A machine for washing breasts

Circa 1930s. Origin unknown. Use unknown.

Breast washer, c.1930s

Update: Our commenters solve the mystery. This is a French "breast enhancement" water massage device, and the whole ad is here (and here are similar ads. (Thanks, Daneyul!)

You can find out more by reading Quack!: Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, described by Orangedesperado: "Many items to consider with the original ads and copy. Don't forget the prostate warmer which worked with the heat of a light bulb and was helpful for stimulating the center of the 'male brain'."



  1. sure it isn’t a breast pump?  many women started using formula (commercial and homemade).  maybe this was used to relieve engorgement?

        1. Doubtful from the shape/apparnet lack of outflow. Also seems like an improbable principle to apply, considering contemporary methods used are simpler. Then again, where does the water expelled from the supply go? Maybe it’s something else entirely.

          1. Take a close look at the “fins”.  I think that’s the outlet.

            I don’t know what this thing is meant to do, but her other breast looks rather perky.

          2. I take it you’ve never actually seen a water powered venturi suction pump then… the venturi device attaches to the tap and has a separate suction hose going off from it. Water flowing past the pipe orifice generates the suction as it pass through the pump on it’s way to the sink…

    1. It looks like the tube from the thing is connecting directly to the faucet, though that could be unfortunate cropping.  Either way, she looks *way* too happy to be using it.

      It’s really odd how the picture looks like a blend of photography and cartoonish drawing.

  2. This is what lead to the demise of the skilled tradesmen whom women used to visit to get their breasts hand-washed…

    1. Some of the traditional breast washing family businesses have transitioned to scrubbing crude oil off otters and sea birds.

  3. With only one connection to a faucet and no other apparent outlet, that lady is about to get a very wet (sheer!) dress. 

    I can’t imagine anybody who thought this was a good idea.  Breasts aren’t hard to clean by hand, and that heavy looking and awkward contraption can’t be much easier.  Even the lady in the ad seems to have a forced smile and a look of “what the heck is this, are you some kind of freak?” 

  4. That woman is determined to not touch or even look at her breasts while cleaning them.  But they will be cleaned!  Because obviously breasts can get very dirty.

  5. I’m wondering if this isn’t some sort of ‘enhancer’ — swirling cold water over the breast to make it ‘perky’?

  6. Is there any evidence that this is a legitimate ad? There’s nothing at the link at all besides this image. No source or anything.

    Has anyone seen comparable images from the 30s, showing sheer dresses with visible breasts and pokey nipples like that? And the metallic cup was unquestionably not photographed with that woman — though it’s perfectly possible that it was a literal “cut and paste” job in the original ad, if the ad is genuine.

    1. Ah, deneyul below has posted the entire ad.

      I am still pretty sure that the photograph was cut-and-pasted (with 1930s scissors, not Photoshop), but at least it was a real ad. Also: French. That’s why I didn’t believe the ad could be real, I was thinking American…

    2. “Has anyone seen comparable images from the 30s, showing sheer dresses with visible breasts and pokey nipples like that?”

      Yes, I have. So has anyone who’s ever seen a pre-Code Busby Berkeley musical, or the early films of Myrna Loy and Barbara Stanwyck. And if that’s too obscure, have you never seen King Kong? Titties all over the place. Perky breasts were a Hollywood fashion accessory before the Hayes Office took over.

    1. The ad in French says it is for massaging the breasts with water to make them more firm and reduce sagging. So it is not a breast ‘washer’ but a breast enhancement device.

    2.  It says “massage par l’eau.” Apparently not a hygiene device.  But still, as others have said, this contraption put others out of honest work (e.g. massage par l’homme and massage par l’femme) and pushed better methods to the curb (massage à l’huile, massage au beurre).(S’il vous plaît noter que je ne suis pas francophone)




      Breasts, if they are not cared for, sag rapidly, particularly after breastfeeding, or are invaded by fat.

      A few minutes per day are enough with 
      which carries out a massage by water, in a closed vessel, extremely effective, giving marvelous results in only a few weeks, for

      FIRMING sagging breasts, by its regenerative action on the suspensor muscles
      BEAUTIFYING inadequate busts, which it develops
      AVOIDING exaggerated development among full-bodied women by helping to eliminate fat

      with the Massosein, which adapts instantly to every faucet and which every woman should have in her home. No splashing or chilling to fear, the body is not soaked.

      “Massage with cold water under pressure, as performed by the Massosein, guarantees the mammary fibers the maximum [illegible]” – Doctor J.A., Gynecologist

      (the rest of the text is too small to read easily, but explains how subscribers to the Paris Magazine can get a brochure describing the Massosein and its marvelous results). 

      1. Good work!  I’d like to propose that the product’s name “Le Massosein” be translated as “The Breastercizer”.

  7. In America, there was the “Mark Eden” exercise device bust enhancer, which seems to have been reborn as Suzanne Somer’s ThighMaster.


    “…………The Mark Eden bust developer was one of several body and exercise products marketed by Feather, who also sold various other slimming and body modification products such as “Slim-Jeans”, an “Astro-Trimmer”, a “Sauna Belt”, and in the 1980s, the Cambridge Diet. Finally, in 1981, Feather was indicted on 11 counts of mail fraud, and the Mark Eden bust developer disappeared from the market. Feather was made to pay a $1.1 million fine.

    1. Thus illustrating why women might want a machine to do it.

      (not to scold you, I thought it was funny)

  8. Don’t believe the hype. I bought a testicle polisher from the same company but it never made them sparkle like the ones in the promotional photos.

    1. You must have bought a knock off, then.  My Scrot-A-Buff makes the boys glisten like there’s no tomorrow.

  9. You will find this device and many more in the book “Quack ! Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices “:


    Many items to consider with the original ads and copy. Don’t forget  the prostate warmer which worked with the heat of a light bulb and was helpful for stimulating the center of the “male brain”. 

    People: they always have these ideas…

  10. That’s right at the intersection of scary and kinky-sexy; I thought of an SF illustration of a breast pump from a story in which the human race almost goes extinct in the future until scientists figure out that babies can’t take their nutrition in pill form like everyone else.

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