Historic, archived document
Do not assume content reflects current
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices.
HOW TO MAKE HOUSECLEANING simpler and
easier and at the same time get full service from
the materials used in the furnishing and care of the
house, are the problems discussed in this bulletin,
The scarcity of labor and the high cost of materials
have made these questions increasingly important to
the housekeeper. The methods here suggested are
based both on the well-tested experience of practical
housekeepers and on the results of scientific studies
in saving labor in the household. Attempt has been
made to explain the reasons behind the methods de-
scribed and to give definite, concise directions that
any one can follow.
Contribution from the States Relations Service
A. C. TRUE, Director
Washington, D. C. January, 1921
HOUSECLEANING MADE EASIER.
Sarah J. MacLeod,
Specialist in Household Management, Office of Home Economics.
Implements and materials for cleaning- 4
Care of cleaning implements 9
Methods of cleaning 11
Walls and ceilings 11
Wood surfaces 12
Floor coverings 14
Windows and mirrors 16
China, earthenware, and glass 16
Copper, brass, and bronze 18
Iron and steel 19
Methods of cleaning — Continued.
Zinc_ 1 20
Pewter, Britannia ware, etc 20
Lacquered metals 20
Enameled ware and agateware ._ 20
Refrigerators and food receptacles. 22
Kerosene lamps 24
Storage places 24
General directions for cleaning a room_ 25
Household pests '.- 26
General rules for easy cleaning 30
HOUSECLEANING need not be the bugbear it has long been re-
garded in many households. If the work is carefully planned,
if the kind of furnishings that are easy to keep clean are chosen and
handled in the right way, and if provision is made for keeping
all the dirt possible out of the house, there will be no need for the
upheavals that result in discomfort to the entire household. More-
over, this systematic housecleaning saves labor in the end and is eco-
nomical of the materials used in the furnishing and care of the house.
Almost every housekeeper has a more or less fixed routine of work,
which might be called her plan. Oftentimes, with this plan as a
basis, the housecleaning can be so organized that the housekeeper
can save herself much time and many steps. In these days, when
competent household labor is at a high premium, it is wiser economy
than ever to make " the head save the heels."
To keep clean rather than to make clean is a thoroughly practical
working principle. This means daily tidying of the rooms in con-
stant use, distributing the cleaning, especially the heavy kinds,
through the week, and removing dirt not only frequently but thor-
oughly by methods that have been proved good according to both
scientific and practical standards. All the members of the house-
hold can help if only by keeping their own possessions in order and
putting things that they use in place in good condition.
What kind of furnishings the house has and how the house itself
is arranged and finished have much more effect on the work of house-
Farmers* Bulletin 1180.
cleaning than many persons realize. In many cases just a few
changes will soon pay for themselves in time and energy saved. For
instance, durable waterproof finish or a covering such as linoleum
for the floor in the kitchen and pantry and removable rugs and
smoothly finished floors in the rest of the house will prove them-
selves an economy. Doing away with superfluous shelves and mold-
ings, filling up cracks and crevices in which dirt lodges, and arrang-
ing adequate storage places will also help.
Keeping dirt out of the house, or " preventive " housecleaning as
it might be called, is well worth the effort. Much dirt is blown in
from dusty roads, especially in summer when windows and doors
are open, and it is to the housekeeper's interest to see that the roads
about her home are oiled or at least regularly sprinkled, either by
the community or by the individual residents. When dust can not
be laid outside, it can sometimes be stopped at the doors and windows.
Removing the dirt regularly from window sills, porches, steps, and
walks helps in this, as do also screens covered with cheesecloth or
other material through which air will pass, but not dust and soot.
Such screens are particularly useful in pantries and storerooms, for
doors and windows near the ground against which dirt of all sorts is
blown, or in some climates in bedroom windows at night, where they
serve the added purpose of keeping out dampness as well as dirt.
Muddy or dusty shoes and clothing are another source of dirt in
the house. Much of this can be kept out by doing away with dirt
walks and bare ground near the house, by insisting that mats and
scrapers be used outside the doors, and by providing special places
just inside where muddy rubbers and boots and coats may be left. ,
A good arrangement is to have the men of the household coming in
from work or thd children from play with dirty, muddy clothes, enter
the living rooms of the house through a passageway or small room
where they can clean or leave their work clothes or outside wraps.
The kitchen is not the room for such cleaning if any other place
IMPLEMENTS AND MATERIALS FOR CLEANING.
No matter how carefully the housecleaning is organized, it can not
be done easily and quickly without suitable cleaning tools and
materials. The ideal arrangement is to have a complete set stored
in orderly fashion in a convenient, well-ventilated closet. Whether
few or many kinds are needed, it is economical to buy well-made,
durable tools and keep them in good condition and grouped together
The initial cost of implements of good quality may be a trifle
greater than those of poorer grade, but substantial ones gen-
Housecleaning Made Easier.
erally give longer and better
in the end. Before buying ai
vice or one used only occasion-
ally, such questions as the fol-
lowing should be considered:
Will it be used enough to
justify the cost? How muqh
care in cleaning and storing
will it require? Will it really
save time and energy? Will it
make some especially disagree-
able task less unpleasant? A
few well -chosen implements
give* better service and require
less care than a large collection
The following list gives some
of the desirable cleaning tools
and their uses :
Brooms and brushes. — (1) Corn
broom for carpets and rough sur-
faces, such as concrete, brick, and
(2) Soft-hair brush for smooth
floors and floor coverings, such as
wood, tile, linoleum, oilcloth, and
(3) Wall brush of lamb's" wool, or
loops of soft cotton twine, or soft
bristles. A bag of cotton flannel
slipped over the broom may take the
place of a wall brush.
(4) Weighted brush with short
bristles for polishing waxed floors.
Under no circumstances should this
brush be allowed to become oily, but
it may also be used in polishing
oiled floors if carefully covered with
a piece of woolen carpet, heavy flan-
nel, or burlap.
(5) Whisk broom for general
(6) Scrub brushes of various sizes
for cleaning unfinished wood, sinks,
etc. A long-handled one will be
found especially convenient for floors
service and are more economical
especially expensive cleaning de-
Fig. 1. — Long-handled scrub brushes. These,
as well as long-handled mops, save time and
effort. The type on the right can be ad-
justed to hold either a brush or a mop.
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
(7) Paint brushes or special brushes of various shapes and sizes for uphol-
stery, reed furniture, and carved surfaces.
(8) Radiator brush for cleaning between pipes.
(9) Refrigerator brush, with flexible wire handle, for cleaning drainpipe.
(10) Long-handled spiral brush or tongs, and prepared soap paper, for clean-
Mops. — Wet mop for floors that
are to be washed with water. A con-
venient form has soft, loosely woven
cloth fastened to the handle by a
flat metal clasp. A mop wringer
fastened to a pail saves the worker
much stooping, keeps the hands from
the water, and removes more water
from the cloth than would be possi-
ble by hand wringing.
Dry mop either untreated or oiled.
The latter holds the dust better and
renews the finish on painted, var-
nished, or shellacked floors, but
should not be used on waxed sur-
Dustpan. — The edge should be firm
and should come in direct contact
with the floor, and the side to which
the handle is attached should be high
enough and so shaped as to prevent
dirt from falling out. A long-handled
dustpan does away with some stoop-
ing and is considered convenient by
many (figs. 2 and 3).
Dusters. — A duster should be soft
and should shed neither lint nor
ravelings ; it holds the dust better if
dampened or oiled. Silk and chamois"
are excellent for use on highly pol-
ished surfaces. A duster may be
moistened by passing it through
steam ; by wetting one corner of the
cloth, rolling it up, and letting it
stand for a short time; or by wring-
ing together one dry cloth and one
that has been wrung out of water.
A dust cloth may be oiled by apply-
ing a few drops of kerosene or light
lubricating oil on one corner, rolling
the cloth, and letting it stand until
the oil has spread evenly. Cotton waste and paper are good substitutes
for dust cloths in cleaning dirty, greasy surfaces. Feather dusters should
not be used, except perhaps just before sweeping, for they scatter but do not
Fig. 2. — Long-handled dustpan. This saves
much stooping, and is considered an in-
dispensable piece of equipment by some
Housecleaning Made Easier.
Carpet sweepers. — Many good kinds are on the market and are effective for
taking up surface dirt. A hand-power combination carpet sweeper and vacuum
cleaner takes up surface dirt and to some extent sucks up fine particles.
Vacuum cleaners. — All vacuum cleaners suck up fine dust and dirt, and many
are now equipped with brushes that take up coarse dirt and lint also. Good
ones clean thoroughly and without scattering the dust into the air. They are
perhaps most efficient when run by electricity or motor, for in many cases the 1
hand cleaners require two persons to operate them, one to work the handle and
the other to direct the nozzle.
Carpet beaters. — These may be of wire or of either
flat or round reed. Those of flat reed are least hard
on the carpet fibers.
Pails or buckets. — Galvanized iron or fiber pails
are light in weight and durable ; the former are
Besides these tools and a liberal supply of
paper and cloths, various materials are used
to loosen the dirt and make it easier to re-
move. All these cleaning materials or agents
should be used sparingly. This is not only
economical of the cleaners but less likely to
injure the surfaces cleaned. Some of those most
commonly used are listed below.
Water. — This is by far the most common cleaning
material. Hot water loosens dirt more easily, but
it is more likely to injure finishes and fabrics than
lukewarm or cold water. Water should not be al T
lowed to stand on floors or woodwork nor to get
into cracks or seams; it should, in fact, be used very
sparingly and in most cases wiped off at once.
An abundant supply of water piped through the
house and a good drainage system for carrying away
waste are of first importance in making houseclean-
ing easier, as well as for the health and general
comfort of the household. Simple, inexpensive systems and their installation
are described in other bulletins of this series, 1 as are also ways of softening
hard water for household use. 2
S 0ap> — This is used to loosen the grease that holds the dirt to fabrics and
finishes. A mild soap— that is, one with no free alkali— is less likely to injure
finishings and colors than a stronger one. A soap solution makes suds more
quickly and cleans more evenly and safely than soap in cake ; a quantity may
be made at a time, and bits of soap may be used up in this way. One pound
of soap and three quarts of water are heated slowly until the soap is dissolved
and then the solution is placed in broad-mouthed bottles or jars, for use as
Fig. 3. — Another type of
As the pan is lifted it
thus preventing the
dust swept into it
from falling out.
*'TJ. S. Dept. Agr., Farmers' Bui. 927, Farm Home Conveniences. U. S. Dept. Agr.,
Farmers' Bui. 941, Water Systems for Farm Homes.
»U. S. Dept. Agr., Farmers' Bui. 1099, Home Laundering.
Farmers' Bulletin 1180.
needed. Flaked and chipped soaps dissolve more quickly than cake soap.
Several kinds are now on the market, and hard cake soap may be chipped at
home by being rubbed over a grater.
Soap may be made at home from lye and waste fat, and the directions given,
on the lye container will generally be found satisfactory. Homemade soaps,
however, are likely to contain free alkali and should be used with caution,
especially on delicate and colored fabrics, and on paint, varnish, or other
Ammonia, borax, and sal-soda (washing soda). — These alkalis are used both to
soften hard water and to loosen dirt. Concentrated ammonia bought at a drug
store and diluted at home by using about 1 part ammonia to 7 parts water is
usually more economical and satisfactory for general cleaning than the dilute
form sold as household ammonia. Borax is least likely to injure delicate fab-
rics, but is the most expensive of these three alkalis. Washing soda is bought
in coarse powder form and should be thoroughly dissolved in water before
using. A bottled " liquid soda " made by boiling 1 pound of soda and 1 quart
of water in an old kettle is convenient, but as it has only one-half the strength
of dry soda, twice as much must be used in a given amount of water.
Lye, caustic potash, caustic soda. — There is much confusion regarding these
materials and their uses. Correctly speaking, lye is caustic potash, but the
material sold as lye is almost always caustic soda. Caustic potash may usually
be obtained at drug or chemical supply stores. Caustic soda, which is very
much cheaper, can be bought (as lye) of almost any grocer. Both are used in
soap making, caustic potash in making soft soap, and caustic soda in hard.
Both are also occasionally used to dissolve grease in cleaning. They are very
injurious to the skin and to most finishes, and must be handled with great care.
Oxalic acid. — This is used to bleach stains on wood and to clean copper and
brass. It is usually sold in the form of crystals, 1 ounce of which may be put
in an 8-ounce (half pint) bottle of water. This amount of water will not dis-
solve all the crystals, but to be sure of having a strong (saturated) solution
there should be some undissolved crystals. The liquid solution may be poured
off as needed and diluted with water to any desired strength. Oxalic acid is a
poison and should be so labeled and kept where children can not get at it.
Gasoline and benzine. — These are used to dissolve grease and sometimes to con-
trol insects ; they are so inflammable and explosive that the fire laws of many
States allow only very small quantities to be kept in a house. When either of
them is used in cleaning, it should be put in a small bottle and kept well corked,
except when the liquid is actually being poured out. The bottle should not be
opened in a room in which there is a fire or a gas, oil, or candle flame, or in
bright sunshine. Only a little liquid should be poured out at one time.
Kerosene.— This is used to cut grease and loosen dirt, and sometimes to repel
Oils— Various kinds of oils are used to renew the finish on shellacked, var-
nished, and oiled surfaces. Cloths moistened with linseed oil are especially liable
to spontaneous combustion and should be either destroyed immediately after
use or kept in a tightly covered fire-proof container. Light mineral oils, such
as are used for lubricating motors, are less dangerous in this respect and are
also cheaper than linseed oil. They may be diluted with eight or ten times
their volume of kerosene or gasoline. When the latter is used the mixture is,
of course, highly inflammable and must be treated as carefully as pure gasoline.
Turpentine. — This is used to dissolve paint, varnish, and wax. It is inflam-
mable and should not be brought near a flame.
Housecleanihg Made Easier.
Absorbent powders. — These include fuller's earth, French chalk, and corn meal,
and are used to absorb grease from fabrics and finishings and to prevent freshly
spilled liquids from soaking into fabrics.
Whiting, rouge (peroxid of iron), rottenstone, bath-brick, and pumice. — These
abrasives, or frictional agents-, are. used for scouring tarnish and stains, and
for polishing. The different kinds vary in fineness, hardness, and the shape of
their particles, and different grades of the same kind vary in fineness. The
finer and softer ones, such as fine whiting (Paris white) and rouge, are, of
course, least likely to scratch a soft surface and injure a high polish or glaze.
Abrasives are mixed with water, oil, soap, acid, or alkali, or whatever combina-
tion of these is most effective for a particular purpose. Most commercial
polishes are mixtures of this kind.
Steel wool. — This consists of hair-like particles of steel. It is used in scour-
ing certain metals and in removing varnish or paint. Different grades are
numbered according to fineness, 00 being the finest. In using it the hands
should be protected by old gloves or mittens.
Furniture polish. — This is convenient for rubbing up various kinds of wood-
work. The United States Bureau of Standards recommends a simple kind,
made by mixing 1 part raw linseed oil with 2 parts turpentine and adding a
little melted beeswax if desired. Or a light mineral oil diluted with kerosene or
gasoline (see p. 8) may be used for this purpose.
Floor wax. — This is used for giving a polished surface to wood floors. It
should be applied in thin coats and well rubbed in with a weighted brush.
The United States Bureau of Standards suggests two recipes : 3
(1) Mix 1 pint of turpentine and 4 ounces beeswax and heat in a vessel set
over hot water until the wax is melted. Remove from the heat. Add 3 ounces
aqua ammonia (concentrated ammonia) and about 1 pint of water and stir
vigorously until the mass is creamy.
(2) In a vessel set in hot water melt 2 ounces each of carnauba wax and
ceresin, then add 3 ounces of turpentine and 12 ounces (about 1 pint) of gaso-
line; cool as rapidly as possible, stirring vigorously to produce a smooth,
In making both these polishes great care must be taken to heat them only
by setting in hot water and to have no open flame in the room, for both gaso-
line and turpentine are very inflammable.
CARE OF CLEANING IMPLEMENTS.
Time and bother are saved if the cleaning tools and materials are
kept together in a convenient place, preferably a special closet located
where it can be quickly reached from all over the house (fig. 4) .
If possible, it is well to have on each floor a supply of some of the
things most constantly used. As far as possible, cleaning tools should
be put away clean and ready for use.
Brooms, brushes, and mops should be hung by strings or screw-
eyes fastened to the handles so that the weight does not rest on the
straws, bristles, or strings. Carpet sweepers also should be set so
that the weight does not come on the brushes. The hair and lint
which accumulate in brushes, especially in carpet sweepers, may be
• : : __
8 U. S. Dept. Commerce, Bu. Standards Circ. 70, Materials for the Household.
15636°— 21 2
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
taken out with an old buttonhook, a coarse comb, or old scissors.
Corn brooms may be washed in hot soapsuds, but care must be
taken not to let the water rust the wires which hold the straws to
Bristle brushes may
be washed with luke-
warm water and a little
ammonia (3 teaspoons
dilute ammonia to the
quart) or borax (1
teaspoon to the quart)
and then rinsed in
clear water. Water is
likely to injure the
back of a brush and
to loosen the cement by
which the bristles are
held in place in the
less expensive makes.
The brush should,
therefore, not be cov-
ered with water, but
should be washed by
sousing the bristles
back and forth in shal-
low water ; it should be
dried with the bristles
down or with the
weight resting on the
side of the brush. The
Fig. 4.— A conveniently arranged closet for cleaning drying should be done
tools. Housecleaning can be made easier and done quickly, but not in an
intense heat. Drying
in sunshine whitens
light bristles. The
weighted bristle brush
used in polishing floors should be washed occasionally to prevent the
accumulation of dirt and wax from darkening the wood.
Mops may be washed in hot suds and rinsed in clear, hot water;
they should be quickly dried. Dry mops may be oiled or oiled ones
renewed by pouring a few drops of light lubricating oil or any good
floor oil into an old dish or a tin box and setting the mop on this
for a day or two; or the mop may be sprinkle^ with a little oil and
allowed to stand until the oil spreads through the strings.
more quickly with good durable tools kept in order in
a convenient place. If a built-in closet is not avail-
able, a wardrobe of the less expensive kind may be
used. In either case ventilation should be provided
by holes in the door.
Housecleaning Made Easier.
Dust cloths should be washed frequently, both because a little dirt
comes out more easily and because dirty ones often leave as much
dirt as they take up and may scratch highly polished surfaces.
The heavy woolen cloths used in polishing floors may be soaked
for an hour or more in hot water and soda, using 3 tablespoons of
soda or half a cup " liquid " soda to a gallon of water, and stirring
the cloths occasionally with a stick; then they should be washed in
hot soapsuds and finally rinsed in hot water. A little kerosene or
light lubricating oil added to this last water will soften the cloths.
The oil in " dustless " cloths may be restored as directed on page
6, or a little oil may be added to the rinsing water, 1 tablespoon
of kerosene or one-half tablespoon light lubricating oil being used
to a quart of water.
The box of a carpet sweeper should be opened over dampened news-
paper, the dirt emptied out, and the brush cleaned. The mechanism
should be kept properly oiled. A vacuum carpet sweeper is cleaned
in the same way, but, in addition, the bag must be taken off and
METHODS OF CLEANING.
Frequent cleaning saves time and strength in the long run and is
also better for the house and its furnishings, because the fabrics and
finishes receive less rubbing and wear. If dust is allowed to remain
it may be ground in or covered with a grease film ; in either case it
will be harder to remove. Moreover, the fine particles of dirt rub
against the fabrics and finishes and tend to wear them out. Differ-
ent kinds of surfaces and furnishings must be treated in different
ways to keep them clean and prolong their usefulness.
WALLS AND CEILINGS.
Ordinary plastered and papered walls and ceilings should be
cleaned with a wall brush or a broom covered with soft cloth, such as
cotton flannel. Light overlapping strokes should be used; heavy
strokes rub the dirt in. Cotton batting is good for cleaning places
that soil more quickly than the rest, for example, the wall over radi-
ators, registers, and stoves. The wall should be rubbed lightly with
the cotton, which should be turned as it becomes soiled.
There are commercial pastes and powders for cleaning wall papers,
but, in general, these should be applied only by an expert. An
amateur is likely to have a streaked wall if he attempts to use them.
The so-called washable papers used in kitchens and bathrooms may
be cleaned with a dampened cloth, but water must be used sparingly;
if it seeps in the paper will be loosened. Varnishing the paper in
these rooms will make it more nearly impervious to moisture and
steam and will prevent it from peeling.
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
Rough wall coverings, such as burlap, are hard to clean. The dust
should be removed by brushing or with a vacuum cleaner.
Some painted walls may be washed, but as in the case of all painted
surfaces the success with which this may be done depends largely on
the kind and quality of the paint. In the case of ordinary oil paint,
the wall should be rubbed with even strokes, using a cloth wrung out
of light suds, then rinsed with a cloth wrung out of clear water, and
wiped with a dry, soft cloth. If the paint is badly soiled and stained,
a fine scourer, such as whiting, may be used.
Enamel paint (that is, paint mixed with varnish, which gives a
hard, smooth surface and does not catch or hold dust so easily) is
dulled by soap. Such paint may be cleaned by rubbing first with a
woolen or cotton flannel cloth wrung out of hot water, and then
with a clean, dry cloth. Spots, stains, and dirt that will not yield to
hot water alone may be removed with a fine scourer, but it must be
applied lightly in order not to scratch the surface.
Calcimined walls can not be washed nor can they even be rubbed
with a dry cloth without streaking the finish. Recoating is for this
reason preferable to cleaning.
Tiling may be cleaned by washing with warm, soapy water, rins-
ing, and drying thoroughly; or, when necessary, a fine scourer may
be used. If water is allowed to remain on tiling it is likely to injure
cement of the kind in which the tiles are set and thus to loosen them.
The wall finish known as metal tiling may be cleaned in the same
way as paint.
Cement Avails and floors may be washed by flushing with a hose, by
scrubbing, or by mopping. Moisture makes cement of this kind slip-
pery, but does not injure it. Cement floors are usually equipped with
a drain, and if properly laid the floor slants toward the drain, so that
water runs off.
Unfinished wood surfaces absorb grease and dirt more readily, are
more likely to stain, and are harder to keep clean than those in which
the pores of the wood are filled with varnish, oil, paint, or other
finish. In general, a house should contain as few unfinished wood
surfaces as possible. In the kitchen, for example, labor may be saved
by finishing or covering the floor, by covering the table with oilcloth,
linoleum, or zinc, and by painting or varnishing the rest of the fur-
niture. Unfinished wood surfaces may be scrubbed with the grain
of the wood, using small quantities of water and a mild soap, rinsed
with a cloth wrung out of clean water, and wiped dry. Strong
soaps, alkalis, and too much water darken wood and may soften it.
If the dirt can not be removed with soap and water, a scourer, such
as fine steel-wool or powdered pumice, may be used. Unfinished
Housecleaning Made Easier.
wood can be bleached with oxalic-acid solution, which is poisonous
(see p. 8). The wood should be covered thinly with the solution,
allowed to dry, and then thoroughly washed until all traces of the
acid are removed. If grease is spilled on unfinished wood cold
water should be applied at once, if possible, in order to harden the
grease and prevent its spreading, then as much grease as possible
should be scraped off with a knife, and the spot scrubbed with a
washing soda or lye solution. If the spot appears dark, a paste made
of fuller's earth and water should be spread over it and allowed to
Oiled floors should be swept with a soft brush and dusted with a
dry or oiled mop. Occasionally they may be washed and afterwards
wiped with an oily cloth. Water sliould be used sparingly, and care
should be taken to rub the oil in well and not to use so much that a
surplus is left on the surface to hold dust and be tracked onto rugs.
Varnished and shellacked surfaces should ordinarily be dusted
clean with a soft brush or cloth and polished with an oiled mop or
soft cloth moistened with a few drops of light lubricating oil, lemon
oil, or furniture polish. The oil or polish should be well rubbed in
and any surplus removed with a soft cloth. In general, varnished
and shellacked surfaces should not be touched with water. However,
if badly soiled they may be wiped with a cloth wrung out of warm,
slightly soapy water, wiped dry at once, and then polished with oil.
The appearance of badly worn varnished woodwork may be im-
proved by rubbing it ^ith a good grade of floor wax.
Waxed surfaces may be cleaned with a soft dry duster, or in the
case of floors a soft brush or a mop free from oil. The film of dirt
and wax which darkens the surface may be removed with a cloth
wrung out of warm, soapy water, or, better, with one moistened with
turpentine or gasoline ; the latter method brightens as well as cleans
the surface, whereas water dulls and whitens wax. Both turpentine
and gasoline are highly inflammable and should never be used in a
room where there is a fire or a lighted lamp or candle (see p. 8).
If a waxed surface has been dulled by water, the luster and color
may be restored by rubbing with a warm woolen cloth or a weighted
brush. Many spots on waxed surfaces may be removed by rubbing
with a little turpentine and refinishing with a little wax ; iron rust
and ink stains may be bleached out with oxalic-acid solution (p. 8) as
from unfinished wood. After all traces of the acid have been washed
off and the spot is thoroughly dry, it should be rewaxed and polished.
If a floor needs rewaxing, it should be thoroughly dusted, washed,
or preferably rubbed bright with a cloth moistened with turpentine
or gasoline, and given a thin, even coating of liquid or melted wax
rubbed in lengthwise of the grain of the wood, first with a soft cloth
and then with a weighted brush. When the wax is well rubbed in
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
the brush should be covered with a piece of heavy material, such as
carpet or burlap, and the floor polished until it has the desired luster.
Painted woodwork should, as far as possible, be kept clean by dust-
ing rather than by washing, since the latter is harder to do and wears
the paint much more rapidly. When washing becomes necessary it
should be carefully done. It pays to wipe off dirt, such as that around
door knobs, as soon as it appears.
For the daily care of woolen or cotton carpets and rugs a carpet
sweeper is the best tool, because it takes up lint and coarse dirt
without raising dust. For more thorough cleaning some other tool
must be used, as the brushes of the carpet sweeper do not go deep
enough into the carpet to remove fine dirt. A vacuum cleaner is
excellent, but if that is not available effort should be made to find
sqme other thorough but comparatively dustless process. Using a
dampened broom and scattering left-over tea leaves, bits of rumpled,
dampened newspaper, or one of the commercial sweeping prepara-
tions on the carpet before sweeping helps to prevent dust from flying.
These dampened materials must be used with caution, however, or
stains will result, especially on delicately colored carpets. Wiping
a carpet with a dampened cloth after sweeping removes more dust
and freshens the carpet.
Small rugs should be cleaned out of doors, if possible, preferably
on the dry grass or dry snow. They shoul(J be placed right side
down, beaten with a flat carpet beater, sw T ept, turned over, and swept
again. Hanging rugs over a line while they are being cleaned, or
holding them by the corners and shaking them, strains them badly ;
it may break the threads or loosen the bindings and cause the ends
Practically all rugs, after thorough beating, may be cleaned with
soap and water. Rag rugs may be washed like any other heavy mate-
rial, but they must be thoroughly rinsed. Sometimes it is easier to
rinse a heavy, wet rug with a hose than in a tub. Other rugs can
be placed on a table and scrubbed with a brush and mild soapsuds.
As each section is cleaned it .should be rinsed thoroughly, and the
water should be changed as it becomes discolored. Rugs washed
by this method are clean, but they may shrink and lose their shape
and the colors may fade and run. Oriental rugs with very long,
thick pile should not be thus cleaned unless they can be dried quickly
and thoroughly ; if moisture remains in the depth of the pile, it may
rot the threads.
Fine, smooth mattings should be swept with a soft brush and
dusted with a dry mop, or if necessary, they may be washed with a
Housecleaning Made Easier.
cloth wrung tightly out of warm water and wiped dry with another
cloth. A carpet sweeper may be used on the heavier grass and fiber
floor covering^. All grass and fiber floor coverings should be ta^fcn
up occasionally to remove the dirt which sifts through in .spite of
For the daily dkre of linoleum, floor oilcloth, and cork carpeting an
oiled mop or soft brushlnay be used. When very dirty they may be
washed with warm water and mild soap, rinsed, and wiped dry. •
Only a small space should be wet at a time, and care should be taken
to prevent the water from getting underneath. Scrubbing linoleum,
using strong soaps or powders that contain alkali, or using too much
water will ruin linoleum in a short time.
Dusting furniture thoroughly and often helps to keep it in good
condition. In addition, the woodwork should be rubbed occasionally
with furniture polish (see p. 9), or wax, or oil, according to the
original finish, and only soft dusters, free from gritty substances,
should be used. Silk and chamois are excellent because they leave no
The varnish on some furniture is so hard and smooth that finger
marks and such soiled places may be removed with a cloth wrung
out of lukewarm suds made with neutral soap, and the finish restored
by rubbing with a cloth on which a few drops of light lubricating oil
or furniture polish have been sprinkled. In many cases this is a
good method to use on the tops of dining tables, but in general it is
unwise to put water on varnished, oiled, or waxed surfaces. Painted
and enameled furniture may, of course, be washed like any other sur-
face so finished (p. 14).
For upholstery, either a vacuum cleaner or a brush is the most
effective tool. A. soft brush is best for velvet and velour, a stiffer one
for tapestry and other strong, firm materials, and a pointed one for
tufted upholstery. If convenient, upholstered furniture should be
taken out of doors occasionally and beaten with a flat carpet beater,
or it may be cleaned indoors by the following method. The article to
be cleaned is first covered with a cloth that has been dipped in water
and wrung as dry as possible, then beaten with a flat beater, the dust
being taken up by the damp cloth.
Leather furniture coverings last longer and look better if rubbed
occasionally with castor oil or a commercial leather polish to restore
the oil that gradually dries out. The liquid should be well rubbed
in and any excess wiped off the surface ; otherwise this film of oil will
collect and hold dirt which will darken the leather and soil whatever
Farmers' Bulletin U80.
The crevices in wicker furniture are difficult to clean, but fortu-
nately dirt does not cling to it as to upholstery. Brushing followed
by;jdusting seems to be the best treatment.
WINDOWS AND MIRRORS.
Daily or at least frequent dusting of windows and mirrors keeps
the glass clean and bright a long time without special cleaning.
When more thoroughgoing treatment is necessary, either liquid or
dry cleaners may be used.
The most common liquid cleaners are clear water or water to which
washing soda, borax, ammonia, kerosene, or alcohol has been added.
Clear alcohol is excellent for use in cold weather, because it does
not freeze, but it is too expensive for ordinary use. Soap should be
used in a very light suds, if at all, for it is likely to leave a film on
the glass. With liquid cleaners good results depend quite as much
upon the method of application as upon the cleaner itself. The best
general method is to dip a cloth in the liquid and wring it as dry as
possible ; then, to wash the glass with this cloth, using even overlap-
ping strokes, and dry it by rubbing briskly with paper, cloth, or
chamois. If the liquid dries without rubbing, especially if it has been
put on freely, the window will be streaked. A quick method, partic-
ularly adapted to large windows, is to use water freely and wipe it off
with a rubber " squeegee " drawn smoothly and evenly across the pane
with overlapping strokes. Special care must be taken to protect the
woodwork from the water.
For dry cleaning, whiting or a commercial powder of the same
fineness is used. The powder is made into a paste with water or
alcohol, applied thinly to the glass, allowed to dry thoroughly, and
then rubbed off with a soft cloth or paper. This is an easy method
of obtaining clear windows and is especially good to use in winter,
as the moisture evaporates before it freezes. It is. also a good way
of cleaning mirrors, picture glass, and the like, which might be in-
jured by water. It is, however, a dusty process and should be used
before cleaning a room.
Paint or varnish spatters on glass may be dissolved with turpentine
or alcohol or rubbed off with a dull knife.
CHINA, EARTHENWARE, AND GLASSWARE.
Dishes and ornaments made of these materials are usually cleaned
by washing in hot water and soap, rinsing in clean hot water, and
either wiping dry with a clean cloth or draining dry in a place free
from dust. They should never be quickly heated or cooled, because
sudden changes of temperature are likely to crack them. Special
care must be taken with glass to have the last wafer clean and the
Housecleaning Made Easier.
cloth both clean and free from lint. Strong soap or soap powder
should not be used on articles decorated with gilt, because these
cleaning materials may contain chlorin, which js injurious to gilt.
Alkalis may sometimes affect other colors. Even the most careful
washing will gradually wear off many kinds of colored decoration,
especially those in gilt. Hard rubbing and long soaking and the use
of any cleaning agent, except
water and suds of mild soap,
should, therefore, be avoided in
the case of choice pieces.
Deeply cut glass may be scrubbed
with a small brush and soapy water
or water containing a little am-
monia, and then rinsed in clear
water, and rubbed dry. The in-
side of vases and bottles may be
scoured by shaking a little bird
shot or a few small, hard buttons
and soapy water about in them,
or by the use of special bottle
Bric-a-brac and dishes so shaped
that parts can not be easily reached
often add unnecessarily to the work
The tarnish on metals is due to
the action on the metal of moisture,
air, food, or other substances.
Fig. 5. — Case for silver. A case of
this sort made of red or gray cotton
flannel and hung on the wall or door
of a cupboard in or near the dining
room is very convenient for silver in
every-day use. The pieces of silver
can not rub against each other as
they do when placed together in a
drawer or box, and it is possible to
tell at a glance whether any are
Different metals are affected by
The tarnish on silver is silver
sulphid and is due to the sulphur
compounds in the air where coal
and gas are burned, also in many foods, in wool, in rubber, and in
some bleached and dyed materials. This is the reason silversmiths
avoid white cotton flannel for their cases for silver. Dryness pre-
vents tarnishing somewhat, and so camphor, which absorbs moisture,
is sometimes put into the silver drawer. Silver may be cleaned by
the use of f rictional agents, by boiling it in a strong alkaline solution,
or by electrolysis.
The f rictional materials used are fine whiting, rouge, and com-
mercial pastes or powders. The noncommercial powders are mixed
Farmers' Bulletin 1180.
to a paste with water, ammonia, or alcohol, applied to the silver,
allowed to dry, and then rubbed off with a soft cloth, chamois, or a
brush. The result is bright, lustrous silver. Prepared cloths, sold
under various trade names, also clean by friction. They are usually
cotton flannel treated with a cleaning mixture, and are convenient
but relatively expensive.
The alkaline solution for cleaning silver is made by dissolving 4
teaspoons of borax, 3 teaspoons washing soda, or 2 teaspoons lye
(caustic soda) in 1 quart water. The silver is placed in an old kettle
or pan, covered with this solution, boiled for 10 minutes, and cooled
in the water.
One method of removing the tarnish from silver by electrolysis is
the following: Fill an enameled or agateware kettle partly full of
water in which has been dissolved 1 teaspoon of either washing soda
or baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt to each quart of water, heat this
solution to the boiling point, put in strips of aluminum or bright
zinc, add the tarnished silver, and boil it. The silver must be cov-
ered completely by the water and each piece must be in contact with
the zinc, either directly or through other silver. When the tarnish
has disappeared, the silver should be removed from the kettle,
washed, and dried with a clean, soft cloth. An aluminum kettle
may be used, but it soon corrodes and must be cleaned, as only a clean,
bright kettle serves the purpose. The zinc also grows dull and then
is less active; it may be cleaned in water containing a little hydro-
chloric (muriatic) acid, which is very poisonous and must be handled
with extreme care. Various commercial devices for cleaning silver
by electrolysis are on the market and may be used in place of the zinc
or aluminum strips.
Silver cleaned either in an alkaline solution or by electrolysis lacks
luster, which cleaning by friction gives. It may be made bright,
however, by a little rubbing.
COPPER, BRASS, AND BRONZE.
The tarnish on copper, brass, and bronze is copper carbonate. It
may be removed by friction, or it may be dissolved in weak acids.
Bottenstone mixed with oil to a creamy consistency is the common
frictional agent used on these metals. After this cleaner has been ap-
plied, the metal should be polished with a soft cloth. A final rubbing
with dry rottenstone or whiting will give the metal an even brighter
Oxalic-acid solution, buttermilk, or vinegar, especially when
warmed, quickly dissolves the tarnish on these metals. All traces of
these cleaning agents must be removed, however, or the metal will
tarnish again very quickly. Washing the metal in water, drying it,
Housecleaning Made Easier.
and rubbing it with dry whiting is the best way to remove the acid.
The whiting not only takes up moisture but gives the metal a brighter
luster than when acid alone is used.
Aluminum does not tarnish easily in ordinary use, but one precau-
tion should be observed in cleaning. Alkalis discolor aluminum;
therefore it should not be washed with strong soap, nor should scour-
ing powders containing free alkali be used on it. Discoloration on
aluminum may be rubbed off with whiting or fine steel wool (grade
00) or dissolved by the acid of vinegar or by dilute oxalic acid (see
p. 8). These acids must be thoroughly washed off the aluminum.
Some special preparations for cleaning aluminum are on the market.
Nickel and nickel-plated articles do not tarnish so readily as silver.
Washing them frequently with hot soapy water and drying them with
soft cloth or paper will usually keep them in good condition. Whit-
ing or some other fine scourer may sometimes bs used to brighten
nickel that has become dull, but such a condition often means that the
surface is scratched or the plating broken. Eeplating is the only
remedy in such cases.
IRON AND STEEL.
The rust on iron and steel is different from the tarnish on other
metals in that it flakes off, thus exposing another surface to the action
of the air and moisture. If this process of oxidation continues long
enough, the metal may be eaten away entirely, or "rust out," as is
commonly said. Keeping iron and steel dry and brightly polished is
the best preventive against rust. If such articles are to be stored,
coating the surface with paraffin or other fat that contains no salt or
wrapping them in newspaper prevents rust. A scourer, such as bath-
brick, applied with a moistened cork or cloth, usually removes rust
and discoloration. If this treatment is not effective, kerosene should
be poured on the spot and allowed to stand for a few minutes before
the scourer is applied. After the rust is removed, all traces of the
kerosene should be washed off with hot soapy water and the metal
dried thoroughly. Steel wool or a tinsel scrub cloth is also good for
scouring rusty iron skillets or kettles. Iron kitchen utensils are
smoother and are thought to wear better if they are rubbed with fat
and baked before they are first used.
Galvanized iron is iron covered with zinc and does not rust nor
tarnish. It is very durable and is extensively used for water pails,
garbage cans, and other utensils that receive hard usage. The only
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
care that galvanized iron requires is washing in hot soapsuds or a
weak soda solution, rinsing, and drying.
For ordinary care, tin utensils should be washed in hot soapy
water, rinsed in hot clear water, and dried thoroughly. A tin utensil
that has food dried on it should be covered with a weak soda solu-
tion, heated for a few minutes, and then washed. Scraping scratches
tin and may expose the iron or steel surface underneath, which may
rust, tin darkens with use and this tarnish protects the tin; there-
fore tin utensils should not be scoured simply for the sake of making
Zinc darkens with use, but may be brightened by the use of scourers.
Zinc on floors, under stoves, and in like places should be scoured
with bath-brick and kerosene, washed and rinsed with water, and
wiped dry. Zinc on tables, or wherever likely to come in contact
with food, should be scoured with bath-brick and water. Acid, as
in vinegar or lemon juice, may be used to remove stains on zinc, but
should be thoroughly washed off; otherwise the zinc will tarnish
again very soon.
PEWTER, BRITANNIA WARE, AND GERMAN SILVER.
All these metals are soft, and only very fine scourers, such as fine
whiting, rouge, or fine rottenstone mixed wi$i oil, should be used
Lacquered metals do not tarnish, for the metal is protected from
the action of air and moisture by a shellac preparation. Metals
treated in this way need only to be dusted frequently, and occasionally
wiped with a cloth wrung out of warm soapy water and thoroughly
dried. If the lacquer cracks, the only remedy is to remove it with
alcohol and relacquer the exposed surface.
ENAMELED WARE AND AGATEWARE.
Enameled ware and agateware are made by coating iron or steel
with enamel or glaze. The durability of enameled ware depends on
the quality of both the foundation and the enamel and on the care
given it. If the foundation is not firm, it will bend with use and the
brittle enamel will crack and flake off, for example, as often happens
on enameled spoons. Enameled ware should be protected from acids,
from sudden changes of temperature, and from unnecessary knocks
or blows. An enameled-ware kettle that has food stuck on it should
Housecleaning Made Easier.
not be scraped, but should be boiled with a little soda, washed in hot
soapy water, rinsed, and dried thoroughly. If this method is not
effective, the dish may be scoured with fine whiting or rottenstone.
Stoppage in pipes is often due to hardened grease or to an accumu-
lation of hair and lint. The waste pipe leading from a plumbing
fixture should be thoroughly flushed after using in order to carry the
waste out of the house pipes and leave the trap full of clean water.
A trap in a waste pipe is a curved section so arranged that water re-
mains in it and forms a seal that prevents the passage of sewer gas
into the house. If the water left in the trap is not clean, decomposi-
tion may take place and odors and gases may come from the impuri-
ties in the water itself. Precautions should be taken to prevent oil
and grease from going down the waste pipe from the kitchen sink,
because being lighter than water they tend to remain floating on the
surface of the water in the trap.
Occasionally more than cold or even hot water is necessary to clear
out the accumulated grease, lint, miscellaneous dirt, and bits of
refuse. Washing soda is ordinarily sufficiently strong for bath-
room pipes and may be used in the proportion of 1 part " liquid "
soda (see p. 8) to 12 parts hot water, or 1 pound of dry soda thor-
oughly dissolved in 3 gallons of boiling water. The drainpipe from
the kitchen sink may sometimes need a stronger cleanser, even if it is
thoroughly cleaned and flushed after each dishwashing, and for this
purpose caustic potash is efficacious but must be carefully used. The
hapds must be protected from it, and it must not be allowed to touch
porcelain or porcelain-lined sinks, because it may destroy the glaze.
One pound of crystals dissolved in 2 quarts of water by stirring with
a wooden stick should be poured down the drain. About half an hour
later the pipe should be flushed with clear water. Caustic soda, al-
though sometimes recommended, is not suitable for this purpose, be-
cause it is likely to unite with the grease and form a hard soap which
is difficult to remove from the pipes.
Fine scourers may be used on all fixtures. For porcelain and enam-
eled iron fixtures, kerosene and whiting are especially good ; the kero-
sene cuts the grease, and the whiting supplies the abrasion. Some of
the commercial cleaning preparations used for enameled and porce-
lain fixtures contain scourers so gritty that they scratch the surface
and thus make it harder and harder to keep clean. Nothing coarser
than whiting should be allowed.
Bathroom fixtures should be cleaned daily. Tubs and bowls should
be scrubbed with a fine scourer or with water containing a little kero-
sene, rinsed with clear hot water, and wiped dry. The stains made by
Farmers* Bulletin 1180.
water containing an excess of iron may be removed from porcelain
or porcelain-lined tubs and bowls with oxalic-acid solution, which is
a poison and must be entirely washed off. The overflow pipes should
be flushed occasionally with hot water, for dirt and grease are likely
to collect and decompose there.
The water-closet should be kept scrupulously clean. It should
usually be cleaned daily or more frequently if it gets very hard use.
The bowl should be flushed, washed with hot soapsuds or soda solu-
tion and a long-handled brush, and flushed again. Then the seat, the
cover, the chain, and the handle should be washed and wiped. All
cloths and utensils used in cleaning the bathroom should be scalded
and dried, preferably in the open air.
The crust of lime which is sometimes deposited by hard water can
be removed from porcelain and porcelain-lined fixtures with hydro-
chloric acid. This acid is very poisonous and is also injurious to the
skin and to many materials, including the metals used in plumbing,
and it must be handled with extreme care. Gloves should be worn
when using it. To clean the bowl of a closet, bail out as much winter
as possible, pour in about a pint of commercial hydrochloric acid
(sometimes called muriatic acid) and let this stand for several hours,
or until the crust begins to crumble when poked with a stick. Then
flush with a large quantity of water. The water in the tank is not
enough ; more must be poured in by hand in order to dilute the acid
and carry it rapidly away. In a porcelain-lined sink or bath-tub the
acid must not be allowed to stand on the soiled earthenware because
it may get through to the metal underneath and eat that away. It
must, therefore, be applied drop by drop to the lime and flushed out
with plenty of water as soon as the crust begins to crumble when
REFRIGERATORS AND FOOD RECEPTACLES.
So far as possible refrigerators should be kept clean by preventive
care. Ice should be washed before it is put into the ice compartment.
Food should be put into the refrigerator in clean and usually covered
dishes and should never be put in hot. Anything spilled in the re-
frigerator should be wiped up immediately. The contents of the
refrigerator should be frequently inspected to make sure that no
spoiled food is left in it.
About once a week and at a time when the refrigerator contains
only a little ice, it should be thoroughly cleaned. The ice and all
the food should be removed. The racks should be taken out, washed
in hot water containing soap or soda, rinsed, and wiped dry. If
possible, the drainpipe should be removed, scrubbed inside with a
long-handled spiral brush or swab, and scalded. If the pipe is not
removable, it should nevertheless be thoroughly cleaned out, for* it
Housecleaning Made Easier.
may contain not only solid matter from the melting ice, but also slime
formed by the organisms that thrive in such a dark, cool, moist situa-
tion. The small trap in the drainpipe should also be cleaned, and the
drain pan should be washed and scalded. The inside of the re-
frigerator should be washed with hot water containing soap or soda,
rinsed, and dried thoroughly. A small pointed stick like a skewer
should be used to clean the corners and seams.
So-called " iceless " refrigerators should te cleaned as regularly as
those of the ice-box type. The shelves should be washed and sunned,
and, if possible, two sets of curtains should be provided so that each
can be washed and sunned every other week. Food safes, bread
boxes, and other receptacles for food should likewise be regularly
washed, scalded, and aired to prevent mold and decay of their con-
The outside of all stoves should be wiped frequently with a cloth,
soft paper, or cotton waste. Grease may be washed off with soap and
water. Rubbing the stove with a soft, thick cloth moistened with a
few drops of kerosene or light lubricating oil will keep it in good con-
dition, though not polished. For cookstoves especially, many house-
keepers consider this sufficient and prefer it to blacking, because sub-
stances spilled can be more easily washed off, and flatirons and the
bottoms of kettles are cleaner than if stove polish is carelessly used.
If blacking is used it should be applied when the stove is slightly
warm, both for the sake of convenience and because some polishes are
made with inflammable materials, such as turpentine. The stove
should be well cleaned, covered with a very thiri coat of blacking,
and rubbed briskly and thoroughly with a dry brush. If a stove is
blacked and polished in this wayj the color should not come off on
the bottoms of saucepans.
Nickel trimmings on stoves should be cleaned like other nickel (see
Coal and wood stoves should be cleaned inside frequently and thor-
oughly, in order to save heat and fuel. Ashes should be removed
every day, and once a week the soot should be brushed from the bot-
tom of the lids. All flues should be cleaned regularly, especially
those under and on top of the oven, through which hot air must cir-
culate to heat it.
When the burners on gas stoves become clogged, they should be
taken out, brushed, placed in a large pan, and boiled in water to
which washing soda has been added in the proportion of one-half
pound to 1 gallon, rinsed and brushed, wiped with paper or cotton
waste, fitted back in the stove, and dried thoroughly by lighting the
gas. The tray under the burners should be removed and washed
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
The burners and chimneys on oil or other liquid-fuel stoves should
be kept in order in the same way as kerosene lamps. In most makes
the burners are detachable, and when they become clogged may be
cleaned like those on gas stoves.
The heating elements on electric stoves may be cleaned with water
and a soft brush. Any particles burned to char may be brushed out.
Kerosene lamps must be kept clean and filled if they are to burn
with a good light and without odor. The reservoir should be filled to
within an inch of the top. The charred portion of the wick should
be rubbed off, the char removed from the wick tube and the burner,
Fig. 6. — Equipment for keeping lamps in order.
and the wick turned down just below the top of the tube. The
chimney should be cleaned either by rubbing with tissue paper or by
washing in hot soapy water, rinsing in clear hot water, and wiping
perfectly dry ; if there is any moisture on the chimney when the lamp
is lit, the glass is likely to crack. The outside of the lamp and the
shade should be dusted. It saves trouble to keep the materials used
in cleaning lamps together in a tray, box, or basket (fig. 6).
It is easier to keep a house in order if it is equipped with adequate
storage facilities. "A place for everything and everything in its
place " is a good old adage which, if heeded, saves time and strength.
Less time is wasted in looking for misplaced articles if similar ones -
Housecleaning Made Easier.
are stored together and if the contents of boxes, drawers, and closets
are suitably labeled or listed. Things that have outlived their use-
fulness should not be stored, even if there is ample space, for they
simply add to the material that must be cared for without giving
any service in return.
Such household storage places as attics, basements, cellars, and
sheds do not, of course, need to be so frequently or carefully put in
order as the living rooms, but they should be gone over often enough
to keep their contents in good condition and to prevent dirt from
being carried from them into the other parts of the house.
The cellar or basement may be damp and therefore requires special
care, both because things stored in it may spoil and because the
quality of the air in it affects that all over the house. It should be
regularly ventilated, preferably with a cross current of air, and open
windows and doors should be screened against insects and in some
cases against dirt (see p. 4). Unplastered walls should be white-
washed occasionally because the light color reflects the light and the
whitewash is a germicide. In most cases the boxes or shelves in
which things are stored should not be set directly on the floor, but
raised on racks or blocks of wood to avoid dampness and mustiness.
Old newspapers, magazines, and paper boxes should not be stored
here because they tend to absorb moisture.
Compact and orderly arrangement in a clothes closet makes clean-
ing easier. Dresses, coats, and like garments may be kept on hangers
on a rod across the closet, and shoes may be kept on a shelf near the
floor of the closet. The clothes closet should be aired each day ; leav-
ing the door open every night is a good plan. Occasionally every-
thing stored in the closet should be taken out, and floors, walls, and
shelves thoroughly cleaned. Dusty closets are likely to harbor moths.
GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR CLEANING A ROOM.
Cleaning a room according to a definite plan will save labor be-
cause the different steps in the process will not need to be repeated.
When rooms near together are to be cleaned on the same day, it is
often easiest to get all of them ready, then clean them all, and finally
put them all in order.
Sweeping and dusting should be made as dustless as possible, for
the object is to remove dust, not to scatter it. In sweeping, the
strokes should be firm and even and taken in such a way that the
broom or brush is kept on the floor most of the time and not flirted
through the air. The dust cloth should be held in a fairly compact
mass, so that the surface to be cleaned is wiped or polished and at
the same time the dust is held by the cloth.
Small pictures and bric-a-brac should be dusted and removed from
the room or placed in a pile and covered.
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
Draperies and portieres should be taken down or pinned up.
Furniture, mirrors, and pictures should be dusted and covered
Eadiators or registers should be cleaned. Each register should be
lifted out, placed on a newspaper, and dusted thoroughly with a
brush and an oiled cloth. The hot-air pipe should be brushed and
the screen cleaned. The opening should be covered with newspaper
and the register placed over it to prevent dust from dropping down.
The grate, the stove, or the fireplace should be cleaned.
The walls and ceiling and the baseboards should be brushed and
The floor and floor coverings should be cleaned according to the
While the dust is settling, spots should be removed from the wood-
work and the windows washed if necessary (see p. 16).
The covers may then be removed from pictures and furniture, and
should be shaken out of doors if possible.
Then the room and furniture should be dusted thoroughly, begin-
ning at the top of the room and working down.
When a room is cleaned with a vacuum cleaner, the order of pro-
ceeding is different. The room is first dusted, then the vacuum
cleaner is used on upholstery, hangings, walls, and carpets or rugs,
and finally the floor is dusted. By this method of cleaning fewer
articles need to be moved, no dust is scattered, and more dirt is
actually removed. A vacuum cleaner, therefore, saves labor, even
though with some types part of the work is harder than sweeping.
Insect and animal pests are not only disagreeable, but in many
cases a menace to health and injurious to the house and furnishings.
Scrupulous cleanliness everywhere on the premises is the best pre-
ventive, but in addition the following precautions should be taken :
Screening windows and outside doors; filling cracks and holes in
floors and walls; clearing up all crumbs and bits of food promptly;
leaving no food uncovered ; keeping garbage in closed receptacles and
insisting on its prompt disposal ; removing or disinfecting all decay-
ing animal or vegetable matter in or near the house ; covering rain
barrels and allowing no other stagnant water in or near the house.
In spite of all precautions, insect and animal pests frequently get
into a house and must then be exterminated or controlled. Poisoning,
trapping, fumigating, and the use of repellents are some of the
methods employed. Unfortunately, some of the most efficacious are
dangerous to human beings and should be used only by responsible
persons. Poisons should never be placed where they can be taken
by accident, and special care should, of course, be used to keep them
Housecleaning Made Easier.
away from children. Inflammable or explosive materials such as
gasoline and benzine should be handled with the usual precautions
(see p. S\.
Ants. — Ants are attracted by various food substances, especially
fats and sugars ; therefore these foods should be kept in closed con-
tainers and crumbs or small amounts spilled on shelves or tables
cleaned off at once.
The most effective way of ridding a house of ants is to find and
destroy the nest by treating it with carbon bisulphid, benzine, gaso-
line, or kerosene. Or, if the nest itself can not be found, oftentimes
the ants may be traced to the opening or crack through which they
enter. Squirting kerosene into it or plugging it with cotton saturated
with the oil will in many cases drive them away.
A temporary expedient for controlling anis is to moisten small
sponges with sweetened water and place them where the ants are most
numerous. Attracted by the sugar they will crawl into the sponges
and may be killed by dropping in boiling water. The sponges should
be baited again with the sweetened water, and, if necessary, set in
different places until the colony leaves the house.
A more effective but also more dangerous method is to moisten the
sponges with a sirup made by dissolving 1 pound of sugar in 1 quart
of hot water and adding 125 grains (about i ounce) of arsenate of
soda. Some of the ants apparently carry this poisoned liquid back
to the .nest and feed it to the others there, thus gradually killing the
entire colony. This mixture must be used with the greatest care, as
it is poisonous to both human beings and domestic animals.
Bedbugs. — Kerosene, gasoline, and benzine when forced into cracks
or crevices infested by bedbugs are effective in controlling them.
Successive applications should be made at intervals of 3 or 4 days for
10 days or 2 weeks so that the bugs hatched in the intervening periods
may be killed.
Boiling water kills both bugs and eggs, but it can seldom be used,
for it injures paint and varnish. A solution made of 1 part cor-
rosive sublimate to 5 parts boiling water is also effective and may
be used to wash furniture and woodwork. Corrosive sublimate is
a deadly poison and must be used with extreme care.
Fumigating rooms with sulphur will also kill many bedbugs but
can not be depended upon for extermination. Sulphur fumigation
is never advised for rooms containing fine wall papers or valuable
furnishing, because it tends to bleach colors.
Carpet beetles, "buffalo bugs," or "buffalo moths."— Carpet
beetles are difficult to exterminate once they become established in
a house in which the floors have carpets tacked over them. Bare
floors with rugs do not offer them the same advantages for hiding
Farmers' Bulletin 1180.
If these pests are found, the carpets should be taken up, thoroughly-
cleaned outside of the house, sprayed with gasoline or benzine, and,
if possible ; aired and sunned. The floor should be thoroughly
scrubbed with soapsuds, special attention being given to cracks and
crevices along baseboards, and sprayed with gasoline, benzine, or
kerosene. Before the carpet is replaced the cracks should be filled
with a crack filler. Closets infested with these beetles should be
scrubbed and sprayed in the same way as floors. Hydrocyanic-acid
gas and sulphur fumes are also effectual in exterminating carpet
Cockroaches or waterbugs. — Several varieties of these are preva-
lent in various parts of the country. They are usually attracted
by dampness, bits of food and trash of all kinds, and are particu-
larly difficult to get rid of where one can not control conditions
throughout the building. Sprinkling borax, sodium fluorid, or
pyrethrum freely and persistently day after day wherever cock-
roaches appear or are likely to hide seems to be a fairly successful
method of extermination. Of all powders sodium fluorid is the best.
Small dishes filled with a paste made of plaster of Paris, flour, and
water placed where the roaches have appeared is another effective
method. Still another good method, which has the added advantage
of placing the poison where it can not be accidentally touched by a
person or a household pet, is to put daubs of phosphorus paste on the
inside of small tubes of paper.
Fleas. — If a room becomes infested with fleas, the carpet or rugs
should be taken out of doors, cleaned, and sprayed with benzine
or gasoline. The floor should be washed with soapsuds, special at-
tention being given to cracks between boards and along baseboards,
and rubbed or sprayed with gasoline, benzine, or kerosene.
Flies. — So far as possible flies should be kept out of the house by
the use of screens ; if they do get in, every effort should be made to
drive them out or kill them. Flytraps, fly paper, insect powder, and
poisons are used. One of the best means of killing flies is to place a
solution made of 1 part formaldehyde to 10 parts water in shallow
dishes about the house. A piece of bread in each dish will make the
bait more attractive.
Moths. — Woolen materials and garments should be thoroughly
cleaned, brushed, aired, and sunned before they are put away, in order
to dislodge any moth eggs or larvae on them. Sealing woolen gar-
ments in clean, heavy paper bags will keep moths out. Tobacco,
camphor, naphthalene, cedar, and tar are all repellents for moths, and
are of value if garments are put away entirely free from moths and
moth eggs. None of these agencies, however, can be relied on to
prevent eggs and larvae left in the garment from developing and eat-
Housecleaning Made Easier.
ing the woolens if they are left on open shelves or in very loosely con-
structed containers. Naphthalene in the form of moth balls or flakes,
when fresh and used at the rate of one pound to a trunk of average
size, will not only protect clothing stored in the trunk from becoming
infested, but will kill infestations that by chance escape the cleaning
process. Fumigation by carbon disulphid is an excellent method of
immediately killing out infestations in clothing stored in tight con-
tainers and can not be recommended too highly. Directions for this
are given in another bulletin of this series. 4
If a closet becomes infested with moths, it should be sprayed or
fumigated as suggested for carpet beetles.
Rats and mice. — All openings through which rats and mice would
be likely to enter houses should be closed or screened. Holes should
be filled up with a mixture of cement, sand, and broken glass or
crockery, or covered with a sheet of metal.
Traps of various kinds are used for catching rats and mice. If a
house is badly infested, traps should be set in several places at a time.
Eats and mice may also be poisoned, but such methods are usually
more to be recommended for barns, poultry houses, and outbuildings
than for houses,' because the poisoned animals may die in the walls
and foundations of the house, making it almost uninhabitable for
some time. Moreover, the poisons used are extremely dangerous,
and must never be placed where a person or household animal can
reach them by accident. If poison must be used, barium carbonate
is, perhaps, the cheapest and most effective. One way to use it is
to mix 1 teaspoon of the mineral with 8 teaspoons of rolled oats,
add enough water to make a stiff paste, and place this poisoned
bait where the animals are known to run, using a teaspoon in a
place; or the poison may be spread on fish, bread and butter, or
moistened toast, and placed in the runs. Strychnine, in the form of
crystals of strychnia sulphate, is sometimes employed either by em-
bedding the dry crystals in meat or toasted cheese, or by soaking
oatmeal, wheat, or corn in a strychnine sirup (1 ounce of crystals
dissolved in 1 pint of boiling water and mixed with 1 pint of thick
sugar sirup), but this poison acts too quickly to be advisable for use
in the house.
Silverfish.— These insects are attracted by starch and are particu-
larly injurious to books, papers, and starched clothing. Advantage
may be taken of this fact in destroying them. An effective method is
to mix about 1 teaspoon (three-fourths dram) of powdered white
arsenic with one-half cup of flour, make a thin paste by adding
boiling water, spread it on small pieces of cardboard, and place them
when dry where the silverfish have been found.
* Farmers' Bui. 799, Carbon Disulphid as an Insecticide.
Farmers 9 Bulletin 1180.
Pyrethrum and sodium fluorid are also effective in controlling these
Other publications of this department giving added information
about household pests are listed on page 31.
GENERAL RULES FOR EASY CLEANING.
The more important points brought out in this bulletin may
be summarized as follows :
Keep dirt out of the house by cleaning the walks, steps, porches,
and sills regularly and often, by screening windows and doors near
the ground, and by insisting on having muddy shoes and coats
cleaned or left outside.
Lessen the number of dust-collecting places, such as unnecessary
cupboards, grooved and carved woodwork, floors with cracks, rough-
finished walls, elaborately carved and upholstered furniture, super-
fluous draperies, and bric-a-brac.
Remove dirt frequently and systematically. This keeps the house
and furnishings in better condition and makes the need of heavy
cleaning less frequent.
Clean by taking the dirt away, not by scattering it to settle again
Do heavy cleaning a little at a time to avoid the hard work and dis-
comforts of the old-fashioned spring and fall housecleaning.
Have a supply of good cleaning tools such as your work calls for
and keep them in good order in a convenient place.
Use water and cleaning agents sparingly because otherwise they
may spoil finishes and weaken glue, paste, or cement.
Be on the lookout for troublesome insects and animals and take
prompt measures to get rid of them if they appear.
Make all the family help by leaving things where they belong and
in good condition.
Housecleaning Made Easier.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OF
INTEREST IN CONNECTION WITH THIS BULLETIN.
AVAILABLE FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION BY THE DEPARTMENT.
The Farm Kitchen as a Workshop. (Farmers' Bulletin 607.)
Removal of Stains from Clothing and Other Textiles. (Farmers' Bulletin 861.)
Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting on the Farm. (Farmers' Bulletin 904.)
Farm Home Conveniences. (Farmers' Bulletin 927.)
Water Systems for Farm Homes. (Farmers' Bulletin 941.)
Home Laundering. (Farmers' Bulletin 1099.)
Selection of Household Equipment. (Yearbook Separate 646.)
The House Centipede. (Farmers' Bulletin 627.)
Cockroaches. (Farmers' Bulletin 658.)
Hydrocyanic-acid Gas against Household Insects. (Farmers' Bulletin 699.)
Flytraps and Their Operation. (Farmers' Bulletin 734.)
House Ants— Kinds and Methods of Control. (Farmers' Bulletin 740.)
The Bedbug. (Farmers' Bulletin 754.)
Carbon Disulphid as an Insecticide. (Farmers' Bulletin 799.)
The House Fly. (Farmers' Bulletin 851.)
House Rats and Mice. (Farmers' Bulletin 896.)
Fleas and Their Control. (Farmers' Bulletin 897.)
The Silverfish or " Slicker," an Injurious Household Insect. (Farmers' Bulle-
Some Common Disinfectants. (Farmers' Bulletin 92,6.)
The House Rat, the Most Destructive Animal in the World. (Yearbook Sepa-
The Argentine Ant as a Household Pest. (Farmers' Bulletin 1101.)
Book Lice, or Psocids, Annoying Household Pests. (Farmers' Bulletin 1104.)
FOR SALE BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS, GOVERNMENT PRINTING
OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Water Supply, Plumbing, and Sewage Disposal for Country Homes. (Depart-
ment Bulletin 57.) Price, 10 cents.
WASHINGTON : GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE I 1921