“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Household Hints From the 1800's


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. (I'm sure this is meant for natural brooms)

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 a 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.
Home of my great grandparents, Osmond, Nebraska

To prevent lamp wicks from smoking:  Soak them in vinegar, and then dry them thoroughly.

Selected from:  The Original White House Cookbook, 1887 Edition

Fresh air is a must in our homes .. especially during the winter.  Prior to electricity, when wood or coal  was used to heat, and oil lamps gave light, indoor air quality was very poor.  Homes were not built as air tight as modern homes, so there was some exchange of outside air.  Our modern homes are very air tight making it important to have good ventilation.  Keeping a window cracked at night when the furnace is not cranked up .. will sometimes suffice.  At every opportunity, you should air out your home for the health of your family.

8 comments:

Tanya said...

It's funny looking back. Some advice is so sage and wise and other quite laughable. I can imagine when they saw the little bubbles appearing in the water jug thinking how foul the air was. Victorians became quite obsessed with vapours and foul gases. Love the old photo of your great grandparents house.

The Professor's Wife said...

I love reading old household tips, especially from the Victorian era. Homemaking was such a career for these women!

Rebecca said...

I enjoy reading these - and DO like to sleep with a window cracked open :)

Deb said...

I'm thinking perhaps I'll have to adopt the pitcher of cold water method to air out our home since there are no open windows at night for this family! Ah..I only wish I could sleep with a window cracked open! Brillo Man has to have it 190 degrees at night. Then there's me with my hot flashes and night sweats. Ha. Don't ask how 190 degrees works for me!

Cindy said...

Never knew about the pitcher of cold water to purify a room! I do open windows frequently to air out the house, even in winter (only for a few minutes in that case).

Laughter said...

For me, this brings up so many questions... The "kettle of boiling suds" would that be washing suds? Or "suds" as in beer?
And the wicks in vinegar- I can only assume you'd dip and dry them before actually making the candle..?
I guess I need to read the book. =)

Mrs. Mac said...

Laughter .. yes .. boiling sudsy water :) and the wicks would need to be dried before using in an oil lamp or perhaps making candles ... You can read the book for free by following the link. Thanks for stopping by.

Cindy .. I'm not sure exactly what the pitcher of cold water would actually absorb .. can you just imagine how nasty a glass of water on the nightstand would be to drink??

Deb .. Get an electric blanket for hubby and just don't plug in your side .. then he can crank up his side of the bed and you can have an open window ;)

Wendy said...

That is a very good point about fresh air during the winter.