object was to establish there the washerwomen who were displaced from the "Pocitos". Pocitos had grown at that time as a seaside resort and the Municipality, under the pretext of hygiene, placed a series of restrictions on the washerwomen who carried out their modest trade in the stream. All of which gave rise to separate protests on the part of that numerous union of workers, who ultimately, and in fact, should have moved further east. The purchasers of the land obtained an additional right, which consisted of the possibility of washing, free of charge and in perpetuity, in the Malvín lagoon, a tributary of the stream of the same name, located in the center of that area and currently disappeared due to works of urbanization and paving. (The neighborhoods of Montevide, Goldaracena)

Malvin Creek

Google Earth location 34°53’13″S 56°6’20″W

A couple of times a week, the washerwomen went to the Old City with their clothes, washed and ironed, and returned with a good load that would have the same destination. This transit, they say, was very significant for the neighborhood that little by little was establishing itself as such. The rich and coveted lagoon dried up and the washerwomen had to build pools and cisterns to continue their work. By then, their children were running and playing on the beach and the neighborhood was gaining strength. Among the first families of washerwomen are remembered the Trías, the Bañasco, the Colombo and the Torterolo who, with the passing of the years, will remain rooted in the neighborhood.



.In Buenos Aires

The Washerwomen were mostly black slaves, who were all day on the banks of the river, in the hottest summers and in the coldest winters. It was common to hear their laughter and songs, as well as their discussions and even fights over the place, since they took advantage of the wells that were formed in the clay of the land, forming natural depressions with river water that served their purposes very well, in addition After washing clothes, it was necessary to starch them, especially petticoats and aprons, for when visitors were received. Clothes for personal use and bedding and hygiene deteriorated a lot, due to the method used to wash them, since the soaps used were made based on bleaches that weakened, when they did not eat away, the fibers of the fabrics, together with the complementary beating, which was done in the rough river, to remove excess soap from them. By 1900, due to European migration, the colored washerwomen were replaced by Italians and Spanish, although there were all nationalities. With the plagues, the prohibition of washing in the river arose and thus washing huts arose (see photo exit of the washerwomen).

.In the river

In the river, on Balcarce street Buenos AiresSalida de las lavanderas Buenos Aires

The transition in the USA 1880

The first washing machines

The first mechanical washing machine was patented in England in 1691, and the first combination washer/dryer appeared in Canada in 1843. Early manual washing machines imitated the movement of a human hand on the washboard, using using a lever to move one curved surface over another and rubbing clothing between two ribbed surfaces. This type of washing machine was patented in the United States in 1846 and survived as late as 1927 in the Montgomery Ward catalog.

Washing Machine Museum

Washing Machine Museum quick tour

Washing Machine Museum quick tour

.In 1908, the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago, in the United States, put on sale the first electric washing machine, the Thor, invented in 1901 by the American engineer Alva J. Fisher. In the first washing machines, electric motors were used. 1cv of power and its electric motor was cooled by a fan to avoid overheating, including a small motor to rotate the drum and prevent it from clumping. It was not until 1911 when its diffusion was massive thanks to the Whirpool company, a pioneer in producing cheaper electric washing machines.

Explosion engine – 1917


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