A gentle respite from the heat, toil, and strife of the outside world, the gracious southern home offers a fresh, cool world of quiet and comfort, order and charm. The assaultive burden to one's senses may be left behind as one enters.
The traditional southern home does not participate in the noise, glare, assertive scents, or chaotic disarray. There is the quiet of garden lingerings. There is the honey glow from gently cared for furniture and the soft, filtered window light. There is the mere hint of beeswax as the sunlight warms mahogany polished to a buttery glow. The air is enlivened only by the herbal bouquet dressing a pretty vase offered as a happy welcome to those who enter. The southern home offers serene care.
It is the decidedly lovely southern tradition to follow the old garden inspired and garden infused ways to give great care to our most cherished world. We need only to look to our past to find the most effective, gentle and lovely recipes for home care.
The journals and home ledgers passed to me by my ancestors provide me with a glimpse into a world of gentle maintenance and order. I still use those recipes today, as I have delicate items to clean: hand painted bone china, coin silver, marble, copper pots and kettles, hand-worked wool rugs, cypress floors, antique furniture, antique cast iron, etc.
I make a dish scrub that is gentle enough for hand-painted items. This "dish soap" will truly clean dishes, glasses, flatware, and pans.
Hand-knit Wool Wash Rag
I use hand-knit wool wash rags to wash dishes, dust delicate items and books, clean countertops and floors.
I use buttermilk to clean the tarnish off of copper pots and kettles. It is wonderfully gentle, and it is always on hand in southern iceboxes. I use a natural scrub brush on all of my copper pots and pans.
If your copper is heavily tarnished, dip the cut side of half a lemon in salt and scrub the lemon salt mixture onto the copper. It is the most effective way to remove heavier tarnish.
For The Home
I make an all-purpose spray for glass and countertops. It cleans well, leaves no scent, and is safe for marble.
I make a scouring powder for a deeper clean. It leaves surfaces squeaky clean but is safe for porcelain, marble, iron and enamel.
Beeswax Furniture Polish
I make beeswax furniture polish, but I use it sparingly, as consistent dusting with a dry cloth will keep items in good stead. Consider dusting more often, as it will greatly enhance your home and furniture and reduce the need for additional cleaning items.
Natural Feather Duster
I use a feather duster for larger dusting jobs. It is gentle, and the feathers actually attract dust. The synthetic items on the market today are too harsh and will scratch surfaces.
I mop marble with clear, hot water only after I have washed floors kitchen soap solution and wash rags. Hardwood and cypress is bathed in the old, old French "vinegar water". I do use natural broom, because it is gentle on all flooring surfaces.
I make flour and herbal waters for a variety of uses. I am very picky about lavender, and I do not wish to have a powdery or sweet version. The lavender I grow is a rather herbaceous one, and it imparts to clean, fresh water scent.
I spray our bed linens and handkerchiefs. I would not suggest spraying it during ironing, as this will weaken the clothing fibers.
For heirloom, antique and vintage linens and lace I make a linen wash. One can never be too careful with the laundering of these special items, but many of them suffer from dreadful yellowing. Nothing is more appropriate for the gentle care of infant linens.
This too was a very old recipe by the time it was entered into these old journals, and it holds true to the test of time. A true refinery is an appropriate mix of healing and soothing florals or herbs, rich minerals, and a good, gentle emollients. It is as nourishing as it is cleansing, and it is a lovely way to administer proper care.