He’s a Bust With Dust!

carriers of disease or infectionQ Dear Miss Abigail:

How do you train your husband to help around the house? I’ve asked him, pleaded with him, threatened him, but he still can’t “see” the mess around him and will not take the initiative to clean it up.

We both work out of the home with competitive salaries, and I feel that I shouldn’t bear the whole burden of housekeeping.

I need your help.


A Dear Katie:

Unfortunately, I had absolutely no luck finding some old advice that even comes close to hinting that husbands do housework. So let’s take a moment and reflect upon the past, and rejoice in our modern times. In this day and age, we all know that husbands have absolutely no excuse for not helping around the house. Right? RIGHT.

Perhaps this description of dust will scare your husband into picking up a broom. It’s from A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed, published by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1898. MetLife has a history of distributing health literature to its policyholders, and this little book was their earliest.

1898: Dust

Dust is one of the greatest causes of impurity of the air in houses. It consists of a great variety of substances, such as soot, wool, cotton, straw, sand, starch, debris from the skin, and other refuse, in a state of minute pulverization. It also contains living germs of one sort or another, according to situation. These may be perfectly harmless, or be the carriers of disease or infection. They are known by various names: perhaps bacteria is the most inclusive. There are several varieties of them known each to carry a specific disease ~ the bacteria of typhoid, of erysipelas, of consumption, leprosy, malaria, and others. They are easily destroyed by heat and certain chemicals (germicides), but their seeds (spores) are not so easily got rid of, and possess great vitality. Frost will not kill them, hence the necessity of procuring ice for household use from an unpolluted source.

From the nature and origin of dust it is plainly seen that it may be productive of a low state of the general health, particularly in over-crowded dirty houses. It, however, cannot practically be got rid of, but a great deal may be done to lessen the nuisance by having the floors painted, by the avoidance of close-fitting carpets, heavy curtains and other upholstery, and the substitution of rugs or mats, which may be easily shaken out of doors at frequent intervals, and light muslin curtains easily washed. The coverings of the wall should be smooth, and of a material which admits of being cleaned with a damp cloth ~ varnished paper, for example. Wall paper of a green color often contains arsenic, which finds its way in some shape into the air, and sometimes produces distressing and even dangerous symptoms.

When without objection on the score of material, it is a good plan to remove dust from furniture walls and floors with a damp broom or cloth.

Source: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed: Health Hints for the Home. New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1898.
~ pp. 65-66 ~