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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mopping And Memories

I started mopping when I was ten, maybe twelve.  The mop was a string mop.  Sometimes it was a rag mop, worn clothing or towels clamped into the mop handle.   The same mop would be used week in and week out without ever being laundered.  One was expected to rinse the mop 'real good' after the mopping was done.  Before mopping could be done one had to sweep the floors.  A straw broom was used for the task.  Dirt was simply swept outside as I do not recall a dustpan in the house.  

Another part of preparation for mopping would be drawing water from the well outside the back door.  Some water would be poured into a teakettle on the kitchen stove and started to heat.  A bucket used for mopping would be partially filled with the remaining well water.  Pine-Sol was Momma's cleaner of choice so a couple of large 'glugs' went into the mop bucket.  The Pine-Sol made the water a skim milk white.  Last came the piping hot water.  The heat really released the PineSol smell.

The mop was doused into the bucket of water then wrung out by hand.  A section of the wood and linoleum covered floor would be mopped.  The mop would be rinsed in the water and the same area re-mopped to get up any tough spots and remaining soil.  These steps were repeated until the floor was clean, Mary Helen approved clean.  Once the room was finished, the water would be tossed outside.  Sometimes the water was used to scrub with the straw broom the porches and bridge plank walks.  Sometimes if the floor was especially dirty, water would be changed during the process.  Or fresh water was used to rinse the entire room.

Once I swept and mopped it was time for dusting.  Old English furniture polish was Momma's polish of choice at that time.  An pair of worn out women's underwear would be soaked with Old English and I would dust the tops of everything.  Later I learned about dusting the legs and sides of furniture.  Mom had a pair of white painted wooden book shelves.  They were part of what would be dusted.  Between the PineSol and Old English polish my mind believes clean smells like that combination of aromas. 

Today I am 6.7 times as old as I was when I first started house cleaning.  I vacuumed the stained concrete, carpet and vinyl covered floors of this apartment with a Dyson City DC26.  Next was a Euro-steam cleaner with pads that are laundered after each use.  I only dusted the heat and air delivery pipes in the loft type apartment.  One of the white shelves has remained in use for all these years.  Somewhere along the way Momma antiqued the finish.  I steam mopped around that shelf today as I cleaned my "trendy loft apartment."  I had Swiffered the shelf a couple of days ago.

I cannot use Pine-Sol in the steam cleaner.  The furniture repairmen I worked with at Haverty's told me Old English was bad for wood.  I am tired from vacuuming walls, ceilings and floors.  I am tired from dusting pipes ten feet off the floor.  I know my home is clean, just wish my memory believed it!

Bookshelves and linoleum, circa 1959, and it smelled clean.

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