As the Butler/House Manager for a billionaire, I’m frequently asked how do you clean this or that, and how do you maintain a 22,000 square/foot residence with museum-quality furnishings.
While this is not primarily a “How To” web site, I’ve enjoyed sharing tips on how to clean a chandelier, how to polish silver without destroying it, surviving the fumes of brass polishing and so forth. And these articles will always be forthcoming.
But for those who need more urgent and regular information on a variety of cleaning topics, I ‘m delighted to share what research knowledge I’ve acquired (including my household cleaning Bible, below), and can most definitely get you started in the right direction.
Before we begin, however, the most important thing I want to say to you tonight is that there are terrible risks in cleaning anything unless you know what exactly what it is, and then match it with the proper cleaning procedures! You can destroy something in a flash (and easily lose your job). Ha!
1) You can’t just grab a brass object and apply “Brasso” or “Mrs Wright’s” without knowing if the brass has a seal. You’ll destroy the seal and the object will never look the same.
2) You can’t use a regular vacuum on an antique Persian rug, or a hand vacuum on a three-hundred-year-old French chair with an ancient tapestry upholstery. To avoid ripping out the fibers, you need to lay a plastic screen over these fragile areas and vacuum them slowly and carefully by hand, through the screen.
3) You can’t apply an aggressive silver polish to an inexpensive silver-plate object, or you’ll see the ugly metal underneath come to the surface in no time.
See what I mean? Each object under your care has its own needs and requirements.
But don’t just throw up your hands in frustration! Ha! The simple key to successful housekeeping is research.
And here are some suggestions:
A) If you’re dealing with museum-quality furnishings, then you need to get a conservator or curator from a local museum to walk with you through the house and explain each and every object so you’ll have a better idea what you’re dealing with and how to care for it.
B) You can type a question into Google’s search bar, such as “How do you clean a chandelier?” and lots of articles will come up (including mine, ha!)
C) The extremely helpful websites Ask.com and eHow.com both have search bars for any questions we might have.
D) Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart are wonderful and professional sources of information, constantly updated. And both these sites have search bars for all our questions.
Just give it a try. You’ll be amazed at what all you can find out.
As for the Bible I use to get through each and every day, I’m going to recommend “Home Comforts: the Art and Science of Keeping House” by Cheryl Mendelson.
It’s about 850 pages of small print (yikes!) and seriously intimidating upon first glance. But this author is so engaging and delightful, and explains in wonderful prose how and why each and everything must be done. I promise you’ll be enthralled by her wisdom, wit and well-researched knowledge.
And you don’t have to read the whole book! There’s an index in the back where you can look up any problem you’re faced with. For example, just look under “S” for soap scum on glass or marble, or “F” for folding towels, shirts, pillow cases and so forth. Absolutely amazing!
In addition to many months in Butler School, I could not run this house without Cheryl Mendelson’s back-up for all the things I’ve forgotten, and for things I never knew in the first place.
I know, this has been way too long, but I hope it’s been helpful.
You don’t have to be rich to want your home and environment properly cared for. And since none of us were born with this knowledge, research is essential.
But before you get started here on some epic cleaning campaign, you’ve got to listen to Betty Boop on YouTube and empathize with her trials and tribulations of proper house cleaning! Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaEV-BShS-0
Thanks for reading.