Carpet Cleaning in the 1800s

By:Cleaning Services Ilford
It is believed that actual carpet cleaning appeared sometime during the eighteen century, most likely during the industrial revolution, a process which swept throughout most of the western world.

Carpet CleaningToward the end of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, the most common method to keep carpets and rugs clean was to spread druggets over them. Druggets were heavy woollen fabrics which were also known as crumb cloths. These were spread under dining tables and in other areas where the carpet or rug saw heavy duty use.

At the time, it was common practice for carpets or rugs to be completely covered with crumb cloths or canvases during the summer months, and on special occasions like receptions and such. This was done in order to protect carpets from sunlight and staining – indicative of how valuable such interior features were at the time.

During the period, carpet stain removal was very rudimentary, yet somewhat effective. Common practice was to beat carpets with rods or broomsticks as to remove dust and hard particles. This made staining more visible. Stains were treated using lemon juice and rubbed with hot bread loafs, the carpet was then rinsed and left outside to dry. There were even housekeeping manuals, advising how to hang the carpet and how much time to leave it hanging outside as per the weather.

In the eighteen sixties, sweeping carpets on a regular basis became a custom. Problem was that people used tea leaves to sweep their carpets – this left stubborn stains on many occasions. Housekeeping manuals advised to use fresh cut grass instead, apparently freshly cut grass gave the carpet a clean, bright look every time.

Another new concept was carpet cleaning regularity. Those in the know, suggested carpets to be swept once a week if the room was in use on a daily basis. Rest of the time, carpets were to be wisk-broomed. About a decade or so later, shaking (as it was known) was a proven method to get rid of hard particles which grinded down the carpet fibres. It was officially stated that the more one dusts and ‘shakes’ the carpet the longer lifespan it will have. Brooms at the time were quite rough, and many people did not favour sweeping the carpets too often in fear of wear and tear. This is perhaps the main reason why ‘shaking’ gained so much popularity.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, washing the carpets was also on the menu. Washing methods usually involved the application of a ‘specially formulated’ cleaning agent – a mixture of fresh water and beef’s gall. The mixture was applied using a piece of flannel, then spread evenly in stripes along the carpet. The mixture was washed out using a clean piece of flannel.

One of the final carpet cleaning ‘inventions’ of the eighteen hundreds was application of cold water and oxalic acid in order to remove stubborn ink stains from the carpet. The ink stain was to be soaked with cold water, scooped with a spoon, and then treated with the acid.

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