Think Your House is Dirty? Here’s How Seattle Cleaned Up in 1852…

1852 was the year Seattle was properly born, when Arthur A. Denny and friends moved their settlement to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay, and decided to honor Native American chief Si’ahl by misspelling his name really poorly. 

Nowadays, local workers can play soccer on the full-size pitch at Microsoft HQ in Redmond or bring their dogs to work in Amazon’s downtown urban sprawl. Back at the city’s founding, recreation and four-legged companions could be found in the same workspace as loggers ran for their lives (great cardio!) after disturbing a black bear in the forest while cutting down trees.

Work was little wilder back then, but the desire for a clean home was just as fervent as it is today. 

Cleaning Floors in 1852

As you might well imagine, cleaning house in 1852 was an all-day, everyday project for its residents. Thomas Edison was taking his sweet time harnessing the power of electricity, which meant no vacuums, dishwashers, or washers and dryers for those pioneers. While we sweep up the dirt with a broom and dustpan, an overwhelming number of Seattle’s early resident has a small problem: The floor was made of actual dirt. This proved quite the trick, but the idea was to have everyone walk on the same part of the floor through the house to established a hardened path that was kept clean. 

Richer folk had floors of timber or stone that were then covered with rugs to soften the tread. The rugs were lugged outside and draped on a fence when it was time to clean them. Rug beaters were used to flail out the dust and dirt. Made of cane, wicker, or lumber, these early tools would be grasped by residents, who proceeded to channel their inner Ken Griffey Jr. and swing away.

Doing Laundry in 1852

Doing laundry in 1852 Seattle made cleaning the floors look like a day at Pier 57. The most common setups involved a bucket, a well, and a washing board. It took several people, countless hours, but on a positive note, by the end of the day you had forearms like Khal Drogo.

We’d like to think that one of our great-great-great-great-great grandparents watched his or her neighbors struggling with all that house cleaning and vowed to one day help them with a professional solution. Sure, it might have taken us 167 years to get here, but we’re ready to get to work for you!