York Castle Museum

Previous Exhibition: Spotless

Please note this exhibition has now closed.

Closed 31 December 2004

Our Spotless exhibition explored the many ways people kept themselves and their houses clean in the past. Items on display included vacuum cleaners, baths, toilets, mangles, washing machines, soap and cleaning products.

The Victorians believed you had to be clean to be respectable, but this became more difficult as the 19th century progressed, with houses containing more furnishings at the same time as coal became the main fuel.

Washing and drying clothes was always an unavoidable chore, and working class women would generally have to wash at least once a week.

But water was not always available for people to keep themselves and their houses clean, and toilets were often shared with other families. It was not until the 1920s that fully plumbed bathrooms were built in most new houses.