This room served as a year round scullery, laundry room and ironing room. It is believed to have been used as a kitchen during the winter. During the colder months, it was impractical to bring hot food to the house from the Summer Kitchen in the North Slave Quarters, behind the mansion.
During the colder months, the north side of the room was used for food preparation, while the south side served as the laundry area. The heat from fire and stove here helped to warm the rest of the house when the weather outside was cold.
For many years the former Mount Vernon cook ran the kitchen, with his death, his son took over. Some food was raised on the Arlington plantation and more was brought up from the Custis farms on the Pamunkey River. Enslaved people prepared meals for the family and their many guests. The enslaved people who worked in the house took their meals in this room and cared for their small children here as well.
Today, the furnishings in the Winter Kitchen reflect the multiple uses of the room: cooking, meal preparation, washing dishes and cooking utensils, washing and ironing clothes, eating, baby tending, and food storage. Visitors can see many examples of nineteenth century kitchen tools and utensils. Pots hang over the fireplace though most of the cooking during the historic period was probably done on a range or cook stove which no longer exists.