Maintenance of beds in 1895

(Source: B. Gauchat, Colombier † 2004)

Text taken from a cooking and maintenance class for future farmer housewives, followed by Marie Amstutz (future wife of César-Alcide Gauchat) in 1895.

Other topics covered (sampling):

  • Bed maintenance
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Syrups
  • The fruits in a bain-marie
  • Vegetables in a bain-marie
  • Puddings
  • Berlin balls, mousses, eggs in snow
  • The desserts
  • Stuffed turkey
  • (...)

The bedrooms, because of the weather, must be located south or south-east, so that they receive direct sunlight. They must be cheerful and spacious, with large windows but not cluttered with useless furniture.
Sleep is as necessary as food to repair the forces lost through work. The bed must therefore have the necessary qualities to reach this goal, especially since one passes there nearly half of its life.
The bed is in a way a garment, it must be breathable, of a sufficient size to allow the body to take the positions which rest the muscles and do not hinder the functions of the organs. It must be elastic, not too heavy, nor too hot. The bedstead or iron support will be simple to allow air circulation and easy cleaning.

Iron beds should be preferred because they can be transported and cleaned more easily and are less expensive. The wooden supports are more elegant and maybe for that of a more widespread use.

The mattress, which forms the base can be animal or vegetable horsehair, but the latter settle easily, so should stretch often by scattering in the sun and adding new horsehair. Horsehair mattresses are the most expensive, but they also last much longer, are more elastic and in any case more useful and enjoyable. They have the advantage of lasting 3 or 4 years before needing to be renewed.

The feather mattresses have drawbacks that must exclude them from ordinary use. They hold the body in a state of heat and dampness that weakens it. The bolster should also be filled with horsehair or wool rather than feathers.

The beds surrounded by curtains have a disadvantage because they impede the circulation of the air and unless you take special care, become dust nests. It is important to ventilate the beds after leaving them, exposing them every morning to the open window. After shaking it, leave it at least a quarter of an hour. The mattresses must be turned every morning.

At least twice a year, the beds will be put in the sun; a little windy weather is preferable to intense heat. They must be left at least 3 or 4 hours under the influence of the sun and the air. During this time, we beat the mattresses, we brush them and we shake the duvets and bolsters.

In this way the beds become elastic and more durable. we put everything back in place after having previously removed the dust from the bedsteads.


Cours d'économie domestique, by Cornélie Chavannes, Director of the Teacher Training College of the Canton of Vaud (1840).