The cleaning tips from 100 years ago that still work today

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster

Some cleaning tips from more than 100 years ago are better than modern-day methods, experts have claimed.

As the coronavirus lockdown ends, most of us will be sprucing up our homes ready to welcome back visitors this summer.  

Few though, are likely to have tried scrubbing the floors with milk. 

But that's just one of the unusual cleaning methods from the Victorian Era which has been tested during the annual spring clean by conservators at English Heritage (EH) ahead of their reopening in May.

Other tips include using a pony haired brush for dusting - as well as, surprisingly, cleaning wallpaper with bread.

More cleaning tips from 1837 to 1901 also includes using a potato which has been dampened with cold water to try and clean an oil painting or Worcestershire sauce to polish silver.

A conservator uses bread to wipe down wallpaper at Brodsworth Hall in Yorkshire as part of its annual spring clean. Credit: PA/English Heritage

Trying to clean wallpaper by smearing it with oatmeal with a piece of flannel and then sweeping it with a broom or feather duster was another historical tip that should be avoided.

Amber Xavier-Rowe is the head of collections conservation at EH which cares for more than 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites.

She advised against using "some of the more bizarre historic cleaning tips" like using a potato to clean an oil painting but said that housekeepers of the past were often “spot on with their methods despite relatively little scientific knowledge".

Reminding everyone to remember to vacuum up the crumbs if they use some of these unusual cleaning tips, Ms Xavier-Rowe said: "Using white bread to clean wallpaper is a great example.

"We tend to use a synthetic bread to avoid attracting pests but the idea is the same and normal bread works just as well."

English Heritage has warned some historical cleaning tips should be ignored as they are likely to do more harm than good - such as trying to clean mould from paintings by leaving them out in direct sunlight or using salt and lemon on historic copper pans.