A boring chore or a rewarding routine, keeping our homes clean and tidy is a task we all face.
Whether cleaning carpets or battling bugs, housework is a story of hard work.
Swept up with overworked servants, exciting inventions and gender protest, it is a history that demonstrates both change and continuity in society.
Who keeps your home spick and span?
Stories to look out for
Hoover Constellation, 1962
Instead of wheels, the Hoover Constellation hovered on a cushion of exhaust air. Its spherical design was futuristic, influenced by the Atomic Age and developments in space exploration.
Housemaid's box and tidy tray, 1850–1920
Until the early 1900s, it was usual to employ servants in medium to high-income households.
Housemaids would carry a box or bucket around the house containing the tools needed for tasks such as cleaning fire grates, brushing mattresses and polishing mirrors.
Etching by T.L. Busby, ca. 1826
By the 1700s, bed bugs were a common pest in Britain. To get rid of the bugs people picked and crushed them. One early remedy even suggested mixing the drippings from a roasted cat with egg yolks and oil to form an ointment that could be rubbed onto infested furniture.