International Laundry Day

How many of you knew that today is International Laundry Day? I certainly didn’t.

In the mid-1800s a man called Emmett Lee Dickinson established April 15th as National Laundry Day. Dickinson had invented the laundry basket on wheels and wherever he went he urged others to join his crusade for national cleanliness.

I remember laundry day when I was a boy. Monday was traditionally washing day but in the days before automatic washing machines this meant hand washing and firing up a gas boiler and two or three loads of washing to manage. No spin drier either so wet clothes had to be put through the mangle to get rid of the excess water and then without tumble driers, hung out on the line to dry. Getting clothes dry was fairly straightforward on fine days but was a real problem if it was raining or in the winter when linen and clothes were hung around the house and in front of the open fire in a race against time to get them aired.

I have been looking for a good story about laundry and I have chosen this one…

During the troubles in Northern Ireland the British Army needed to determine who was making the bombs and where they were being manufactured. One military advisor recommended that they operate a laundry.

The plan was simple. The laundry would send out “colour-coded” special discount tickets: “get two loads for the price of one.” The color-coding was matched to specific streets and when someone brought in their laundry it was easy to determine the general location.

While the laundry was being washed an additional cycle was added. Every item was sent through a process that was disguised as just another piece of laundry equipment that checked for bomb-making residue.

Within a few weeks multiple positives of bomb residue had shown up. To narrow their target list, the laundry simply sent out more specific numbered coupons to all houses in the suspected area and before long they had a list of addresses. The army swooped down on the homes and arrested the suspects and confiscated numerous assembled bombs, weapons and bomb making ingredients

42 responses to “International Laundry Day

  1. Interesting story . . . I’m never using coupons again.


  2. Great story. I need to go start a load of laundry.


  3. Heavens to Betsy! That’s a good one 🙂 🙂 Love the Header too!


  4. By the look at it you must be very good at laundries ::)


  5. Oh I like that piece of trivia; going to store that one and save it for when the pubs have reopened!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Friday is my hoovering the ground floor day but we don’t usually bother having posters printed. Perhaps we should !


  7. This can’t be true … can it? It’s not April 1st, is it? No it’s International Laundry Day, it can’t be!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A fascinating story. Your description of your laundry day memories mirrors mine, except that we only had one set of school clothes which had to be washed daily and dried overnight – by Mum, of course


  9. great to learn, and I will probably plan not to celebrate )

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh i was clueless! thanks for sharing this.
    I just did the first batch of today`s laundry so I gladly celebrate it.:-)


  11. Seriously? Wow! My girlfriend was a young unarmed woman in the British army posted to Northern Ireland. She said there were all manner of things hidden by the older “grannies” in the freezer compartment of the household fridge. Not that I imagine they needed to be as large as the fridges we have in Australia. But they could still secrete an amazing amount of … well, I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps.


  12. Is this really a true story or apocryphal? I can hardly believe it.


  13. Well, what a fascinating account….


  14. Come rain or shine Monday was always Mother’s washing day.
    We used to sing the rhyme Rain Rain Go Away come again on washing day.
    I wonder why?

    I loved the story, what a great idea.


  15. Oh, I remember those old fashioned wash days with mangles and so on. We had pulleys which hung the washing at ceiling level and a thing called a Flatley, a sort of heated cabinet. Thank goodness for all today’s mod cons.


  16. It hardly seems fair, Andrew, using your laundry against you. 🙂 Peggy just did the laundry. Darn, she missed International Day. –Curt


  17. I didn’t know there was a day for laundry too. Very interesting.


  18. Pingback: The week gone by — April 18 – A Silly Place

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