Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday is Wash Day in Amish Country

Notice the deer hiding behind the bush ;)

It wasn’t long ago that every woman knew the saying:

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day

Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day

Saturday: Baking Day

Sunday: Day of Rest

I’m not saying Laura Ingalls Wilder knew this; my mother and other ladies said it when I was a kid running around the neighborhood in the 1960’s. But when I go to Amish country, I do see more laundry hung on Mondays.

I asked my friend, Barb, mother of nine, how she washes her clothes. She said they use boiling water in a large pot and “swoosh” the clothes around. I immediately thought of my grandma who came from rural Italy. She washed clothes the same way, and when she got a ringer washer, it was her emancipation day.

Most Amish use ringer washer, powered by a generator. But as I sat in Barb’s house asking her about laundry day, she was very relaxed. Her teenage daughters were boiling water to wash dishes. They added to the conversation, since they did a lot of the washing. Once again, I’m taken back. They have such willingness and cheerfulness about work. I know women who are still washing their college age “kids” clothes.

So, when you go into Amish country and see the lines of laundry, don’t think there’s one tired Amish mom in there doing it all. It’s a group activity and by the responses of other Amish women, something they enjoy. They do admit they don’t like hanging clothes in the winter. Yes, they hang them year round. The clothes are literally ‘freeze-dried”.

Another thing that amazes me is how clean they keep their clothes. When Amish men worked on our house, I have to admit, I didn’t drive them home unless all the windows were down. The odor of “hard work” was upon them, and I couldn’t breathe. But these same clothes were worn again and they smelled zestfully clean. I give Amish women of all ages a lot of credit for taking care of the men’s work clothes.
Many Amish use their front porches to hang laundry.
Pulleys are attached to trees.

My friend's house has more than one pulley. Click picture for better view.


  1. Thank you for sharing. Love the pictures of the laundry on the lines. Some how it brings me peace, God works in ways we don't understand.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment, Mary Ann. I think laundry drying outside get's us back to nature. Clean clothes don't come out of a machine, but fresh air. Just like eggs come from a chicken coop, not the grocery store.

  2. Karen, I loved reading this article and seeing the pictures that I'm so familiar with. I'm 2 hours from Shipshewana, Indiana, and wash day there can be just about any day, and it's such a treat to see those beautiful colored dresses blowing in the wind. Thanks for sharing your pictures and your story with us!
    Grand Rapids, Michigan

    1. Thank for stopping by Nancee. Have you read any Amish fiction by Vannetta Chapman? It's set in Shipshewana. Falling to Pieces and A Perfect Square. Recommended. ;)

  3. What a great post Karen! I love driving around Amish country side and seeing the dresses and the Quilts on the line!
    I have noticed here in Ontario that many of the lines use an old car rim attached at the far end of the line! I chuckled the first time I saw it and thought my goodness they are inventive!

  4. Great article, Karen! We hung clothes on the line while I was growing up. Washing machine though. My neighbors had a wringer washer when I was a child as did one of my aunts. We hung clothes in the basement in winter (upper peninsula of MI). My sister and I hung the clothes together. We'd chat about stuff. I felt like a "big girl" to do with my older sis, lol! I have always heard the Germans were very consistent with these divisions of work days. Since many Amish spent time in the Palatinate (part of modern day Germany) I wonder if that influenced or if the Swiss have similar patterns. However, when you live in a more simplistic lifestyle, such as colonial times also, there are good reasons for clumping activities together on certain days. Whew, long comment!

    1. Hi Carrie ;) Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment ;) Some people are getting back to hanging up clothes for the fun of it. TO EACH THERI OWN! I love my dryer ;)

  5. Thursday was market day? I thought it was churn on Thursday. Guess market was the alternative if there was nothing to churn.