For most of us, vacuuming the carpet is a bit of a chore and one that often gets put off either until we have family or friends descending upon us, or when our once pristine-white carpet has turned a mottled shade of beige. As I was cleaning ours, it got me thinking what it was really like to clean carpets long before steam cleaners and vacuums were invented. Let’s take a look…
Early 19th Century
In the early 19th century carpets were very much of a fashion statement of the rich and bedecked many a grand room in large country houses. Although they were a sign that you’d made it in society, cleaning them was another matter. Most of the work was done by servants who would sweep the excess dirt and soot (caused by open fires) away using a dust pan. The trouble was that the fine particles of soot which were disturbed by the sweeping would simply settle again minutes later.
To make life a little easier many carpets were covered by ‘druggets’ or ‘crumb catchers’. These were heavy woollen cloths spread under tables and seating areas to catch crumbs and spills. Also around this time people were becoming more aware that breathing in huge quantities of dust and soot probably wasn’t good for them which prompted them to search for better ways to clean their carpets. Out of this came the beating technique! Once a month the whole carpet would be taken outside and hung up, where one or more people would beat the living daylights out of it using what can only be described as an enlarged wooden butter pat. While it was a great form of stress relief and did eliminate some of the dust, it wouldn’t get rid of stains.
By the 1830’s housewives were starting to document their domestic chore secrets and this included stain removal techniques. Very soon natural products such as lemon juice were being used.
For the next 40 years or so carpet cleaning pretty much consisted of lemon juice, an enlarged butter pat and good old fashioned elbow grease, but in 1869 Ives W McGaffey invented the world’s first manually-operated vacuum cleaner. It was bulky and it wasn’t particularly easy to operate as it had to be hand pumped. That said it was deemed a miracle of modern technology by many housewives of the day.
In 1899 American entrepreneur John Thurman invented the first fully motorised vacuum cleaner that was gasoline powered. This was closely followed in 1901 by British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth whose horse-drawn petrol unit was parked outside the house waiting to be cleaned. Long hoses were fed through the windows to suck out the dirt. I guess that you could say that this was a fore-runner of carpet cleaning companies as we know them today. It wasn’t until 1907 when American, James Spangler was accredited for producing the first electrically powered vacuum cleaner. This came complete with a revolutionary rotating brush.
1920’s to present day
During the 1920 and 30’s carpet became unfashionable and it wasn’t until after the second world war that inventors started to turn their thoughts to using chemicals to eliminate stains. Moving on to modern day, chemicals are still used, but they’re now much safer for pets and humans alike and they’re also environmentally friendly.
If you want to know more about how a modern day carpet cleaning company can get your carpet looking like new, then contact Carpet Cleaning Kings on 1300 7000 75 today!