The Washington Post

Time-Honored Tips, Wrapped in Nostalgia


The best thing about “Classic Household Hints” by Susan Waggoner (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $17.95) is its many useful tips, some decades old. They include: Refrigerat­e plastic wrap to keep it from sticking to itself when unrolled, and use an eraser to remove rubber shoe marks from the floor. Vintage magazine ads and illustrati­ons — Wagner’s Komb-Kleaned Sweeper “Takes the ‘Weep’ Out of Sweeping” — don’t just celebrate domestic verities but remind us how far we’ve come.

A New Yorker who has co-written several books about cocktails, Waggoner offers a six-decade “cavalcade of progress” that cites such breakthrou­ghs as patented wire hangers (1903), the Kelvinator refrigerat­or (1914), the gas stove (1929), Windex (1933), Tupperware (1946) and push-button garage door openers (1951). The last entry is GE’s self-cleaning oven (1963).

For the 21st century, she urges dusting computer screens with non-static dryer sheets. And when ironing a dress — a must-have this season — do the bodice first and skirt last.

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