Carpet Beater

Housework has always been physically demanding and time consuming labor. In the 19th century coal and wood burning stoves constantly soiled walls, drapes, and carpets, so that rug beating, along with window and floor washing, would have been a necessary chore. Usually made of wood, rattan, cane, wicker, spring steel or coiled wire, rug beaters were commonly used to beat dust and dirt out of rugs. A rug beater's flexibility depended on the number of woven switches it had in its paddle, a two-switch beater being more flexible than a three- or four-switch one. This nineteenth-century rug beater consists of three rattan switches, bent into a five-loop paddle and wrapped around an iron wire rod handle. Introduced in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners allowed for higher standards of cleanliness and more frequent cleaning, but lifting heavy vacuums was strenuous work.
Currently not on view
Date made
19th century
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
rattan (overall material)
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Artifact Walls exhibit
Domestic Furnishings
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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