The Then & Now of Cleaning
Yes, women really did clean their houses in dresses and heels with make-up and pearls. Not really practical, but they certainly looked nice. In 1950’s, the lineage of cleaning products were scarce, but there some essentials that every housewife used.
1) Lemons – Using a fresh lemon, you can clean copper and brass by sprinkling salt on half of the lemon and rubbing it on the metal. Then rinsing thoroughly. To bleach acidic-food stains from dishwasher safe items, rub lemon juice on the spots – let them dry in the sun and then wash as usual. You can also use this method to get food smells out of wooden spoons.
2) Dust Mop – You may be way too young to remember the “fuller-brush man” but he came around door-to-door back in 1906 selling an array of cleaning brushes. One of these was a cotton dusting mop that would catch dust without scratching the floors.
3) Distilled White Vinegar – every house should have a bottle and consider its many uses. It inhibits the growth of mold, mildew and some bacteria. You can use it in the kitchen and the bathroom on cutting boards, cutting soap residue from shower doors, mix it with an equal amount of warm water and clean the windows, pour it in the washer without clothes and refresh the machine, and finally even spraying it on the underarms of clothes and let it soak for 20 minutes to deodorize.
4) Hydrogen Peroxide – Spray it on fruits and vegetables by mixing 1/4 tablespoon with 1/4 cup of water to kill bacteria. Be sure to rinse after spraying. Use it to disinfect cutting boards, telephones, trash cans and even the cat box.
5) Borax – Add it to a bit of liquid dish soap and clean the refrigerator shelves. Pour it down a clogged drain with boiling water. Dilute it to kill mildew in the bathroom. Pour it in the toilet and let it sit over night to get rid of rust stains. Clean countertops and walls by dissolving 1/2 cup in 1 gallon of hot water, pouring it into a spray bottle and spritzing it.
6) Baking Soda – Make a paste to clean stains on marble, smudges on washable wallpaper, to clean grout by mixing 3 cups of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water. Place a new box in the refrigerator monthly to deodorize it.
You may think you need to have so many products to clean every aspect of your home, but back then there were few commercial cleaning products and homes were getting cleaned just fine.