Every morning, before the first visitors arrive at Mount Vernon, 4 members of our Collections Management team are hard at work cleaning and caring for George Washington’s home and furnishings. Each room in the mansion is cleaned daily, and at least once a month each room receives a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning means that the entire room is disassembled so that each object can be thoroughly dusted, floors vacuumed, and textiles cleaned.
Dust is a major concern for our team; in some seasons, it takes less than a day for a visible layer of dust to accumulate in the mansion! This dust comes from dirt, pollen, skin cells, and clothing fibers that our visitors and staff bring into the house.
Rather than using cleaning products filled with chemicals, we use soft bristled paintbrushes and microfiber cloths to dust the historic objects. When it comes to cleaning textiles, such as curtains, we can’t put them in a washing machine as you might with your own. The Collections Management team uses a soft wire screen placed over the textile and a special HEPA filter vacuum with numerous suction settings in order to remove dust without unnecessary force. The wire screen helps to distribute the force evenly across the surface of the textile.
As you can see in the slideshow above, our team wears protective gloves to keep fingerprints and harmful oils from harming the objects. They also wear shoe coverings to protect the floors and reproduction carpets from mud and grit. All of this work is done so we can ensure our collections will be preserved for generations to come.