A few simple rules govern here, and will rob the ordeal of half its terrors.
If coal or wood are to be laid in for the year’s supply, let it be done before cleaning begins, as much dust is spread through the house in such work.
Heavy carpets do not require taking up every year; once in two, or even three, being sufficient unless they are in constant use. Take out the tacks, however, each year; fold back the carpet half a yard or so; have the floor washed with a strong suds in which borax has been dissolved,—a tablespoonful to a pail of water; then dust black pepper along the edges, and retack the carpet. By this means moths are kept away; and, as their favorite place is in corners and folds, this laying back enables one to search out and destroy them.
Sapolio is better than sand for scouring paint, and in all cases a little borax in the water makes such work easier.
Closets should be put in order first; all winter clothing packed in trunks, or put in bags made from several thicknesses of newspaper, printers’ ink being one of the most effectual protections against moths. Gum-camphor is also excellent; and, if you have no camphor-wood chest or closet, a pound of the gum, sewed into little bags, will last for years. In putting away clothing, blankets, &c., look all over, and brush and shake with the utmost care before folding, in order to get rid of any possible moth-eggs.
If matting is used, wipe it with borax-water, using a cloth wet enough to dampen but not wet.
Window-glass thoroughly washed can be dried and polished with old newspapers; or whiting can be used, and rubbed off with a woolen cloth.
Hard-wood furniture, black walnut, or other varieties, requires oiling lightly with boiled linseed oil, and rubbing dry with a woolen cloth; and varnished furniture, mahogany or rosewood, if kept carefully dusted, requires only an occasional rubbing with chamois-skin or thick flannel to retain its polish perfectly. Soap should never be used on varnish of any sort.
Ingrain and other carpets, after shaking, are brightened in color by sprinkling a pound or two of salt over the surface, and sweeping carefully; and it is also useful to occasionally wipe off a carpet with borax-water, using a thick flannel, and taking care not to wet, but only dampen the carpet. Mirrors can be cleaned with whiting. Never scrub oil-pictures: simply wipe with a damp cloth, and, if picture-cord is used, wipe it off to secure against moths.
It is impossible to cover the whole ground of cleaning in this chapter. Experience is the best teacher. Only remember that a household earthquake is not necessary, and that the whole work can be done so gradually, quietly, and systematically, that only the workers need know much about it. The sense of purity transfused through the air and breathing from every nook and corner should be the only indication that upheaval has existed. The best work is always in silence.