Cleaning up used to be so simple

Aug 28, 2022
This blogger remembers how easy it used to be to clean. Source: Getty

Ah, the smell of sunlight soap making bubbles in the sink.

That trusty yellow block of clean smelling freshness as we ran it under the hot water, encased in a natty little wire cage holder. It was easy to create enough froth to clean a whole sink full of dishes. And the uses didn’t stop there.

Mum rubbed it on grass stains before putting our clothes in the wash. We even used it to wash our hair and sometimes in the bath if money was tight. I remember the colourful box it came in – it was recycled later on for us to use when we played ‘shops’.

We also used Lux flakes. They had a sweet, innocent smell that reminded me of clean washing hanging in the sunshine on the rope clothesline, which was strung across two poles in the backyard. Mum was a deft hand at lowering and raising the poles to catch the wind. Who needed a Hill’s hoist?

Lux flakes in warm water in a bucket in the old concrete laundry trough. Mum washed our hand-knitted jumpers and strung them up on old stockings on the line to dry. This way she avoided peg marks. I still do that to this day.

I used Lux flakes years later for nappies when I still had thirty-six squares of white flannelette to hang on the line in the sunshine to catch the breeze. Lux flakes were gentle, so didn’t give the baby a nappy rash. After scraping off the poo, we soaked them in a bucket until wash day.

A pile of clean, neatly folded, fluffy nappies on the dresser used to give me great satisfaction. The disposable ones today don’t have quite the same allure.

Then there was sand soap – a coarse-grained block of soap used for the heavy scrubbing and polishing of pots and pans and dirty kitchen sinks. No flash dishcloths that came three in a packet, we used old towels ripped up as our cleaning cloths. The older they got, they became ‘floor’ cloths to wipe up spills with.

Old newspapers were dampened to polish the windows and make them sparkle. Old cotton gloves were also dampened to run along and dust the venetian blinds.

We never had a vacuum cleaner, but Mum used a carpet sweeper, and it seemed to work well enough. Mopping the old vinyl floor with a rag mop involved a dash of kerosine in the water – not quite sure why, but it looked clean and shiny afterwards.

Today, as I wander the brightly lit supermarket shelves and witness the large array of spray bottles and packets and boxes of cleaning products, I wonder if cleaning has really become any easier.

Often full of toxic chemicals, these new products are bad for the environment and expensive too. I look for Sunlight Soap but it’s vanished, along with Lux flakes from the supermarket shelves.

And that makes me sad.


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