Spring cleaning tips from the experts

TeamOsterley:

Want some handy hints on how to clean your home, using methods tried and tested at National Trust properties? National Trust East have published a post offering just this. Take a look. We also use some of these at Osterley.

Originally posted on National Trust in the East :

Many of us have struggled through a tough spring clean and know just how much hard work is involved. But can you imagine cleaning a country mansion, the likes of which National Trust teams tackle each and every year?

Blickling (credit) Kenny Gray (8)

Never mind the sheer size of the places involved and the number of rooms, there are delicate and historically important objects everywhere – from carpets, tapestries and ceramics to marble busts, carved wooden staircases and sparkling chandeliers. Just think of the number of chimneys that require sweeping and we have just one or two windows to clean!

Many of the jobs we carry out at our places are the same as those you do at home, just on a larger scale! So we’ve asked those ‘in the know’ at the National Trust to put their thinking caps on and bring you a list of their top tips to get your…

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How many people does it take to …

… prepare the house for opening?

As many as possible.  When a room has been put to bed for the winter and then needs to be ‘woken up’, there is a lot to do.  There is the acid-free tissue paper that needs to be removed, folded and put back into storage for the next winter clean.

Chairs and pole screen in Childs' bedroom covered in acid-free tissue, after winter clean at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Chairs and pole screen in Childs’ bedroom covered in acid-free tissue, after winter clean at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Dust covers that needed to be taken off the furniture and also put back into storage, in the Housekeeping Store.

Tapestry Room sofa with dust cover at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Tapestry Room sofa with dust cover at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Some rooms have curtains that need to be lifted up and adjusted, after the winter when they were allowed to hang down whilst being dusted.

Mrs. Child's Dressing Room's curtains being raised for the new season, after the Winter Clean at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Mrs. Child’s Dressing Room’s curtains being raised for the new season, after the Winter Clean at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

I can’t give you an exact number for the house overall, but to give you an idea of how many people are needed to make sure each room is spick and span, ready for opening, just take a look at the Long Gallery.  This room alone required three volunteers and one Assistant House Steward to dust and vacuum this 130ft long space.  And that’s just one (rather long) room.  Not all four people are visible in the picture below.  That’s because one volunteer is just out of shot on the right and the other one was the photographer.

Two volunteers and an Assistant House Stewaard working in the Long Gallery, in prepration for opening Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

Two volunteers and an Assistant House Steward working in the Long Gallery, in preparation for opening Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

Not counting the basement, the Breakfast Room, the Adam Room, the corridors and Grand Stair, there are 12 rooms on display, which all need to be cleaned and made ready for visitors to see them.  This many rooms calls for teamwork, which is why each season, there are so many people pulling together, both volunteers and staff, to ensure the house is ready to welcome visitors so they can once again, or for the first time, enjoy the delights there are on offer.

 

Back to work

Laura cleaning the French ebony cabinet in Childs' Bedroom at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Laura cleaning the French ebony cabinet in Childs’ Bedroom at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

We are well into the new year now and the team at Osterley have certainly had a productive start to 2015.

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Surprise in one of the lacquer cabinets

While condition checking and cleaning one of the lacquer cabinets in Mrs Child’s Dressing

The Lacquer cabinet (with a drawer missing) in Mrs. Child's Dressing Room at Osterley Park.

The Lacquer cabinet in Mrs. Child’s Dressing Room at Osterley Park.

Room, a couple of unwelcome visitors were discovered in a bottom drawer.  A few woolly bears (no longer alive) were found amid a pile of suspicious looking fragments. The base of the lacquer drawer was also patterned with golden blooms that may have been a result of previous mould damage, or some sort of damage to the wood layer underneath the resin layers. All the other drawers and the shell of the cabinet were in great condition, so the discovery of the problematic drawer was completely unexpected and poses some interesting questions. Could the drawer have contained something which attracted the pests and caused the damage to the surface?  Could this explain where the dust fragments we found came from? Continue reading

A peek into the Housekeeping Store

Housekeeping Store at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Housekeeping Store at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

A Happy New Year from the team at Osterley.  We all hope you had a good break.  The house team have been back at work for almost a week now and have got stuck into continuing the Winter Clean.  More about that next time but we thought we’d share with you some pictures of our housekeeping store which houses our essential equipment for cleaning Osterley House.

Trolley in Housekeeping Store at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Trolley in Housekeeping Store at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Dust covers, museum vacs and other equipment in storage at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Dust covers, museum vacs and other equipment in storage at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Notice board, long-handled and cloth dusters, radiator brush and vinyl and cotton gloves at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Notice board, long-handled and cloth dusters, radiator brush and vinyl and cotton gloves at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Set of drawers for cloths, brushes and stationery at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Set of drawers for cloths, brushes and stationery at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Box of acid free tissue at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Box of acid free tissue at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Housekeeping Store (with parts of the scaffold in the background) at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Housekeeping Store (with parts of the scaffold in the background) at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Before you view this last shot, please be warned, these are insect traps which we have collected from around the house, therefore you may spy an insect or two.  Look away now if you cannot abide insects of any kind.

Used insect monitors in housekeeping store

Trug with collected insect monitors from around Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

Putting the State Apartment to bed

Curtains let down in Tapestry Room at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Curtains let down in Tapestry Room at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

By now, lots of properties have started their winter clean for 2014/15 and Osterley is no different.  Having got a head start in September, thanks to the Conservation in Action that we carried out during London Open House, we have now finished in the Drawing Room and the State Apartment, and the rooms are sleeping peacefully, waiting for the new season.

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