- Modern methods of cleaning have become the norm – but are they really any better than the ‘good old days’?
- Victorians used to clean their windows with a splash of vinegar and some newspaper
- Are we wrong to have ditched old methods completely?
We spend an astonishing £1 billion a year on cleaning products to keep our homes looking prim and proper, but do we really need to part with so much cash? LV= pitches Victorian cleaning techniques against modern-day alternatives to see which are the most effective.
Then: All it took was a steady mix of white vinegar and water and some newspaper to leave Victorian-era windows looking spotless and streak-free. It was simple, effortless and more than capable of delivering a spotless finish.
Now: Nothing has really changed, except the above has basically been packed into a branded bottle, complete with a nozzle. Newspapers though have been replaced by a cloth, which is a bit handier considering newspaper circulations have fallen.
Winner: Both are effectively the same in terms of results and make-up and neither is more expensive than the other. The result has to be a tie.
Cleaning the oven
Then: The bottom of an oven was sprayed with water, upon which baking soda was liberally scattered. More water was then added and then the magic was allowed to happen overnight (the baking soda would expand and soak up the grease). This was then scrubbed clean with soap and a cloth.
Now: Cleaning the oven is a painstaking process for many, which is why we're keen to try out any newfangled idea that comes our way. From foam to gels and heavy duty cleaners, there are endless chemical solutions to getting our oven shiny again.
Winner: It has to be the old school method. It's cheaper, easier and more environmentally-friendly.
Then: There was very little by way of technology to help keep Victorian attire clean – no hot running water, washing machines, detergents and softeners and tumble dryers. Instead, washday, which was usually once a week, involved a hot tub of water, a washboard and a bar of soap.
Now: We take a load of clothes, pop it into a washing machine, add some detergent and press a button. It's much simpler, less back-breaking and easier to fit into our busy lives.
Winner: While the former is certainly more environmentally-friendly, the wonder of the modern day washing machine is more conducive to our busy lives and, although knowing how to clean clothes 'the old way' is a good skill to possess, it's hardly going to be used. However, more conversation is needed about eco laundry habits.
Cleaning the carpet/rug
Then: Rugs were a common feature of a Victorian house – carpets as we know them emerged after WWII – acting as a decorative and functional piece. The method of cleaning this was fairly rudimentary – it would be taken outside and the dust and dirt beaten out of it with a special stick. As for washing, this was, very occasionally done with bicarbonate soda.
Now: Today we have state-of-the-art Dyson – and Dyson-like – vacuum cleaners. Washing is a rare event, but every now and again, people will hire a professional to deep clean their carpets with a steam cleaner.
Winner: With rugs, it is fair to say the Victorian method has its merits and, depending on the size of it, it is well worth giving it ago. However, modern-day vacuum cleaners win hands down.
Washing the dishes
Then: Dishes were washed in what was known as the scullery, a room that was made up of basins and tubs (also used for laundry and washing produce). Washing materials used were largely soap flakes and washing soda. Again, with no running water, water was heated.
Now: The methodology has changed little: dishes are still washed by hand using updated versions of a sponge and brush (although we're more accustomed to branded washing up liquids these days). The greatest change has to be the invention of the dishwasher, which has helped busy families get around the chore of washing up swathes of dishes.
Winner: The combination of the dishwasher and washing occasionally by hand – and having hot, running water – makes today's offering better all-around.