Travel back in time and attempt to clean your house. (I dare you).
One of my favorite books was received from my mother who I’m sure got it from her mother. It’s called, Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s cookbook. This weighty tome was published in 1903 and contains 261 pages of recipes and tips for the modern housewife. The following is the first of several installments gleaned from this unintentionally funny publication.
Sweeping Day: Carpets
Before Sweeping dip the broom in hot soapsuds and have at hand a pailful of soapsuds in which to rinse the broom when it becomes dusty. Squeeze out the water so that the broom is damp but not wet. This practice toughens the straw, makes the broom last much longer and softens it so it does not cut the carpet. To prevent dust when sweeping wet a newspaper, tear it in small pieces and scatter the paper so that it will not drip. Or sprinkle the carpet with moist tea leaves which may be saved daily for this purpose.
Blogger’s note – I’m not exactly sure, and am unwilling to experiment on my own carpets, but with all the soapy water and newspaper shreds and tea leaves it seems like the carpet would be more of a mess after sweeping then before. (?) But let me be the first to say I’ve learned a lot from this chapter. For instance:
To sweep well with a broom is an art that calls for quite a little skill and intelligence. There are wrong ways in sweeping as well as right ways. The former are perhaps more often practiced than the latter.
1. It is wrong to lean on the broom or dig into the floor with great force as if trying to gouge the dirt from the surface. All the dust and dirt which can be removed lies directly on top.
2. It is wrong to sweep the whole length of the room toward the door in order to sweep the dirt into the next room as this carries dirt over a larger space of the floor than necessary.
3. It is wrong to push the broom forward so as to drive a cloud of dust in the air.
4. It is wrong to sweep always on one side of the broom so that it will get lopsided and have to be thrown away.
The right way to use a broom is to keep the handle always inclining forward and never allow it to come to the perpendicular; much less incline backward. The stroke should be rather long, the sweeper standing on the soiled portion of the floor, reaching back and drawing the dust and dirt forward as if pulling or dragging it. A skillful sweeper will lift the broom before it becomes perpendicular so as not to raise dust, and will tap it gently to shake the dirt out before reaching back for another stroke.
Bloggers note: Who knew? Apparently, I’ve been wildly careless and ineffective in my own sweeping habits, and will endeavor to do better in the future. I sincerely hope these post-Victorian household hints have enlightened you all as well.