Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 24 (October 1958)
– 62 –

SPRING. TIME FOR MATS AND CARPETS

It seems that housewives have that Spring feeling and like the birds, want to set their houses in order. One of the awkward problems that some of us face up to in Spring is how to clean dingy or stained floor coverings.

As a starting point, here is an actual query concerning hearth rugs. The enquirer writes, “I have a white mohair rug which is used as a hearth rug. It is about two years old and now has a decidedly yellowish tinge and has lost that lovely clear shine it had originally. There are no stains on it. I did try rubbing French chalk in a few months ago, and it helped a little, but not enough. I would like to be able to freshen it up.”

This problem faces many of us after a winter of fires. The hearth rug may not be mohair, but the same cleaning method applies to all. First shake the rug thoroughly to get rid of any coal dust or dirt embedded in the backing. When you shake, remember to have the mat folded in half, so the strain won't loosen the ends, which is not only unsightly, but also quite dangerous.

After shaking the rug, go over it with a vacuum cleaner or brush to pick up all the bits that have been loosened. If you run the cleaner diagonally you will avoid that annoying rucking up that occurs when you vacuum up and down in straight lines. Do the back of the rug too, so that it will be thoroughly clean.

Next comes what may be called a dry shampoo. At all costs you must avoid getting the backing of a rug or carpet wet. It makes dark stains, takes out the sizing, may make the colours run, and generally spoils the appearance. Shampooing with a detergent is preferable to using soap, as rinsing is easier and there are not the same harmful effects from leaving traces of detergent as there are when soap is used. So add about I teaspoon of detergent to a pint of warm water—or use the proportions suggested on the packet or bottle. Whisk it up to a stiff froth with an egg beater. It is the foam you use for cleaning, so add more detergent if you do not get a stable foam the first time.

– 63 –

Now take some of the froth on an old nail brush, or small scrubbing brush and work it into the pile—for the mohair rug, a circular motion is best. Do a small patch at a time, so that it is not left wet. Scrape off the foam with a dull bladed knife and then rinse off the remaining detergent with a cloth wrung out in clear warm water. Old woollen cloths are useful for this because they are so absorbent. Then have an old dry towel to rub the pile as dry as possible and do that before starting on the next patch.

To counteract the yellowness in a white mohair rug, use a blue rinse—after the first rinse and before mopping up operations. Rub the mat over with a clean cloth wrung out in blue water—make it quite dark to get the effect just as people do for a blue rinse for white hair.

It is important to dry the carpet or rug quickly, so choose a good day to start operations; or if you must do it indoors, have the room well heated and airy. With a mohair or sheepskin rug, before it is quite dry, comb up the pile with an old comb to remove tangles and restore its curly appearance.

Exactly the same procedure should be followed if you should be ambitious enough to attempt shampooing the carpets. That involves thorough cleaning all over, dry shampooing, rinsing and drying a small area before going on to the next one, speedy drying. This is a big job when you consider that the average living room of 12ft. × 15ft. would be equal to ten hearth rugs.

FLAX MATS

Another query concerns flax matting and how to clean it. Many people have this type of floor covering now. While it can look very attractive, it certainly does have its problems.

For instance, it does let the dirt seep through to the floor, so the first thing when you set out to do a clean-up job is to vacuum the topside thoroughly and then lift it so that you can vacuum underneath. I know this means you must lift tacks if the matting has been used for closecarpeting a room. But it must be done if you want good service from your floor covering. Dirt and grit are often sharp and flinty and will cause wear.

A wipe over with a damp cloth wrung out in warm water plus a few drops of ammonia will freshen up the matting, provided it is just a little dulled but not really soiled. But recently we have heard of flax matting that seems to be oily. Probably oil has been used in the manufacture and it is coming out gradually. Of course the oil attracts and holds any dirt that falls on the surface and so raises a major cleaning problem.

Again we suggest using a detergent. It increases

– 64 –

the wetting power of water, which means better penetration of the cleansing material. Also, detergents have a great affinity for grease and oil, and they will remove it very efficiently from the interior.

Make up a froth of detergent and water as explained earlier. You can increase the proportion of detergent to water as you are dealing with a tougher material this time. Scrub the foam into the matting, rinse it with clear warm water, and blot it as dry as you can with old towels or clean dusters. This is necessary, because excessive dampness can make the colours run in a flax matting.

If at all possible, dry the matting out of doors in a good breeze. It can lie flat on the ground or be slung over two clothes lines. But it is essential to bring it in before it is absolutely dry, or you will not get it to lie flat again. If it must dry indoors, have the windows open and the room well heated, and put newspapers under the matting to absorb the moisture.

(This article is issued by the Home Science Extension branch, Adult Education Department, University of Otago.)

A new chapel at St. Joseph's Maori Girl's School, Greenmeadows, was opened and blessed last July by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New Zealand, Archbishop McKeefry. The ceremony and subsequent concert was attended by a large and representative gathering of pakehas, as well as Maoris from many parts of New Zealand.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Maori Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Walter Nash, was among the official guests.

The chapel which cost over £16,000 is claimed to be one of the most modern and attractive of its kind in New Zealand.

* * *

At the request of the Director of Education. Dr C. E. Beeby, pupils of Northland College are sending samples of their Maori arts and crafts work for exhibition at the New Zealand Embassy at Washington.

Dr Beeby said he was so much impressed by work sent from the college to a special display last April at an exhibition in the United States that he thought it would be a good idea to have a permanent display.

* * *

Three Maori portraits by Lindauer will be reproduced on Christmas cards to be issued this year by the Auckland Art Gallery. Cards will be on sale at the Gallery.