Household Hints from Early 1900s – Part 2


A plate of lavender water prevents a sick-room from smelling like a hospital room. Light and burn the lavender water for a refreshing aroma that permeates the area. (This is one of my favorite scents, but today we might light a lavender-scented candle.)

Brush a cold, rusty stove top with kerosene. Allow it to stand for thirty minutes before rubbing it dry with soft paper towels. Apply a second coat of kerosene and wait a bit before scrubbing the stove with steel wool.

Here is a trick to soften cold butter. Pour hot water into a bowl and wait a few minutes. Empty the water. Turn the warmed bowl upside down over the butter, which will soon soften.

A metal bread box becomes a warming cabinet for food or dishes when placed on top of a radiator. The same metal box becomes a cooler in the summer by allowing it to sit in an ice chest. Then take it camping to keep foods cool. (Not sure how long the bread box retains the chill.)

Wipe windows with rubbing alcohol in the winter to prevent them from steaming in the cold.

Old cigar boxes make great first-aid boxes. Items suggested for the box were a jar of salve, small scissors, sterilized gauze, antiseptic wash, adhesive tape, and Band-Aids – not so different from today. These have gone a little out of style but it’s still a good idea to store necessary items in the same area for quick retrieval.

Leave a comment if you have tried any of these household hints or have a new one to add!

-Sandra Merville Hart



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