Mangle (machine)

A mangle (as it is called in the United Kingdom) or wringer (as it is called in the United States) is a mechanical laundry aid consisting of two rollers in a sturdy frame, connected by cogs and, in its home version, powered by a hand crank or electrically. While the appliance was originally used to wring water from wet laundry, today mangles are used to press or flatten sheets, tablecloths, kitchen towels, or clothing and other laundry.


The wringer mangle was invented sometime in the 18th century; it was a cheaper, simplified version of the box mangle. Box mangles were large and expensive; they were used by wealthy households and large commercial laundries. Middle-class households and small-scale washerwomen used the plain mangle. Later in the 19th century, the steam engine was harnessed to laundry purposes and commercial laundries used steam-powered mangles.

When home washing machines were first invented, they were simply a tub on legs or wheels. The hand-cranked mangle appeared on top after 1843 when John E. Turnbull of Saint John, New Brunswick patented a "Clothes Washer With Wringer Rolls.". Gradually, the electric washing machine rendered this use of a mangle obsolete, and with it the need to wring clothes mechanically. In some developed countries, home mangles for wringing wet laundry are no longer sold.

As wringing mangles disappeared, mangles for pressing gained in popularity. In the 1940s electric mangles were developed and are still a feature of many laundry rooms. They consist of a rotating padded drum which revolves against a heating element. The heating element can be stationary, or can also be a rotating drum. Laundry is fed into the turning mangle and emerges flat and pressed on the other side. This process takes much less time than ironing with the usual iron and ironing board.

Current usage

Small domestic pressing mangles may be more common in some countries than in others. They are typically not sold in U.S. home appliance stores or departments. However, they are an essential feature of commercial or large-scale laundries. They are typically used to press flat items such as sheets or tableclothes. Skilled operators can also press shirts and pants on a mangle.


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