Monday, January 25, 2010

Household Cleaning Tips from the Parlor

Our friendly message board community, known affectionately as The Parlor, has had plenty of conversations about old fashioned and frugal cleaning solutions.  Below are some of the tips shared on our boards. If you would like to add your input, please visit the "old fashioned cleaning tips" thread in the Parlor or feel free to leave a comment here.

I have heard vinegar water and use a crumpled newspaper to wipe the mirror, no streaks. I use the newspaper but I use it with glass cleaner so I don't know how the vinegar works. Reuse jars and cans as vases, pencils holders, put small nails or screws in them etc. Try to use a rag rather than paper towels. I enjoy trying to simplify my life as well, always open for ideas.

White vinegar mixed with water is good for cleaning. I have used paper towels in the past, but am switching to rags this year.

[Linda Lou]
For cleaning glass I use a pint of water, add 1/4 cup non-sudsy ammonia and about the same amount of alcohol in a spray bottle. I don't measure it, just add some of each to the water. Both my daughter and I like it better than Windex from the store. Cheap, too. It cuts grease on the front of my microwave, too, which is part of my range hood, right over my stove. It gets so messy.

I use an old flour sack dish towel for wiping the glass, not linty at all. Old cloth diapers are great, too.

Sometimes I just spray some of it on the kitchen floor, put an old dishcloth on the head of my Swiffer and use it to wipe up spots on the floor instead of getting out the mop and bucket. I am not paying for the wet Swiffer cloths any more.

I Keep A Spray Bottle Of Diluted Bleach (1/2 Bleach 1/2 Water) On My Kitchen Sink. I Use It To Clean My Stove, Counter Tops, Cutting Boards, Etc. When I Am Cooking Poultry Or Any Type Of Meat, I Will Increase The Bleach In The Spray Bottle To Eliminate Cross Contamination In My Kitchen Area.

I Also Put 1 Cup Of Bleach In My Dishwasher About Once A Week Along With The Detergent. And If We Are Sick In Our House, I Always Add Bleach To The Detergent And Wash In Hot Water.

A Small Bleach Spray Bottle Can Be Kept In The Bathrooms For Quick Clean-ups Also.

I use vinegar in my dishwasher about once a week to clean it and unclog soap residue, just like the coffee pot. I use vinegar in the rinse cycle for jeans and DH's work clothes instead of fabric softener...I save that for my towels and sheets.

In the garbage disposal, I put in ice cubes to keep the blades sharp and lemon, or lime peels to freshen it.

[Linda Lou]
I also keep a spray bottle of bleach. It only takes 1 tsp. bleach per cup of water to kill bacteria. I normally use about 2 T. per pint of water, which is still overkill. Your bleach water should be dumped and newly made every 5 days, as the bleach dissipates. (The Clorox site says to dump daily.) At the extension we were taught every 5 days.

I use Dawn dish soap on my fabric stains, especially oily ones before they go into the wash. I don't pay for expensive pretreatments or stain removers. That, or I wet a bar of Fels Naptha soap and rub on the area. I keep a bar in a little metal tub that looks like a wash tub, as part of my laundry room decor.
I also use the cheap fabric softener sprayed on a damp cloth if I want it in my clothes instead of paying for dryer sheets.

I use vinegar for almost everything. White for cleaning and apple cider for personal use. Apple cider vinegar stops the itch of poison ivy, it removed a wart from my elbow, and I use it as a hair rinse after shampoo and conditioner.

But you asked about cleaning. I have always had a problem with ants during warm weather. Since cleaning with white vinegar, ants are much less a problem. It is the best thing for linoleum (manufacturers recommend it) and it is a good degreaser in the kitchen. I could go on and on about vinegar. It is great for small burns you get while you are cooking. The skin won't even blister if you treat the burn right away.

To save from even using diapers or other other kind of cloths that leave lint and then have to be cleaned, try a rubber squeegee on windows and other flat glass areas. I have a small one in the shower for the shower doors as well as a long handled one for windows. I find it to be much faster and easier than using newspapers or cloths.

There have been a few references to baking soda. I use this for so many things, works well to clean my stove, as well as used with a little vinegar to pour down plug holes to clear them, or just keep them smelling nice. We get lots of hair in our bathtub drain and this mixture works a treat. I does fizz up, so be prepared!

lemon juice baking soda and vinegar is a good cleaners also they used lye soap it was more the multipurpose cleaner of the time. They used linseed oil to polish furniture and broom and scrub brush was the mop. I do suggest using a mop and broom if you have hard wood floors you can use a dust mop . There is books to buy as well as other products for the home that was used in the old days. I am including the links they are mail order catalogs and are wonderful to have. one is Cumberland General store and the other Lehmans, this is where the Amish shop.

I have retired all of my cloth napkins to use as rags with a spray bottle of 100% vinegar that has been infused w/ herbs and flower petals in the sunnier windows of our apt. I do not use them in the kitchen for fear of cross-contamination, but they are great through out the rest of the house especially as they are lint free. Seems like everything I clean sparkles and is slower in accumulating dust. Oh, and the infused vinegar smells so good, cleaning almost seems like a cleansing aromatherapy session... not to mention the fact that it minimizes the harmful fumes and chemicals I am exposed to on a daily basis. I was skeptical at first, but now I am convinced... well as long as I can have my bleach every once in a while.

take a old tray or pot,place a piece of alfoil in bottom of it,add boiling water,place silver ware in,place bicarb soda,watch your silver come clean,works even on the most tarnished pieces,take out,buff with a soft cloth and your silver never looked better

I find that using white distilled vinegar along with baking soda will help remove the burn inside of pans. Then I scrub with really hot water and lots of soap. It does a pretty good job of cleaning up.

[Pastors Wife]
I make my own laundry soap, dish washer soap and pine cleaner

Laundry soap
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated
1/2 cup Washing Soda (Not baking soda)
1/2 cup Borax

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened. Remove from the heat and add 1 qt hot water to a large bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket with 2 gallons of hot water. Let it set for 24 hours. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load

Pine Cleaner
Mix 2 cups water, two teaspoons borax, 10 drops of pine essential oil and 5 drops of cedar essential oil

Dishwasher soap
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda

Mix the washing soda and the borax together. Store in a covered container.

I put a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in my floor washing bucket... it helps with any insects that want to come in, and smells nice too....

There are tons of household uses for vinegar on the Old Fashioned Living website here


  1. I love RED's suggestion. I use Vinegar in the front loader washer to kill mildew that tends to build up. To dispose of JMC's floor washing bucket you could put it around the perimeter of your garden to chase away bugs too.

  2. I like the idea of using vinegar, but wouldn't your house smell like a fish 'n chip shop afterwards?


  3. LOL No, the vinegar smell does go away. You can also infuse the vinegar with herbs or flowers to give it a nicer smell :)

  4. For cleaning glass I use a pint of water, add 1/4 cup non-sudsy ammonia and about the same amount of alcohol in a spray bottle.

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