Thursday 2 June 2016

Spring Cleaning

           Commonly known as a rug or carpet beater, this cleaning tool was also known for being in the hand of parents disciplining naughty children. Without a doubt this would leave quite a mark! It may even have been worse than a traditional spanking. Although maybe handy when it came to reprimanding children, rug beaters weren’t actually invented for that purpose. Like their name suggests, rug beaters were invented to beat rugs.

Once rugs and carpets became popular in homes there had to be a method for cleaning these massive amounts of fabric, as the cost of vacuums was much too expensive and brooms didn’t always cut it, rug beaters were soon put to use. Carpets and rugs would be draped over a railing or clothes line outside, and an unlucky someone got to beat the fabric with a rug beater. The intricate design of the head of the rug beater almost makes you cringe at the thought of beating it against something, yet the holey designs allowed for the dust and dirt to leave the fabric without harming the carpet or rug.

Rug beaters were very popular up until the 20th century when carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners became more affordable. The rug beater in our collection is made of rattan – a type of palm tree that has stems with a diameter of 2-5 cm. Rattan is solid, and along with its small diameter, it is an ideal choice for these beaters. Our rug beater was donated sometime in the early 1970s – the donor is unknown, though, and therefore we cannot be certain where it was used, but it seems to be in fairly good condition so perhaps it wasn’t used all that often.

Check out these old catalogues with beaters and sweepers advertised – prices sure have changed!

A few links we used that you may like to check out!


  1. Makes one cough just thinking of all the dust produced when beating the rugs and carpets! This beater is of a beautiful design and a wonderful addition in the Museum collection.

  2. Agreed! Very glad that vacuums became more affordable!

  3. Thank heavens for the vacuum cleaner!

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