“The modern housewife keeps her house clean rather than house cleans[,] giving each room a rather thorough cleaning as often as may be necessary. For this cleaning the following program is suggested:
1. Dust bric-a-brac and clean metals. Place them all together and cover them up
2. Dust wood furniture and vacuum-clean overstuffed furniture. Remove the smaller pieces to another room if possible. Cover those which remain. In bedroom take off bedding and thoroughly clean spring and mattress, make up again and cover
3. Clean rugs with a vacuum cleaner and roll them up
4. Remove portieres and draperies and clean them on a flat surface with a vacuum cleaner
5. Dust ceiling and walls
6. Dust wood trim, doors, and surbase
7. Clean windows and mirrors
8. Dust pictures
9. Dust lighting fixtures, wash globes
10. Clean and polish floor
11. Replace everything”
-- from the Rumford Book on Home Management, c. 1920
I don’t know. Any way you look at keeping the house clean, it sounds like house cleaning to me. The biggest challenges in the above program would be removal and re-hanging of the drapes and rolling up the carpets, which most surely means lifting or moving some furniture. Just how often is “as often as may be necessary?” I would perform those heavy chores no oftener than quarterly, while the rest I would divide between monthly and weekly. And just how am I going to fit this into my weekly schedule, published in the previous post.
But, when I think of housecleaning, I tend to think of cleaning the whole house, or even a whole room, at one time, instead of dividing the work into doable tasks. Perhaps I should alter my imaginary cleaning regimen so that I deep clean one room each week (see Thursday), and if I did that, eventually my house would be maintained in a state of cleanliness. That’s probably the point.
My mother told me that when she was growing up – and that would be the ‘20s – she was to clean the living room weekly on Saturday. She said she moved the furniture out from the wall and vacuumed under it routinely. (This may have been Grandma’s expectation, but Mother didn’t say so.) One day a workman came to the house for some purpose and the living room furniture was moved. The workman complimented my grandmother, saying that he had never seen such a clean home. Grandma beamed at the compliment but didn’t mention that Mother had done the work. Mother saw this as a slight and vowed to herself that she would always give credit where credit was due. Mother was most generous in this regard.
[The picture is of my maternal grandparents’ home in Orofino, Idaho, dated August 28, 1921. Grandmother Nina Portfors (35) stands in the background. The children are Francis (13) and Dorothy (11). Whatever the scenario, it seems to be a typical day. Grandma appears to be wearing an apron and dust cap. About five years prior to this picture, my grandfather opened a Ford garage – the right place at the right time – which means this was a good era for the family. This house continued to be the Portfors family home until it was sold about 1965. Note the hill to right of center. Today you can see the Gilbert Grade there, leading to the homestead of my paternal grandparents.] KW