There must be an enormous number of household hints in existence. Some, from the past, might not be all that relevant to our modern lives. Some might be merely interesting as a curiosity. Others even though old could well be useful even in modern times. See if any of these hints from the past could be useful to you.


Ideas to help keep flies away.

  • Keep a sponge in the kitchen that has been moistened with a teaspoon of lavender oil and 2 tablespoons boiling water. Add a little hot water each day and renew the lavender oil twice a week.
  • Keep some cloves tied up in a net bag in the kitchen.
  • Grow a pot of mint or fennel in the kitchen or patio.


Try sharpening scissors by cutting through a piece of coarse sandpaper several times. If like me, you are pedantic about what your good material cutting scissors are used for try this on an old pair of scissors first to see how it goes. If your sewing machine needle is blunt and you don’t have a spare, try sewing a few stitches through sandpaper. Have the machine unthreaded for this.


Here are two old fashioned recipes for whitewash. Most of us use paint these days but if you want to emulate Tom Sawyer and whitewash the fence, here is a recipe.

Whitewash recipe 1

550 gram dry powdered lime, 2.4 liters milk and 2.1 kg whiting (chalk)

Put lime in an earthenware vessel and pour in enough milk to make a cream. Add remainder of milk, pass whiting through a fine sieve into the mixture and stir well. If color is desired, mix it first with a little milk and then add.

Whitewash recipe 2

5 liters separated milk, 2 kg whiting, 1 cup salt and 1 knob blue. blend whiting, salt and crushed blue with enough milk to make a paste. Add remainder of milk slowly, stirring well. Strain liquid through hessian or chaff bag and it is ready for use.
The separated milk can be substituted by 454 gram skim milk powder and 4.5 liters of water.

I have no personal experience with these recipes so treating it like an experiment before using it on something that matters would make sense.

Remember to use safety gear like gloves and goggles as appropriate.

Barbecue Plate

Sprinkle a handful of salt onto the barbecue plate while it is still very hot. Leave it until it cools. It is then fairly easy to clean.


To clear choked drains, put a large handful of washing soda over the plug hole and pour a kettle of boiling water over.


Make cut flowers last longer.

  • Add an aspirin to the water in the vase.
  • Wrap stems in a 75 mm strip of foil.
  • For carnations add a teaspoon of sugar to the vase of water. this should keep the flowers fresher and encourage the buds to open.
  • For flowers with woody or semi woody stems crush or split the ends before putting in the vase so that water intake is greater.