On today's journey through my house, I hit the room in which I spend the most time. I'd call it the living room, but since we have another living room as well, the one with the fireplace and no TV, making it seem a bit more formal, this room might instead be called the family room, or the den, or what-have-you. In my house, it is the room to the left when you come in the front entry, and you pass through it into the no-name room I told you about the other day, then into the kitchen. It's where our TV and big couch are, and it's where we spend the majority of our time together, and I spend the bulk of my working days. I have an office, but I never work there.
America's Housekeeping Book offers the following itinerary for weekly living room cleaning:
1. Clear surfaces for dusting, removing magazines, covers, bric-a-brac, etc.
2. Collect lamp bases and globes, bric-a-brac, fireplace fittings, etc. that need washing or polishing.
3. Bring in cleaning equipment: hearthbroom (if not kept at fireplace), vacuum cleaner and attachments, dust mop, cleaning basket (page 142), 2 bowls of clear warm water on a try. (At least two trips will be necessary.)
4. Brush ceilings (page 166) and walls (page 157) when necessary. Dust high mouldings, door and window frames, window shades and Venetian blinds (page 171) when necessary.
Dust mirrors, pictures, lighting fixtures, lamps, woodwork; wash any of these articles if necessary (see index for page references).
5. Dust radiators (covers and coils) or registers (page 207); clean thoroughly when necessary.
Brush baseboards or use brush attachment of vacuum cleaner. Dust book shelves and books as necessary (page 202).
6. Remove cushions from upholstered furniture. Use brush attachment of vacuum cleaner on furniture (getting into all crevices) and cushions. Replace cushions.
7. Dust furniture; rub wood surfaces to polish (page 187); apply wax or polish when necessary. For special care of furniture, see index for types.
Polish metal hardware if necessary.
Wash glass table tops.
8. For weekly or special care of each type of flooring, see index for types.
Use vacuum cleaner for through cleaning of rugs and carpets (page 131).
9. Polish or wash accessories and return to place with other objects removed during cleaning.
A few of these instructions weren't all that clear to me, so I consulted the pages on which more detail was provided. On the subject of brushing ceilings and walls, I learned:
It is an extremely important task that walls be dusted regularly and often if more difficult cleaning tasks are to be avoided. Walls that are neglected in this respect soon acquire a film of greasy dust that attracts and holds still more dust and which inevitably becomes embedded and difficult to remove.
The only exception to this rule occurs in the case of papered walls. In soft coal regions or industrial sections dusting papered walls is not advised, because soot will be grimed into the paper no matter what method of dusting is used. An annual cleaning with a dough-type cleaner is recommended.
In other regions where dust and cobwebs are the only problem, papered walls may be dusted with the suction attachment of the vacuum cleaner.
There are three tools for dusting walls:
1. A soft wall brush of hair, nylon, lamb's wool, yarn, or sponge rubber, with a long handle.
2. A fiber or corn broom covered with an "apron" of soft clean cloth, such as cotton flannel.
3. The dusting attachment of a vacuum cleaner (see illustration, page 159). If you have this attachment, use it, by all means, because it eliminates any scattering of dust.
Work from the top down, giving special attention to high mouldings (page 168). There is one exception to this rule: if cobwebs are present, whether they are spider webs or dust cobwebs, remove with an upward lifting stroke to avoid streaking the walls. Cobwebs of any sort are sticky, and if they are pulled down against the wall they will leave a trail of dirt that is hard to remove.
For ceilings, the book says:
The care of ceilings depends on the way in which they are finished. Regular dusting is essential and the tools used for dusting walls may be used for ceilings also. If ceilings are high, be sure to choose a safe, sturdy stepladder or step stool to stand on.
My suspicion here is that the necessity for weekly dusting of walls and ceilings was far more pressing in the book's time, when home heating methods were much more likely to cause a build-up of sticky residue. Though I notice dust and occasional cobwebs, I've never noticed any build-up on non-kitchen walls in my house. To get a modern perspective, I consulted Martha's weekly living room cleaning instructions:
*Fluff and rotate sofa cushions.
*Discard magazines and catalogs on coffee or side tables; store those you want to keep
*Dust surfaces and objects, including furniture, light fixtures, and electronics
*Vacuum upholstery and floor
That's a pretty dramatic difference! I decided to do my best to follow the old-school instructions and see how it goes. This is what I started with:
View from the kitchen/non-room:
View from the front entrance:
Detail of the television console:
As instructed, I first removed everything that wasn't supposed to be in the room or would get in the way of dusting. I put it all in a basket to deal with later. I also brought my orchid to the sink for watering. I didn't have lamp bases or globes that required washing, so I then brought in my cleaning tools. I had to stop briefly to re-assemble the vacuum cleaner, since Mark removed the washable filters last time he used it and didn't put them back. After I had my cleaning supplies ready, I used the vacuum cleaner's long brush attachment to brush the ceilings and walls. There was no visible dust or spider webs on anything, so I'm not sure how necessary it really was. I skipped the radiator step, since we don't have any. Then I dusted everything with the lemon oil cloths I made on Day 4. They worked OK, but didn't seem to really do anything different than a normal microfiber dusting cloth would do. Once everything was dusted, I washed the picture window. Then I took all the cushions off the couch and vacuumed it really well, including all the crevices. Yes, there were crumbs. I put the couch back together and vacuumed the floor, then put the things in the basket back in their places or in other rooms or threw them away, as was appropriate.
This job took about 35 minutes altogether. The results look like this:
As I did this task, I realized something I hadn't quite been aware of before. I really don't like this room. I find it utilitarian, boring, and a little sad. And it bums me out to realize I spend most of my waking hours in a room I don't enjoy. So, I think I'm going to have to figure out how to make something more of this space. Ideas would be welcome!