More 1880s Household Hints

Good morning! Although I’m a modern girl at heart, who relies daily on her electronics and modern conveniences, I do so love getting lost in another historical time period. It doesn’t matter how I enter that time-gone-by, whether it’s through a television program or

a movie or simply reading a well-written book. Once there, I always find myself wondering what it was really like to live way-back-when. A simpler life, yes, but was it an easy life? I don’t think so.

In the spirit of “what was it really like” I have more 1800s household tips to share today.

Caring for brooms: Dip the broom once a week for a minute or two in a kettle of boiling suds. This process makes the broom tough but pliable and will extend its life.

Dusting carpets: To prevent excessive wear, carpets should not be swept frequently with a whisk brush (once a week is sufficient). All other times sprinkle tea leaves over the area and sweep carefully with a hair brush.

Dusting floors: Before you sweep, throw a little wet sand on the floor. This will gather up all the dust and prevent it from rising onto tabletops and furniture.

Cleaning woodwork: Use a mixture of one pound of soft soap, two ounces of pearl ash, one pint of sand and one pint of table-beer. Simmer these substances over a slow fire and let them mix well. Use flannel to rub on the area. Wash it off with warm water and dry thoroughly with a linen cloth.

Poison for bugs: Mix four ounces each of wine and turpentine with a half ounce each of mercury and camphor. Apply with a brush to the bedstead or box infested with the insects.

Remedies against fleas: Fumigation with brimstone is

best. If none is available then sew fresh leaves of penny-royal in a bag and lay the bag on the bed.

To clean baths or washbasins: When a scum forms on the inside of the bath or basin, rub the places with dry salt.

To treat leather: Rub the dull surface with well-beaten egg whites.

For preventing hysterics: Mix a small portion of ginger and salt with finely ground caraway seeds. Spread the mixture on top of buttered bread; eat in the early morning and at night before going to bed.

I especially like that last one on the list. I”m wondering if it worked?

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Award-winning, multi-published author Renee Ryan sold her first book by winning the 2001 inaugural Dorchester/Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. She sold her second book to Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and has since sold nine more manuscripts to Love Inspired and Love Inspired Historical.

16 thoughts on “More 1880s Household Hints”

  1. Hi Renee, I love reading old household hints. The poison for bugs gives me the shivers. It’s a wonder ANYONE survived that combination.

    And caraway seeds for hysterics? Hmmm.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Makes me so thankful for my vacuum cleaner!

    And I have a feeling that whomever came up with the recipe for hysterics was simply a woman who liked eating ginger and carraway seeds on her toast and wanted an excuse to do so twice a day. Probably justified the expense to her husband with a few theatrical “spells” when he made her go without. 🙂

  3. What a good post. This just reinforces the fact that the early day women used whatever was available to do whatever they needed. They were resourceful. I’d sure hate to be the one to clean carpets back then. Oh my gosh! What a chore that would be. And that cure for hysterics wouldn’t be very tasty at all. Probably the cure lay in fact that it didn’t taste good and so women kept their hysterics in check so she wouldn’t have to eat it. Too funny!

  4. Love these, Renee. Housekeeping was a full-time job back then. I can see why women who could afford it had hired help. Imagine doing all that, plus cooking and looking after a family!
    If anybody tries that rememedy for hysteria, let me know how it works.
    🙂

  5. These are fasinating hints… I especially like the one for Hysteria…lol I just watched a movie called Hysteria, which took place in 18th Century England and how a doctor had a cure for it. But I can honestly say it was not a mixture of Ginger ale, salt and caraway seeds…

  6. I’m having a fit of hysterics right now…I’m headed for the bread and butter and spices but can I do this in the middle of the day? Will it cause other ailments if I don’t do it as prescribed. LOL
    Thanks for sharing these greeat hints. 🙂

  7. Excellent info, Renee. I too love learning tidbits about life in the past. I like the hint for caring for rugs. I always wondered how it worked, having rugs and carpets but no vacuum cleaner. Thanks for this good stuff! xoxo

  8. Rosie, AILMENTS? I suspect utter gastrointestinal rebellion counts as an ailment….so yes.
    It probably cures hysterics by making a person see how stinking bad their life could be, so just CALM DOWN.

  9. Were hysterics that common that they had to have some sort of (ugh) remedy for them?
    My Mom told me that my Great Gramdma had her “tonic” every afternoon at 4. Come to find out it was BEER! This was in the early 1900’s (My Mom was born in 1905). Grandma even had her buddies come over to indulge in the “tonic” with her. So, who would tell? If they were all indulging? This is better than the helpful hints for hysteria.
    Very funny/interesting Renee. I would like to see more.

  10. I love these. The very first old book I collected was a book on Being a good wife and mother. It was printed in 1965 or so. Always fun to sit down and read a chapter or two. It makes us realize how lucky we are and how very much things have changed.

    Thanks for the post.

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