Lately I’ve been mining the Mother Earth News archive disks for bits of relevant wisdom—which are abundant there. In the second issue, dated March/April 1970, Natural Home & Garden’s big sister (dare we say “mama”?) ran an article titled “Housekeeping on a Homestead,” which offers some fine advice for making this task—which we all have to do sooner or later—a little more efficient and enjoyable. We’ve carried some of this advice in the pages of our magazines over the years, and some nuggets got lost. All remain relevant today. Enjoy!
1. Lay out work areas in an orderly way. Create one area for washing, ironing, sewing, cooking and children's play areas. (Even if you don’t get out the iron more than once a year or so anymore, the all-encompassing work and play room is key, especially when the kids are young.)
2. Radiant heating (hot water pipes under the floor) means less work for Mama—no dusting and no painting those unsightly dust catchers called radiators. And if the floors are pretty and warm, you’ll have fewer rugs to pay for or to clean. (I’m amused that radiant heating emerged again as a “new” idea for green homes about a decade ago. How quickly we forget!)
Hemp watercolor rug from Viva Terra
3. Use patterned or neutral colored rugs that don't show dirt quickly, or scatter rugs that can be picked up and washed. If you have an old unsightly floor, spatter painting might be the answer to simple care. (OK, so I worry that I don’t have the touch for “spatter painting,” and that could end up looking like we spilled a bucket of paint. But I’m gratified to see that Mother advised people against hard-to-clean wall-to-wall carpet from the beginning.)
4. Wooden furniture collects less dust if it's waxed instead of polished with oil. (I mix carnauba wax with a little mineral oil to soften it. And note—you have to rub pretty hard.)
The slipcovers on Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic sofas are machine washable.
5. Slipcovers can be removed and washed easily. And if you buy or make slipcovers, bedspreads and draperies out of material that doesn't have to be ironed, you've saved yourself even more work. (Plus, slipcovers are sexy. I’ve been coveting this slipcovered sofa from Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic for more than a decade.)
The Mother archive CDs are my favorite reading material right now. If you’d like to do a little mining for wisdom yourself, check out this offer. Right now, you can order the complete set of Mother Earth News archive CDs and receive two free passes to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, in September. I'll be doing a green cleaning workshop. See you there?