How to be a perfect fifties housewife: Laundry edition

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Happy housewife with a Maytag washer in 1959

Love your laundry room

In the ’50s, the love you had for your kitchen paled only in comparison to the adoration you felt for your washer and dryer. (Don’t miss How to be a perfect fifties housewife: In the kitchen!)

The laundry adoration society

Your dryer was so efficient, you could even leave the door to outside wide open — even when it was raining — while you gingerly caressed your favorite pink appliances (featuring matching cabinetry).

The laundry adoration society - 1957


Decorating the room for extra happiness

You might even put up a mobile to make the laundry room even cheerier, given all the time you liked to spend in there. (We imagine that the mother and daughter in this photo had been standing there, snuggling the blanket, for an hour and a half when this photo was taken.)

Fifties housewife doing laundry in 1959


The perfect housewife gets dressed up for the wash

Your reverence for these household machines ought to suggest the appropriate formal attire for laundering duties.

Pink washing machine from 1955


All about that “magic minute”

It’s all so keen, you were even cool with showing off your wonderfully clean apron while Junior sat on the floor… eating a bowl of mud.

A happy housewife from 1957


Just turn it on like this!

Doing laundry in the 1950s was so simple! You only needed one hand!

Doing laundry in the 1950s was so simple!


That’s… not how it works

“Ah, yes, ma’am — I think I figured out the problem. See, you’re supposed to take the detergent out of the box.”

AMC washing machine with a free box of Tide from around 1956

A little musical accompaniment

Laundry time was all the more fun when the work was accompanied by ukulele music.

1951 Ad Westinghouse Laundromat Washing Machine


A good fifties housewife makes the laundry room comfortable for guests

When you were done pointing to the clothes, always take a seat and help yourself to a piece of fruit — all conveniently located nearby!

1950 Ad Westinghouse Laundromat Washing Machine

A stacked washer/dryer helps with housework drudgery

If you folded some towels and set them out — next to a cup of detergent — you could go relax. Fool the world into thinking you’re hard at work doing laundry.

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Housewife heaven! Doing the laundry in 1956


When washing machines make you want to dance

This fifties housewife is so happy! But let’s be honest: That dress had some serious static cling issues.

Happy housewife with a Maytag washer in 1959


This flying dress thing became quite popular, apparently.

And the kids in the foreground, dressed in all white while using their paint box? Yeah, you’re going to need to do a lot of laundry.


A washer AND dryer was twice as much fun!

The clones inspect the newfangled machinery while their original counterpart is off-camera having a martini and watching “I Love Lucy.”

Washing machines in 1955

In their ideal world, everything matches

“Look, Junior! Here’s an identical shirt I washed earlier!”

Going to do the laundry? How-to from 1955


When Myrna’s towel obsession was getting out of hand

The real reason she loved doing the laundry: the chance to caress the towels.

The real reason she loved doing the laundry


How you know you’ve been doing too much laundry

When your baby has actually come to crave fabric softener.



This sure beat the drudgery of living in black & white!

And she could finally get out of the house for once.

Doing the laundry in 1950


“No wonder that she beams so!”

Let’s face it — she looks pretty darn smug about her laundering abilities.

Laundry superiority from 1952


“So that’s what it does!”

This happy housewife looks a little surprised to see that the washing machine actually cleaned the sheets.

Surf Laundry Detergent 1957


Everyone admires having clothes that aren’t unsanitary

She’s especially happy because the wash wasn’t just clean — it was sanitary and white!

1955 Everyone admires clean clothes with Clorox

Something for everyone

Six loads of laundry per day. Perfect!

Hotpoint washer in 1959


Mansplaining, ’50s-style

“Now you fold it like I did here, and make a neat little stack. Keep them flat.”

Everyone loved to hang out in the laundry room!

What are you doing back there?

Standing behind the washing machine isn’t really the optimal scenario. (And pouring in the fabric softener without even looking? That’s not going to end well.)

Norge Dispensomat Washer 1959


>> Don’t miss! How to be a perfect fifties housewife: In the kitchen

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2 Responses

  1. You would be happy, smiling and showing off your laundry room too, if you no longer had to use an old fashioned wringer washer and hang clothes out on the line to dry.

    1. Or better yet, no longer have to hang them anywhere! Like all over the basement, or up in the attic, when the weather was vile and rainy, up to and including the “monsoon season” in some places!

      I remember one April some years back – in the Midwest – about 1995 or 1996(?) when it rained every single day, except for two of them. And even they weren’t consecutive days! Or even constantly snowy and icy for months!

      I mean really, who wants to repeatedly lug baskets of wet laundry upstairs out of the /basement, and after you’ve put on a heavy coat over your dress, gloves, a head scarf and SNOW BOOTS, then carry them outside to try and get them dry in the frigid air. But of course, they don’t dry – they just freeze solid! The water doesn’t really evaporate, it just freezes up. And then you have to eventually pull them off the line, frozen stiff, and gently “break” them up to get them in your basket so you can thaw them out and finish drying them inside.

      The only advantage is you really didn’t have to sprinkle all the items requiring ironing. Which was most of them, including all the 100% cotton sheets and pillowcases, all your dresses, your daughter’s dresses and most of her play clothes, your son’s shirts and7 pants, the old man’s shirts for work AND “play” as well as all his slacks, AND his boxers! Yep, plenty of men out there wanted their boxer shorts pressed neatly, but NO starch of course! 😜

      The really lucky wives of course, either got to SEND OUT the laundry, in which case she didn’t get to have a snazzy, colorful laundry room with all the latest gadgets and a washer-dryer pair with all the whiz-bang bells and whistles, because, well, why? Or not quite so lucky but still pampered in that all his business shirts and ties were sent out once a week to be done at the local laundry in town that did the best job, IF you got to choose between two or more. Only one meant you still had a choice – send them out, or do them all yourself! Of course in any case, his suits got sent to the Cleaners which had them all dry cleaned, and pressed with creases in all the right places in a jiffy!

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