Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grandmother's cost effective cleaning...

I remember visiting my grandmother a lot when I was younger and she had such a small house that I loved to pretend it was mine to take care of, kind of like a small princess castle, I especially loved to dust and vacuum with her big pink upright, much to my grandmothers delight I'm sure.  I remember my grandmothers cleaning cupboard quite vividly as well, it housed 7 things, a BIG glass jug of vinegar, several boxes of Baking Soda, salt, dish soap, steal wool pads, a dusting cloth and a glass bottle of camphor oil.  From those seven things came one of the cleanest houses I have ever known. I think she had the right idea, keep it simple and inexpensive, I look at all the things on the market nowadays that do exactly what grandma did with much less and wonder why folks spend so much on this stuff every year. 

In our own home I haven't bought a bottle of glass cleaner in years, I use grandma's recipe of equal parts vinegar and warm water wiped off with newspaper to wash all our windows and leave no streaks.  Grandma used to use it to clean the oven window off as well, she just put it on a cloth right from the jug and wiped down the window, worked like a charm.  One of my other favorite uses for vinegar is to clean my flower vases, I love to bring in fresh flowers from the garden but most of the time I end up with a white ring in the vase and if its a bud vase this is hard to clean out.  I just pour in some vinegar, let it sit then use a bottle brush and its gone.  Vinegar is definitely one of those underutilized tools and you can check out 1001 tips for using vinegar at the vinegar website, many of the ideas shown I have used at one point or another, and some of them may surprise you, I know I found some things I didn't know, like vinegar can be used to discourage ants and get rid of fruit flies. There is a printable a coupon for $0.50 off Heinz Vinegar just for entering your name, email address and checking a few boxes at the Heinz Vinegar web site.

My Grandmother was using baking soda in her refrigerator long before I understood it wasn't there to use in her cooking, it was there to keep her food fresh, but she had other tricks up her sleeve for this versatile product as well.  When she cleaned the kitchen at the end of the day she would wipe the counters with her damp dish cloth, the lightly sprinkle baking soda on them and let it sit while she put the dishes away, then she would use the damp cloth to wipe it up, it left the kitchen smelling like new and it cleaned up any grease or stains on the counter.  Way before there was any type of sprinkle in carpet deodorizer grandma and I would have fun dancing through her little living room sprinkling the carpet with baking soda before I vacuumed, it worked great and left everything smelling so fresh.  When the box was empty she would cut it open and set it in the bottom of her little garbage can between the can and the bag, that way the area under the kitchen sink where she kept the garbage would have any unpleasant odors held in check.  Even though this was long before  the days recycling she used every part of everything and nothing went to waste.  For some easy ideas for cleaning and keeping your house smelling fresh check out The New Homemaker blog.  I also found a coupon for $0.50 off two of either the 2# or 4# boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, just click on the special offers on the side and  enter your name and email address.

Grandma usually used the salt when she needed a harder abrasive than the baking soda, like for really icky frying pans or stuff that was caked onto her oven wear, I also remember her putting her dish sponges in salt water overnight about every other day to keep them fresh.  She kept some downstairs as well by her washing machine, I wasn't allowed to help with the laundry because she was always afraid I would run my hand through the mangle, then she would have to explain that to my mother.  For more on the everyday and not so everyday uses of salt be sure to check out the Belly Bytes web page.  The Morton Salt site also has ideas for the uses of salt as well as offering coupons on occasion.

You know what the dish soap, steal wool and dusting cloth are for, but not everyone knows about the magic of camphor oil.  That one bottle was used over the years whenever there was a white ring left on a wood table, just a little dab on a cotton cloth rubbed with the grain of the wood right over the ring and it would disappear like magic.  For a while it was hard to find Camphor oil because of FDA restrictions on the product, but now you can find it again with relative ease.  Don't be tempted to buy the largest bottle you can find though, that little bottle the size of my hand was passed down from my grandmother to my mom and finally to me.  The lowest price I found for a two ounce bottle was at NOW Foods for $2.49.

The basic message is back to basics will save you quite a lot of cash.  Why spend $2.50 - $3.00 for a carpet deodorizer when a box of baking soda will do the trick for around a buck?  Do you have any cleaning tips or tricks from by gone eras?  I would love to hear about them.

Have a great weekend!



  1. you are awsome! I am gonna try some of your grandma's tricks.

  2. I love your grandma's picture! Very pretty.
    Cool tips! The baking soda on the counter was my favorite. I hope you do another posting in the future with more of her tips!

  3. Pretty picture of your Grandma:o)
    Great housecleaning ideas using less is best. I love your blog! Very informative and interesting.

    Mary H

  4. Grandma's tips are always helpful and useful. Thank you for sharing with us.


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