In 1836, housekeeping was an art and a family’s social status in the community would depend a lot on how well their household was kept. “Housekeeping” included everything from dusting and sweeping to making clothes, soaps and medicines, and educating children. In 1836, a good housekeeper had PLENTY to do!
What would a housekeeper in 1836 do?
A good housekeeper would be busy with daily, weekly and monthly chores, and lots of other projects to fill any spare time they had. Each day, a housekeeper would:
Air bedding by hanging it over a fence or ladder.
Make beds after the linens had aired out.
Wash dishes after each meal, keeping this in mind:
- The hotter the water, the better the results.
- A splash of vinegar in the rinse water helps cut grease.
- Take a couple of steps away from the house before throwing out the wash water to prevent it from splashing on the paint.
- Pour the used soapy water (as long as it's cool) over any plants suffering from bug infestations in the garden. Most insects don’t like chewing through soap!
Sweep cobwebs off the ceilings, including in the privy and other outbuildings.
Sweep and then dust, in that order, keeping this in mind:
- When sweeping, sweep along the cracks in the floor to remove extra dirt.
- Dampen the broom in water and sprinkle water on the floor to pick up more of the fine dust from the floor.
- Dampen the dust cloth, too, but be sure to let surfaces dry completely before putting items back on them.
- Clean cutting boards, unpainted tabletops and wooden bowls by pouring a cup or two of salt on the surface to be cleaned and use hands to scrub it around on the boards. It’s amazing how much grime is picked up, and the salt doesn’t cause the wood to swell or split like water. It’s also fun to draw pictures in the salt!
Fill wood boxes before nightfall so there is wood available to cook with in the morning.
Who would be a housekeeper in 1836?
Everyone! All ages, but primarily women and girls.
Want to learn more?
Find out more about being a housekeeper in 1836:
• The American Frugal Housewife – available at the Conner Prairie Store