Treading in the Steps of the Ancients: History of Cleaning House

Every generation since the beginning of time thinks it’s unique. They are convinced their habits, education, inventions and philosophies are the first ever. It surprises many to find that the ancients not only invented a viable computer, flush toilet and alphabet, but they also cleaned house. We suppose when today’s homemakers find that the ancients had their own cleaning tips and tricks, they will be aghast. Not the first to dust? Second in line to sweep floors, do dishes and take out the trash? Rubbish! Put down the Swiffer duster and allow us to tell you about it.

Ancient Houses

Biblical movies as well as biopics show us that the ancients lived in billowing tents or thatched cottages made of wood. As time and technology progressed, the thatched huts morphed into brick and stone cottages and castles. What no one sees is that the ashes from the cooking fireplaces as well as the fireplaces in each room had to be removed, the rushes on the floor (used primarily for sanitary reasons) had to be swept up, removed and replaced, and the stone floors scrubbed. In time, sanitary conditions improved in the form of chamber pots, which turned into outhouses and finally in-home bathrooms. Bathing chambers existed in which sunken stone “tubs” were filled with hot water for the sanitation of the lords and ladies. Kitchens consisted of stone sinks, wooden work tables and fireplaces big enough for a modern house to fit. All this had to be cleaned as well as belongings put away neatly.

Ancient Cleaning Tools

Since most ancient society was pastoral or agricultural, tree branches and corn husks made up brooms. Animal skins passed as window coverings as well as comforters on beds. Cloth woven by hand at first or on looms later on counted toward dusting and scrubbing cloths. Soap was made from animal fat combined with wood ash to provide the lye. Cleaning the stone floors, fireplaces, food preparation areas, clothing and bodies all used this primitive soap.

The Industrial Revolution spawned more than just machines. Chemicals used for agriculture and cleaning were invented, which led up to today’s modern cleaning tools. Aren’t you glad there are cleaning companies who use modern as well as green cleaning methods? Neither wooden brooms nor animal skins will be found cleaning high-end homes! We hope you enjoyed reading about treading in the footsteps of the ancients.