Scrubbing Floors (Or Not)

scrubOne morning I was perusing an old text and came upon the following instructions for “Scrubbing Floors” (which is, of course, to be done after the “white-washing, paint-cleaning, and window-washing” of each room is complete) and I can’t tell you how glad it made me feel for the floor surfaces and cleaning equipment of today.  Can you imagine going through so much effort or spending so much time on your hands and knees trying to get the floors clean?

Our author is Eliza Leslie (1787-1858) and the title of her book (published in 1840) is “The House Book, or, A Manual of Domestic Economy: for town and country.”  I’ve taken the liberty of numbering some of the steps so you can appreciate the magnitude of the task (though I’m sure a skilled floor-scrubber was able to move along rather quickly).

Brace yourself…


“After the white-washing, paint-cleaning, and window-washing of each room has been completed, let the floor be scrubbed; first seeing that it has been well swept. For this purpose, have a small tub or bucket of warm water; an old saucer to hold a piece of brown soap, a large, thick tow-linen floor-cloth and a long-handled scrubbing brush.

  1. Dip the whole of the floor-cloth into the water, and with it wet a portion of the floor.
  2. Next, rub some soap on the bristles of the brush, and scrub hard all over the wet place.
  3. Then dip your cloth into the water, and with it wash the suds off the floor.
  4. Wring the cloth, wet it again, and wipe the floor with it a second time.
  5. Lastly, wash the cloth about in the water, wring it as dry as possible, and give the floor a last and hard wiping with it.

Afterwards go on to the next part of the floor, wet it, scrub it, wipe it three times, and proceed in the same manner, a piece at a time, till you have gone over the whole; changing the dirty water for clean, whenever you find it necessary. For a large room, fresh warm water will be required four or five times in the course of the scrubbing.

“When the floor has been scrubbed, leave the sashes raised while it is drying.

“For scouring common floors that are very dirty, have by you an old tin pan with some gray sand in it; and after soaping the brush, rub on it some sand also”(pg 341) *

Are you counting your blessings yet?

About The Homemakers Coach

Beverly Pogue believes that homemaking is a profession just like any other profession. As The Homemaker's Coach™, she provides coaching, classes, and products to help homemakers succeed.

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