Laundry sink

Sexual division of labour

The work of cleaning and maintaining the family clothing has traditionally fallen to women. Laundry could be done at home in sinks like this one, or in buckets, bowls or other containers; or also outdoors, in rivers, pools, irrigation channels or wash houses.

In wealthy families, laundry-related tasks fell to female servants or professional washerwomen were used. The difficult trade of laundress developed particularly in urban environments. They would collect the dirty clothes from various families and bring them back clean a few days later.

The introduction of the household electric washing machine was viewed as a real revolution in the domestic work assigned to women. Today, our society is still hampered by the fact that women are responsible for the majority of the household chores, with Spanish women devoting an average of double or triple the time of men to such tasks. Within this context, unfortunately, some advertisements for cleaning products continue to feature women as their main protagonist, perpetuating received gender roles.