M Is For Mattolaituri.


Mattolaituri can be translated as carpet-washing pier. It is a tradition in Finland to wash carpets, especially the ubiquitous rag rugs in lakes, rivers or the sea, usually with tall oil soap, in the summer.

The practice is a bit controversial as the detergents are water pollutants. Myself, I’ve washed my carpets on the floor of the laundry room in my apartment building, but I as a kid I was often with my mom or grandma when they were washing carpets in a river.

In the bonus picture, a carpet press and beams for letting the carpets dry can be seen. The press cuts the drying time significantly.

Tall oil is a by-product of chemical pulping, along with turpentine. Tall is Swedish for pine. In the dominant kraft pulp process, the non-volatile resin and fatty acids of wood (especially pine or birch) form crude tall oil soap with the cooking chemicals (white liquor) and the soaps can be separated from the spent cooking liquor (black liquor), purified and the fatty acids used for making soap.

Click for full size!

© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved.


  1. Ice Swimmer says

    Caine @ 1

    I’m not sure if “carpet press” is an official translation for mattomankeli (matto = carpet, rug or mat; mankeli = mangle). I just tried to come up with something concise and descriptive enough. I think the carpet press wasn’t as common in the past as it is now. I vaguely remember that one way to get excess water off was while rolling the washed and rinsed carpet on the jetty, stomping on it barefoot after each rotation.

  2. says

    I love the idea of a public carpet press.
    Interestingly, a Mangel (f.)* in German is used to get big stuff like sheets flat after drying.

    *die Mangel: big pressure machine to flatten sheets
    der Mangel: lack of something

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    Giliell @ 3

    Not that surprisingly, mankeli by itself is just the same in Finnish. However, the word is often used, at least colloquially for any press which has rollers in it. For example at a paper mill the belt filter press for waste water treatment plant sludge may be called paskamankeli (shit mangle).

  4. jazzlet says

    Oooh I love this. I could do with access to a carpet press, it took ages, over a week, to dry my big rug when I washed it.

    I used to help my grandmother mangle her sheets when I was little. It was very effective at getting water out and if you folded the sheets carefully it ironed them at the same time. I loved doing it. I would like a mangle to use on my washing now, it certainly got laundry dryer than any machine I’ve owned.You did have to be careful if a garment had buttons that you didn’t snap them, you had to fold the garment round them so they were protected..

Leave a Reply