40+ Brilliant Housekeeping Tips from Grandma

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My gran held a trove of wisdom when it came to maintaining a pristine home – a testament to her collection of old-school housekeeping tips and housecleaning techniques passed down through generations. Her pride was evident in her shiny collection of copper pots, decor, and wall hangings, always impeccably clean and gleaming.

In a modern era, where cleaning hacks are just a quick internet search away, there’s a special charm in revisiting these time-tested housekeeping tips from grandma. Driven by curiosity to apply these vintage cleaning secrets to my own home, I reached out to the Non-Consumer Advocate, a beloved Facebook group rich with cleaning advice and ‘old school’ cleaning products. I was on the hunt for those housecleaning tips from yesteryears, and the group members didn’t disappoint! They delivered a wealth of ‘old school’ cleaning hacks, true to the spirit of generations past.

40+ Housekeeping and Cleaning Tips From Grandma

grandma eatings cookies with young girl, get housekeeping tips from grandma

Stained Tea & Coffee Cups

Copious amounts of tea leaves cups stained. And my gran loves her tea. And when I say loves her tea, I mean 3 cups within the first hour of waking loves. (Yes, she happens to be British.)

Pro cleaning tip from my own Grandma: To get the cups sparkling white again, use a little drop of bleach in each cup, then fill up with water. (Just a tiny bit is needed!) After letting the cups sit for a while, rinse then wash thoroughly. Bright and sparkly again!

Keep That Vegetable Water

Susan O: Leftover vegetable cooking water, I freeze and use for the next batch of veg that needs boiling. After the water has been used for many different veg, it becomes veg broth, and I use it for the broth in homemade soups, just like Grandma did! It gives soups and sauces a wonderfully complex taste that isn’t accomplished any other way.

Keep The Tears Away – Dealing With Onions

Rebecca D: My grandma taught me that if you have a ceiling fan in your kitchen and turn it on while chopping onions, you won’t cry.

Mary WS: Put your onion in the fridge for a few hours before chopping so you don’t cry!

Get Rid Of Those Weeds and Other Pests

Rebecca D: If you have weeds to pull around your yard, water them a few minutes before pulling. It loosens the soil around the roots and allows you to more easily pull the whole weed.

Susan O: I use leftover hot water from canning, etc, to pour on to the weeds that grow between patio stones in the driveway. It kills the roots and is not harmful to birds or other animals.

DL C: A tip from a 90 year old woman with whom I take a public bus to the town’s weekly open air market:
Don’t use poisons in your garden, they poison not just the pests but those who help reduce them like pets, small birds, owls and hedgehogs! To keep snails and slugs from eating your produce – which they did this year! – place ash from your fireplace around the garden plot. They can’t crawl over it; it confounds and ultimately eliminates them. 🙂

(Side note – this should be WOOD ash. Eggshells also work.)

Jennifer S: Kill pests in your yard and give your lawn a boost of chlorophyll by using a combination of green Palmolive and cold water. Use one of those spray bottles that connects to a garden hose.

Towels and Bed Linens: Care and Folding Tips

neatly folded towels, how to fold towels, cleaning tips from grandma

Diane WA: Fold towels and sheets with care, after they are fully dry, never immediately when they come out of dryer or off the line. Any moisture can make the towels a bit mildewed.

There are internet lessons on folding towels and sheets which are worth paying attention to. The methods have two purposes: (1) to have them in the best format and fewest wrinkles when you go to use them (hang up on a bar or put sheets on a bed etc) and (2) to best fit on your shelves.

The general principle is to fold the long way first. Ideally fold the long way in thirds (sheets more times), then the short way in either thirds or half and then half again, or roll up, depending on the size of your storage space.

Determine a fold-pattern that works for your space, then stick to it. Teach family members the best way, post diagrams as reminders.

Label the shelves for what should go on them. This seems crazy at first, but it works wonders for keeping a few details of life more organized and sane. No more ripping apart the linen closet to find the right size towel or sheets.

Folding comforter covers and table cloths are where it makes the most difference. Fold the long way as many times as you can or want to before beginning t folds the other way. This minimized wrinkles and at least keeps them regularized! A table cloth unfolded should have lovely fold lines running the length of the table, unless you are going to iron it (again?)!

Mary C: I learned from my mom that if you have rarely used old vintage linen or lace tablecloths/napkins, etc., it is best to refold them every once in awhile in different areas of the fabric. Otherwise the creases become permanent marks. I have seen it happen.

Wooden Furniture and Floors

Karen O: I wash my wood floors with natural cleaners, white vinegar. I mix with water. And then when dry do a paste wax and shine..(and then keep the old folks out of the room when they are wearing socks as the floor is slippery for a few days)

Washing Windows

Courtney C: Wash exterior windows with a mixture of water, white vinegar and a capful of ammonia. Scrub the windows with newspaper and dry with a squeegee.

Senna B: Clean windows with vinegar and water and newspaper.

Sandra C: Clean your windows with vinegar and newspaper (black ink only).

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Sarah W: Using dish soap instead of Windex window cleaner! It works on glass dishes, why not other glass? Also, the least amount of window scrubbing the better, since the more you scrub, the more static will attract dust to the window after you’ve cleaned it.

pots hanging up

Cleaning Copper and Silver, and Pots and Pans

Rachelle C: Salt and vinegar polishes copper – quick and effective!

Julianne M: Salt and aluminium foil in a bucket of hot water cleans tarnished silver.

Claire M: Use dry baking soda on a slightly dampened paper towels and shine your pots and pans with it. They will shine.

Dealing With Smells

Toni C: Soak a pillow cloth in vinegar and wring it out. Swing it around over your head throughout the entire house to rid all odors. I promise your clean house won’t smell of vinegar! Also great on wood or tile kitchen floors!

Bathroom Cleaning

Pamela MS: Keep a little bit of full strength cleaner in the bottom of the toilet brush holder. I use Fabuloso Multipurpose Cleaner. It helps keep the brush and container from getting gross, and the brush is always ready for a quick “swipe”.

Lindsay T: Equal parts water, white vinegar, and dawn dish soap in a spray bottle wiped with a microfiber cloth is the best at cleaning soap scum off the tub.

Laine T: Use a squeegee in the shower after each use to delay time between other cleanings. Also, dry off faucets after washing dishes, hands, bathing, etc. to mitigate wear. Doesn’t take long to become a habit, and after 12 years of doing this my mother’s gold-toned shower metallic parts had no wear or pitting in a place with known harsh water. Keeping a small towel near the area helps as a reminder.

Pro tip! Dunk your shower head in a bowl of warm water and vinegar!

Kitchen and Appliances

Cecilia J: Also clean the refrigerator by first squeezing a generous amount of water from top to bottom (this one actually works).

Mary C: Clean your microwave interior by putting some dish soap on a wet paper towel and heating it in the mic for a minute. Everything then wipes right off. Got that from a salesman when I went with Mom to get her first microwave in the 70s.

(and a similar tip):

Laura D: Add a single drop of dish detergent in a bowl of water, bring to a boil in microwave and let it rest for steam to fill microwave. Open, wipe microwave clean with a damp rag, no scrubbing no chemicals needed.

Jennifer L: After cooking on the glass top stove, sprinkle salt on it and scrub with a squirt of dish soap on your sponge. Rinse with a wet sponge and dry with a clean soft cloth (or old t-shirts). My salt cellar stays on the back of my stove so there is always salt on the glass after cooking so I just use the sponge from washing dishes

Debby L: My mom used to rub the sink with the leftover grapefruit or lemon. The lemon juice whitens and also smells great.

Gail HC: also cutting boards

Stacey LC: I love how my landlord showed me how to clean the brand new stove top with baking soda, I guess it’s less abrasive than other products and all natural‼️

Mary C: Baking soda is a common cleaning ingredient. I pour some down kitchen sinks then add vinegar. It leaves them clean and fresh smelling. Plus I love watching the bubbling.
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Marie Lincoln When my garbage disposal start to smell bad, I grind ice cubes and olive oil up to loosen up food and grime.

I throw some ice cubes in a leftover plastic bag along with some olive oil and shake them up before dropping them in!

someone ironing shirts

Laundry Room Help

Elizabeth S: Best tip I can give you, iron the washing as it dries. If it’s not quite dry, iron it and put on a hanger or a cloths airer. Once it’s fully dry it can be put away. Leaving dry washing in an ironing pile creases it dreadfully and takes much longer to iron. Everyone hates ironing.

Deborah M: Or just hang it up and never iron at all. I no longer own an iron.
(This is my kind of ironing advice)

Susan R: Also dawn dish washing liquid on oil stains on clothing. I have even done it on clothes that have been washed and dried by my husband not knowing they needed to be treated and still worked great.

Emily H: If you had to treat any clothes for tough stains, let them air dry when you take them out of the washing machine. If the stain is still there, it’s more effective to re-treat and rewash before it gets set by running through the dryer.

Done Is Better Than Perfect

Pam M: Do it. That’s my tip. Do it until it’s done.

Sarah W: And also have a threshold of what you consider “done!” I could clean all day and still have a to-do list. My husband has been teaching me to leave it imperfect but still clean, so I get to relax a bit too!

Fireplace Care

Judith M: Cleaning the fireplace glass with newspaper and ash mixed with water! Amazing.

General Cleaning and Tidying

Susan RZ: Soak citrus peel in white vinegar and use it as a multi purpose cleaner.

Diane WA: Bon Ami powdered cleanser, Kirk’s Castile bar soap, baking soda, and white vinegar. These are the only cleaners you need for your whole house, including doing the dishes and cleaning bathrooms.

Scrub brushes break up dirt mechanically so that you don’t need harsh and expensive cleaners. There is science behind this.

Take shoes off at the door when you enter, to keep the house clean.

Sweep or dry-mop hard floors frequently (I just use my vacuum cleaner on the hard floor setting).

Dust a room with a feather duster or wool duster from top down, ceiling to floor, going around in a circle.

Miriam R: Never go up or down stairs with empty hands. Wipe off furniture with your hands as you walk by- no one notices the dust on the floor but they do on the furniture. After washing dishes, wipe off the counters, then use the rag to spot clean the floor, using your foot, then toss it in the laundry.

Monica MH: Let the sun in the windows during winter, block it during summer.
(I just started using this trick in my bedroom which gets strong direct light on summer mornings, and it works!)

Karen HS: save dog hair for a deer deterrent in the garden. clean mirrors with shaving cream to stop ‘fogging’, clean car windows with rubbing alcohol to stop freezing and remove ice from car

So, next time you’re cleaning, remember to do it the old-fashioned way from grandma’s house.

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