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In Association with

Timeless Household Tips from the 1800’s


by Miriam Lukken

  • Full-strength vinegar applied to a glass will remove the cloudy appearance.
  • Place a piece of white chalk in your silver chest or jewelry box to absorb moisture and help prevent tarnishing of silverware and jewelry.
  • Clean tarnished copper with a solution made of equal parts flour, white vinegar, and salt. Rub on, and then wash off in hot water.
  • Before you hand wash china, crystal, or other delicate items, place a thick towel in the bottom of the sink to cushion them and prevent them from chipping or breaking.
  • To loosen two drinking glasses that are stuck together, fill the inner glass with cold water and stand them in hot water. Expansion and contraction from the temperature difference will free them.
  • Remove the rust from knives and other cooking utensils by sticking them in an onion for a day or so. Move them back and forth periodically to get the onion juices going.
  • To make your own waterproof matches, dip just the tips into melted wax. Apply a thin coating and allow to dry on a piece of waxed paper. Store in a tin or other waterproof container.
  • Use a dry bar of soap on creaky doors or stuck drawers.
  • For a sink that drips and keeps you awake at night: Tie a piece of string to the faucet, placing the end down the drain. When the water drips, it will flow down the length of the string, which will absorb enough to silence the maddening drip.
  • Plain old cold tea will clean woodwork.
  • Rub a few drops of vanilla extract on your radiators or outer edge of a cast-iron stove. When warmed, the pleasant scent is released.
  • Stuff wet shoes with newspaper to speed up the drying process.
  • Put sugar cubes in your empty suitcase to absorb odors.
  • Tie a dozen pieces of chalk together and hang them in a damp closet. The chalk will absorb the moisture in the air.
  • A dab of furniture polish in the bottom of your ashtrays will make cleaning easier.
  • Shoe boxes create ideal storage for photographs, letters, or other personal items. Paint or cover with paper or fabric.

Excerpted from Mrs. Dunwoody’s Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping: Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice by Miriam Lukken. Copyright © 2003 by Miriam Lukken. Excerpted by arrangement with Warner Books, Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved. $22.00. Available in local bookstores or click here.

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