The other day I was talking to my husband about cleaning products and I shared how funny I find it that there are so many different products to do the same job. There is toilet disinfectant, counter disinfectant, tub disinfectant, window spray, mirror spay, and so on. He agreed and I exclaimed “I wonder what people would think if they knew I cleaned with old socks and a bottle of vinegar??!!”, which made him laugh. Have I caught your attention with this little funny, but true story? Good! Keep reading as I explain my unconventional, yet old fashioned, cleaning methods.
While cleaning with old socks and vinegar might sound a little crazy…and cheap…I assure you there is a method to my madness! Think about our grandmothers and even great grandmothers for a moment. Do you think they went to the store to purchase cleaning cloths, each one with a different designation? It is very unlikely that they did, because they would keep a rag bag of old clothing that was cut up for the sole purpose of cleaning and dusting. People back then weren’t as frivolous with their money, and certainly wouldn’t go out and purchase something that they either already had, or could create at home. The homemaker of yesteryear would mend her family’s clothing until it could be mended no more, then it was cut up and used to clean with. The first old fashioned cleaning tip is to save money and reduce waste by cleaning with scraps of cloth. If your husband has a shirt that is too ripped to mend, or if you accidentally bleached a cotton skirt, cut it up and reuse them! Same goes with lone socks…they are great for dusting because you can slip it on your hand.
Homemakers before us likely didn’t purchase several different kids of cleaning products because they either weren’t available, or were just an added expense that wasn’t absolutely needed. Vinegar has been proven to be an effective disinfectant, and I personally use it all over my home. I spray it in the toilet, sinks, and tub, as well as on countertops to sanitize all surfaces. Vinegar also neutralizes pet urine odour and is a safer alternative to bleach for laundry. Our ancestors would have used vinegar because it is inexpensive and readily available, plus it doesn’t take much to get a good clean, which is why vinegar is old fashioned cleaning tip number two. The important thing to note with vinegar is that, like all disinfectant, it needs to remain on the surface you are cleaning for at least five minutes. Spraying it on your counter then wiping it off right away is NOT going to kill germs and bacteria! it needs time to get in there and do it’s thing, so I recommend spraying the areas you want to clean, then moving onto other rooms and spraying, eventually coming back to the first room you were in to clean. Vinegar also works well on windows and mirrors.
Another great old fashioned cleaning tip is to use baking soda for removing cooked on food from dishes, as a gentle scour for tub rings, and as a brightener for sinks. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda and a few drops of water over crusty dishes, and let it sit for a few minutes, then easily wash the mess off. Pour baking soda into the tub, add a spray of vinegar and let the bubbles ease off the rings left behind by hard water and soap scum! Then use a gentle cleaning brush or rag to wipe and rinse. You can also spread a little baking soda into your metal sink and carefully rub it in with a soft cloth to remove any dullness (please note that the baking soda should not mark your sink but I cannot say for sure, since our sink already had many scratches when we moved in). Baking soda also works great as a carpet deodorizer by simply shaking a small amount into the carpet and vacuuming it up after a few minutes. I highly recommend using a shop vac, or just using the smallest amount of powder, so as not to clog your vacuum.
Did you know that lemons can also be used as a disinfectant AND as a microwave cleaner? Sure our homemaking grannies may not have had the luxury of a microwave, but they knew that natural cleaners worked just as well, and were safer, than commercial made products. If your microwave is anything like mine, it may get a little yucky from time to time, and scrubbing all the caked on food seems like so much work. To make this task a lot easier simply fill a microwave save dish with 60% water and 40% lemon juice, heat on high for about three minutes, then let the microwave sit with the door closed for another few minutes. Carefully remove the hot dish from the microwave and use a soft cloth to effortlessly wipe out the caked on food, which has now loosened significantly! Using lemon juice in the kitchen is old fashioned cleaning tip number four.
The final tip I want to share is that old fashioned homemakers would clean their house daily. Yes, DAILY. Surely they didn’t wash the windows seven times a week, or deep clean the floors as often, but they made it a point to keep their home clean and tidy on a daily basis. It may have taken the a few hours each day, but doing this ensured they actually had time to spend with their husband and children, and that their home was company ready should an unexpected visitor stop by. Homemakers back then knew the importance of making their home a priority, so that their families could feel happy, safe, and welcome there. They also knew that being idle and letting housework pile up was sure to create problems later! Amanda and I have both talked about creating a homemaking schedule or a routine to keep your day organized, so I recommend checking out those posts.
I hope you enjoyed this post about old fashioned homemaking for the modern homemaker. If you did, be sure to let us know in the comments, and please share this post on social media!