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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 


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 

Furniture 15 

Windows and mirrors 16 

China, earthenware, and glass 16 

Silver 17 

Copper, brass, and bronze 18 

Aluminum 19 

Nickel. 19 

Iron and steel 19 


Methods of cleaning — Continued. 

T5n 20 

Zinc_ 1 20 

Pewter, Britannia ware, etc 20 

Lacquered metals 20 

Enameled ware and agateware ._ 20 

Plumbing 21 

Refrigerators and food receptacles. 22 

Stoves 23 

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 
is available. 


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 
if possible. 

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 
bought haphazard. 


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 
cork carpeting. 

(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- 
ing water-closets. 

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 
remove dirt. 

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 
long-handled dustpan. 
As the pan is lifted it 
closes automatically, 
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, 
creamy wax. 

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. 


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 

the handle. 

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 


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. 


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 
remain overnight. 

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 
to ravel. 

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 
frequent cleaning. 

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 
touches it. 


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. 


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. 


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 
of cleaning. 


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 
different substances. 

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. 


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. 


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 
them bright. 


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. 


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 
on them. 


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 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 


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 
p. 19). 

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 
- frequently. 


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. 


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 
with cloths. 

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 
and breeding. 


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. 


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. 




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- 
tin 902.) 

Some Common Disinfectants. (Farmers' Bulletin 92,6.) 

The House Rat, the Most Destructive Animal in the World. (Yearbook Sepa- 
rate 725.) 

The Argentine Ant as a Household Pest. (Farmers' Bulletin 1101.) 

Book Lice, or Psocids, Annoying Household Pests. (Farmers' Bulletin 1104.) 


Water Supply, Plumbing, and Sewage Disposal for Country Homes. (Depart- 
ment Bulletin 57.) Price, 10 cents.