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Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House
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Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

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4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  2,241 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
Home Comforts is something new. For the first time in nearly a century, a sole author has written a comprehensive book about housekeeping. This is not a dry how-to manual, nor a collection of odd tips and hints, a cleaning book, a history book, or an arid encyclopedia compiled by a committee or an institute. Home Comforts is a readable explanation for both beginners and ex ...more
ebook, 896 pages
Published November 4th 1999 by Scribner
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Randalynn
Aug 25, 2008 Randalynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a sick obsession with reading books about how to manage a home. That said, I have really enjoyed this book because the premise is solid. The author doesn't avocate principles of order and cleanliness so that the neighbors will think you're great or to assert her domestic divinity (MS). She has some really sound advice that points toward creating an environment that makes your house a home where people feel they have a place. As always, I applaud women who give dignity and purpose to what ...more
Kate
Apr 05, 2008 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who can learn from an obsessive compulsive lawyer
I got this book in a used bookstore for five bucks. I NEVER would have paid full price for it, but for five bucks, I figured it was worth it. Full disclosure: I am a slob. If there is something in my path, I will step over it for months before it will occur to me that I could pick it up. Before obtaining this book, I had no idea what a dustmite looked like or how many billions of the little critters I have squirming around in my pillow every night. It never dawned on me that my living room drape ...more
Debra Cleaver
Aug 03, 2007 Debra Cleaver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference-books
i secretly like to tend house. shut up. i'm not interested in your comments. anyway, this book tells you how to take care of your house, your clothes, and your everything else. and it's kind of funny. and realistic. this woman won't go all martha stewart on your ass and tell you you're a bad person for not ironing your sheets. she'll just tell you you _could_ iron your sheets if you realy felt like wasting your day. and then she'll tell you to wash your sheets in hot water, not cold, so that the ...more
Neligh
Oct 25, 2008 Neligh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home, top-picks, recession
"Each day I long for home/ long for the sight of home." -The Odyssey.

The entire home industry, in its maneuver to sell us household goods by selling the promise of home itself, is some kind of Kincadian nightmare.* Despite peddling keys at a relentless pace ("How about this Hot Chocolate Pot? No? Never mind then; how about this cute little cabin of maple syrup?"), it will never unlock the glowing house full of loving people and hot food. "It comes down to the product versus the promise. It's no
...more
Cindy
Apr 25, 2007 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a recommendation from a friend. Literally, every detail imaginable about keeping house. A few things are a little over the top - (i.e. bring an ice chest with you to the store in order to bring home perishables safely - who does that??) and if I could actually do everything the book suggests, I would have to quit my job, stay home, NOT have kids and spend every waking minute keeping house. It's hard to understand how the author, both an attorney and philosophy professor is able to follo ...more
Debbie Petersen
Jul 08, 2008 Debbie Petersen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone starting out in a new home, and the rest of us as a reference
I actually enjoyed this book. It was enlightening to finally find out the answer to why the homes of so many others are cleaner, how they seem to know as if by magic what foods, spices, and whatever else belongs in the kitchen should be there and their expiration date; how to properly launder clothing and sheets; how often one should vacuum; what that appliance that sits on the ironing board is for...etc. I have used this book as a reference when stumped by various situations caused by children ...more
MomToKippy
Ah ha! Now I know where Heloise gets all her answers for her magazine column! This is an exhaustive collection of instruction and information on everything relating to housekeeping. There is a 100 page section of fabric composition and care alone. If you don't know how to wash dishes this tells you step by step - yea that's a little silly - and there are three different ways you may fold socks in case you are wondering about that with pictures! Some sections are common sense and some are very te ...more
Tracey
Dec 18, 2007 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mendelson approaches housekeeping from both a practical and philosophical perspective - with the occasional scientific explanation thrown in. She goes into immense detail on just about every aspect of home-making imaginable; from a discussion on types of fabric, to how to organize a pantry, to a dismaying examination of microbes found in food.

IMHO, her focus on sanitization borders on obsession; I began to wonder if she had stock in Clorox, as she recommended bleaching towels and bedding to wit
...more
Pam B.
Jul 02, 2011 Pam B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my life. Having a pleasant/orderly home has always been important to me but, until I read this book, I thought the only way to really achieve this goal was to hire a regular housekeeper, which I did. Home Comforts showed me that I was not an abject failure at all things home-related (as I previously thought) but rather, that I had a SERIOUS prioritization problem, e.g. periodically/randomly obsessing on organizing closets while dust bunnies collected in visible areas or dishes ...more
Dianna
Mar 24, 2011 Dianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most complete, detailed, up-to-date home reference I have ever seen. Unlike most home-themed books published today and in the past, this one relies on research, not on the author's opinion, or the way her mother did it. That's not to say this book is impersonal; the author frequently talks about the different ways her grandmothers kept house and shares little tidbits from her life that relate to the subject at hand.

This book has gotten a lot of complaints from people who say it sets
...more
Lisa Lewis
Okay, here is how much of a geek I am:
1. I have actually read etiquette books for pleasure
2. I took reading advice from the newsletter sent out by my former realtor
These are the factors that brought me to "Home Comforts", a very interesting reference book on all things related to having a pleasant home environment. The author is a thoroughly modern woman with an old-fashioned view that there is a correct and desirable way to do most everything around the house. She has researched and compiled th
...more
Adrienne
Mar 11, 2010 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-own
I learned that my mother knew what she was doing, she just couldn't get us to do it when we were kids. So although she probably thought she wasn't a good housekeeper, she knew an awful lot about making beds, keeping bathrooms and kitchens clean, and cooking.

As I read this, I was so appreciative that I didn't have to learn this kind of stuff from a book, as well-written as it is. I liked how the author told stories of her girlhood learning how to fold sheets and set the table with her family. I
...more
Frangipani
Aug 22, 2008 Frangipani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: homemakers; people moving out on their own
Recommended to Frangipani by: magazine
Had this one on loan from the library, and for a couple of weeks it sat mocking me in my reading corner. It fell open at a page entitled "how to iron sheets" which put me off opening it. IRON SHEETS? However it was glowingly reviewed in a magazine so I wanted to give it a chance to see if there was anything practical I could learn from it. I'm just perturbed as to how the author manages to do everything she's writing about while still having a LIFE outside of housekeeping. Does she have several ...more
Stephanie
Jan 27, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-faves
I don't know who is crazier? Me, for thouroughly enjoying every last page of this 800 page masterpiece about housekeeping, or Cheryl Mendelson, the crazy woman who wrote it?! This book was so hard to put down. It has taken me months to finish but I HAD to finish it. Every last word of it was surprisingly captivating! I originally checked it out at the library to browse over a few chapters that interested me (mainly the laundry sections) but I found it to be so well written and everything so well ...more
Darby
Jun 11, 2008 Darby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
It is a book I have used countless of times. It has everything in it: How to do all basic sewing stitches. How to iron a dress shirt and how to fold sheets. How to make up a bed with hospital corners. How to choose proper sizes for sheets, tablecloths, and other household linens. How to set the table for informal and formal meals. Expert recommendations for safe food storage. The most exhaustive and reliable information on fabrics, textile fibers, and their laundering, and drying. A thorough exp ...more
Christopher Kukstis
I sat down with a friend not long ago and announced: "I don't understand how cleaning works. I know how to do it, but I don't understand what I'm doing when I do it. When I mop, am I just spreading dirt and dust around? Are the chemicals in the soap eating the dirt? I DON'T GET IT!"

This book contains the answer to that puzzle, and just about every other household puzzle, with each recommendation backed up by a hefty amount of scientific reasoning for how these processes work and why they are goo
...more
Lobstergirl
Jun 17, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dirty people
Shelves: own, reference
This must be the only housekeeping manual written by a philosophy Ph.D. and Harvard Law School J.D. She's also practiced law and taught philosophy at Columbia. And she's really, REALLY into homemaking. The book is very pleasurable reading, even though you know (because you know?) you could never possibly be as anal as Cheryl Mendelson, and because she's a good writer. Some of her advice is just common sense: Don't buy celery "that is limp, splitting, or woody." "Crocheted antimacassars are quite ...more
Alyssa
Sep 11, 2007 Alyssa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone but particularly those with a passion for keeping house
This book is amazing! There's no other way to put it. Cheryl has covered every topic that could possibly come up when keeping house. Even if you're not that enthusiastic about housekeeping and to you that translates to slaving away over an iron or cleaning the bathroom, you should check this book out. It's so much more than a "how to clean your house" tip book. The author depicts keeping house as something sacred since it's the space that we all inhabit on a daily basis.
Courtney
May 14, 2008 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone needing help organizing or cleaning their home
Recommended to Courtney by: salon.com
I've had this book for about two years and don't feel like I've finished it. Its not because its bad or hard to read, it just has so much information that I like to go back and re-read the same sections repeatedly. The author's tone is very familiar and makes you feel like a friend or family member is giving advice. The tips on stain removal are excellent and the lists are very helpful. Overall this is a great resource for all things home related.
Sarahlynn Lester
I got this book as a wedding present 12+ years ago and I'm still reading it. I doubt I'll ever finish. The author has some odd pet peeves, goes a little crazy on certain topics, and covers WAAAY more than I ever wanted to know about different types of fabric (several long chapters of tiny, double-columned print, in fact) but I'm learning a lot.
Kathleen
Jun 28, 2010 Kathleen added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nerds like me who think cleaning and organizing is a form of relaxation.
I'm such a nerd but my Older Sister got this book for me as a wedding gift and I've only looked at it a couple of times as a reference but I pulled it out the other day and actually started reading it and the first few chapters have been suprisingly enjoyable!
Rhian
May 07, 2009 Rhian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Housekeeping porn. It will make you crazy, though -- thinking about all those microscopic mites in your mattress, etc. In another life I hope to come back as a person capable of achieving the housewifely standards of this book.
Holly
Aug 30, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands down the best homemaking book I've ever read. I expected to just thumb though it, but I found myself wanting to read it cover to cover.
It is the first comprehensive homemaking guide that did not fill me with guilt that I've been doing it all wrong and instead made me feel like I wanted to get up and clean my oven and then bake something in it.
I have Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, and it is very comprehensive, and had tons of checklists and pictures, but is very cold and im
...more
Julia
Mar 12, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating for the sheer volume of information, as well as the quality of research, writing, and illustration, given the topic. Very interesting personal introduction on the importance of giving thought to the task of keeping house and keeping fed, no matter what your circumstances.

I'm sure that I'll keep this book forever as a reference work. It is tremendously satisfying to have a source I trust to resolve, once and for all, the vacuum first or dust first question. The illustrations by Henry
...more
Renee
Sep 08, 2016 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be given to every young ladies before they leave home. Practical and clear homemaking skills share in a easy to read and follow instructions.
Popup-ch
Jul 21, 2016 Popup-ch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
I'm not sure whether this should be shelved as a how-to book, or as anthropology.

I've only read the first half, but will keep it as a reference for when I need to get a ketchup stain out of a linen handkerchief or need to iron some silk lace.

She describes how any ordinary home should be managed, but her standards are pretty high. While she tries hard to avoid sounding condescending, it is with intense pity she tries to understand why some people do not change the tablecloth on the kitchen table
...more
John
Dec 02, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Jesse Thorn
Mendelson is persuasive when laying out the case for any particular activity of keeping house.

"Ironing gratifies the senses. The transformation of wrinkled, shapeless cloth into the smooth and gleaming folds of a familiar garment pleases the eye. The good scent of ironing is the most comfortable smell in the world. And the fingertips enjoy the changes in the fabrics from cold to warm, wet to dry, and rough to silky. There is nothing like keeping the hands busy with some familiar work to free t
...more
Tia
Apr 27, 2015 Tia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, bromance, how-to
Okay, what could be more boring than a book that goes through, in minute detail, how to wash each article of clothing you own, how to iron sheets, how many napkins to purchase for daily use, how to lay a place setting for dinner where oysters will be served, and the relative merits of aluminum versus copper versus stainless steel pans?
For those of us who were raised with no sense of how to cook, clean or make your home friendly and inviting, and who would much rather learn all that information
...more
Ginger
Jul 03, 2012 Ginger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have really enjoyed this one! It has given me some direction in where to focus my time and energy when taking care of the house. Some might think it is over the top (airing out a bed? ). However, some tasks take thirty seconds yet make all the difference in the world. I recommend everyone add this to their defense library.
Maren
Feb 05, 2009 Maren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like to read books about cleaning and household management much more than I actually like to clean. This is a great reference guide. If you read it cover to cover (like I did) you might start to feel bad about yourself.
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“Housekeeping comprises the ability to find, evaluate, and use information about nutrition, cooking, chemistry and biology, health, comfort, laundry, cleaning, and safety.” 1 likes
“Hair burns very quickly. If you have long hair, tie it back securely when you are cooking, building a fire in the fireplace, lighting your space heater, leaning toward a lit grill, or doing anything else involving flames.” 1 likes
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