Monday, January 9, 2012

9 January 1933 “ Don’t Try This at Home and Other Cleaning Tips.”

 30simagelaundylady I am still waiting for a few books to arrive by post as well as working my way through many dry picture less books to find items pertaining to cleaning in the 1930’s.

hooveradI see by this ad that my 1955 Kirby is basically the same as this 1930’s Hoover and most likely works about the same. It is a loud behemoth but works great.

 dutchcleanseradI also see advertising shows various ‘store bought’ cleaning items but am sure I would still use an arsenal of homemade remedies such as these:

  1. Polishing Brass and Copper Pieces

    Either household ammonia and water or soap and lemon juice will restore brightness to the metal. If the latter method is used, dip a cloth in lemon juice, rub it on soap and scrub the article vigorously. After it dries, shine with soft cloth, rinse in hot water and dry.

  2. Cleaning Piano Keys

    Rather than using soap and water, clean the piano keyboard with milk. This will keep the keys from yellowing.

  3. Removing Paint from Windows

    Scrape with a safety razor blade

  4. Removing Chewing Gum from Hair

    Either butter or the white of an egg will take out chewing gum from hair. The white of an egg will also prove effective in removing gum from other places.

  5. Removing Rust Marks from the Sink

    A little lemon juice or vinegar rubbed on the sink will remove rust stains. Be sure to rinse away when the spot is dissolved.

  6. Removing Tough Marks from Dishware

    Marks can be removed from polished plates with lemon rinds.

  7. When Washing Delicates

    Put your delicate fabrics such as doilies, thin baby dresses, under garments, etc. in a pillowcase; tie and put in the washing machine. This protects them, yet they will come out just as clean as if they had been put in the washing machine individually.

  8. Cleaning Scorched Pans

    Sprinkle some dry baking soda on the scorched pans. Let them stand a while, and then they will clean readily.

  9. How to Remove Blood

    On washable articles, soak in cold water first; then wash with soap and water. On non-washable articles apply a paste made of starch and water and let dry. Brush off. Repeat if necessary. A safe method for the most delicate fabrics.

  10. How to Remove Grass Stains

    Soap and water will usually remove fresh stains from washable materials. Ammonia and water is another good solution; likewise alcohol.


I have mentioned before in my 1900’s homemakers manual there is the use of gasoline for various cleaning aspects. This film from the 1930’s shows this was still being used on a normal basis in the 1930’s much to peoples peril.


I feel I have been running about more than is my norm so far, here in 1933, and thus have still to get more settled into my 30’s routine. My hair is still to be bobbed, so I have been twisting and rolling it into a lower more tight to the head 30’s look (Will get picture before bobbed hair) and sticking with longer pencil skirts and new lace up oxfords. I love the heels of these shoes and find myself wearing them all day long unlike some of the more thin heeled shoes of the later 50’s. I still miss my dishwasher but getting adjusted. Cooking has been the same so far and I even made homemade doughnuts yesterday as part of our breakfast.

 doughnuts1 I have made may varieties of doughnuts before but these were a 30’s recipe. Here is what is left after we devoured most of them. Here is the recipe (of which I halved and they turned out more dense than my other recipes but very crunchy and so good)doughnuts2

Buttermilk Donut Recipe

3 cups buttermilk; 1 teaspoon soda; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 2 eggs; 2 level tablespoons butter; 1 grated nutmeg; teaspoon salt; 2 quarts flour; 1 teaspoon cream tartar. Sift soda, cream of tartar, and flour 7 times, and sift in mixture a little at a time. Butter should be warm but not oily. --Mrs. W. J. Lawlor (Recipe from HERE)

They were, of course, fried in oil. I use the end of a wooden spoon to push them over in the hot oil, as this is easier than trying to flip them.

For the icing I melted chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler until melted. (about 3 TBS butter and 1/4 cup chips) then added about one cup powdered confectioners sugar and one TBS warm water and a dash of vanilla. Then dipped the doughnuts into it. It was very good.

Afterwards I pondered, “Oh bother, I think I made my first faux pas of 1933.” I recalled the microwave debacle back in 1955’s early days. I wasn’t sure if chocolate chips were available in 1933 or not.

Then I found this out: “The chocolate chip cookie was accidentally developed by Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1930. She owned the Toll House Inn, in Whitman, Massachusetts, a very popular restaurant that featured home cooking in the 1930s. Her cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes, was published in 1936 by M. Barrows & Company, New York. It included the recipe "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie", which rapidly became a favorite to be baked in American homes.”

But, she won’t have chips until 1937 and in 1930 she used broken bits of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate. Well, I had the semi-sweet right, but I did use chips. Oh, well. I often used baking chocolate powder and sweeten myself, I just happen to have some chips in the house, so using those up was very 30’s, but having them was not. So, no more chips just bar and powdered chocolate for my kitchen from now on.

I hope all have a lovely day and Happy Homemaking.


  1. I recently used for the first time lard to deep fat fry. I get my lard from a local butcher and it is unhydrogenated and no preservatives. Anyway, I was very impressed with the results. The outercrust on the doughnuts was crispy but thin. Different than when I have used vegetable oil, which I think gives a heavier and crunchier crust. I had read that lard is preferred for frying because it gives superior results and also is better for you when frying because it doesn't break down as readily in high temperatures.
    Your lovely doughnuts reminded me of this and thought you might be interested.
    Still enjoying your 1930's theme.
    Amy F.

  2. I'm just wondering how long it would take to air the smell of gasoline out of the "dry cleaned" garments. I mean, I occasionally splash some gas on my hands, etc. while pumping it, and even after scrubbing them, the smell lingers. It makes me wonder what houses, etc., smelled like them before being closed up (with no ac, windows would be open more), but with less effective kitchen venitilation, without air fresheners, and scented candles. I mean, how effective and widespread was the use of potpourri? I remember Stephen Drucker (then the editor of House Beautiful), talking about Mad Men and it's influence on design, and being asked about how, with so many people smoking, the smell of cigarettes was removed, and his reply was along the lines of, "the smell wasn't removed---everything just smelled like cigarettes then, but so many people smoked that everyone was used to it". I wonder if it is kind of a senses trade off--much more quiet, with much less noise, background music, buzzing, etc., but with many more smells.

  3. Oh my goodness, the smell of gasoline gives me a headache. I don't know how anyone could use it to clean things. Yuck! I read somewhere too that they used kerosene to clean tough stains in the bathtub. Couldn't do it. I'd rather look at the stains. Your donuts looked wonderful by the way! Yum! I can't wait to see your hair! I always wondered how they get their hair so wavy back then! Maybe a post about how they do it if you can find the information somewhere!

  4. h.m.-this might sound odd, but I used to enjoy the scent of gas. It always made me smile to smell the petrol station and perhaps the memories of summers with motored boats, but gas also once had lead. When leaded gas was phased out and also the increase of the corn ethenol (which by the way is HORRID for old motors as our 1970s 30' morgan sailboat has a gas engine and the ethenol 'cleaned out' the residue from old leaded gas and destroyed the motor WHILE we were at sea, thank god for sails)has changed the odor of gas. I am not saying it smelled lovely but I do know others who recall the gas smelling differently in the past. And certainly in 1933 leaded gas was the norm. It is just as people used to be used to the smell of body odor, in the past. And Victorians would probably have their olfactory senses offended with the endless scents form shampoo, deodorant, fabric softener, soap, clothes detergent et al. Interesting to ponder, though.
    Amy f.-i love lard and use it when I can. I would love to source more natural rendered lard though and never use margarine.


 Search The Apron Revolution