A Brief History of Cleaning

Ever since we humans started settling down thousands of years ago, even for a short period, someone has been cleaning.  How would you clean a cave?  Maybe leaving meat or bones around would have attracted a sabre-tooth tiger or giant bear.

You would expect “commercial” cleaning to be only around for a few decades – think of our modern offices – but actually professional cleaning has been around for much longer!  Some “interesting” commercial cleaning jobs since caveman days would include gladiator fights in Rome’s Colosseum (they used plenty of sand apparently), and maybe window cleaning in cathedrals e.g. Paris’ Sainte-Chapelle? By the way did you know glass was actually used in windows first by the Romans around 100AD? Window cleaning has been around for a long time!


Another specific job – school or college cleaning – has also been going for hundreds of years.  Check out these oldest still running schools! Of course kids can leave a mess so you can imagine the dirt and dust especially as they only used coal and oil in those days.  And what about cleaning childcare centres, the first which started in 1840s France?  Childcare cleaning has become a lot easier with technology but professional childcare and cleaning them have become so much more sophisticated.

Before modern day strata cleaning, common area cleaning in apartment buildings has been around since the first apartments started in Roman times. Would you believe they were 5 or more storeys tall?  The modern multi-storey apartment we see today has only been around for around 100 years.

Carpet cleaning, another modern cleaning speciality, has a much shorter history but still goes back over 200 years to the early 1800s.  For those interested, here is a great rundown of carpet cleaning history. A range of methods and chemicals have been used over the years, but nowadays carpet cleaning is quite simple and quick because of technology.  As for the common soap, did you know it was manufactured on a large scale since Renaissance times?

Commercial cleaning goes back a long way – longer than one may first expect.  And people who specialise in cleaning have been around for literally ages!  As cleaning becomes more specialised and complex, the right cleaning systems will become more important than ever.  Given the importance of hygiene sustainability and technology in the coming years, the future of cleaning is going to be more exciting than ever.

cleaning company

Here are a few more sites for those keen for more: Maid Sailors in the USA has a rundown of cleaning through the ages and we like some of their predictions about robot cleaners.

Direct Cleaning Services is another site. Even CNN had a good time researching the history of historical cleaning milestones Check out the washing machine patent from 1782 – it used human power, unfortunately!

multiclean.net.au is a performance cleaning company Offices in Sydney and Newcastle.