Victorian cleaning tips

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Victorian cleaning tips

Along with the Industrial Revolution, Charles Dickens and the postage stamp, the Victorians also gave us some rather superb cleaning tips, many of which still stand up in the modern world of household chores. Some methods have the added benefit of being eco-friendly, and less-expensive too. So don your frilly apron, ditch the high tech gizmos, and check out some of our favourites…


Washing windows

Forget the Windolene when trying to make your windows sparkle; the Victorians didn’t have it, and in its stead used products that you’ll still find readily available in your own kitchen cupboards. Washing windows with white vinegar and water mixture, and newspaper, rather than a cloth, then wiping it clean with more (dry) newspaper was a firm favourite amongst charwomen (make sure the master/mistress of the house has finished with their paper, and leave the windows open after to let out the pungent smell!). Otherwise, you could boil up some cold, weak tea, leave it for a couple of days, then apply and remove with the same newspaper trick. After that, make yourself a strong, hot cup as a reward.

Doing the dishes

We’ve had it bashed into us that dishwashers are the new sinks, and we should never look back.

Yet how many times have you had to rinse plates and cutlery before putting them in for a wash? How many times have you had to change the salt? And how many times have you taken out an encrusted saucepan after a cycle, only for it to be just as encrusted?  Perhaps the answer lays not in any 2in1 technology, but rather in leaving your pots and pans to soak in an abrasive mixture of lemon juice and broken-up eggshell. Our savvy ancestors also used lemon juice and salt to clean bath and kitchen-top stains. Give it a go!

Cleaning the oven

Coating the inside of the oven with that toxic-smelling foam you get in canisters is one way, but in the Victorian era, cleaners would simply spray the bottom of the over with water, then shake over baking soda before spraying more water on top. Overnight, the baking soda expands, sucks up most of the grease, and is then ready to be scrubbed clean with soap. A safer, cheaper, and altogether more pleasant way of doing it, we reckon.

De-dusting the carpet

It seems there’s a new model of vacuum cleaner released every other week, but when you’ve got old rugs which haven’t been cleaned for a while, the dust and dirt becomes too deeply engrained and for even the most powerful suction. The answer is to take your rug outside and give it a good beating. Though the Victorians had custom-made hanging poles and carpet beaters, you can just as easily use a strong washing line and a brush. It’s a good work-out too. But make sure you do it outside, otherwise you’ll be dusting your house for a month after.

One cleaning tip you might NOT want to follow…

For all their ingeniousness, the Victorians had their foibles too, and this went for what they deemed suitable cleaning methods. Take for example, using stale urine in order to wash out stubborn grease from heavy materials… erm, surely that would only add to the problem?!

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