The History of Dusting and Our Family Job Jar

I wast looking at my duster and trying to be thankful for the little things in life, I thought to myself; what a great invention. I was wondering what the history is of the feather duster and how it got its start in this great big beautiful world of inventions.

Most things invented are because someone invented from a necessity and the feather duster is no different. They probably had more dust in 1870 than we do now because most of the streets were dirt and everyone knows dust is dirt, flaked off skin and dust mites, yuck! A commonly quoted statistic is that 80% of dust is made up of dead skin, but that's actually a pretty small percentage. Dust in houses and offices is made up of a combination of pollen, hair, textile fibers, paper fibers, soil minerals, cosmic dust particles, and various other materials found in the local environment. Have you ever been living next to a construction site, maybe a new home being built and left one of your windows open for a day, dust is all over your house. Dust is everywhere and no matter who you are, we all have dust. 

Keep reading, the history lesson is almost over about dusting, but all useful information.  But, If you are bored, drop down to the Job Jar. 

In 1870, a U.S. farmer brought some turkey feathers into a factory wondering if they could build him a brush. Pretty simple right? But who actually got the credit for the invention?


feather duster from wikipedia


A woman by the name of Susan Hibbard invented the feather duster in 1876. The story is quite interesting because she actually had to get in a fight with her spouse over the patent. In those days, women couldn’t have patents in their name, but thanks to her historic win, the doors were opened to future women inventors. This story is so awesome since I was able to secure a patent in my name just a few years ago, thank you Susan! Your rock!

There are several types of feathers used in feather dusters, but ostrich feathers are most often used. Feathers for dusters are the ostrich family's most valuable industrial commodity. Black ostrich feathers come from the male and are very soft with feathers that are more "stringy" in nature.

There is always going to be a debate on what's the best duster, best dusting cloths, best dusting products. I don’t like to tell people what to use, use what you like the most. But, I will tell you what I like and have used over 35 years of cleaning. I feel that the dusters that are made from feathers pretty much just move the dust around. When Procter & Gamble came out with the Swiffer Duster in 1999 this tool has been a game-changer for the dusting world. It picks up the dust and traps it so it doesn't fly around in the air helping to keep a cleaner home, all I can say; I wish I invented this. But, I did invent the Kootoo Kit.

koo-too kit for dusting
koo-too kit for commercial cleaning

My fluffy had everything to do with the WHY of my invention. While I was cleaning, my fluffy always got placed where no one could find it, so I invented the tube tool for the Kootoo Kit that holds the fluffy upright in it’s own space which makes it very accessible and easy to see. 

With so many different surfaces in our homes, each surface has to be cleaned a different way. For example, with rustic wood it’s hard to use a duster or cloth because it breaks off into the wood. The only way to clean this wood is to actually vacuum it off. I happen to love and use the Method brand almond dusting spray. It's all natural, it smells wonderful and it doesn't leave a residue on my wood after I have cleaned with it.  I also love my Swiffer duster which I call my fluffy. I have one that is short and I have one that also extends so I can clean off my fans and high reaching lights and mirrors.

When you're cleaning the cabinets in a kitchen you may need a little extra help because there's a lot of oils that get trapped on your wood. I like to wash them down with Murphy's soap and then depending on what kind of cabinets you have I use a dusting spray to clean and shine them. 

So let's talk about dusting blinds. Blinds can be tricky because most tools that clean the blinds are hard to get into the small spaces or around the string, (if you have those kinds of blinds). I’ve found the only way to really get them clean is wiping them one by one with a microfiber cloth, but first I dust with my Swiffer (fluffy) and this seems to take most of the dust off before I wipe them down. This method seems to clean the blinds perfectly. I like to clean the window runners and maybe clean the window as I'm going, it just seems to make it so much easier.

The thing about dusting is everyone has to do it. Whatever system works for you and your circumstances, that's the best; it doesn't matter what other people do in their homes, your level of cleanliness and the way you do it is your business and you get to choose. 

I happen to love cleaning, it makes me feel relaxed; but I love to do it with a certain ambience around. For example; I love music playing in the background with a candle burning and then the product that I use needs to smell wonderful. When I’m cleaning and dusting I feel that I'm doing something for myself. Yes it's a job that needs to be done but it's also a job that will make you feel so good. That brings up another question, how often we should dust? Every household is different, the more people that live in your home and the more traffic you have from outside, the more dust will be in your rooms. For some people it's once a week and for some people it's twice a month, whatever works for you.

I’m a single mother of 7 children with 5 boys and 2 girls. Now I don't want to put a bad connotation on boys and dirt, but they just seem to have gotten more dirty in the house than my two girls. (sorry boys!) We also had a chocolate lab, I mean a dog that was a chocolate lab named Emma, who would bring garden snakes from the yard and drag them through the house. It was so hard for me to have a snake in the house but it was one hour worth of entertainment for the dog, hahaha. Anyone who has raised children knows the challenge in trying to keep your house free from dust, free from dirt, free from clutter. And most everyone knows a clean house doesn’t magically get done on it’s own. 

I'd like to share with you some of the things that I’ve  tried in my home that seemed to work. If I did one thing right it would be that I taught my children to clean, if they use it, they clean it. And you know the story of NOBODY left it there, or; SOMEBODY left it there, and that's  a whole another blog. Everyone needs to share in the responsibility of making sure the place you live is clean. Each week everyone rotated the rooms they were in charge of to keep clean. It was surprising to me how territorial they became of their room during that week. They wanted to make sure that no one was going to make it dirty. I think giving children responsibility in the home that they are living in helps them grow in so many different ways. I think it helps them be respectful and hopefully when they have their own home they will have learned how to clean, keep things nice and become a more well-rounded person and helpful to others. This brings my attention to the Job Jar, be patient; I’ll bring the dusting ideas back to my story in a minute.  


job jar

The invention of the  job jar is genius, I'm not really sure who came up with it, but this system seemed to work for us and taught us more than just getting the job done. We all set down together and chose the jobs that  needed to be done around the home but not necessarily the weekly jobs. We chose jobs that don’t  normally get done on a day-to-day basis, like baseboards, blinds, walls or wiping down banisters. Any jobs in your home that you feel that kids can do, but isn't going to be too stressful as they are doing the job.  During this process you’re teaching more than cleaning.

Together we put the chosen jobs in our plastic job jar (decorated of course).  Whenever the kids would argue and they couldn't resolve the conflict between themselves and I had to step in, I would say; do you need a job from the job jar? We had set the rules and conditions about the jar while we were deciding on the kinds of jobs we would put in the jar. What this meant was if they can’t resolve their conflict together then they get to choose a job from the jar and work out their differences while I’m getting my house clean. LOL!

This was more than cleaning, they worked out their differences and taught them to communicate with one another while working hard. Sometimes it even took their mind off their problem. kids would be arguing about something really silly like who gets the basketball or maybe one of the boys was wearing the other boys shirt and they would be arguing, and all I had to say was; do you need a job from the job jar? And they would turn to each other and smile and work out their problems.

The Job Jar taught more than cleaning. It taught about communication, cooperation and working out difficult situations. It also opened up discussion about the importance of getting along and teaching kids to work out their own problems instead of always running to a parent to solve all their problems. 

The job jar can be filled with all kinds of dusting jobs, because remember you're not just teaching cleaning, you're teaching to get along with others and solve their own problems, all the while you're getting a clean house. Getting a clean house is a bonus and might be the best part short term, but the lessons being taught is the best part in the long run, and it takes them years to figure it out. Ha ha! 

I was cleaning with my middle son the other day and he's grown and on his own but he asked me a question that really got me thinking about cleaning in general, He said; Mom why do you think that we liked to clean as kids and we started to reminisce about the times that we cleaned together. There were some cleaning jobs that I could take the kids with me. We clean a salon #imagemakersalon for 35 years on the weekends trading haircuts,  nails and product for our hair.  This gave us a chance to play music, talk and have fun together while cleaning together. (we may have danced with a few brooms) I didn't realize it at the time,  I was teaching my children anything, but when my son asked me this question the other day I realized while we we're cleaning we were also having fun with one another and I feel that that's the reason that my children like to clean. It was the feeling we created when we cleaned. Now that they live in their own homes I hope they are keeping them clean, but I don’t like metal. 

One of the things that I have tried to do over the years is keep a clutter-free home so when it is time to dust and clean it makes it so much easier to get the job done. I think you would be surprised how much you don’t need. Only keeping those things in your life that bring you meaning, memories or joy. The night before I plan on dusting, I pick up my house and remove papers or unnecessary clutter so it's free to dust, seems to go more smoothly, and using the right dusting tools and equipment is key. 

One thing to remember in your life is, no matter how much dust you may have, no matter how much dirt you may have, always put people before a chore. Always let others in your home help, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Cleaning/dusting can be fun so try and make mundane dusting joyful while spending time together and throw in a teaching lesson while you’re at it.  It’s funny to me that we can turn such a small thing as dusting into a learning, teaching moment. Another thing I’ve learned about a clean home, never make excuses if your home is messy and your noisy neighbor pops in. You do You! No one will ever know what you have to do in a day and if you decide to spend your morning with your family and leave the house for another day, never apologize, real people don’t care. 

Be Real! Happy Dusting!

Happy Kootoo-ing!