Keeping the Home Clean and
Healthy in the Good Old Days
Just as we sometime seem to be
obsessed with cleanliness today, back in
the previous century, store shelves
displayed many products to keep families
healthy and homes clean. Some of these
products are still "available"
at Onoway Museum.
The fly catcher with its long
strip of sticky paper helped get rid of
those pesky insects, especially when
canning or butchering. Each tube was 2
inches tall and ¾ inches across and
contained a sweetly sticky strip several
feet long. The instructions are simple: Warm
up a little. Pull out coil slowly. Hang
from ceiling away from sunshine and
Soon it was covered with black
blobs and had to be pulled down, to be
replaced with a new fly catcher.
To keep the walls looking clean
and bright, rather than using paint,
many people chose Kalsomine, a cheaper
alternative. The note on the box says "Kalsomine
gives a beautiful soft finish to
interior walls and ceilings. It may be
applied on plaster, wallboard, in fact
on any clean interior surface. It is
very economical to use for it is low in
cost and easy to mix and apply."
Kalsomine is made of slaked lime and might
rub off on clothing if you
leaned against it.
Kalsomine was used
to paint walls and
Chemicals of different sorts could
be readily purchased to fix what
ailed you. Need a laxative? Try Seidlitz
Powders. Stuffy nose or chapped skin?
You need Mentholatum. Or if it's just an
antiseptic to put on a cut or burn, go
for Boracic Acid. Child having a rough
time teething? Give him some Gripe
But if you needed to do some
serious mending (a torn seam on a shoe, or
a hole in the coarse heavy woolen
trousers) then the right kind of needle
available. These needles are several
inches long and could pierce a hole
through some fierce material!
Life was not easy but people did
what they needed to do to stay healthy
and clean. The local general merchant was
a reliable source of cheap and
Gripe Water helps
Saltpetre (used to salt
meats) and Mentholatum
needles worked through
rough fabric or leather.