Cleaning in the Good Old Days

In a Time Past

Cleaning in the last century was a choir and we do mean choir. The quick whiz round with a vacuum cleaner wasn’t even dreamed of in those days. Floors were predominately wooden or used a covering of oil cloth.
Old fashioned room
The only way to clean these was to get down on hands and knees and scrub. A hard bristle brush with carbolic soap and plenty of hot water. There was no running hot water, the water had to be boiled in a big copper kettle in the scullery (kitchen) and a few soda crystals added to soften it. This was tough weekly job carried out by house wives or, if you could afford one, a domestic servant.


, as we know them today didn’t exit. There was no way to clean a fixed wall to wall carpet and dirt and grime would have built up over the years and got trodden in. The solution was rugs.


tended to be for the more affluent homes. The main benefit of having a rug was that it could be rolled up and taken outside to be cleaned. These would be put outside on a nice sunny day and hung on a washing line. The main job was to remove the dust that had accumulated in the rug.

To remove the dust from the rug, carpet beaters were used. These were mainly made from bamboo cane, a handle at one end and a flat face at the other, a bit like a tennis racket. As the name implies, you would use this beater to beat the rug. Each blow would cause a cloud of dust to leave the rug. You had to do this for several minutes, all over the rug until no more dust ensued.

The fresh air helped to remove odors from the rug. Sometimes rugs were taken out in the winter and rubbed in the snow to help freshen them up.

Click here to dig deeper