As to floors, the only really clean floor I know is the Berlin lackered floor, which is wet rubbed and dry rubbed every morning to remove the dust. The French parquet is always more or less dusty, although infinitely superior in point of cleanliness and healthiness to our absorbent floor.
For a sick room, a carpet is perhaps the worst expedient which could by any possibility have been invented. If you must have a carpet, the only safety is to take it up two or three times a year, instead of once. A dirty carpet literally infects the room. And if you consider the enormous quantity of organic matter from the feet of people coming in, which must saturate it, this is by no means surprising.
[Sidenote: Papered, plastered, oil-painted walls.]
As for walls, the worst is the papered wall; the next worst is plaster. But the plaster can be redeemed by frequent lime-washing; the paper requires frequent renewing. A glazed paper gets rid of a good deal of the danger. But the ordinary bed-room paper is all that it ought not to be.
The close connection between ventilation and cleanliness is shown in this. An ordinary light paper will last clean much longer if there is an Arnott’s ventilator in the chimney than it otherwise would.
The best wall now extant is oil paint. From this you can wash the animal exuviae.
These are what make a room musty.
[Sidenote: Best kind of wall for a sick-room.]
The best wall for a sick-room or ward that could be made is pure white non-absorbent cement or glass, or glazed tiles, if they were made sightly enough.
Air can be soiled just like water. If you blow into water you will soil it with the animal matter from your breath. So it is with air. Air is always soiled in a room where walls and carpets are saturated with animal exhalations.
Want of cleanliness, then, in rooms and wards, which you have to guard against, may arise in three ways.
[Sidenote: Dirty air from without.]
1. Dirty air coming in from without, soiled by sewer emanations, the evaporation from dirty streets, smoke, bits of unburnt fuel, bits of straw, bits of horse dung.
[Sidenote: Best kind of wall for a house.]
If people would but cover the outside walls of their houses with plain or encaustic tiles, what an incalculable improvement would there be in light, cleanliness, dryness, warmth, and consequently economy. The play of a fire-engine would then effectually wash the outside of a house. This kind of walling would stand next to paving in improving the health of towns.
[Sidenote: Dirty air from within.]