Old Fashioned Floor Cleaning Methods

Floor cleaning materials

There are so many floor cleaning products out there these days that it is sometimes hard to know which ones are best to use. In the old days, keeping the home clean seemed to be a much simpler process – and there were lots of homemade remedies and methods that appeared to work well on flooring of all types.

Cleaning Rugs

It was really only in the 1950s that housewives began to use vacuum cleaners on their carpets and rugs.

Carpet sweepers were never terribly successful but the good, old-fashioned method of taking a rug out, hanging it from the washing line and giving it a good beating is still extremely effective. For white, cream and natural coloured rugs, choose a bright sunny day to do this.

Then leave them in the full glare of the sun to allow it to help bleach away any light stains.

A Good Brush

Wall-to-wall carpets are harder to keep clean than rugs, whether you are using modern cleaning products or methods from the past.

Wet shoes, animals and spillages can all leave stains that are hard to remove. There are various remedies from yesteryear that could help clean and freshen your carpets.

For dust, loose dirt and fluff, try the old fashioned solution of getting down on your hands and knees with a dustpan and brush.

Vacuum cleaners do work well but a good brush can loosen pieces of dirt and get right down to the base of the fibres.

Salt for Stains

When it comes to dealing with spillages, consider what has been spilled before attempting to remove it.

Solutions from the past include quickly covering red wine with a pile of salt or pressing absorbent or blotting paper down on the carpet with your foot, over and over again until the stain has been drawn out.

If you have an open fire, salt is also supposed to work well on soot marks.

Flour for the Floor

For other carpet stains and spillages, one old fashioned method is to sprinkle either corn flour or bread flour over the patch and then to cover it with an upturned bowl while it dries.

Once dry, pick and brush off the caked mixture – and much of the mark should have been drawn out into it. Corn flour can also be used to improve the odour in a room.

Take a handful of your favourite dried flours and crush them with a pestle and mortar. Mix with a handful of corn flour and sprinkle on your carpet last thing at night. In the morning, vacuum or brush up the mixture and enjoy the aroma left behind.


Old fashioned methods for keeping floorboards clean are simple yet effective. Roll up your rugs and push back the furniture. Then, use a real, soft-bristled broom to brush up as much dirt as you can.

Take the brush outside and shake out the dirt every so often. Then take a bowl full of warm soapy water and gently wipe the boards down with a damp cloth. Take an old towel and rub the boards dry. Bring up the sheen afterwards with a duster.

Looking at Lino

If you are looking for ideas from the past for keeping your kitchen and bathroom floors clean, Grandma would have had plenty of advice here as well.

White toothpaste and a tooth brush are the required tools for stubborn stains on lino and for grubby grout between tiles.

Squeeze out some paste then work it into a good lather with the toothbrush as you scrub at the marks. Rinse it away with clear water and a clean cloth.

Tiles and Stone

For a tiled floor, you can also try mixing up your own paste using one cup of chalk, another of baking soda and a tablespoon or two of warm water. Work it into a paste, rub on your tiles, then wash away.

Another great mixture for a tiled or Stone Floor sees a cup of soda crystals and a cup of salt dissolved together in two pints of warm water. Then add this mixture to your bucket as you would a modern day detergent – and get scrubbing. Then rinse your floor with clean water to which you have added just a dash of white vinegar.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have marble floors in your home, try buffing them up with an old piece of leather.

A chamois leather for the car will work just as well as an off-cut they might have used in days gone by.

See Also
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Why buy a steam mop?
Carpet cleaning
The benefits of buying a carpet cleaner