The vacuum is broken, and I’m caught in a blur of trailing a toddler with a dust pan and hand broom, cleaning sections of carpet by hand and spot cleaning with vinegar and baking soda (which I have to scrub out since the vacuum is of no use).
“But housekeeping is fun. It is one job where you enjoy the results right along as you work. You may work all day washing and ironing, but at night you have the delicious feeling of sunny clean sheets and airy pillows to lie on. If you clean, you sit down at nightfall with the house shining and faintly smelling of wax, all yours to enjoy right then and there. And if you cook—that creation you lift from the oven goes right to the table.”
— Gladys Taber
Partner-Bow laughed when he saw me sweeping the carpet, but I swear it’s better than nothing. He said there’s no way sweeping can clean the carpet.
He’s a scientist. He’s probably right.
Who knows what’s lurking in the carpet beyond the reach of my broom bristles.
I really need to get a vacuum.
I wrote a letter to Santa.
Never heard back.
But I suppose this is another opportunity, right?
It must be.
I believe all trials serve a purpose, no matter how trivial they might seem to me.
The night after Partner-Bow laughed at my attempt to sweep (beat) our carpet clean, I wondered what people did before vacuums existed.
After all, Partner-Bow is probably right, but vacuums really haven’t been around all that long! Did they just not have carpet? There had to be a way to get my carpet clean without a vacuum.
And where else does one look for the answer to this question?
Why, Pinterest, of course!
But I got zilch. Apparently, I’m the only woman on Pinterest asking this question. Or I’m the only one dumb enough to tell everyone that I’m trying desperately to keep my carpets clean at the moment.
So I turned to Google. And what do you know, the carpet cleaners are here to rescue! For free!
Okay, they’re not showing up at my house to surprise me with a Christmas miracle, but almost all the information I found on how people cleaned their carpets before vacuums came into existence came from the history of carpet cleaning, so thoughtfully shared by these various carpet cleaners (I challenge you to go see if any of your local carpet cleaners offer a history of carpet cleaning. If you’re into homemaking or housecleaning, you might enjoy it. Or you won’t. Either way, you’ll have that additional piece of knowledge to be grateful for)!
In short, what I learned is that before the vacuum cleaner, the few that could afford large spacial rugs in their homes could also afford to hire a servant (or several) to drag them outside, hang them over a line and beat the dust out of them. In the event that the carpet was wall-to-wall, like you’d see in our apartments and homes today, the kind which cannot simply be drug out and beaten, the servants would… drum roll please…
SWEEP THE CARPET!
Fine, fine, so it’s not really an answer to how I can clean my carpets now without a vacuum, because let’s face it, there are faults to the method.
But it was satisfying to learn that my instinct was in line with (at least somewhat) what someone might have done in the past.
Getting a vacuum is definitely on our list of things to do over this holiday break. But in the mean time, I’ll be sweeping my carpets (and trailing my toddler on all fours armed with a hand broom). And I’ll remind myself how grateful I am for this particular piece of technology which allows me to provide my family with a clean home, while also giving my back a break.