Amy of A Day in 1862 found a a receipt for washing clothes in a scrap book and copied it for us. It's titled "Warshing Clothes" and it begins...
"Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.
Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.
Sort things, make 3 piles:..."
Do read the rest...you sure get an interesting sense of what it was like to wash clothes, and to reflect on it afterwards.
Photo: Girls in a tenement on laundry day. An advertisement for Kirkman's Borax soap, a replacement for homemade lye soap. Image courtesy The Library of Congress; LC-USZ62-59211.