Household Hints from the Early 1900s – Part 1


If you mix three pounds of margarine with one pound of butter, your family may think all four pounds are butter.

Have unused clothespins? Paint them. Apply the name or initials of each family member with nail polish. Use these to hang towels in the bathrooms. (Sounds like an early Pinterest idea!)

Put a brown paper bag over your hand to wipe a lantern chimney clean.

Scratch soap under your fingernails before gardening to keep the dirt away. (This might be worth a try.)

This one may be fun for children. Draw a name or design on handkerchiefs or scarves with wax crayons. Press a hot iron over the back of the cloth to permanently seal a decoration that doesn’t fade or wash away. (Sounds like a fun way to personalize t-shirts.)

Pour ammonia into water. Place a small amount of soap on a soap brush and dip it into the ammonia water to clean jewelry. Rinse with cold water. Wipe it dry with a handkerchief or cloth before rubbing the jewelry with a chamois skin. (Chamois is a non-abrasive leather.)

This next suggestion is for those with trouble sleeping. Before bedtime, sprinkle a “good-sized” raw onion with salt. You are supposed to eat it. Buttered bread may help to get it down. If it is still difficult to eat, you may also squeeze a little lemon juice onto the onion.

Add warm seedless raisins to hot honey for a tasty sandwich spread.

After opening a bottle of olives, preserve them in vinegar, olive oil, and salt.

Keep lemon peels for future use. When needed, place them in warm oven for a few minutes to soften.

I’d love to hear your comments if you try any of these hints.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Rodack, Jaine. Forgotten Recipes, Wimmer Books, 1981.