The museum displays more than 640 laundry irons, mostly rare and some unique. There are also more than 50 rare washing machines and mangles dating back to the 1800`s – some claimed to be the only remaining examples in the world.
Owner Jan Ellis had always had a passion for antiques and when a fellow classic car enthusiast told him about a collection of irons for sale in Kleinmond, he purchased this collection in 1976, before another interested party could take it all overseas. Even as a hobbyist collector, Jan always wanted to share his ever growing stockpile with the world and started to exhibit them at the back of his industrial laundry in Hartenbos.
With the death of his daughter, Janine Verburgt, Jan decided to turn this bevy of irons and washing implements into a proper museum in memory of his daughter. The museum was renamed the Janine Was & Strykmuseum or the Janine Iron & Washing Museum.
Obvious that this is a matter of the heart for Jan. On entry, visitors can watch a 20 minute video about the history of laundry through the ages from where they can immerse themselves in the more than 640 irons on display as well as washing machines and implements. Some of the items in the collection are the only remaining examples of their kind.
There is evidence that ironing has been part of our existence since the 8th century with ‘cold ironing’ been done with flat stones and the ‘pan iron’ invented by the Chinese in the same century. Before steam and electricity irons were a work of art with a different implement to iron pleats or ruffles, irons with slots to get around buttons, curved irons for hats and decorative ornaments.
It is a museum well worth visiting, not only for its uniqueness, but in appreciation of the evolution of one of the most menial of household chores.