The growth of urbanisation and spread of education coupled with the increase in money-incomes of a considerable section of population
have contributed to the growth of this occupation. In the past, washing of clothes was the hereditary occupation of the Parits. The old Ahmadnagar Gazetteer, published in 1884, records the number of Parits in the district at 4,041.
With the increase in demand for a washerman's services, a number of laundries were established. Though a majority of the laundries are managed by the dhobis, quite a few others have adopted this occupation from a purely business point of view. Laundries are mainly found in towns and very rarely in big villages. Besides laundries, the hereditary washermen are found to be engaged in the occupation. Some of them undertake only ironing while many others undertake washing as well as ironing.
The 1951 Census recorded the number of persons following this occupation to be 538 (427 males, 111 females) and classified them under " laundries and laundry services". Of these, 277 persons (231 males, 46 females) were enumerated in urban areas of the district. The 1961 Census figures showed an increase in the number of persons following this occupation. According to 1961 Census, the number of persons engaged in this occupation was recorded as 830 (532 males and 298 females). Of these, 377 (255 males, 122 females) or 45 per cent were in urban areas.
A laundry requires soap, washing soda, indigo, bleaching powder, tinopal, for washing and cleaning of clothes, and coal for fuel. A small laundry spent about Rs. 40 to Rs. 100 per month on these accessories.
An average laundry possessed petty furniture, consisting of a chair, a table and a shelf together worth about Rs. 500. It also possessed about two to four irons, each worth about Rs. 90. A few laundries were found to have electric irons as well.
The small laundries employed only family labour, the number of persons thus employed varying from 1 to 5, depending upon the size of the business. It was also observed that most of the laundries in towns were housed in rented premises, the average rent being Rs. 22.
The gross income of an average laundry ranged between Rs. 250 and Rs. 550 per month.
The charges for washing and ironing were generally the same in all establishments.