Every February, the staff here at Pennsbury Manor descends upon the Manor House with mops, buckets, brushes, vacuum cleaners, wax, and gloves. The once a year “spring cleaning” helps prepare the house for the many visitors that will come to Pennsbury Manor for a guided tour of William Penn’s 17th Century country home. Even though the house is dusted and vacuumed regularly, this gives us a chance to give it a once of year “thorough cleaning”. It will take staff 151 hours and four days to clean all three floors of this Georgian style reconstruction of William Penn’s original home built in 1682.
Unlike a regular “spring house cleaning,” we are moving and cleaning objects that are over 300 years old. Special instructions on care are given to ensure that we do not damage or harm the objects in our collection. Gloves are used for handling textiles and wood, so as not to leave oils behind and gloves are taken off for glass and ceramics, so as not to have them slip and fall out of your hands. No butter fingers allowed here!
It is an impressive effort on the part of the staff to dust, vacuum, wax, mop, rinse, and repeat in each room of the house. The four bedchambers on the second floor take two people 3 hours and 27 minutes to clean. To vacuum all of the textiles on the first floor it takes two people a total of 2 hours. To clean all of the windows and Plexiglas covers it will take two people 10 hours. Phew!
The wear and tear of almost 30,000 feet takes a toll on our wood floors. To keep them looking good we will have to use ten 1-lb cans of butchers wax to hand wax all of the public areas and then buff the floors until the shine. Wow what a difference a newly waxed floor makes!
There isn’t any pledge found in our cleaning supplies. All wood is dusted with a clean, dry cloth baby diaper. We use around 60 diapers to clean the house. We then wash them and pack away for the next year. We try to be green! Textiles are a bit tricky. One must use a screen when vacuuming, to protect the fibers. Much care has to be taken while vacuuming these. Speaking of vacuums, it takes four vacuum cleaners and 16 vacuum bags to catch all the dirt and dust. Must be all of those feet bringing in lots of dirt!
It is an exhausting, but fun four days together getting dirty to get the house clean. Now we sit back and wait to show off the newly cleaned house to all of our visitors. Stop out to see us, we’ll be waiting!
By Tabitha Dardes, Director of PR & Marketing