Upon my return from the ACFW Conference this last week, I was met with a formidable amount of laundry to do. No laundry was done while I was gone, and I had all my own travel clothes to wash when I got home. I spent much of Tuesday taming the laundry beast, and I'm happy to say I was all caught up by bedtime...when we changed into jammies and suddenly I had more laundry to do. Ain't that always the way?
While I was washing, drying, folding, hanging up, and putting away, I wondered how the soldiers on the front lines of World War One got their clothes clean. So, I googled the idea. :)
Here's an excerpt from a website I found:
The health risk factors associated with poor personal hygiene were well known at the turn of the century. British forces established standards of field hygiene, appointed field sanitation officers, and published manuals on sanitation techniques-including clothing sanitation. Their pioneering efforts were a result of astronomical non-battle casualties. During the Crimean War, the English lost 21,000 soldiers to diseases. Regimental medical officers knew that clothing provided a perfect home for a persistent camp follower and disease carrier--the common louse (the "Greyback" of the Civil War and "Cootie" of World War I).
World War I marked the first real attempt to provide front line soldiers with clean clothes through laundering and sanitation. The "Cootie" problem and its inherent risk of massive nonbattle casualties, coupled with the advent of chemical warfare, jolted slow moving design and procurement activities into high gear.
French and English forces already had mobile laundries in the zone of operations and furnished many of the units first used by American Forces. The first American portable unit was completed in October 1917 by the Broadbent Portable Laundry Corporation and consisted of four trailers carrying the laundry equipment, two trailers carrying supplies, and a steam tractor as prime mover and power source. On the road, the system extended for more than 100 feet and was often associated with the arrival of Barnum and Bailey's Circus.
Laundry companies organized to operate the systems were staffed by one second lieutenant and 37 enlisted soldiers. These companies were separate organizations attached to armies, corps, or divisions based essentially on accessibility of the parent unit since the laundries needed hardstands, good roads, and considerable maneuver space.
World War I soldiers never had adequate laundry service. In 1917, General Pershing requested that every division embarking for France be assigned a mobile laundry. The first system arrived in Europe in May 1918, and three more were received in August. By Armistice Day in November, 24 units were in Europe. Capable of servicing 1,500 men per day, the units operated primarily in the rear. Most trench soldiers did not see clean uniforms until they were relieved from the front lines. This severe lack of laundry service resulted in "Cooties" living on more than 90 percent of American soldiers at the front. Following the war, mobile units were used for salvage, sanitation, and reclamation of clothing for return to storage.
You can read more about how the military dealt with laundry issues by clicking on this link: http://www.qmfound.com/services.htm
I don't mind washing and drying, or even sorting before laundry is done. The place where I get stuck is in the folding and putting away. It's so easy to take that basket of clean laundry and set it on the cedar chest at the foot of my bed, and every day, take out something to wear. Before I know it I have two or three half-filled baskets of clean clothes, and nothing in the closet. I'm making a concerted effort to get things put away right away.
How about you? What is your favorite and least favorite laundry task??