Looking Back March 18 2012

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

While it may not involve hanging wool rugs on the fence for a good beating, there is still much to be done for the diligent spring-cleaner. This week is a look at using common household items in a variety of cleaning chores. After all, in times gone by there were no large chain stores with shelves and shelves of cleaning supplies from which to choose!


• Eliminate sticky residue from an iron. Run the hot iron (no steam) over plain paper sprinkled with salt.

• Clean drains by pouring a hot, strong solution (1/2 cup salt for every quart of water) down the drain.

• Remove red-wine stains from tablecloths and napkins. Stretch the fabric over a bowl, cover the stain with salt, and carefully pour boiling water over it.

• Mix equal parts of salt, flour and vinegar to make a paste, rub the paste on the brass item, leave on for an hour or so, then clean with a soft cloth or brush and buff with a dry cloth.

• White rings left on tables from wet or hot dishes or glasses can be removed by rubbing a thin paste of salad oil and salt on the spot with your fingers, letting it stand an hour or two, then wiping it off.

• New brooms will wear longer if soaked in hot saltwater before they are first used.

• To clean artificial flowers, place them and 1/4 cup salt in a paper bag and shake gently.

• Clean burned-on food from a stovetop burner by sprinkling a mixture of salt and ground cinnamon. Wipe immediately with a clean cloth. The cinnamon will give off a pleasant smell and cover up any burnt odors when the burner is turned on .


• Remove tough food stains from plastic and light-colored wooden cutting boards. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze the juice onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with water. This will also sanitize the board.

• Shine the interior of copper cookware. Sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt, then scrub.

• Fade tea stains on cloth furniture. Dilute lemon juice with an equal amount of water. Use an eyedropper or a cotton swab to make sure the juice targets the stain. Thoroughly rinse with cool water.

• Brighten laundry whites by adding 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash cycle of a normal-size load. This great for table clothes, doilies, curtains sheets, towels and more


• Stubborn stains can be removed from the toilet by spraying them with vinegar and brushing vigorously. The bowl may be deodorized by adding 3 cups of distilled vinegar. Allow it to remain for at least a half hour, then flush.

• Soap and stain build up can be removed from chrome and plastic fixtures if they are cleaned with a mixture of two tablespoons distilled vinegar and one teaspoon salt.

• No-wax linoleum will shine better if wiped with a solution of 1/2 cup of white vinegar in 1/2 gallon of water.

• The minerals found in foods and water will often leave a dark stain on aluminum pots. This stain can be easily removed by boiling a solution of 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar per cup of water in the pot. Utensils may also be boiled in the solution.

• To make your own carpet and upholstery shampoo, use an eggbeater to mix one quart water, 1/4 cup dry laundry detergent and one tablespoon white vinegar. Whip until a stiff foam forms. Gently rub into carpet or fabric, then remove soiled foam with a dull knife. Rinse and allow plenty of time to dry.

Baking soda

• Add a cup of baking soda to the toilet, leave it for an hour, and then flush. It will clean the toilet and absorb odors.

• Combine baking soda it with water to make a paste for polishing stainless steel and chrome.

• Remove scratches and crayon marks from vinyl floors and walls by rubbing with baking soda.

• Clean your shower curtains by soaking them in baking soda and water.

• Children’s toys can be cleaned using 1/4 cup baking soda in one quart warm water. Submerge in this mixture (or wipe with a cloth dampened in it), then rinse with clear water.

• Deodorize smelly stuffed animals by placing them in a paper bag. Add baking soda and shake vigorously. Store in the bag overnight.

This ‘n’ That

• Deodorize and clean out hardwater stains from inside the dishwasher by running it (empty) using dry lemonade mix instead of detergent.

• Rub chrome fixtures after cleaning with wax paper to deter water spots and finger smudges.

• To remove grease spots from walls, put corn starch on a cloth and rub gently until the grease is gone (absorbed).

• Remove crayon marks from walls with toothpaste. Using a non-gel brand, gently rub the marks and wipe clean.

• Toothpaste can also be used to clean the keys of the piano.

• Wrap chalk in a cheesecloth and store with the good silver. The chalk absorbs moisture and helps prevent tarnishing.

• Shine copper pots and pans with ketchup.

• In a glass baking dish, mix 1/4 cup of household ammonia with 2 cups of warm water. Place the dish in the oven, shut the door and let it sit overnight. The next morning, sprinkle the oven with baking soda and wipe it clean.

• Use undiluted hydrogen peroxide on lime buildup on and around sink fixtures. Simply scrub and rinse.

• The citric acid and bubbling action of Alka-Seltzer tablets can work to clean the toilet. Drop two tablets in the bowl, wait 20 minutes, then brush clean.

A TIP FOR ALL YEAR ROUND: Anytime the house is going to be left closed up, whether for a weekend or a two-week cruise, leave half-full containers (coffee cups work well) of white vinegar throughout the rooms. Pet odors, leftover cooking smells and general stuffy smells will be absorbed.