Clean Windows and Remove Mold the Natural Way
This is the third part of a review of the Romanian translation of the Reader's Digest book Großmutters Hausmittel neu entdecked [Grandma's Secrets Rediscovered] (© 2001, 2000 Reader's Digest, Verlag Das Beste GmbH, Stuttgart, Zürich, Wien).
In the previous two installments of this review, I talked about Health Tips (Prevention and Healing), Care Tips for the Body (Part 1) [in the first article], Care Tips for the Body (Part 2), and Tips for the Home (Part 1) [in the second article].
This article will be about Tips for the Home (Part 2) and Tips for the Kitchen.
The fourth and last article about this book is about Gardening.
I’ll start with the editors’ advice on how to get burned food off aluminum pots and pans. It’s simple. Fill the pot with water and leave to sit for an hour. Then boil an onion with 1 teaspoon of salt in water for 10 minutes. You will then be able to easily remove the scorched food.
Nettle leaves for crystal-clear windows
Apparently nettles work just as well as rubbing alcohol, or even better, to clean windows. This book recommends you squash a bunch of nettle leaves in a gloved hand, dip it in a solution of water with a drop of vinegar, and wash your windows this way. I’d be curious if it really works and what, in fact, makes it work. I applaud the authors for including such unusual home remedies. It makes for fun reading and it also makes you think outside the box. It turns out there was even a way to make rainproof clothes using potassium alum (the same mineral that makes a great natural deodorant) dissolved in water.
Wondering how to go bleach-free and still have really white clothes? You need onions, homemade soap, vinegar, and wood ash, all of which would have been readily available in grandma’s time and home.
Remove mold and fruit stains the old-fashioned way
A tip I really enjoyed involved removing mold stains. Sprays for mold stains can be rather toxic, and so an old-fashioned remedy for mold stains is welcome. You need 1 tablespoon of ammonium chloride (also known as sal ammoniac), 1 tablespoon of salt, and 200 ml of water. You just rub the stain with the solution, and then clean the spot with fresh water.
The same ammonium chloride helps with fruit stains but you need to get hold of some whey as well. You can try curdling some milk yourself. Once you got those two ingredients, you just need some lemon juice. First heat the ammonium chloride in some water and apply on the stain. Then mix the whey with the lemon juice and add that on the stain as well. Leave overnight and rinse well the next day.
Tips on removing wax stains
Again, you may want to check some of these home remedies before putting them into practice. Here’s one: removing wax stains (from a candle). This book recommends you iron them out using blotting paper. It works, in fact, just as well with newspaper. Well, maybe blotting paper could do a better job but as it’s not something you may have handy, it’s good to know that newspaper will do and they don’t mention that. Still, as I keep saying, this is a great book to start you on a journey of discovery. And then the Internet should probably be your next step, allowing you to research the matter further, refine the answer to your query, and get a few more alternatives as well.
More tips for the home
If you have a suede coat that gets dirty around the collar and on the cuffs, you can try cleaning it with an eraser (the kind used to erase pencil markings).
If you have glass vases that have hard-to-clean necks – think, for instance, of those tall thin vases for spring flowers --, you can use a clever trick to reach those areas that you can’t clean with a bottle brush. Crush some eggshells and mix them with lemon juice. Leave to sit for two days, and then rinse the vase with it.
While some of this advice is very welcome, take all recommendations with a grain of salt. I doubt, for instance, that oil paintings will be happy if you clean them with a cloth dipped in warm milk or with a raw potato and fresh bread!
Other tips, however, are well worth trying. For instance, ammonium salt (it doesn’t say which one) with lavender essence, mixed and kept in a open bowl to fight the persistant smell of cigarette smoke in a room. It’s a remedy worth looking into.
Catch some flies
If you’re looking for a good fly trap, try a chunk of resin and a few drops of rosin (the latter is also used on violin bows, for instance) and salad oil. Just melt the resin, add half as much oil, and then add the rosin. Dip some string into this mixture and hang in the house to catch many unwanted flies. Of course it’s easier if you just spread some animal glue on a strip of paper – this solution appears in the book as well. There’s something for all types of homemakers, from the adventurous to the no-nonsense kind.
Tips for the kitchen
In the kitchen section, you learn how to dry fruit and vegetables, make pickles, jams, jellies, and preserves, and so on. There are some interesting recipes here, such as one for apple jelly with rose flowers. There is also one magiun spread (a jam-like spread with very little sugar; the word comes from a Turkish word meaning “spread”) I’d like to try sometime, with elderberries, plums, pears, and spices. There are suggestions for flavoring oil and vinegar, and some recipes for alcoholic drinks: fruit wines, German punch, an interesting drink with Armagnac brandy, plums, linden flower infusion, and verbena (plus sugar and 2 tablespoons of water). There’s also a great fruit confit dipped in white chocolate and with bits of various nuts in the middle. As this is a translation of a German book, one recipe you were bound to find is marzipan, the wonderful confection with almond meal and sugar. You also learn how to bake various kinds of bread, as the Germans are known for that as well.
The fourth and last installment of this book review is about Gardening.
Read more about this book
If you enjoyed this article, go to the top of the page for links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4.