Don’t Touch That! or the struggles of working in a house museum

My work for the last four weeks has been cleaning rooms and artifacts in the ranch house. We vacuum and dust, using no chemicals except special ones for the windows. Water comes out for the fly specks and that’s it.

We are cleaning the house top to bottom and inventorying all the items within. Soon, we’ll move to the other buildings at the ranch and keep at it.

The house is an artifact – this a house museum (subject of a future post) – which makes for some unusual cleaning techniques.

Here are some important things I’ve learned!

DO wear gloves – we use nitrile because fancy white cotton gloves will catch on things and the oils on your hands damage items.

DON’T wear shoes or a belt – we’re walking on historic rugs and flooring and your belt or anything lose may catch and scratch an item.

DO use proper lifting techniques – sure, protect your back or whatever but follow the rules because these chairs are fragile.

DON’T touch anything!

My god, this is the hardest part of any task. Vacuuming the back of a couch is difficult (there’s a screen that has to be placed perfectly and then moving the vacuum attachment moves the screen!), but not touching the wall is murder! I had to vacuum the blanket on a bed and the part along the wall was the hardest thing I’ve done so far. I had to sit straighter than I’ve ever sat, because I couldn’t touch the wall behind me or the bed in front of me, and don’t drag that vacuum hose!

DO pay attention to your movements and those of everything around you.

DON’T swing that ladder!

DO remember that everything in here is at least 100 years old and needs to be cleaned to keep going the next 100 years.

and

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