From Our Knowledge Box; Or, Old Secrets and New Discoveries, 1875.
Alum in Starch.—For starching muslins, ginghams, and calicoes, dissolve a piece of alum the size of a shellbark, for every pint of starch, and add to it. By so doing the colors will keep bright for a long time, which is very desirable when dresses must be often washed, and the cost is but a trifle.
To Destroy Cockroaches.—The following is said to be effectual: These vermin are easily destroyed, simply by cutting up green cucumbers at night, and placing them about where roaches commit depredations. What is cut from the cucumbers in preparing them for the table answers the purpose as well, and three applications will destroy all the roaches in the house. Remove the peelings in the morning, and renew them at night.
Fire Kindlers.—Take a quart of tar and three pounds of resin, melt them, bring to a cooling temperature, mix with as much sawdust, with a little charcoal added, as can be worked in; spread out while hot upon a board, when cold break up into lumps of the size of a large hickory nut, and you have, at a small expense, kindling49 material enough for a household for one year. They will easily ignite from a match and burn with a strong blaze, long enough to start any wood that is fit to burn.
Remedy against Moths.—An ounce of gum camphor and one of the powdered shell of red pepper are macerated in eight ounces of strong alcohol for several days, then strained. With this tincture the furs or cloths are sprinkled over, and rolled up in sheets. Instead of the pepper, bitter apple may be used. This remedy is used in Russia under the name of the Chinese tincture for moths.
To Color Brown on Cotton or Woolen.—For ten pounds of cloth boil three pounds of catechu in as much water as needed to cover the goods. When dissolved, add four ounces of blue vitriol; stir it well; put in the cloth and let it remain all night; in the morning drain it thoroughly; put four ounces of bi-chromate of potash in boiling water sufficient to cover your goods; let it remain 15 minutes; wash in cold water; color in iron.
To Cleanse and Brighten Faded Brussels Carpet.—Boil some bran in water and with this wash the carpet with a flannel and brush, using fuller's earth for the worst parts. When dry, the carpet must be well beaten to get out the fuller's earth, then washed over with a weak solution of alum to brighten the colors. Some housekeepers cleanse and brighten carpets by sprinkling them first with fine salt and then sweeping them thoroughly.
To give Stoves a Fine, Brilliant Appearance.—A teaspoonful of pulverized alum mixed with stove polish will give a stove a fine luster, which will be quite permanent.
Composition for Restoring Scorched Linen.—Boil, to a good consistency, in half a pint of vinegar, two ounces of fuller's earth, an ounce of hen's dung, half an ounce of cake soap, and the juice of two onions. Spread this composition over the whole of the damaged part; and if the scorching is not quite through, and the threads actually consumed, after suffering it to dry on, and letting it receive a subsequent good washing or two, the place will appear full as white and perfect as any other part of the linen.
To Remove Indelible Ink Stains.—Soak the stained spot in strong salt water, then wash it with ammonia. Salt changes the nitrate of silver into chloride of silver, and ammonia dissolves the chloride.
To Cleanse Carpet.—1 teaspoonful liquid ammonia in one gallon warm water, will often restore the color of carpets, even if produced by acid or alkali. If a ceiling has been whitewashed with the carpet down, and a few drops are visible, this will remove it. Or, after the carpet is well beaten and brushed, scour with ox gall, which will not only extract grease but freshen the colors—1 pint of gall in 3 gallons of warm water, will do a large carpet. Table floor-cloths may be thus washed. The suds left from a wash where ammonia is used, even if almost cold, cleanses these floor-cloths well.
(These are only a few choice morsels -- the entire volume may be downloaded from Project Gutenberg).