From the files, the beginnings of a Filofacts on Making Your Own …
Sarah Lonsdale, in her column on eco-friendly living, Sun Tel 14.4.2013:
Leafing through an old Italian housewife’s bible, I came across a simple recipe for lifting fingerprint grease off paintwork and other fragile surfaces. Simply chuck a few sprigs of early spring rosemary into a small pan of malt vinegar, enough to cover the herbs, and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and let it cool, allowing the naturally astringent rosemary to steep in the vinegar overnight. As well as adding its natural cleaning properties to the vinegar, the rosemary neutralises the worst of the vinegar’s pungency, meaning your home doesn’t smell like a pickling factory. Using a towelling cloth, dip it into the rosemary vinegar and rub into dirty paintwork, both satin and gloss, stained terracotta tiles and varnished wood surfaces. Dirt and grease lifts out by magic with very little effort and the mixture is particularly effective on paintwork.
My rosemary vinegar success made me curious to discover whether other old housewives’ cleaning remedies could work. The next one, courtesy of my Norwegian relations, was the most stunning success: the most effective clouded glass sparkler I have ever come across.
We live in a hard water area and vases and drinking glasses sport unsightly cloudy rings. Crush two eggshells into a cup and pour over the lemon’s juice. Leave the shells to dissolve over 48 hours and then strain the liquid, which will now be a pale opaque off-yellow. Use this
My third remedy makes use of all the winter wood ash that has built up in the bottom of our wood burner and removes the tarnish from copper pots and pans so you can see your face in them. Again it’s a very simple procedure: put enough ash into a coffee cup to fill it half way up and then slowly squeeze in the juice of about half a lemon. The acid juice will fizz a little as it makes contact with the alkaline ash and the aim is to end up with a thickish grey paste that you can paint onto your copper a bit like old-style silver polish. The next step, polishing with an old rag, requires some elbow grease but the results, when your dull brown copper glows pinkly again, are terribly satisfying.
I managed to spring clean almost all household surfaces with these simple folk remedies, although you should avoid using them on unvarnished wood and unpolished stone..
Two manufactured brands are worth a mention, the first being a clay-based paste by Ecozone and available at Nigel’s Eco Store. It comes in a hard, white block which you moisten and rub with a sponge. It lifts tea and wine stains out of melamine work surfaces, something my vinegar and rosemary failed to do. The other is a ginger and lemongrass-scented stainless steel polisher spray from Home Scents that brings out the shine without damaging the surface.
* More cleaning recipes from The Daily Green at
(go that page and click arrows at bottom right to go forward through the recipes)
Pen and Ink:
Guardian reader Melissa Vigueir explains how to make a quill pen, Dec. 22 07 …
We began with some large swan feathers, with nice thick stems and no splits or cracks in them. Then, armed with a very sharp pair of scissors, we began working our way through the four basic stages of quill creation:
1. Cut the tip of the feather’s stem off at a 45-degree angle.
2. Make a 1.5cm slit up the stem of the feather from the top of the first cut you made. Scoop out any visible membranes.
3. Widen the slit to make it into a scoop shape (enlarging that very first cut you made), but be careful not to cut the scoop deeper than the top half of the stem.
4. Turn the scoop into an elegant nib by trimming it with the scissors. It should be symmetric, and taper to a neat point.
You have to dip the quill in ink every second letter, and every few sentences we have to sharpen the nib a little. Of course, you can make your own ink too, from the juice of festering ink cap mushrooms, or by mixing some egg white with soot and a little honey.
Also, to be summed up here later, see discussions on VINYL CLEANING
From http://www.recipegoldmine.com/ ..
You need 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of table salt and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. To create the weedkiller, remove approximately 2 cups of vinegar from its container and set it aside, pour in the salt and dishwashing liquid, then return the 2 cups of vinegar to the container. Cover with a lid and shake to mix. Pour into a spray bottle.
* http://www.recipegoldmine.com/ seems to be now mainly about cooking but there were links there to Remedies, Household Hints etc – not sure they are still working – to be explored or found elsewhere.