Cleaning – brass trays, silver and water-bottles

Cleaning things is so easy these days with all the squirts, sprays, soaps, soaks and detergents especially as we all have hot water whenever we want, washing machines, dishwashers, and stain resistant fabrics and products. In the past it was more of a challenge – and cookery books often had a section of hints and tips on household management, including how to clean things.

Here is a sample from The A1 Cookery Book, published a hundred and twenty years ago:

How to clean brass trays – wash with soap and water, dry well then rub the tray thoroughly with a lemon cut in half. Swill with cold water to remove all the lemon juice, polish with a leather. Do not use any powder

How to clean silver – the secret of keeping silver always beautifully polished lies in the washing of it quite as much as in the polishing. It must be washed in hot water with ordinary yellow soap and it must be dried at once. If all the silver is washed first and dried afterwards, the silver will look smeared and dull so it is best to wash a little and dry a little till all is done. After this it should be just rubbed up with a leather. The wash leather must be kept clean by being washed frequently. A black leather will not polish. Once a week silver should be thoroughly cleaned. A very little Goddard’s plate powder mixed with methylated spirit may then be used, but it must be well rubbed off the silver with one leather and polished with a clean one. If   these directions are followed the silver will always look well kept.No soda must be used in the water the silver is washed in, and it is better to keep a special cloth or sponge for washing the silver. The least particle of soda in the water or on the sponge will effectually spoil the polish.

How to clean water-bottles – tear up some bits of newspaper and put in the bottles with some water, shake well and teh glass will look quite bright.

Cleaning silver was obviously something the writer felt passionate about!



    1. Lois

      Yes, sitting at the kitchen table, newspaper spread out and a tin of Brasso or Silvo, and the particular smell it had… I don’t suppose many kids today know what it is!!


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