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The history of laundering

Posted on Apr 12, 2019

In a time of technology and efficiency, it can be difficult to understand how everything was done before the introduction of the internet, telephones and even electricity. However, clothing and linen has been laundered, dried and ironed in homes and commercially since the 18th century. In celebration of National Laundry Day, 15 April, we have taken a look back at the history of laundering.

The history of laundering - News - CLEAN Services

The very first washing machine was invented in 1782 by a Brit called H. Sidgier. Existing of just a barrel and cranking rod, the hand-powered machined enabled clothing to be washed and led to further inventions, including the hand-cranked dryer by Frenchman Ponchon. However, it wasn’t until 1908 that the first mass-marketed electric washing machine, named Thor, was released for household use.

The art of commercial dry-cleaning was developed and patented by Thomas L. Jennings in 1821, who was the first African-American inventor to receive a patent. Originally known as ‘dry scouring’, the process of cleaning textiles using a chemical solvent other than water is still widely used across the industry today.

The invention of dry cleaning was closely followed by the patenting of the first ironing board, which was created in 1858 by William Vanderburg and James Harvey.

Since we were founded in 1886, our mission has been to provide everyday excellence to both our customers and our employees. From our award-winning sustainability initiatives to our state-of-the-art laundries, we have been at the forefront of the industry for over 130 years.

Our seven favourite laundry facts:

  1. Emmett Lee Dickinson, self-proclaimed advocate for clean clothes and inventor of the laundry basket on wheels named 15 April, National Laundry Day.
  2. The largest outdoor laundry, Dhobi Ghat, is located in Mumbai, India.
  3. The term ‘laundry bag’ is also known as a parachute and is widely used phrase by the United States Air Force.
  4. An average of 285,000 pounds of laundry is washed in a single day at Walt Disney World, with nearly 32,000 garments dry cleaned. That’s a lot of character outfits.
  5. An old school domestic washing machine used close to 50 gallons of water per wash. Now, household machines use on average 13 gallons.
  6. Astronauts incinerate their linen and clothing by releasing them into outer space. With no washing machines onboard, clothing is usually worn a week before being removed from the shuttle.
  7. The first laundrette in Britain, Central Wash in London, didn’t open until 9 May 1949.

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Winner of The Green Apple Award Winner of ‘Most Innovative Company’ 2017 at the Laundry And Drycleaning Awards (LADAs) recognising companies, individuals, services and products that showcase a new level of customer service and professionalism within the industry. Awarded the ‘Sustainable Supplier’ title at the 2017 Footprint Awards; recognising organisations at every stage in the food supply chain from growers, producers, manufacturers and distributors, through to all hospitality and foodservice operators in both public and private sectors, their suppliers and other stakeholders. CLEAN has joined the list of inspirational British companies to feature as a 2016 finalist in the Amazon Growing Business Awards 2016: shortlist in the 'Company of the Year – Larger Firm category'. Winner of ‘Commercial Laundry of the Year’ 2016 at the Laundry And Drycleaning Awards (LADAs) recognising companies, individuals, services and products that showcase a new level of customer service and professionalism within the industry. RoSPA Gold Merit Award (achieving Gold Standard for a 5th consecutive year). Recognised internationally, the RoSPA Awards have become one of the most sought after accolades for many organisations from every industry sector.