Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Is This Vacuum Necessary?

Photo courtesy Flickr

The canister vac coughed and died a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been temporizing with a dust mop on the purposely bare floors of the second story. Since the house is an antique, from 1890, I like to experiment with equally antique cleaning techniques to see what I can get away with.

Last summer I pulled the matting off the upstairs hall and out of the one carpeted bedroom. Then I painted the floors and stepped back to see what would happen to the surface. Nothing happened, much. The paint is well and truly dry this year. There are no signs of wear in the cow paths, because we take our street shoes off at the door. 

Sans vacuum, I’ve been dry or damp wiping the floors with dedicated cheap washcloths held at the business end of a janitorial “Scrubby Doo”, a sponge-mop sized plastic plate molded with little gripping teeth that are designed to secure abrasive nylon pads like the ones sold to scrub pots. I use the least aggressive white ones. The Doo fastens to the business end of an elegant Italian anodized aluminum telescoping maintenance handle. Buying the rig is a bother, but it’s much cheaper to use than the proprietary system sold in grocery stores. Oddly enough, janitorial supply outfits are good places to buy cleaning materials.

Cleaning professionals talk about “diluting” the amount of dust and dirt in an interior. Leaving shoes at the door is the key. That subtracts 97% of the burden. Vacuuming the air is more important than vacuuming the floor. It’s better not to vacuum at all than to use a machine without a HEPA filter. No kidding. It looks as if damp-wiping bare floors while the air filter runs will do just as good a job of keeping the place decent as using a vacuum. The process is quieter, faster, uses less electricity, and requires a far smaller investment in tools that take up less space.

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