After talking about the possible future of cleaning last time, complete with cleaning bots, this month I thought I would take a brief look back in history to see how our ancestors cleaned.
In pre-industrial Britain many houses had hard earth floors which were magnets for dust and dirt and needed regular sweeping. Early brooms were made of animal hair and fur tied together with cloth.
Alternatively rushes or reeds might be spread on the floor and some were woven into mats. They needed to be changed frequently though.
The 19th Century saw the mass production of carpets. However, cleaning carpets was no easy matter. They had to be hung and beaten with a specially designed carpet beater, comprising a handle and large flat paddle, usually made of cane.
In 1876, Melville Bissell invented a carpet sweeper which made life considerably easier. Also in that year the feather duster was invented by Susan Hibbard.
Around the same time linoleum was invented and was used as a cheap means to floor areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. When Thomas Stewart came up with a mop with a replaceable head, linoleum became easy to clean too.
Victorian homes usually had a scullery which housed a copper. This was a metal container used to wash clothes by filling it with water and soap powder. The clothes would be turned using a wooden utensil known as a dolly. The wet clothes were then removed and put through a wringer or a mangle, invented by Robert Tasker in 1850, then hung out to dry.
Towards the end of the century, towns began to have piped water supplies which made the whole clothes washing process much easier, especially with the coming of gas and electric water heaters.
Next month I will look at the progress made during the 20th Century.