Hh – is for Handy Household Hints from yesteryear…

Have you ever walked the floor with a fretful babe frustrated that the “meds” are not working?  Is you child constantly bringing home coughs and colds that have you off work for a week? Have you ever resorted to age old cures and hints handed down through the family, a friend at work or the next door neighbour? … I sure have. For this week’s Family History Through the Alphabet challenge I’ve chosen Handy Household Hints. Some are taken from recent purchases of old Cookery Books which I love, not only for the reasons already written about, but also for the Household Hints they always contain. The rest were handed down by my mum, which were handed down by her mum… and so it goes.


Break up a cake of sand soap until all the lumps are removed, then mix thoroughly with 2 packets of Lux. Put into basin and add 3 cups boiling water, keeping well stirred till almost cool, then pour into tins ready for use.    – Mrs B. Krieg

If soot should fall on the carpet, cover it thickly with salt. The salt and soot can then be swept up without damaging it.     – Mrs. U.R. Heinze, Tanunda

A piece of flannel or cloth moistened with turpentine is very useful for cleaning suits, and will also remove any shiny surface. Hang on line for a few minutes.     – Mrs A.A. Kuchel

Half teaspoon eucalyptus on a rag, and rub in satin shoes will make them look like new.     – Mrs U.R. Heinze, Tanunda

Six and a half lbs. fat, 1 lb. caustic soda, ½ lb. resin, ½ lb borax, 2 gallons water. Boil together for 2 hours. Remove from the fire and add ½ cup of kerosene. Stir well with a stick or poker. Wet a cloth and line a box, pour in the mixture, and put away to set. Next day cut into bars and leave to dry.     – Mrs A.W. Steader, “Glenview,” Angaston

Cut up five stalks rhubarb, slice 4 lemons, and take 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 cup sugar. Place all in a jug and cover with boiling water. When cold, strain and add ½ glass cold water to ½ glass syrup. This is a splendid spring medicine, useful in a case of skin eruption. One wineglass of the syrup three times a day.     – Mrs. Will Hage, Tanunda

Boil together 1 bottle of Gilbey’s best dry gin and 2 tablespoons sulphur for 5 minutes. (Keep the lid on the saucepan as much as possible to avoid evaporation, but do not let the gin boil over.) Replace in bottle and fill with water. Dose: First day, 1 tablespoon three times: second day, 1 tablespoon twice and then continue with 1 tablespoon per day. Also take 1 teaspoon of sulphur mixed with 2 teaspoons of treacle twice per week. In many cases one or two bottles of this remedy will give relief, but a swufferer of years’ standing requires more.     – Addie E. Smith, “Warrakoo” via Renmark

Mix together 1 dessertspoon methylated spirits, 2 dessertspoons vinegar, 3 dessertspoons water. Dip a small piece of flannel in this liquid and wrap around throat. Then cover with a dry strip. This gives immediate relief.     – Addie E. Smith, “Warrakoo,” via Renmark

See that the fowl is completely plucked and singed.  (2) Place on its breast, and cut the skin at back of neck down about 2 in.  (3) Loosen the skin around the neck.  (4) Cut neck off close to the body (leave skin on.)  (5) Remove crop carefully.  (6) Loosen the liver and heart by inserting fingers where crop came out, and working them on to the backbone. (7) Turn the fowl onto back and cut small opening at vent.  (8) Insert fingers and draw out all the organs; be very careful.  (9) Rinse the bird and wipe dry inside and out.  

1 dessertspoon Cod Liver Oil, 1 dessertspoon Scott’s Emulsion followed quickly by a boiled black & white peppermint every night, in winter, before bed.

As soon as the eyelid becomes sore, rub lightly with Castor Oil and continue until the stye comes to a head. It will then heal quickly and with little pain and discomfort.

Rub Vaseline over bridge of nose 3-6 times daily until it loosens and can be easily removed.

These last three are a few of the many that were passed down by my mum, they were passed down to her, I used them and have passed them on and so it goes… Such is the power of family folk-lore.

My doctor recommended the Vaseline on baby’s nose and was rather embarrassed, defensively declaring that it really did work. I assured him and explained that, rather than “Vaseline”, my Great Grandmother Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray would rub Lard/Pig’s Fat over the noses of her babes to clear their breathing.

Do you also have some Handy Household Hints that have been passed down through time?


SOURCES:  The Barossa COOKERY BOOK, (circa 1920) Donated Recipes with Proceeds of the sale devoted to TANUNDA SOLDIERS’ MEMORIAL HALL

                     MANUAL – DOMESTIC ART (COOKERY) Education Department, South Australia. 1932. Published by the Education Department, Adelaide. Printed by HARRISON WEIR, Government Printer, North Terrace.

Copyright © 2012. Catherine A. Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

14 thoughts on “Hh – is for Handy Household Hints from yesteryear…

  1. What a good idea for H Catherine. Lots of intriguing home hints in this list most of which are new to me (not a lot of need to clean up soot in Brisbane or Darwin!). In our family the cure for sties is rubbing it with a gold wedding ring (or similar). I’ve always found it works.

    • The gold wedding ring’s a beauty Pauline. How fascinating that it works…I just love that. Reminded me that some people hang a wedding ring on a piece of cotton over pregnant woman’s tummy to tell the sex of unborn babe. I never can remember whether round & round is for boys or backwards & forwards :-)… wonder if any of the readers know?

  2. Pingback: Family History Through the Alphabet - H is for ... | Genealogy & History News

  3. I love these old remedies, though I haven’t tried most of them. I am really intrigued by the peppermint mentioned in the Warding off Coughs remedy. Does the peppermint have to be black and white? And only taken in WInter? And only had just before bed? questions … questions???

    • ha ha ha… the peppermint can be PURPLE … with yellow dots so long as it takes away the YUK taste of Cod Liver Oil 😀
      Re: winter… well I did give it to my 5month old babe in the middle of a heat wave. He went purple and threw up. Mum then told me that it raises the body temp, or something? Any time, day or night, is the “right time”, indeed it is, it is…

  4. I aenjoyed reading your different approach to the H challenge, as I love too thehousehold hints that appear in old magazines etc. My mother’s great recipe for all ills was hot lemon and honey – the family joke was you could have broken a leg and she would still recommend it. Her other favourite remedy for a cough was a blend of demerara sugar and butter.

    • They are such fun, eh Susan? … Hot lemon & honey, yep.. but haven’t heard of the demerara sugar & butter. does it work? Love the family joke. Must ask my chn what their joke about my remedies will be/is… probably salt water to clear up/prevent infections… but maybe not 🙂

  5. We used to add boric acid to boiled water, wet a face cloth with it and soak the stye while the water was still very, very hot. I used to have many styes. We also took the big dose of cod liver oil but without the other remedy and no peppermint. Good choice for “H”.

    • ooohhh… did that hurt Kristin? They’re so contagious and nasty litte blighters, eh? Reckon we were pretty “spoilt” with the peppermint 🙂 The Scott’s Emulsion quite nice and helped take away the taste of the Cod Liver Oil… praise be.. I was quite a whimp 🙂 My grandpa used to get awful “carbuncles” where his collar rubbed but don’t know what mum slathered on to “draw” it, only that it was VERY smelly but it worked.

  6. What a great idea. A Fantastic post. Loved it! Not too sure about the soap though. It sounds dreadful.
    A handy hint passed down through our family to prevent colds: Rinse your hair in cold water every morning. It really does work! I can’t remember the last time I had a cold. If I feel one coming on then I will rinse my hair in cold water for longer and it stops the cold developing.

      • ooops been getting in a bit of a tangle here Sharon… posted Kristin’s reply to you then? My excuse is that I’m very tired. ha ha ha
        So glad you enjoyed the post. I could “rabbit on” forever about these matters. Your tip for colds is AMAZING and it works… well, how about that, eh? Must give it a try & pass it on. Thanks for that.
        I don’t fancy the soap, either and I sure hope I don’t ever have to “draw a fowl”, unless it’s with coloured pencils 😀

  7. Lots of fun here, but also lots of good remedies… not sure I would try some of them though. I love collecting the old cookbooks and household hints… there are some fascinating things within.

    • Nothing like a good old chuckle to “lighten the load”, eh Chris? … Glad I’m not the only one who loves collecting old cookbooks. Hope I haven’t been “betting” against you on EBay 🙂 … Last night I remembered my Nana’s tip if being followed by a “strange man” . i.e. always carry your purse in front of you, open enough to have one hand inside and holding a hat pin. If he tries any “funny business”, then “let him have it and run!” ha ha ha… she said she had a friend who used to carry a pepperpot in her purse. These are important matter for a grandmother to pass on, indeed they are 😀

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