Today a sweet blackbird was serenading me as I was hanging my clothes out on this warm, sunny, (rare) wind-less day.Â I was enjoying the music, the sunshine and enjoyed watching the clothes hanging on the line and started to think (a dangerous hobby, as my husband claims) about other times of hanging out clothes.
When I was young (many, many years ago), diapers were made of cloth, not plastic and paper.Â At that time, it was a daily chore to wash them for reuse (youngsters, diapers CAN be reused, not thrown away!).
I had two daughters that were both in diapers so my daily chore was doubled.Â As you know, diapers can become stained with the â€œstuffâ€ that comes out of even the cutest little one, and itâ€™s hard to get that brown stain out of white material.
We lived, at that time, in Australia, where dryers were a luxury, not a necessity; so everyone hung their clothes outside unless it was raining (not much snow where we lived).Â When it rained, you could either use a drying closet (a metal box with racks in it and an electric heater on the bottom to help dry the clothes faster) or you could use a clothes rack in the house.Â We had a gas fireplace to heat the house so we hung our clothes near that to assist the speed of drying in the rain.
Women prided themselves on their white whites when hanging clothes on the line. And I was no exception.Â I wanted to be proud of my whites but was struggling with those stained diapers.
Now, on a side note, the Australian women used terry cloth for diapers (called â€œnapkinsâ€ or â€œnappiesâ€ there).Â When I first saw a baby â€“ a newborn, yet, wrapped in a huge terrycloth nappie, I thought the mother had run out of diapers and was using a dishtowel as a substitute.Â I had brought a lot of diapers with me when we moved to Australia, as I had one child at that time and was hoping to have a second one while there.Â However, the diapers started wearing out and I was desperate for more.Â But I refused to put my child in â€œdishtowels,â€ no matter what the general public thought about them!
The diapers in the US were of nice soft cotton but I couldnâ€™t find anything similar in Australia.Â I considered having my mother send some â€œrealâ€ diapers from home but they would have cost too much in shipping to be worthwhile.Â So I found some nice heavy white flannel material, cut and hemmed it to diaper size and was happy as a clam.Â These (and replacements along the way) made great diapers (although I finally learned to call them â€œnappiesâ€) for my two girls.
But still, I needed to find a way to get them WHITE.Â When we first moved to Australia, we purchased a used washing machine that had the agitator in one small tub that would hold up to one sheet and the spinner in the other tub.Â I would wash a load of white clothes, move them to the spinner and spin them out, put them into a laundry tub and wash a load of dark clothes with the same water, spin THEM out and put THEM into a tub.Â Then I would change the wash water and rinse the whites, spin them out and hang them up; put the colored in and rinse them, spin them out and hang THEM up.Â If I had heavier, dirtier clothes, I would use the rinse water for them and perhaps wash them twice.Â It worked well but as I got heavier into pregnancy, it became harder for me to do the moving from tub to tub, especially with the dripping wet clothes that had to be spun out.
We saved our money and paid over three hundred dollars (!!) for a semi-automatic washer â€“ the automatic ones that were very, very luxurious were over twice that price.
We put the semi-automatic washer in the bathroom.Â (Another side note â€“ the bathroom had only a sink and bathtub and separate shower; the toilet, the â€œlooâ€ â€“ â€œwater closetâ€ â€œwcâ€ was in a separate room!)Â The machine was the size of most automatic washers we have today.Â We ran cold water into the tub of the washer with a hose from the sink.Â I put the clothes and soap in and set the time for agitating up to an hour at a time.Â It had a suds-saving / water-saving ability so the soapy out-going water would be spun out into the bathtub to be saved for the next load of clothes.Â The rinse water could be put in and the clothes could be spun dry for hanging out.Â The soapy water could then be sucked back into the machine and reused for the next batch of clothes.
The machine also had a heater so you could heat the water before agitating, if you wanted warm or hot water for washing.
My plan for those stained diapers, then, was simple.Â A pre-soak of cold water, bleach and soap, a bit of agitation, then heat added.Â The diapers could cook / boil for up to an hour, depending on how long I felt they needed it.Â Then that was spun out and I re-washed them with warm / hot water and soap and rinsed with cold water.
The diapers sparkled in the sunshine!Â I had, indeed, the whitest diapers on the block!
Well, to be truly honest, they were the ONLY diapers on the block!Â My neighbors had either grown children or no children.Â But *I* was proud of them, to be sure!