MAJOR GRAHAM RECORDED 175 WASHERMEN [Op. cit., p.
116.] in Kolhapur town. Dr. Balkrishna in his survey [Op. cit.,
pages 4, 28, 34 and 43.] in 1926 recorded 25 establishments of
dhobis or washermen. A total of 31 employees was employed in
them, The average working hours in these establishments were 12½ per
day. Round about 1947, there were 128 laundries [N.V. Sovani, Op.
cit, p. 205.] in the city and a total of 269 persons were engaged in
them. Of these, 52 were in C ward, 24 in D ward, 21 in B ward, 19 in
E ward, and 12 in A ward
There were 228 laundries or washing companies at the
time of our survey. These establishments were managed by employers
and paid servants. All these concerns together employed 217 members
of employers' families and 196 paid employees. Our sample contained
six concerns of different sizes. The establishments in the sample
were family concerns in which proprietors with the help of their
family members carried on the business. No paid employees were
employed in them. Washing of clothes was the principal occupation of
all these concerns, which gave employment throughout the year. They
were situated in rented premises, rent of which varied from Rs. 12
to Rs. 18 per month.
Equipment of these concerns consisted of show-cases,
cupboards, chairs, tables for ironing and ironing machines. Two
establishments had one ironing machine each, two had two each and
the remaining two had three and four each. Two laundries had one
bullock and a bullock cart each. The cost of equipment of the five
units excluding the smallest unit varied from Rs. 350 to Rs. 600.
The cost of a smallest unit without a bullock and a bullock-cart was
The working capital required for the purchase of raw
materials varied from Rs. 17 to Rs. 100 including capital required
for maintenance of bullocks. Raw materials included charcoal, wood,
bleaching powder, washing soda, soap, petrol and indigo. The cost of
raw materials of the smallest unit in the sample was Rs. 17 and of a
medium unit Rs. 52 and of the biggest Rs. 100.
The rent of these establishments varied from Rs. 12
to Rs. 20 depending upon the size of the establishment. The cost of
production including rent of premises, electric charges, municipal
licence fee, cart tax, advertisement etc. varied from Rs. 12 to Rs.
35 per month. The smallest unit in the sample spent Rs. 12 and the
biggest Rs. 35 per month on all these items.
In four out of six establishments, the necessary
initial capital was raised by the proprietors from their own
resources and the remaining two, borrowed it.
Process of washing and ironing of clothes in these
shops was as follows: -
Clothes were first collected from customers and
marked with their abbreviated names with marking ink. They were then
piled in a large shallow iron or copper vessel filled with a
solution of water and carbonate of sodium (washing soda). The more
soiled parts of clothes piled in the vessel were then soaped, and
put in a large cylindrical vessel known as bhatti, filled
with boiling water. A light floating frame was kept over the
bhatti so as to allow the steam to pass through the clothes
for a couple of hours. Next day, they were sent for washing to a
tank or a well where they were blued with indigo after being washed
and soaked in diluted rice gruel and starched. Finally they were
ironed and pressed at the shop and delivered to customers.
Of the six establishments surveyed three had a net
income of Rs. 50 to Rs. 60 per month and two Rs. 100 to Rs. 120. The
washing rate prevalent was two annas for every single piece of
None of the concerns in the sample was found to be
using modern methods of washing. Their business though brisk for
eight months in a year did not yield a large, margin of profit as it
hardly went beyond Rs. 120 per month. One establishment was reported
to be running at a loss.