Several weeks ago Mark and I were at Home Depot and we stopped in the cleaning isle to look at new brooms. Mine was getting a bit ragged and I wanted to price some new ones. I had three choices as to the type of broom: Push broom, Corn Broom, or angled broom. The angled broom was made of plastic and it came in three different widths. I automatically reached for the corn broom because I like all natural things in my environment. Than my husband stopped me and explained that the corn broom was for cement or stone floors. I was a bit taken aback that he actually knew more about brooms than I did and I am the one that uses them almost every day. So started my quest into the world of brooms.
What I learned is that there are two different types of brooms: Hard (or stiff) brooms and soft brooms. The soft brooms are intended toward surfaces that can easily be marred like laminate flooring, walls and ceilings. Hard brooms are for sweeping off cement, stone and similar surfaces. A third broom which can be either hard or soft is a push broom and that is used for cleaning large areas.
Initially, brooms were nothing more than a bunch of grasses, corn husks, and/or other natural fibers that were bundles together for the purpose of sweeping up dirt, ash, pieces of coal/wood that inevitably dropped while banking the stoves, etc. I don’t suppose a whole lot of thought went into the broom material as they really didn’t have to think about protecting the surface of what they swept. They just wanted a clean floor.
Gradually the broom evolved into the the flat design that we have today, and manufactures have added a few details that help to make our cleaning more efficient that it was 150 years ago, or have they?
I can remember my grandmother at the ripe old age of 97 handing me an old corn boom and asking me to sweep the floor. Her old broom worked like a charm. She didn’t need a fancy $30.00 broom to get the job done and her broom was used indoor and outdoors. One broom did it all and her house & porch were clean. My mother, by the way, had the same type of broom and it worked well for her too. So why all the choices now?
Part of it is money. Brooms, like everything else nowadays is a business. A few years ago I was invited to a quilting bee by some Mennonite women who live nearby. Little did I know that these women were cunning entrepreneurs who had lured in several non-Mennonite female homemakers to a cleaning product party. I wasn’t happy about it but I sat down and kept my mouth shut while the representative demonstrated several of her wares. It wasn’t until she showed everyone a $100.00 mop and sang its cleaning praises, that I actually spoke my opinion about the overpriced junk they were trying to sell us. I turned to the 80 something Mennonite woman who sat next to me and said something to the effect of, “my husband never questions my purchases, but if I was to come home with a $100.00 mop, I think he would have something to say about it.” She laughed and said that her husband would too. Then she said “all you need to clean a floor is a good sturdy broom, a $10.00 mop and a bucket of hot soapy water, make sure it is hot don’t forget.” I like that old woman she reminded me of my own dear sweet granny. Needless to say I didn’t buy anything.
I feel the same way about brooms as that old woman felt about mops. We really don’t need a hard and a soft broom to clean properly. I have used our old beat up corn broom in our home, until the day I swept the hen house with it. I have also used my soft polyester fiber broom in the garage on the cement floor and it worked just fine. The secret to a good broom, I have found, is to actually use the one you have. If you sweep your floors they will get clean regardless of the fiber. If all you have is a firm corn broom and you want to sweep a laminate floor, then just do so softly until the broom gets used enough to soften up. The key to keeping your floors clean is to sweep them often. You don’t need any specialty equipment and if it is done on a regular basis, it doesn’t take a lot of time either.
Just my opinion… happy sweeping!