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One For the History Books...

If you've ever taken a few moments to scroll through our blogs, you'll notice that we do a lot of articles on how to clean your various types of floors properly. Maintaining the upkeep of your floors is important if you want them to look beautiful and last a long time which is why we spend so many Tuesdays and Thursdays discussing this topic. But we're not the only ones who have invested our efforts on informing the

public about good housekeeping habits. Writers, cleaning staff, and experienced home owners throughout history have done their best to pass along their own tips as well.

It just so happens that we came across some of these tried-and-true techniques from the early 20th century in a book we found lying around. What fun it was reading what has changed in our daily routines and what has stayed the same since 1922. So much fun, in fact, that we thought we'd share some of these "household hints" with you! Admittedly, most of them aren't about floors, and in fact some aren't about cleaning at all, but they are all consistently eloquent and humorous to us, the modern audience.

Without further ado, our little glimpse into the past...



Good Housekeeping Institute,1922

A Use for Paraffin Wrappers

A household help that I have found invaluable is the paraffin paper wrappers that come around loaves of bread. These lend themselves to many kitchen services, but the best use I make of them is for the cleaning and polishing of my coal range. When the steel is moderately warm, the paraffin melts just enough to polish it.

Mrs. W.D. F., Kans.

To Care for Table Oilcloth

To make table oilcloth more satisfactory and durable, clean it well and rub it occasionally with liquid wax, always polishing well afterward. It will be easy to keep clean, and its lifetime will be prolonged indefinitely. In polishing it, wrap a soft cloth or piece of flannel around an iron, using this for a polisher.

Mrs. M.W., IU.

To Keep the Sink Shining

Soap jelly, which is made by dissolving a large bar of soap in two quarts of boiling water and two tablespoonfuls of kerosene, is a great aid in keeping a white, shining sink. I keep a glass of soap jelly on the sink shelf, and when I have finished my dishes, I put a little on a cloth which I keep especially for that purpose, and clean the sink. Then I wash the sink out with clean, hot, sudsy water, and the result is well worth the effort.

Mrs. J.A., Okla.

A Place for the Dishpan

To save reaching under the drainboard to get my dishpan from a nail, which is the usual place for putting it, I have had a shelf built under the drainboard just low enough to take a dishpan. There I keep the dishpan, rinsing pan, and drainer where they may be reached without any effort.

K.S.C., Mass.



Household Hints

Wash the sink and drain pipes with boiling water every day and once a week, wash and drain with strong solution of washing soda (sal soda).

The drain of the icebox may be kept free in the same way.

To Remove Stains

Blood Stains: Wash in cold water, then in warm water and naphtha soap.

Coffee: Stretch material with spot over a bowl and pour boiling water through it from a height of two feet.

Cocoa or Chocolate: Try cold water and soap. If not effective, soak in cold water and borax and pour on boiling water as for coffee stain.

Grass: Weak solution of ammonia and water - 1/4 ammonia to 3/4 water. Use cleaning fluid on non-washable materials.

Grease: Saturate French Chalk with benzin and paste over spot. Lay a blotter over the spot and rest a warm iron on the blotter for half an hour. Remove the iron, dust off the chalk and the spot should be removed. The grease goes into the chalk from the heat.

If other chemicals or acids are in the grease, try cleaning fluid.

Ink: Use salt and lemon and sunshine for white goods. Use alternately drops of ammonia and oxalic acid on colored materials.

Iron: Lemon and salt followed by sunshine are often effective. Moistening with hot water and laying oxalic crystals on the spots should be effective.

Medicine: Soak in alcohol.

Mildew: For old stains treat alternately with potassium permanganate and oxalic acid.

Milk: Wash in warm water and soap suds.

Paint: Fresh paint should come out with water and yellow soap. Turpentine, gasoline and benzol are best for silks.

Perspiration: Try weak solution sodium hydrosulphite and wash in water. If material is nonwashable the stain is hopeless to remove.

Water Spots: Steam the spot, shake dry and iron.

Cleaning Out the Coffee Pot: Boil up to one tablespoon washing soda in the coffee pot full of water. Boil for fifteen minutes. Wash several times with fresh water and stand in the direct sunshine to try.

Cleaning stained knives: Scour with sand-soap and raw potato. Rub with a moistened cork.




Good Housekeeping Institute, 1930


The Informal Dinner

In this strenuous age, there is every temptation to hurry through our meals with an eye on the clock or to make the meal hour a time for planning an important enterprise. The meals at home, whether with our without guests, should invite repose and freedom from nerve tension in simple quiet surroundings and so become a most important medium of social intercourse. For this, attractive service is as important as care in preparation. Informality in meal service means dropping all ceremonious procedure and conventions that do not make for complete relaxation. It also usually means the orderly service of a meal without the aid of a trained waitress. Children, even the younger ones, can so easily be trained to wait on table and the tea wagon can be a veritable "butler on wheels" for the hostess who is serving the meal herself.

Suggested Menu -

Cream of Tomato Soup

Toasted Bread Rounds

Broiled Steak

Mashed Potatoes

Creamed Cauliflower

Buttered Carrots

Lettuce and Orange Salad

Paprika Crackers

Caramel Bread Pudding


Table Accessories - For convenience let us consider serving the informal dinner menu given on p. 218 to a family of six. The following table accessories will be needed:


1 damask cloth 6 napkins


6 service plates 6 salad plates

6 cream of soup cups and saucers 6 coffee cups and saucers

6 dinner plate 1 platter

3 vegetable serving dishes


1 flower bowl 1 water pitcher

1 pair candlesticks 1 cracker plate

6 bread and butter plates 6 sherbet glasses and plates

6 goblets 1 butter dish

2 pairs salts and peppers 1 plate for toasted bread rounds


6 cream soup spoons 1 bread plate

6 dinner forks 4 serving spoons

6 dinner knives 1 carving knife and fork

6 salad forks 1 creamer

6bread and butter knives 1 sugar bowl

6 teaspoons 1 sugar shell

6 dessert spoons 1 butter pick

Setting the table - In setting the table, lay the silence cloth, and over it a well laundered damask table-cloth. The table-cloth should fit the table, that is, it should fall evenly about eight or ten inches below the edge of the table, with the center fold exactly in the center of the table. If monogrammed, have the monogram a little above and to the right of the hostess's cover. A growing plant, or a centerpiece of flowers to harmonize in color with the meal itself adds to the enjoyment of the meal. It should be so arranged that an unobstructed view may be had across the table. Candles on either side of the centerpiece lend a cheerful note to an evening meal or to a mid-day dinner on a dark day.

Service plates are useful at an informal dinner, in protecting the table-cloth and in removing the soup course. Lay them first to mark the position of the covers, and place them one inch from the edge of the table. Next lay the silver which includes for this meal, a soup spoon, dessert spoon, knife, salad fork, and dinner fork. The sequence for placing all spoons, forks and knives is from the outside in toward the plate in the order in which they are to be used - all placed in a straight line. Place the knife at the right of the service plate, one inch from the edge of the table with the cutting edge toward the plate. Place spoons, with the bowls facing up, at the right of the knife, and forks at left of the plate, tines turned up. Place the water glass at the point of the knife and the bread and butter plate at the tip of the fork. Place the butter spreader on the butter plate parallel to the edge of the table with handle toward the right. The napkin, folded square, is usually placed at the left of the forks with the hem and selvedge parallel to the edge of the table and the forks, and with the open corner at the lower right hand side. If monogrammed, fold the napkin into thirds with the monogram on top. If the soup course is placed after the family is seated, the napkins may be placed on the service plate. Individual salt and pepper shakers are placed above each cover or one set between two covers in a line parallel to the edge of the table and in line with the glasses. If large salts and peppers are used, they may be placed as above or diagonally if preferred. If open saltcellars are used, place the salt spoon across the top of the cellar or on the cloth beside it. Just before dinner is announced fill the glasses three-quarters full of water. Have the water pitcher filled and placed either on the table or serving table. Place individual pats of butter on each butter plate. Put the first course on the table unless it is soup, which some prefer to place after the family is seated. Light the candles. Set a chair at each place with the front of the chair just touching the edge of the table-cloth. If jelly, or relishes are to be served, they may be placed now.


Wow! That last bit was just 1 1/2 pages of a 4 page section on informal dinner etiquette! The book also had detailed instructions on formal and informal breakfasts, formal and informal luncheons, afternoon tea, and buffet meals! Aren't you glad things are so much simpler now?

If you ever have any questions about how to modernize or simplify your cleaning process (for your floors, anyway), feel free to contact us or check out some of our other how-to cleaning blogs. We'd love to help.

We'd also love your feedback! Leave a comment below and tell us if you enjoyed reading these antique treasures and whether or not you'd like more content like this!

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