18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, April 12, 1913: Did some house-cleaning this morning.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Maybe Grandma cleaned the ice box.
Here are the directions in a 1913 book for cleaning the ice box:
Care of the Ice-Chest (Ice Box)
Once a week wash the walls, sides, shelves, and every corner with cold water, borax, and any sweet pure soap, rinse with clear water and wipe dry. The shelves may be taken out and scalded, but must be chilled and wiped dry before they are returned. If anything is spilled, wipe it up at once, and be sure each day that there is no refuse bits of food or berries lying about.
A good scalding is not necessary very often if the chest is kept clean.
It is best to keep everything covered; it is imperative that milk and butter should always be covered, and, if possible, kept in a separate apartment.
Do not keep food too long, to spoil and sour, and thus scent up the ice-box.
A neglected ice-chest is a menace to the life and health of the whole family. A well-ordered household should always mean a sanitary refrigerator. Keep the box full of ice, as refrigeration checks the germs.
One should be as particular in caring for an ice-chest during the winter months as in the summer-time. Keep a saucer of powdered charcoal standing in the ice-box. It will absorb all odors and keep the air pure. When opening a refrigerator that has been closed for a long time, burn for an hour a small-sized sulphur candle, then cleanse thoroughly with warm soapy water and dry perfectly, exposing to air and sun if possible. It is most important to keep the ice-chest wholesome and sweet.
Remember that ice is apt to be dirty, and it is wise to watch the receptacle for the ice, that there be no leaves or anything collected there to decay or to clog the pipe. This pipe or the pan beneath should never be allowed to get slimy, as slime is a danger signal.
It is also important that the door be kept closed; otherwise the temperature will rise and the ice will melt rapidly.
Housekeeper’s Handy Book (1913) by Lucia Millet Baxter
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