Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rotten Glass, Irish Potatoes, Slovenly Domestics, and Soap Shakers

The last chapter in Common Sense in the Household is titled Sundries, and includes advice on how to clean all sorts of things, including cloth coats, carpets, "doubtful calicoes", knives, and "very dirty black dresses".

(I get the black dress bit; I've owned many in varying stages of dirtiness. But "doubtful calicoes" still has me wondering.)

A suggestion for all who have been washing knives with the rest of the dishes:

Clean with a soft flannel and Bath brick. If rusty, use wood-ashes, rubbed on with a newly cut bit of Irish potato. This will removes spots when nothing else will. Keep your best set wrapped in soft white paper; then in linen, in a drawer out of damp and dust.
What's a Bath brick you may well ask? Turns out it is a precursor to Brillo pads. Here's a visual for you:

Speaking of washing dishes, turns out there is a lot to learn about how to do it right. Not to mention the difficulty of training the household help. Check it out:

The next page continues the author's diatribe, describing the slovenly methods that many domestics of the day employed.

She concludes with a long description of proper dish washing. I'll spare you most of the details, but I loved that the author recommended using a device she calls a "soap-shaker", produced by the Dover Stamping Co., because I have one!


I dug up this picture on Google so that you can see what it looks like:

I think you'll enjoy the closing sentences of this piece:
A lady did once explain the dinginess of her goblets to me by saying that she was "afraid to put them in hot water. It rots glass and makes it so tender! I prefer to have them a little cloudy." This is literally true--that she said it, I mean. Certainly not that a year's soak in hot water could make glass tender.
Certainly not?


  1. Those blasted slovenly domestics! I is one.

  2. one word- dishwasher
    second word- paper
    third word- teenager
    fourth,fifth and sixth words-closed kitchen door

  3. THAT'S what I need! A kitchen door!