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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laundry Tip: Refrigerate

You can buy this from eBay. ----->

I washed a load of clothes yesterday that I wanted to hang on the line for two reasons:
1) I don't dry socks and panties in the dryer
2) I wanted the deodorizing action of the sun.

Only the load of towels and a few other things would fit because I have one line, strung by me from the house to a pole near the fence.

Since it has been in the high 90s and with high humidity, I knew the load inside would sour/mold/mildew/smell musty. I remembered what we did with certain laundered pieces pre-ac, in Jackson, MS, in the early 1950s. We put things in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped. So, I did the same with the articles I had to hang today, about 1.5 gallons if we accounted for laundry by gallons.

You can dump it in a bowl and cover. You just don't want to add that moisture to your refrigerator, dry the clothing, or get odors in the clothing. Put it in a garbage bag, store bag, any perfectly clean container will work.

Now, to answer your burning question of why my mother refrigerated laundry~~

When a white shirt or another garment that needed starching and ironing did not get ironed after it was dampened, we had a method back then. Wash, starch, and line dry the shirt. When it was time to iron, just use a Coke bottle sprinkler and moisten the clothing. Let it sit in a wad in the refrigerator all wrapped up in plastic for a while so the moisture would sort of permeate the starched garment. Then, the heat of the iron would spread the moisture to the rest of the garment as you ironed.  If you had a few pieces or a lot that did not get ironed that day, we just put it in something and place in the refrigerator. Later in the day or the next day, the garment would still be moist and not "soured."

My mother had four children and a husband that made her life difficult beyond belief, so she did the best she could as far as finishing chores. Maybe you think she was slack in not doing all the ironing in one day. You have obviously never felt exhaustion like the mid-summer, scorching, humid South without ac and little rest from a man's relentless demands!

I ironed my first man's white shirt in this manner when I was seven-years-old because my mother was bedridden after have a midterm miscarriage. (That's the way they did it back then.) I was also washing every dish in the house, even the heavy cast iron. The shirt I ironed was probably hung on the line to dry by me. I had to jump to catch the clothesline with one hand while I held a piece of clothing in the other. Somehow, I never felt put-upon by all I did. I was not so willing to be helpful as a teen, but still did lots.

Maybe they had steam irons back then, but we did not. I still prefer a dry iron and not one with holes in the plate! Plus, the picture is just all was a Coke bottle!

The next time it is mid-summer and it rains or you have clothes in the washer that will be "off" the next day, put them in a pot with lid...yes, I have done that or put them in a plastic bag and just stuff the bag on top of the upper shelf or the one with the most space.  Oh, I use a porcelain pot not cast iron.

Share your experience with refrigerating clothing, if you will
Did you ever starch and iron clothing, using the Coke bottle  and the shaker top to moisten for ironing. Did you refrigerate clothing when wet?


  1. I had never heard of this so thank you for sharing it. I am like you, I actually prefer to not use the steam setting on my iron. I literally just don't fill it up and prefer to just spray from a spray bottle. I never starch clothing but when I was very young I loved ironing my dads shirts. I still like to iron because its very meditative to me.

  2. I never starch clothing now, either. This was what we did in the 1950s--the good old days. NOT!

  3. My mother had a big plastic bag with a zipper (sort of like the bag a comforter comes in these days) Moma would sprinkle the clothing, roll them up and put them into that plastic bag and put it in the freezer. When she was ready to iron she would take 3 or 4 out of the freezer. They would thaw out in just a minute or two. I believe the problem with clothes "souring" is more of a concern in the humid south. (My mom was raised in Arkansas.}

    I do still starch certain items, usually things like bed skirts and duvet covers. Don't you just love the smell and feel of newly laundered sheets that have been hung on the clothesline?

    Add me to the list of people who like to iron!

  4. Janet,
    Where did you live?
    We lived in Jackson, MS, so it was hot, humid, and we had no ac. I never heard of putting them in the freezer, but it sounds like a good idea for storing them.

    I will iron, but make sure nothing needs it. I don't like to iron, but I don't hate it or refuse to iron.


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