5 Retro Household Cleaning Methods That Your Grandmother Will Swear By

Back in your grandmother’s day, she had plenty of household chores to do and few modern cleaning tools to make them easier. While she didn’t have a Roomba, a dishwasher, or perhaps even a vacuum cleaner, she always kept her house looking spic and span and ready for guests.

We’ve become spoiled by the wide range of cleaning products and tools that we have at our fingertips, yet we still often struggle to keep our homes looking as nice as our grandmothers did. We also have growing concerns regarding the safety of using all of those products around our families. Keeping your home clean isn’t difficult and, with a bit of elbow grease and a few supplies, you can get yours looking great. Make your grandma proud by trying out these retro household cleaning methods.

Keeping Up Instead of Catching Up

With our busy lifestyles, it may seem much easier to skip cleaning for as long as possible, and  then catch up when we have spare time. Your grandmother would probably disagree with this strategy, though. According to certified housecleaning technician and author Donna Smallin Kuper, it’s easier to keep up with messes than to try to save them all for one large cleaning session. It takes some effort, but, once you get into a daily routine, you will find that you only need to spend a little bit of time cleaning each day to keep your look looking neat and tidy.

Start at the Top and Work Your Way Down

Ready to clean but not sure where to start? Start at the top! By starting at the top of the room and working your way down toward the floor, you will be cleaning in the most efficient way possible. Dust falls, so, if you clean your floors and then wipe down the counters, dust your ceiling fan, and so on, you’ll likely end up needing to clean your floors all over again. By cleaning from the top down, you’ll avoid working against gravity and having to reclean when the dust settles.

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Most of our grandparents did not have separate cleaning products for every surface in their home—and they didn’t have the luxury of going to big box stores to browse aisle after aisle of products formulated for every household cleaning task imaginable. Instead, they largely made their own supplies using common household products.

When it comes to making countertops, floors, appliances, and other surfaces shine, you can’t go wrong with white vinegar, water, and fresh lemon juice. Mix up a solution consisting of two parts water, one part distilled white vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and you have a homemade cleaning product that packs an impressive punch. It cuts grease and leaves your surfaces shining and smelling great.

Vinegar is great for making your windows and mirrors sparkle, too. Mix one part distilled white vinegar with one part hot water in a spray bottle, and then spray on the windows and glass surfaces in your home. Wipe clean using a soft cloth or a crumpled up piece of newspaper for a streak-free shine. Have wooden furniture you need to keep clean? Try combining one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil. This simple DIY wood polish is perfect for coffee tables, dining tables, and more!

Banish Unpleasant Odors the Natural Way

Unpleasant smells have been around way longer than air fresheners and fabric sprays. Before those products existed, our grandmothers had their own tricks for getting rid of bad smells. Mixing lemon juice and water in a spray bottle and spritzing it around your home is one quick and easy way to keep it smelling fresh. Since lemons have natural anti-bacterial properties, they can even eliminate the underlying causes of certain bad smells.

If you want to create a warm, inviting smell, place a few cinnamon sticks in a pot of water and bring to a boil. A tablespoon or two of ground cinnamon works, too. Reduce the heat and simmer. Check your pot regularly to ensure that the water has not all boiled away. You can also keep your home smelling lovely with fresh flowers and plants. Place a few arrangements throughout your home. Fresh lavender is a great choice that freshens up any space while helping keep moths at bay.

Freshen Up Your Carpets and Rugs

Even grandma would agree that modern vacuum cleaners are way better than having to beat rugs clean. They’re a lot easier to use, and they do a more efficient job of getting rid of dust, dander, and dirt. Sometimes, though, they still leave behind odors. Instead of reaching for a commercial carper freshener, take a note from past generations and try a more natural approach.

Baking soda is a powerful deodorizer that works perfectly for keeping carpets and rugs clean. Sprinkle on a generous amount, let sit for 15 minutes or so, and then vacuum. The baking soda absorbs all the nasty odors so they can be swept up and thrown away. It doesn’t get much easier —or cheaper!—than that. Baking soda works great for deodorizing your living room sofa, too.


When it comes to keeping our homes clean, most of us could stand to learn a thing or two from our ancestors. While we have access to all sorts of modern cleaning products and tools, our busy lifestyles often make it difficult for us to keep up. Many of us also have concerns about how many of the cleaning products on the market could potentially impact our kids and pets.

By embracing some of the retro household cleaning tips listed above, you can make your house sparkle without worrying about potentially harmful products. Make your grandmother proud by trying one of her tried-and-true cleaning techniques today!




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