FACTS WORTH KNOWING
123 Years ago
An Agreeable Disinfectant:—Sprinkle fresh ground coffee on a shovel of hot coals, or burn sugar on hot coals. Vinegar boiled with myrrh, sprinkled on the floor and furniture of a sick room, is an excellent deodorizer.
To Prevent Mold:—A small quantity of carbolic acid added to paste, mucilage and ink, will prevent mold. An ounce of the acid to a gallon of whitewash will keep cellars and dairies from the disagreeable odor which often taints milk and meat kept in such places.
To Make Tracing-Paper:—Dissolve a ball of white beeswax, one inch in diameter, in half a pint of turpentine. Saturate the paper in this bath and let it dry two or three days before using.
To Preserve Brooms:—Dip them for a minute or two in a kettle of boiling suds once a week and they will last much longer, making them tough and pliable. A carpet wears much longer swept with a broom cared for in this manner.
To Clean Brass-Ware, etc.:—Mix one ounce of oxalic acid, six ounces of rotten stone, all in powder, one ounce of sweet oil, and sufficient water to make a paste. Apply a small portion, and rub dry with a flannel or leather. The liquid dip most generally used consists of nitric and sulphuric acids; but this is more corrosive.
Polish or Enamel for Shirt Bosoms is made by melting together one ounce of white wax, and two ounces of spermaceti; [spermaceti (wax), a wax, liquid at body temperature, obtained from the head of a sperm whale or bottlenose whale] heat gently and turn into a very shallow pan; when cold cut or break in pieces. When making boiled starch the usual way, enough for a dozen bosoms, add to it a piece of the polish the size of a hazel nut.
An Erasive Fluid for the Removal of Spots on Furniture, and all kinds of fabrics, without injuring the color, is made of four ounces of aqua ammonia, one ounce of glycerine, one ounce of castile soap and one of spirits of wine. Dissolve the soap in two quarts of soft water, add the other ingredients. Apply with a soft sponge and rub out. Very good for deaning silks.
To Remove the Odor of Onion from fish-kettle and saucepans in which they have been cooked, put wood-ashes or sal soda, potash or lye; fill with water and let it stand on the stove until it boils; then wash in hot suds, and rinse well.
To Clean Marble Busts:—First free them from all dust, then wash them with very weak hydrochloric acid. Soap injures the color of marble.
To Remove old Putty from Window Frames, pass a red hot poker slowly over it and it will come off easily.
Hanging Pictures:—The most safe material and also the best, is copper wire, of the size proportioned to the weight of the picture. When hung the wire is scarcely visible, and its strength is far superior to cord.
To Keep Milk Sweet:—Put into a panful a spoonful of grated horse-radish, it will keep it sweet for days.
To Take Rust from Steel Implements or Knives:—Rub them well with kerosene oil, leaving them covered with it a day or so; then rub them hard and well with finely powdered unslaked lime.
Poison Water:—Water boiled in galvanized iron becomes poisonous, and cold water passed through zinc-lined iron pipes should never be used for cooking or drinking. Hot water for cooking should never be taken from hot water pipes; keep a supply heated in kettles.
Scouring Soap for Cotton and Silk Goods:—Mix one pound of common soap, half a pound of beef-gall and one ounce and a half of Venetian turpentine.
A Paint for Wood or Stone that Resists all Moisture:—Melt twelve ounces of resin; mix with it, thoroughly, six gallons of fish oil and one pound of melted sulphur. Rub up some ochre or any other coloring substance with a little linseed oil, enough to give it the right color and thickness. Apply several coats of the hot composition with a brush. The first coat should be very thin.
To Ventilate a Room:—Place a pitcher of cold water on a table in your room and it will absorb all the gases with which the room is filled from the respiration of those eating or sleeping in the apartment. Very few realize how important such purification is for the health of the family, or, indeed, understand or realize that there can be any impurity in the rooms; yet in a few hours a pitcher or pail of cold water—the colder the more effective—will make the air of a room pure, but the water will be entirely unfit for use.
To Fill Cracks in Plaster:—Use vinegar instead of water to mix your plaster of Paris. The resultant mass will be like putty, and will not "set" for twenty or thirty minutes; whereas, if you use water the plaster will become hard almost immediately, before you have time to use it. Push it into the cracks and smooth it off nicely with a table knife.
To Take Spots from Wash Goods:—Rub them with the yolk of egg before washing.
To Take White Spots from Varnished Furniture:—Hold a hot stove lid or plate over them and they will soon disappear.
To Prevent Oil from Becoming Rancid:—Drop a few drops of ether into the bottle containing it.
Troublesome Ants:—A heavy chalk mark laid a finger's distance from your sugar box and all around (there must be no space not covered) will surely prevent ants from troubling.
To Make Tough Meat Tender:—Lay it a few minutes in a strong vinegar water.
To Remove Discoloration from Bruises:—Apply a cloth wrung out in very hot water, and renew frequently until the pain ceases. Or apply raw beefsteak.
A Good Polish for Removing Stains, Spots and Mildew from Furniture is made as follows:— Take half a pint of ninety-eight per cent, alcohol, a quarter of an ounce each of pulverized resin and gum shellac, add half a pint of linseed oil; shake well and apply with a brush or sponge.
To Remove Finger-Marks:—Sweet oil will remove finger-marks from varnished furniture, and kerosene from oiled furniture.
To Remove Paint from Black Silk:—Patient rubbing with chloroform will remove paint from black silk or any other goods, and will not hurt the most delicate color or fabric.
To Freshen Gilt Frames:—Gilt frames may be revived by carefully dusting them, and then washing with one ounce of soda beaten up with the whites of three eggs. Scraped patches might be touched tip with any gold paint. Castile soap and water, with proper care, may be used to clean oil paintings; other methods should not be employed without some skill.
To Destroy Moths in Furniture:—All the baking and steaming are useless, as, although the moths may be killed, their eggs are sure to hatch, and the upholstery to be well riddled. The naphtha-bath process is effectual. A sofa, chair or lounge may be immersed in the large vats used for the purpose, and all insect life will be absolutely destroyed. No egg ever hatches after passing through the naphtha-bath [a colorless, volatile petroleum distillate, usually an intermediate product between gasoline and benzine, used as a solvent]; all oil, dirt or grease disappears, and not the slightest damage is done to the most costly article. Sponging with naphtha will not answer. It is the immersion for two hours or more in the specially prepared vats which is effectual.
Slicing Pineapples:—The knife used for peeling a pineapple should not be used for slicing it, as the rind contains an acid that is apt to cause a swollen mouth and sore lips. The Cubans use salt as an antidote for the ill effects of the peel.
To Clean Iron Sinks:—Rub them well with a cloth wet with kerosene oil.
To Erase Discoloration on Stone China:—Dishes and cups that are used for baking custards, puddings, etc., that require scouring, may be easily cleaned by rubbing with a damp cloth dipped in whiting or "Sapolio", [Sapolio was a brand of soap noted for its advertising, led by Artemas Ward from 1883–1908.] then washed as usual.
To Remove Ink, Wine or Fruit Stains:—Saturate well in tomato juice; it is also an excellent thing to remove stains from the hands.
To Set Colors in Washable Goods:—Soak them previous to washing in a water in which is allowed a tablespoonful of ox-gall [the fresh gall of the domestic ox; - used in the arts and in medicine] to a gallon of water.
To Take out Paint:—Equal parts of ammonia and turpentine will take paint out of clothing, no matter how dry or hard it may be. Saturate the spot two or three times, then wash out in soap-suds. Ten cents' worth of oxalic acid dissolved in a pint of hot water will remove paint spots from the windows. Pour a little into a cup, and apply to the spots with a swab, but be sure not to allow the acid to touch the hands. Brasses may be quickly cleaned with it. Great care must be exercised in labeling the bottle, and putting it out of the reach of children, as it is a deadly poison.
To Remove Tar from Cloth:—Saturate the spot and rub it well with turpentine, and every trace of tar will be removed.
To Destroy Ants:—Ants that frequent houses or gardens may be destroyed by taking flour of brimstone half a pound, and potash four ounces; set them in an iron or earthen pan over the fire until dissolved and united; afterwards beat them to a powder, and infuse a little of this powder in water, and wherever you sprinkle it the ants will fly the place.
Simple Disinfectant:—The following is a refreshing disinfectant for a sick room, or any room that has an unpleasant aroma prevading it: Put some fresh ground coffee in a saucer, and in the centre place a small piece of camphor gum, which light with a match. As the gum burns, allow sufficient coffee to consume with it. The perfume is very pleasant and healthful, being far superior to pastiles, and very much cheaper.
Cure for Hiccough:—Sit erect and inflate the lungs fully. Then, retaining the breath, bend forward slowly until the chest meets the knees. After slowly arising again to the erect position, slowly exhale the breath. Repeat this process a second time, and the nerves will be found to have received an access of energy that will enable them to perform their natural functions.
To Keep out Mosquitoes and Bats:—If a bottle of the oil of pennyroyal [Pennyroyal is the smallest of the Mints and very different in habit from any of the others.] is left uncorked in a room at night, not a mosquito, nor any other blood-sucker, will be found there in the morning. Mix potash with powdered meal, and throw it into the rat-holes of a cellar, and the rats will depart. If a rat or a mouse get into your pantry, stuff into its hole a rag saturated with a solution of cayenne pepper, and no rat or mouse will touch the rag for the purpose of opening communication with a depot of supplies.
Salt will Curdle New Milk; hence, in preparing porridge, gravies, etc., the salt should not be added until the dish is prepared.
To Prevent Rust on Flat-Irons:—Beeswax and salt will make your rusty flat-irons as smooth and clean as glass. Tie a lump of wax in a rag and keep it for that purpose. When the irons are hot, rub them first with the wax rag, then scour with a paper or cloth sprinkled with salt.
To Prevent Rust on Knives:—Steel knives which are not in general use may be kept from rusting if they are dipped in a strong solution of soda: one part water to four of soda; then wipe dry, roll in flannel and keep in a dry place.
Flowers May be Kept Very Fresh over Night if they are excluded from the air. To do this, wet them thoroughly, put in a damp box, and cover with wet raw cotton or wet newspaper, then place in a cool spot.
To Sweeten Milk:—Milk which is slightly turned or changed may be sweetened and rendered fit for use again by stirring in a little soda.
To Scour Knives Easily:—Mix a small quantity of baking soda with your brick-dust and see if your knives do not polish better.
To Soften Boots and Shoes:—Kerosene will soften boots and shoes which have been hardened by water, and render them as pliable as new. Kerosine will make tin kettles as bright as new. Saturate a woolen rag and rub with it. It will also remove stains from clean varnished furniture.
Faded Goods:—Plush goods and all articles dyed with aniline colors, which have faded from exposure to the light, will look as bright as new after sponging with chloroform.
Choking:—A piece of food lodged in the throat may sometimes be pushed down with the finger, or removed with a hair-pin quickly straightened and hooked at the end, or by two or three vigorous blows on the back between the shoulders.
Webmaster Note: In the 21st Century, I believe this is advised against.
To Prevent Mold on the Top of Glasses of Jelly, lay a lump of paraffine on the top of the hot jelly, letting it melt and spread over it. No brandy paper and no other covering is necessary. If preferred the paraffine can be melted and poured over after the jelly is cold.
To Preserve Ribbons and Silks:—Ribbons and silks should be put away for preservation in brown paper; the chloride of lime in white paper discolors them. A white satin dress should be pinned up in blue paper with brown paper outside sewn together at the edges.
To Preserve Bouquets:—Put a little saltpetre [Potassium nitrate] in the water you use for your bouquets and the flowers will live for a fortnight [fourteen days].
To Destroy Cockroaches:—Hellebore sprinkled on the floor at night. They eat it and are poisoned.[a poisonous herb (genus Veratrum) of the lily family; also: the dried rhizome of a hellebore (V. album or V. viride) that is used as an insecticide and contains toxic alkaloids that are cardiac and respiratory depressants]
To Remove Iron Rust:—Lemon juice and salt will remove ordinary iron rust. If the hands are stained there is nothing that will remove the stains as well as lemon. Cut a lemon in halves and apply the cut surface as if it were soap.
To Keep Bar Soap:—Cut it into pieces and put it into a dry place; it is more economical to use after it has become hard, as it does not waste so readily.
To Brighten Carpets:—Carpets after the dust has been beaten out may be brightened by scattering upon them corn meal mixed with salt and then sweeping it off. Mix salt and meal in equal proportions. Carpets should be thoroughly beaten on the wrong side first and then on the right side, after which spots may be removed by the use of ox-gall or ammonia and water.
Silver Tea and Coffeepot:—When putting away those not in use every day lay a little stick across the top under the cover. This will allow fresh air to get in and prevent the mustiness of the contents, familiar to hotel and boarding-house sufferers.
To Prevent Creaking of Bedsteads:—If a bedstead creaks at each movement of the sleeper, remove the slats, and wrap the ends of each in old newspapers.
To Clean Unvarnished Black Walnut:—Milk, sour or sweet, well rubbed in with an old soft flannel, will make black walnut look new.
To Prevent Cracking of Bottles and Fruit Jars:—If a bottle or fruit-jar that has been more than once used is placed on a towel thoroughly soaked in hot water, there is little danger of its being cracked by the introduction of a hot liquid.
To Prevent Lamp-wicks from Smoking:—Soak them in vinegar and then dry them thoroughly.
Rub the nickel stove-trimmings and the plated handles and hinges of doors with kerosene and whiting, and polish with a dry cloth.
Death to Bugs:—Varnish is death to the most persistent bug. It is cheap—ten cents' worth will do for one bedstead—is easily used, is safe, and improves the looks of the furniture to which it is applied. The application, must, however, be thorough, the slats, sides, and every crack and corner receiving attention.
That salt should be eaten with nuts to aid digestion.
That milk which stands too long makes bitter butter.
To Clean Drain Pipes:—Drain pipes, and all places that are sour or impure, may be cleaned with lime-water or carbolic acid.
If oil-cloth be occasionally rubbed with a mixture of beeswax and turpentine, it will last longer.
To Remove Mildew from Cloth:—Put a teaspoonful of chloride of lime into a quart of water, strain it twice, then dip the mildewed places in this weak solution; lay in the sun; if the mildew has not disappeared when dry, repeat the operation. Also soaking the article in sour milk and salt; then lay in the sun; repeat until all the mildew is out.
To Take Ink out of Linen:—Dip the ink spot in pure melted tallow, then wash out the tallow and the ink will come out with it. This is said to be unfailing. Milk will remove ink from linen or colored muslins, when acids would be ruinous, by soaking the goods until the spot is very faint and then rubbing and rinsing in cold water.
Ink spots on floors can be extracted by scouring with sand wet in oil of vitriol and water. When ink is removed, rinse with strong pearl-ash water.
To Toughen Lamp Chimneys and Glass-ware:—Immerse the article in a pot filled with cold water, to which some common salt has been added. Boil the water well, then cool slowly. Glass treated in this way will resist any sudden change of temperature.
To Remove Paint from Window-glass:—Rub it well with hot sharp vinegar.
To Clean Stove-pipe:—A piece of zinc put on the live coals in the stove will clean out the stove-pipe.
Packing Bottles:—India-rubber bands slipped over them will prevent breakage.
To Clean Ivory Ornaments:—When ivory ornaments become yellow or dusky, wash them well in soap and water with a small brush, to clean the carvings, and then place them, while wet, in the sunshine. Wet them with soapy water for two or three days, several times a day, still keeping them in the sunshine, then wash them again, and they will be perfectly white.
Stained Brass:—Whiting wet with aqua ammonia, will cleanse brass from stains, and is excellent for polishing faucets and door-knobs of brass or silver. "Sapolio" is still better.
Hartshorn applied to the stings of poisonous insects will allay the pain and stop the swelling; or apply oil of sassafras, which is better. Bee stings should be treated in this way.
For Cleaning Glass Bottles:—Crush egg-shells into small bits, or a few carpet tacks, or a small quantity of gunshot, put into the bottle; then fill one-half full of strong soap-suds; shake thoroughly, then rinse in clear water. Will look like new.
Cutting off Glass Bottles for Clips and Jars:—A simple, practical way is to take a red-hot poker with a pointed end; make a mark with a file to begin the cut; then apply the hot iron and a crack will start, which will follow the iron wherever it is carried. This is, on the whole, simple, and better than the use of strings wet with turpentine, etc.
Cistern Water may be Purified by charcoal put in a bag and hung in the water.
Salt will Remove the Stain from Silver caused by eggs, when applied dry with a soft cloth.
Opened Fruit, Fish or Vegetables:—Never allow opened fruit, fish or vegetables to stand in the tin can. Never stir anything in tin, or, if it is done, use a wooden spoon. In lifting pies or cakes from bright tin pans, use great caution that the knife does not scrape off flecks of bright metal.
Never use water which has stood in a lead pipe over night. Not less than a wooden bucketful should be allowed to run.
Never use water from a stone reservoir for cooking purposes.
Never allow fresh meat to remain in paper; it absorbs the juices.
Never keep vinegar or yeast in stone crocks or jugs; their acid attacks the glazing, which is said to be poisonous. Glass for either is better.
Squeaking Doors ought to have the hinges oiled by putting on a drop from the sewing machine oil-can.
Plate Glass and Mirrors:—A soft cloth wet in alcohol, is excellent to wipe off plate glass and mirrors, and prevents their becoming frosty in winter.
A red-hot iron will soften old putty so that it can be easily removed.
To Test Nutmegs:—Prick them with a pin; if good, the oil will instantly spread around the puncture.
A Good Way to Clean Mica in a stove that has become blackened with smoke, is to take it out, and thoroughly wash it with vinegar. If the black does not come off at once, let it soak a little.
To Banish Rats from the Premises, use pounded glass mixed with dry corn meal, placed within their reach. Sprinkling cayenne pepper in their holes will also banish them. Chloride of lime is an infallible remedy, spread around where they come, and thrown into their holes; it should be renewed once in two weeks. Tar is also a good remedy.
To Prevent the Odor of Boiling Ham or Cabbage:—Throw red pepper pods or a few bits of charcoal into the pan they are cooking in.
To Brighten Gilt Frames:—Take sufficient flour of sulphur to give a golden tinge to about one and one-half pints of water, and in this boil four or five bruised onions, or garlic, which will answer the same purpose. Strain off the liquid, and with it, when cold, wash with a soft brush any gilding which requires restoring, and when dry, it will come out as bright as new work.
All cooking utensils, including iron-ware, should be washed outside and inside in hot, soapy water; rinsed in clean, hot water, wiped dry with a dry towel; a soapy or greasy dish-cloth should never be used for the purpose.
A cake of Sapolio should be kept in every kitchen, to be used freely on all dishes that require scouring and cleansing. All tins that have become discolored can be made as bright and clean as new by the use of Sapolio; also shines dishes; and, in fact, almost all articles that require any scouring. Purchased at all groceries. One of the most useful articles ever used in the kitchen.
The Whitehouse Cookbook (1887)