How to Remove Stains from Hands

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 20, 1913:  I picked and picked at the potatoes today till there weren’t any more to pick and then I stopped. My hands presented quite a spectacle by the time I was through from being so badly stained. I don’t care though, Pa gave me a dollar.

tomato.juiceDid Grandma rub her hands with tomatoes or tomato juice to try to remove the stains? (Picture Source: Simply Recipes)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Work and more backbreaking work. . . at least the potatoes were all harvested (and  Grandma was a dollar richer).

Here’s some advice in a hundred-year-old book about how to remove stains from hands.

To remove stains, dip the hands into a dish of strong tea, rub well with a nailbrush, and rinse in tepid waters. Ripe tomatoes, also the juice of a lemon, will remove stains from the hands.

Housekeeper’s Handy Book (1913) by Lucia Millet Baxter

You may also enjoy reading a previous post on Harvesting Potatoes.

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11 Responses

  1. I didn’t know about tomatoes or tea, but my grandmother always used lemon to clean the stains from her hands.

  2. I have heard about using tomato juice but have never tried it.

  3. I’ll bet that tomato rub really works!

  4. This reminded me how seldom I have this problem any more as I don’t do as much manual labor as I used to when I was younger . . . .

  5. I never knew potatoes can stain. But we do practise having a “tea bowl” when eating out. Thanks for the tips!

  6. I can just imagine how dirty her hands were after digging in the dirt all day. Especially if the dirt was moist. I never liked harvesting root vegetables. They were always so dirty.

  7. I love reading old household tips… thanks :grin:

  8. Interesting tips on removing stains from your hands!

  9. Aw….her daddy gave her a dollar for her day’s work. We just can’t imagine, can we?
    My nephew and I once crushed walnuts in the vice in my (late) father’s workshop. Talk about STAINS – nothing our moms tried took those stains out – they just had to wear off. Our moms were NOT happy.

    • I know exactly what you mean about walnuts staining! I hulled a couple black walnuts about two weeks ago. I put sandwich bags on my hands first to try to avoid stains, but the bags broke in several places and my hands got stained. Two of my fingernails are still brownish–and I think that they’ll just need to grow out.

  10. Wauw, a whole dollar! The tomatoes remind of my friend who washed her white border collie in tomato juice after it was skunked. The result: a pink, smelly dog! ;0) But most of the old tips and tricks in household wisdom work quite well, I find.

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