Did you ever wonder how people cleaned their carpets before the vacuum cleaner became a popular household item? People of the mid 1800s did not have wall-to-wall carpeting like we have today. If they could afford carpet at all, it was laid on the floor as an area rug and tacked into place. A carpet sweeper or broom was not an effective means to clean carpeting because the dirt would fall between the fibers where the bristles could not reach it. When the flooring needed to be cleaned, the carpeting had to be removed from the home, hung over a fence or wash line, and beaten until the dirt particles dislodged and fell from the nap of the carpet. This process was a major undertaking which disrupted the entire household. As a result, it occurred only once or twice a year.
Whips, tree branches, and pieces of lumber were used to beat the dirty carpet into submission. This action would often damage the expensive rugs by ripping or poking holes into them. Finally, the carpet beater arrived on the scene.