This past weekend, I took my show on the road down 95 to Trenton’s Old Barracks Museum, where once again, soldiers’ rooms needed cleaning. Hannah Glasse exhorts servants (housemaids and housekeepers) to clean household rooms daily, and I can tell you this: if you’re cleaning 18th century spaces using period techniques, daily is the way to go.
Unpaved streets and sidewalks meant people tracked significantly more mud and grit indoors, and soldiers would have brought the parade ground indoors every time they crossed a threshold. Not a pretty thing– and then there’s the straw mattresses (to be changed monthly at a minimum), wool uniforms, skin, hair, and vermin that could accumulate as well. Filth: a major contribution to ill health if not managed properly.
Being possessed of a particularly detail-oriented mind, I went in search of a more 18th-century correct broom at an affordable price and found a broom enthusiast on Etsy who agreed to make and priority mail custom brooms just in time for the trip to New Jersey. On the whole, I’m very pleased with these. They make a satisfying sound as they move across the floor, and draw a fair quantity of dirt. Turns out that strewing wet sand on the floor before you sweep is remarkably effective and absolutely the way to go. The damp sand keeps the dust down and is swept out the door with the filth without harming the floor.
After sweeping, mopping. Once again, I used the lavender-infused vinegar in the mop water (though I forgot to strain the solution this time). The mixture has a unique but not unpleasant smell, and as the floors dry, the room retains the odor, a sure indication of cleanliness.
This weekend was also the first run for a new wool scrap mop, which was proven the best mop yet. Many thanks to my secret source for the contribution to the effort. It’s clear that mops could easily have been made by binding rag strips to pole handles, and whether made by poor house inmates or soldiers, mop making is cheap, low-tech busy work.