The New Little Giant Cyclopedia of Ready Reference offers an entertaining peek into life in times past and a great research source for writers. First published in 1889, the pocketsize volume sold for one dollar, prepaid, by mail from Columbia Publishing House, Chicago.
Here are a few tidbits that tell us about the challenges of keeping a house over 100 years ago.
To brighten carpets: after the dust has been beaten out [carpets] may be brightened by scattering upon them cornmeal mixed with salt and then sweeping it off. Mix salt and meal in equal proportions. Carpets should be thoroughly beaten on the wrong side first and then on the right side, after which spots may be removed by the use of ox-gall or ammonia and water.
Kerosene stains in carpets may be removed by sprinkling buckwheat flour over the spot. If one sprinkling is not enough, repeat.
To preserve brooms: dip them for a minute or two in a kettle of boiling suds once a week and they will last much longer, making them tough and pliable. A carpet wears much longer swept with a broom cared for in this manner.
Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection