Cleaning Throughout History

  • 5000 B.C. Babylonians, amongst the first to live in cities, discovered that unclean water caused health problems. Fresh water was made a priority.
  • 3000 B.C. Indus Valley civilization has some form of sewerage system, using drains in the street and obtaining clean water from wells.
  • 400 B.C. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of Medicine, realized that cleaning could prevent wounds and skin injuries from being infected. Amongst other things Hippocrates saw that diseases were natural in origin, not spiritual curses. They also had natural measures that could be taken to treat them.
    Romans had running water in aqueducts, decent sewage systems and were fond of regular bathing. They also collected urine for washing purposes. Urine turns into ammonia, so this actually worked well for some applications.
  • DARK AGES A lot of the ideas about hygiene were lost, and sanitation was poor; inevitable there was a horrible increase in disease and mortality. This may have varied greatly with social class. Soap existed in many European countries from the 6th century, but did not reach England till after the 11th.
  • 19th century Borax, a precursor to and ingredient of many detergents is used. Soluble in water this proved better than soap and hot water.

    Books on housekeeping, such as Beetons Book of Household Management and Housekeeping in Old Virginia prove popular. They combined cooking guides and recipes with house cleaning methods. Over time these types of publications separated into the modern cookbook and household hint publications.

    Clothes were cleaned by beating the dust out of them, and then treating with a stiff brush. There was a distinction between outer-clothing and under-clothing, which kept the outer-clothing from touching the skin. This at lease kept the outer-clothing in good condition. Like modern suit jackets outer clothing did not need frequent washing. The familiar image of clothes being boiled in a pot, scrubbed on a washboard and put through a wringer seems to have only applied to the under-clothing.

    Porcelain and China was cleaned with Fuller’s Earth, a mildly abrasive powder. This was actually good for absorbing grease and oil, and it is still used today as a facial treatment.

    Carpets were actually rugs, and were cleaned by beating them with rods. Ink spots were removes with a lemon, oil stains with hot white bread! Carpets were often made reversible (ingrain carpets, at least) sometimes with reversed patterns on opposing sides. Carpets could be turned over if one side was worn, or if summer and winter required a lighter or darker look.

    Some advice books recommended tea leaves or freshly cut grass for cleaning carpets, this was supposed to remove dust. These tended to produce stains of their own. Some liquid methods were used for spot stains. There was debate whether a carpet lasted longer if cleaned infrequently or more regularly. The dirt left from infrequent cleaning was though to wear away the carpet (there is some truth to this); the cleaning process itself was also thought to cause carpet wear. Modern techniques, which cause very little wear, now strongly favour more frequent cleaning.

  • 1934 Almost modern carpet cleaning methods arrive. Soap jelly was prepared in a bowl, subjected to an egg beater till it had the consistence of cream or lather. Carpets were washed with this soap jelly in small sections at a time, the suds being removed first with a damp cloth, then with clean water.

Office, strata and home cleaning benefit greatly from the cleaning advancements made in the last few generations. Call Sydney’s AAA cleaning for the latest home and carpet cleaning techniques.