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HOUSEKEEPERS ' CHAT Thursday, March 10, 1938 


the Bureau of Home Economics, United States Department of Agriculture. Bulletin 
available, 1^97-R* "Methods and Equipment for Home Laundering." 

— 00O00 — 

My cousin once brought us an amusing little salt shaker from Europe. 
The directions for using it were carefully translated into English, and said, 
"If not handled with hand, s wet, it will fonction blameless." 

You would think there was no possible connection between a salt shaker 
and a washing machine, but every time I go down in the basement to the laundry 
I am reminded involuntarily of these quaint instructions. "If not handled with 
hands wet," electric appliances, as well as salt shakers, function blamelessly, 
and, what's very important, they are much safer . 

With proper insulation of a washing machine or ironer or other electric 
laundry appliance, however, we need not worry too much about having wet hands, 
although it ' s a good precaution to dry them before touching the switch that 
controls the current. For that matter, wet feet are as undesirable as wet 
hands. A rubber mat or low wooden platform that raises the washing machine 
and the worker above a damp cement laundry floor is safer as well as more 

The best manufacturers of electric equipment are on the lookout for 
safety. They have put good materials into their machines and have put them 
together durably. They have insulated them well — the cords, motors, and 
other parts through which current passes. They have provided vo.rious automatic 
releases for parts that might catch and injure the operator's hands or clothing. 
They have seen to it that their machines have no sharp edges of motal on which 
either clothing or fingers might be torn and that moving parts like gears or 
belts, are enclosed. A buyer, then, should look for those safety features 
before purchasing. 

They are all mentioned in a publication I have here before me,- a newly 
revised edition of Farmers' Bulletin 1U97-F, called "Methods and Equipment for 
Home Laundering," by the Bureau of Home Economics of the U. S. Department of 
Agriculture. (As long as the free supply lasts, you can get a copy for your- 
self by writing to the Department.) 

Electricity is a great help in the laundry when power washing machines, 
ironer s, and electric irons take much of the drudgery out of the necessary 
weekly washing job. And it is perfectly safe to use it, if the appliances 
chosen are properly made and intelligently cared for. But in selecting a 
particular machine, be sure it has the safety devices that come on the well- 
made equipment . 

f R-EG 

- 2 - 


Here's what it says in this "bulletin on the point I started with — 
wet hands, and proper insulation: 

"The insulation of an electric washing machine is important to safety. 
The outside of the machine must "be electrically separated or insulated from any 
and all of the electrical connections. Otherwise the current will tend to leak 
off to the ground through the body of the machine and give d isagreeable and 
oven dan ge rous shocks to anyone touching the framework or tub while the current 
is on. This is especially dangerous for the operator since her hands are ofte n 
wet and water is a good conductor of electricity . All wires or terminal con- 
nections that might make possible contact with the metal of the main body of 
the machine must be well insulated. The wires themselves should be of the 
"best quality, wrapped with good insulating material and encased in a thick, 
flexible rubber tubing to keep water from making the electrical connection 
between the two wires and causing short circuits." 

The bulletin also says: "The connections and wire should be guaranteed 
for a specified time," and suggests that users frequently inspect the condition 
of their electric appliance cords. 

Any kind of machinery that is electrically operated is controlled by a 
switch. Such switches should be convenient and easy to locate to turn off the 
power when safety requires it. 

Safety devices are especially needed on power wringers, to prevent the 
fingers or clothing of the operator from being caught in the rollers. Some 
wringers have a safety feed device, and most have some provision for releasing 
the pressure control of the rollers. 

The chief safety device connected with a centrifugal drier (sometimes 
called an "extractor" or "spinner drier") is a mechanism that makes it impossi- 
ble to remove the cover until the extractor stops spinning. It's a good rule 
anyway, in using all electric laundry equipment, always to stop the motor and 
turn off the current before making any adjustment or oiling the machine. 

Ironing machines have an emergency lever that will instantly stop the 
machine and make the heated shoe spring back from the roll at a touch. Good 
ironing machines always have their surfaces electrically insulated from the 
heating element to prevent danger of shock to the operator. The machine should 
have a guarantee that it is shock-proof and that the electrical insulation will 
not deteriorate quickly. Automatic control of the temperature to give high, 
medium, and low heat, makes it possible to adjust an ironer to the fabric being 
ironed, and adds greatly to the safety of the machine. A few machines now pro- 
vide two thermostatic switches or controls so either end can be heated inde- 

While these devices I have described are points to note in purchasing 
new electric equipment, there are several other safety measures mentioned in 
the bulletin, such as having the ironing board sot firmly on the floor, and 
protecting one end of it by a piece of metal. A thermostat and an automatic 
switch on a hand iron are valuable from the point of view of safety as well as 
convenience; and good light is always important, wherever one works.