I’ve been sharing some helpful household hints… helpful that is if you were in the Congo in the 1940’s. I’m not sure many modern cookery and recipe books would contain helpful ways to manage your home; in ‘The Congo Cookery Book’, by Clare E. Willet, if you look in the index, between Sweets (Candy) and Vegetables is a section entitled ‘Things Useful to Know about…’ and sub-sectioned cooking, cooking terms, substitutes for kitchen utensils (I guess this would be useful if you were living in foreign parts) and then house, stains, sewing, vitamins, health and home nursing of fever. In just about every section about household matters in old cookery books , there is page after page of advice on stains – these days we have all sorts of products for removing stains in clothes and fabrics and on furniture and carpets too… It’s not something we give a great deal of thought to.

So to continue the list of stains which can be removed in this seventy year old book, plus the last of the other helpful household hints, here are the last:

  • grease stains – rub with eucalyptus oil (wouldn’t the oil from the eucalyptus leave a mark too?)
  • ink – wash with milk or with tomato juice which will work on silk, wool, and cotton… but won’t it leave a tomatoey stain?
  • iron-mould – salts of lemon is what you need; it has no lemon whatsoever in it, it’s potassium oxalate. I looked up to see what iron mould is and whether it’s the same as rust, and there was a recent enquiry from someone wanting to know how to remove iron mould stains from some Nottingham lace… salts of lemon, that’s her answer
  • stains from silver or china – salt; in those days it was important to tell all newly engaged servants this to prevent them scouring the best spoons with ashes or sand
  • tree stains, especially frangipani – impossible to remove so don’t bother trying
  • wine stains – use white wine to remove red wine stains; salt poured or rubbed on as soon as it happens will also help
  • thatching roofs – at 45° with sun-dried grass
  • ties – “to iron ties without creasing, fold a newspaper into a narrow “V” and push the pointed end up the tie. iron.
  • Turkish towelling use it to cover pillows to prevent spoiling by perspiration – under a normal slip of course!
  • water bottles – can be cleaned by mixing crushed egg shells in water, and shaking in the bottle
  • white ants – sound disgusting and at the time of writing it seems killing the queen, or pouring boiling water over them was the only way to deal with them
  • wooden floors – add turps to your mopping water to brighten the floors and discourage insects

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