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Old-fashioned Household Cleaning Techniques That Still Work

I adore old cookbooks. I scour old bookstores and garage sales for them, and friends and relatives do the same. I love the look of them, the smell of them, and the fact that recipes assume a basic cooking knowledge – ie “bake in a hot oven until done” – and that they often list ingredients without instructions for what to do with them.

There are of course always houshold tips that are most often more amusing than useful (one book I found has illustrated instructions on how to skin a possum). But flipping through, there is some good advice from my grandmother’s (and her grandmother’s) generation that still applies today. These homemade cleaning solutions will also appeal to anyone wanting to avoid harsh chemicals and clean a little more green.

  • a solution of vinegar and baking soda or salt is an effective cleaner for most hard surfaces.
  • salt is a good abrasive cleaner for stainless steel pots and pans.
  • equal parts water and vinegar and use in a spray bottle for streak-free windows.
  • olive oil and vinegar makes a good furniture polish.
  • cut a lemon in half and sprinkle with salt; rub over brass to polish it.
  • equal amounts of vinegar and mild vegetable oil works well on wood floors.
  • vinegar and salt will get rid of mildew.
  • a paste of baking soda and water works well for scrubbing the inside of the oven.
  • two parts mild vegetable oil to one part lemon juice, applied with a cloth, works well on wood furniture.
  • equal parts baking soda and salt make an effective scrub for your pots and pans or kitchen sink.
  • pure white vinegar works well to remove calcium deposits.

Do you have any suggestions for simple, homemade cleaning solutions?
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/avava

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