By Lynnie Stein / September 11, 2022

Old-time Hacks

The following hints and tips are taken from a collection of old books and sage clippings belonging to a beloved grandmother. Whatever your grandma did to fix and maintain things around the house and garden, it probably worked. That’s because the old ways are often the best ways when it comes to solutions for everyday problems, ideas for saving time, and handy advice for getting the job done.

Here are a collection of old-timer, helpful hints, tips and sage secrets that can help you in everyday life.

The old doll had lived a life so full and good, she had played a lead role in so many imaginative games, that life upon the shelf was simply time to replay .
The old doll had lived a life so full and good, she had played a lead role in so many imaginative games, that life upon the shelf was simply time to replay .

To Prevent Boots From Cracking

  • To prevent new boots from cracking take some boiled linseed oil, and with a piece of flannel or rag wet-ted in it, rub over the soles upwards until they are quite dry.
  • This method not  only keeps the boots from cracking but renders them more impervious to damp.

For Hanging Brooms

  • A screw eye inserted in top of a broom or mop handle is far more convenient and lasting than a cord.

Stuffing for Pincushions

  • Dried coffee grounds answer well for filling a pincushion.
  • They do not attract moths like wool, nor mice as bran does, and if well dried they do not smell.

A Stale Loaf

If the loaf has become dry, but it is still wholesome, dip into a bowl of water for three minutes; let it stand for half an hour for the moisture to penetrate, then bake it in a steady oven,

This is best eaten hot.

Clean Sponges

To keep your sponge in good condition, you should occasionally wash it in warm water with a little tartaric acid or soda, afterwards rinsing it in clean water.

Extracts from The Queensland Official Grocers’ Price List and Year Book,. 1898.

Mariner’s Soap

This is made by substituting coconut oil for fats or oils used in making common soap. It has the advantage of forming a lather in salt water.

Oatmeal Soap

  • Make a saturated solution of borax, cut into it any bits and pieces of soap.
  • Add a little glycerine.
  • Let the mixture boil until the soap is dissolved.
  • Make It as thick as cream by boiling or by adding more if too thick; then stir into the mass oatmeal enough to make a soft paste.
  • Stir until it cools and hardens. Place in a greased wooden box before it hardens, then turn out and cut into squares.
  • If a sand soap is required, add a little refined sand while boiling.
  • This will clean the dirtiest hands.

Bath Salts

  • Crush 1lb washing soda (sodium carbonate) small.
  • Dry well in oven about three hours.
  • Put in a glass jar and add thin slices lemon rind.
  • Keep well corked with the soda crystals for a week.
  • Smells like verbena.

Frozen Perfume

  • Take 2 oz oil of lemon grass, 1/2 oz oil of cloves and 1/4 oz oil of lavender flowers.
  • Mix them well together.
  • For this amount of perfume you require about four quarts of melted beeswax.
  • Pour the oils into the melted beeswax while warm, stirring it while pouring.
  • This perfume is in a solid transparent form, any by rubbing on the handkerchief it imparts an exquisite perfume.
  • By carrying it in a pocket it perfumes the entire wearing apparel.
  • By keeping it in a drawer or box all articles therein obtain the benefits of this perfume.
  • A Bed Warmer For Children; Take a piece of strong material about half a yard square, double it and stitch firmly around.
  • Put into it about 4lb of silver sand (fine sand) and then sew it up firmly to keep the sand from running out.
  • If put in the oven for about one hour it gets nicely hot, and will keep up for several hours.
  • Chewing gum can be used to repair holes in petrol tanks; it hardens when in contact with petrol. They was used as a “quick fix” during WWII to repair holed fuel tanks on spitfires.
  • A small piece of leather around a screw can be used to temporarily plug a leak.
  • DIY Beautiful Blue Writing fluid; Dissolve basic or soluble Prussian blue in rainwater.
  • This is the most permanent and beautiful blue ink.
  • Black Ink; Shellac 4oz, borax 2 oz, water one quart (one litre). Boil until dissolved, add 2 oz gum arabic dissolved in a little hot water. Boil. Add enough of a well triturated (rubbed to a fine powder) mixture of equal parts of indigo and lamp-black to produce the proper colour. After standing seven hours, draw off and bottle.
  • Substitute for wax on corks; Instead of bottle wax, which crumbles on the insertion of the corkscrew, and the particles of which may fall into the liquor, cover the cork with a solution of gelatine (or substitute with agar) , dissolved in glycerine by the application of heat.
  • To Preserve Harness; Harness requires the application of neatsfoot oil every year, and it should be washed every three or four weeks in strong suds of Castile soap, and kept in a dry place.
  • It will thus be prevented from becoming hard, dry or rotten.
  • Washing Linen; The Dutch and Belgian washerwomen, who get up linen beautifully, do not use soda, but borax. In the proportion of a handful of refined borax to about 10 gallons of boiling water.
  • They save nearly half the quantity of soap, and the borax does not injure in the least even fine lace or cambric.

From; The Best of Everything, published in London by Frederick Warne & Co, 1874.

1001 Old-time Household Hints: Timeless Bits of Household Wisdom for Today’s Home and Garden. Collected from a number of vintage cookbooks and housekeeping manuals, there’s at least one tip from New Jersey homemaker Mary Anna Clement’s “Receipt Book, circa 1840.

To keep the seats of cane chairs clean and tight, Clement would turn them upside down and wash the seat thoroughly with soap and water.

“Let it air-dry and it will be clean and firm as new,” according to the book.

Find the best hints, tips and secrets for everything from cooking, cleaning and home maintenance to pet care, gardening and holiday celebrations.

You’ll also find ways to adapt and improve some old-time methods.

Discover an amazing variety of useful and clever ideas, including how to:

  • Propagate Rex begonias from their leaves alone.
  • Clean copper pans, using buttermilk and salt.
  • Make real sourdough bread the way the pioneers did.
  • Organize common space in your home.
  • Use ivory soap for polishing silver and insect control.
  • Build a rain barrel from a 55-gallon recycled food container and other materials.
  • Safely separate drinking glasses that have been stuck together

Most helpful might be the information for living with pets; In addition to tips for encouraging better behaviour, there is advice for improving a pet’s oral hygiene.

Try giving meat scraps such as chunks of cooked beef heart or chicken gizzards. According to the book, this practice of grandmothers actually helps clean the cat or dog’s teeth because the tough meat is full of connective tissue that requires lots of chewing.

The meat should be offered in 1- to 2-inch squares once or twice a week.


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