Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Mrs Nostalgic's A-Z Of Spring Cleaning

Well my dearies, Spring is here and it’s time to open the windows, shake out your pinnies, pick up your feather dusters and start your spring clean.  Here at The Nostalgic Kitchen I take spring cleaning very seriously and am more than pleased to pass on some of my clever little vintage tricks for a thoroughly refreshed household that will be the envy of the street. Warning!... your neighbour’s curtains may start to twitch with envy.

A – No self respecting housewife can start a household chore without the correct Apron!  A suitable vintage apron should be selected and adorned ready for the task ahead! 

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, A for apron

B- Get up early and start your cleaning as day has sprung! In the words of Mrs Beeton, the Queen of Domestic Godessness,” There is no work like morning work, particularly household tasks, and those we take up early in the day, when fresh from a night’s rest are ‘trifles light as air’ in comparison with the same dragged or hurried through later when there is not time for their proper performance.”

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, C for cupboards

C- Empty your entire kitchen Cupboards and clean thoroughly inside.  This is a good opportunity to have a sort through your cupboards and pack away in a box any items you haven’t used for a while to offer to a neighbour or to take to the charity shop. Before replacing your items in the cupboard you could line them with pretty paper to brighten them up.


D- The cleanliness of a household’s Doorstep is an indication of what’s inside.  Make sure you sweep and then scrub your doorstep within an inch of its life with a scrubbing brush and Sunlight soap.

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, D for doorstep

E- The secret to a successful spring clean vintage lovelies, is Elbow Grease!  Some tasks can only be achieved by hard work and lots of energy.

F- The wonderful thing about doing housework is that you are also doing your own little Fitness session as well.  I have a fabulous little Guide to Beauty written in 1964 by Joyce McKinnell and she says “Next time you do the dusting, hold in your stomach muscles and then slowly ease them out. When you bend down to dust the skirting board keep your legs as straight as possible.  Don’t slouch over the carpet sweeper, but hold your head high and your shoulders back.  When you reach to do a high shelf, do it gracefully and remember to take full advantage of the stretching movements to keep your midriff firm.” I say no more!

G- Now a day spent spring cleaning can be exhausting so treat yourself to a Gin & Tonic my darlings to perk you up!  Yes - Mrs Nostalgic finds it very medicinal and gives you full permission to sit back and sip!

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, G for gin

H – Make sure you Hoover in every nook and cranny and then when you have finished don’t forget to give the hoover a clean!!  

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, H for hoover

I- The ‘Modern HomeLaundry work’ 1934 suggests that we should “Keep Irons in good condition for use by cleaning on a board with a coating of powdered bath brick, rubbing when necessary with beeswax tied in a piece of cotton cloth, and dusting well.  Irons should be cleaned before being stored and rubbed with any household fat free from salt, or with olive oil.  They need to be heated before use; have as much grease as possible rubbed off with newspaper, then be washed with hot soda water, and dried”.  Off you go then!

J- A lovely Vintage Jug full of Spring Flowers in your kitchen when your cleaning is completed will not only look pretty but will be a constant reminder of your hard work and accomplishments. 

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, J for jug

K- After many hours spent on hands and Knees a housewife must be mindful of Housemaid’s Knee.  When at all possible exchange kneeling for a useful labour saving tool. A Ewbank Carpet Sweeper, a good old fashioned long handled mop & a long handled dustpan can all help to reduce time spent on your knees.

L- Don’t spend money on chemical fresheners and deodorisers when Lavender water will do just as well and is cheaper and kinder to the environment. A few drops of Lavender Oil in water or dried lavender diffused water sprinkled on curtains and carpets, in your washing machine and down your sink will help to freshen up your home. 

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, L for lavender

M- It is essential to have the appropriate Music playing loudly when spring cleaning to motivate, invigorate and enthuse.  May I suggest a decade for each task...1980’s for Hoovering including Queen, Madonna and Wham, 1950’s for dusting including Doris Day, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, 1960’s for scrubbing the floor including The Beatles, James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner.  It is important to save the real nostalgic stuff till you have your Gin & Tonic break including, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.  Personally Mrs Nostalgic likes to do her windows to a bit of Neil Diamond!

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, M is for music

N- Newspaper and vinegar will clean and shine your windows better than any fancy supermarket spray! When cleaning windows use crossways strokes for inside and vertical strokes for outside, then you can tell which side is smeared. 

O – Cleaning cloths were invariably made from old pants and vests!  Why buy new cloths when you can just recycle Old underwear?

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, O is for old underwear
P- As you Peg out blankets and throws on the line to air you will be able to sort through your old pegs and throw away any mouldy ones.  A lovely idea is to sew yourself a pretty new Peg bag in a vintage fabric to keep your pegs in.

Q– As you put your summer bedding on you may wish to pack your winter Quilt away. Quilts are notoriously difficult to clean, as not only do they incorporate many different fabrics in one piece, but they're often handmade family heirlooms or vintage works of art. Quilts are best cleaned with some fresh air. Hang on the line on a sunny day. If there are any stains just try to spot clean areas that need it or hand wash it in your bathtub or sink. When you store the quilt, keep it on a shelf or a place where it can air a little.

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, Q is for quilts
R- Rain! - We have a lot of it in the UK and the clever housewife will plan her spring cleaning day around the weather.  Cleaning is accomplished more effectively Dearies on a dry day, for dirt clings and is more difficult to remove when the house is slightly damp, as is inevitably the case in wet weather. 

S- Soap Jelly....Save all scraps of soap.  When you have accumulated a sufficient quantity, put the pieces into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat over a low heat until clear and free from lumps, then pour into a jar.  This will form a lovely jelly when cold, and, if kept standing beside the sink, will be found most useful for washing up and laundry work! 

T –A 1940’s Vintage Hair Turban is vital for keeping your hair out of your face and to protect your tresses when you clean. This is a great way to multi task-  Spring cleaning whilst allowing a head full of rollers or pin curls to dry. Perhaps most famous of all head wraps from the 1940s was the one worn by Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice in 1946, however equally famous is Mrs Nostalgic who is rarely seen without hers on! 

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, T is for turban

U – Very important Spring Cleaners, to clean Under everything. These special spaces and places only get touched in a spring clean and then never again till next year.  Under the refrigerator, cooker, washing machine, shelves, tables, beds, furniture and especially under the rim of the toilet! 

V- Is for Vinegar which, vintage lovelies, has actual magical powers! It is a mainstay of old folk recipes for cleaning, and with good reason - vinegar kills bacteria, mould and germs. It is naturally and powerfully antibacterial.  Keep a clean spray bottle filled with 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your chopping board, and one in your bathroom, and use them for cleaning. Undiluted vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off. 

A-Z Of Spring Cleaning, W is for Washing

W- Washing is a big part of housewives’ duties most days, as well as during the Spring Clean. The ‘Modern Home Laundry work’ book written in 1934 explains that “The type of washing apparatus that a household will have depends upon the amount of washing undertaken. There must be suitable and adequate apparatus if all washing is to be done at home.”  It suggests a Dolly Tub and peg, hand-operated washing machine or an electrically driven washing machine. Soap, a rubbing board and laundry brush are also essential tools for the laundry room. The joys of modern living have meant that washing for us is now so much easier but may I suggest an apparatus that I can’t live without and that is a Sheila’s Maid. Useful for drying items when it’s a wet day and a tidy airer that does not take up floor space. 

X, Y &  Z – If, by the end of the day of Spring cleaning you are starting to Yawn, then eXchange this for extra Zeal to get the work finished.  ‘The Book of Good Housekeeping’ 1945 does warn however that “The modern home with its new finishes is easy to clean, but even modern cleaning has its own problems.  It only needs an excess of Zeal and the continued use of a drastic cleanser for a sink, bath or other piece of equipment to be defaced, if not ruined for life”.  Be cautious then Spring Cleaners that successful Spring Cleaning takes a loving gentle but energetic approach to make it a success but with the right tools and a sneaky Gin & Tonic you will have sparkly and bright households to be proud of.xxxxxxxxx

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