Help with cleaning the home: House dust (1911)

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Man with feather dusters

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Help with cleaning the home: House dust

by Helen Watts McVey

“Where does all the dirt come from?” wails the discouraged housewife, as she struggles with broom and dustpan.

During the summer, with doors and windows wide open, the house is comparatively easy to keep clean; but no sooner does the closing up season arrive than the housewife has to begin and wage constantly a battle with house dirt.

House dirt comes from many quarters. Part of it is the “fluff” from the clothing we wear, and other sources are particles worn from the carpets, rugs, curtains, ceilings, walls, furniture; ashes from the registers, radiators, stoves and heaters; stray hairs from the family and from pet animals, particles of feathers, crumbs, the sheddings from insects, particles from our own bodies, and the nap or fleece from a hundred sources.

This dirt or dust settles, some of it on the floor, some on walls and ceilings, and some falls on the furniture, or clings to our clothes. If allowed to accumulate in rooms, it gives the atmosphere a bad, unpleasant odor, and invites fungi, bacteria, and other poisons.

If left long, the inorganic part of this dirt undergoes a species of decomposition, giving off effects similar to that of sewer gas. Added to this is the dirt brought in from the outside on shoes and clothes, no matter how neat one may be.

There seems to be only one thing to do: Just keep on fighting.

The vacuum cleaner promises us relief, but as yet even the cheapest of the really reliable ones seems to be beyond the purse of the average woman. Plenty of fresh air and all the sunshine one can get, together with hot water; soap and the scrub cloth seem to be our best disinfectants, and these should be used in abundance.

Every year there are new inventions brought out toward better sanitation, and the woman of today is excusable for a feeling of envy that possesses her at thought of the woman of the future. Meantime, keep the home as clean as possible, and use freely the means we have at hand.

Dusting hints and advice
  • Do your daily dusting of living rooms early in the morning, before the movements of the family have stirred up the dust that has settled in the night. Dust with a damp cloth.
  • With a feather duster, dust off high cornices, picture frames and the tops of doors and windows, but use it for no other purpose.
  • With a soft cloth tied over your broom, wipe down every part of the ceiling and walls.
  • Enter your closed room very gently, and with a damp cloth, wipe, not flirt, off the dust. Use a dry cloth for articles that would be injured by the damp one, but shake the cloth frequently outdoors.
  • Have a current of air blowing through the room unless the wind blows the dust back.

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