logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

Cleaning the glass of
Victorian and Edwardian sash windows

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When I was a child in the early 1900s ordinary families in the 1900s did not pay window cleaners to clean their windows. It was yet another task that fell to the women and it always amazed me how they managed to clean inside and outside, upstairs as well as downstairs, without doing themselves a serious damage or even hurting themselves at all.

Cleaning the insides of the windows was of course relatively straightforward, as was cleaning the outsides of the downstairs ones.

The women used soap and water and a wash-leather, also known as chamois leather or just chammy. This was (and still is) a type of soft, pliable, non-abrasive and absorbent leather made from sheepskin or lambskin.

chamois leather

Different grades of chamois leather

Afterwards the windows would really shine, as a lot of energy went into the work.

Cleaning the outsides of the upstairs windows was a different matter. Then the women would push the lower window up and sit on the windowsill with all the top parts of their bodies outside. I was always afraid that a sash cord would break on them or that they would have an accident and fall - but I never saw it happen.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.