Twin Tubs – Did you have one?

In the timeline of washing machines, the Hoovermatic Twin Tub is now a museum piece. Did you have one?

There’s nothing like seeing an item you once owned – an item that was thoroughly modern at the time – on display in a living history museum to make you feel old, but, if you had a shiny new twin tub back in the day, you’re officially an ancient relic!

Ancient Way to Modern Day

Twin Tub in museum

Back in the days before front-loader fully automatic washing machines became commonplace in most homes, clothes washing was done by hand, or, if you could afford it, you had a twin tub.

Another option was a single tub and a separate spin drier, but even though these semi-automatic machines had been around since the 1950s, it would be well into the 1960s before they became more affordable in the UK, and they were often rented rather than bought.

The Spring Chicken Community remember those days well:

When I got married, we rented a twin tub from Rumbelows

I had a twin tub. It was my first Christmas present as a newlywed!

My hubby bought a twin tub for me in 1969 after our son was born. It was a Hoover twin tub, and I really thought I’d gone up in the world!

My twin tub was an absolute luxury after struggling so hard for so long. My dear grandmother bought it for us – those were the days when you either put up with (or without) things, or you saved and saved.

However, much as everyone enjoys reminiscing over days gone by, not everyone misses the days of the twin tub. According to the comments posted by Facebook followers, there’s a fairly even split between looking back with fondness and looking back with a shudder!

I Love Twin Tubs!

Those who look back fondly on their twin tubs do so for a variety of reasons, but the one that crops up most is getting whiter than white whites – especially nappies.

I had a twin tub. It was hard work, but it was worth it to see my baby’s nappies coming up really well.

I loved my twin tub. Everything seemed to wash whiter.

It took all day to do a wash with my twin tub, but my whites were fantastic. I loved to see white sheets blowing on the line and I was always proud of my washing.

Twin tubs weren’t plumbed in; they were filled from the kitchen tap and then emptied out again into the sink via hoses. Some had a built-in heater, others needed to be filled with hot water, but washing tended to be done at a high temperature…

… High temperature and a bloody good thrashing. That’s the way washing machines should work!

Whites were very often washed first in boiling water, and then the water was recycled for the next load – and then the next:

Same soapy water from boiling the whites to washing the darkest of loads, and lots of rinses and spins in between. Hard work, but twin tubs did a proper job.

Good Old Days?

Those who look back on twin tubs with a shudder tend to remember the effort involved:

Washing took all day. You had to stand over it at every stage, it was hot and steamy work transferring from one tub to the other, and then the clothes had to hang in front of the fire to dry. Good old days? I don’t think so!

Then there was the mess… and the noise!

The noise of the beast; like a jet engine rumbling through the floor as it thumped and thudded the dirt out of the clothes.

I remember flooding the kitchen when the pipe slipped off the sink onto the floor!

Not Just for Clothes

If Spring Chicken Community comments are anything to go by, twin tubs were put to many good uses beyond wash day:

I remember my mum had one in the early ’60s. She’d stand me in the water to wash me. The machine wasn’t on, but the water had been heated up!

“We used to heat the water in it, then run a hose from it out to the outside loo where it dangled from the rafters to provide a hot shower!”

What an ingenious lot we were back in the day, but the last word on ingenuity goes to this Facebook follower:

I was a service engineer and I got called out to look at a twin tub that wasn’t pumping water out properly. I discovered the pump and pipework clogged up with red goo. This turned out to be strawberry jam. The owner had heated the jam mix and sugar in the drum and then pumped it out into glass jars through the drain pump – unbelievable, but true!

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4 Comments

  • I’ve lived in Canada since 1968, but lived in Britain from 1957 till then. My mother had a twin tub and our clothes and sheets were always spotless.
    As a young mother I had a (second or third-hand) twin tub well into the 80s and it was frequently an excuse to hide from my family for a few hours as I laboured over our washing. (Many houses in Canada have the laundry in the basement.) It eventually died shortly after my third child was born and we got an automatic washer (again at least second-hand) to replace it.

  • I had a Hoover Twin Tub as a wedding present in 1969.

    In 1976 I passed it on to someone as I had a Hotpoint Automatic.

  • I did my weeks washing in an hour in my Hoover twin tub. I wish I still had it. I have had several automatics, none of them washed or rinsed as well as my twin tub. The wooden posser I have washes better than an automatic. My current automativ which is Hotpoint makes holes in things due to.poorly designed paddles with rough edges on the drum.

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