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Old Wives' Remedies, Tips & Solutions From My Mum

Updated on June 12, 2015

Old wives' remedies that work - from my mum

Beauty tips, household hints, home remedies, weird cures ... do they really work? Well here, I've put together a collection of my mum's favourite old wives' remedies and tips.

Many from WW2

And they all work for me. Mum had been born in 1928 so lived through some times of hardship, particularly the Second World War.

In those days, you couldn't pop to the store to get remedies, cosmetics and cleaners. You made do with what you had. But the strange thing is that some of these old-fashioned methods work better than many commercial products.

None of these are scientifically proven, as far as I know, but they do the trick for me. Do you know any more? Or have you tried these? Let me know in the comments section below.

1. Mum had the most beautiful hands. Even when she was an old lady, the skin was lovely. Her secret was two common household products.When she had finished doing the dishes, she would pour a few drops of olive oil onto the palm of one hand. Then she'd add a little sugar.

She'd then massage this in as you would with hand cream, then rinse with warm water. The olive oil provides moisture and the sugar acts as an exfoliant scrub. Try it - it's wonderful.

2. Of course, my mum wasn't a doctor so I have to say that this is for minor burns.(Anything more serious should be attended to professionally).Run the burned area (it's usually a finger caused by minor cooking accidents) under cold running water and gently pat dry.

Then gently rub the burn with a little butter. This takes away the sting of the burn and helps to moisturise the affected skin.

Once again, this is for minor burns ONLY.

3. Mum was very scathing about all the money people spend on hair products. And she had lovely, strong, shining hair.

She brushed her hair a lot to remove dust and debris between shampoos. She said that most people wash their hair too often. She said that the secret of washing your hair was to wash the scalp with your fingertips,massaging gently.

She was adamant that you shouldn't wash your hair until it's 'squeaky clean' but should be sure to rinse every last drop of shampoo from your hair.

4. Apparently modern nutritionists confirm what my mum used to say - that fish is 'brain food'. I don't know that this is the case but it was a great excuse to have wonderful English fish & chips on a regular basis.

But she was certainly correct in believing that fish is a good healthy food and she'd feed us on fish whenever she could. Fish from the chippie was good and cheap but so were the fish pies, fish cakes, herrings in oatmeal, poached fish ... I could go on.

5. Mum used to say that wherever nettles were growing, dock leaves would be growing nearby. And I think she was right.

If we were stung by nettles, all she would do is grab a dock leaf and rub it on the sting. Magic cure.Many years later I asked a botany student if it was really true and he said that any dark,fleshy leaf would do the trick.

I'll stick with dock leaves - they work.

6. You know how sometimes very minor cuts - such as paper cuts - bleed like crazy?

Well the first thing my mum used to use was gravity.If we'd cut a finger, we'd simply hold our hand in the air so that - this was the theory - that gravity would drain the blood from the hand. It works.

But in more extreme cases, she would have us find a spider's web and wrap it around the cut to stop the bleeding. That's worked too and to this day, it's a great excuse not to clean the house and leave a few cobwebs in the place just in case.

7. It still do this every time I clean the windows or mirror. Mum used to put a little vinegar in the bucket of washing water. (Today, I use very diluted vinegar in a spray bottle).

After washing with a chamois, she would then wipe the windows with crumpled newspaper, claiming that there is some magic ingredient in the printing ink that works wonders.

Whether that's true or not I don't know but I do this all the time and my window are sparkling.

8. This works every time. It it because I have faith in this cure and it's a psychological thing? I don't know but the idea is to drink something from the wrong side of the glass or cup.

You hold the glass in front of you, more or less at waist level. Then bend over and try (because it's difficult) to take a drink from the side of the glass that's farthest away from you.You'll probably only be able to take a tiny sip because it's an awkward position but I think that the very position itself is what provides the cure.

Indeed, if you have no drink to hand, just pretend to do it - that works too!

9. This is the easiest thing in the world. Why supermarkets persist in packaging mushrooms in those horrible packs I have no idea. Your mushrooms can become slimy in no time.

When you get them home from the store decant them into a brown paperbag and store in the fridge - that's it.

Even if you forget about them and find them weeks later the worst thing that will have happened is that they'll be shrivelled and dehydrated. If that's the case they are perfect for throwing into soups, stews or casseroles.

10. Mum once declared, in her dry manner, that I needed to either start drinking white wine instead of red or stop wearing light coloured clothes.

But she had the perfect solution to cope with red wine spills,on clothing, upholstery or carpets. Sprinkle the spill with plenty of regular household salt.

You'll notice that the salt turns red as it absorbs the wine. Leave it for as long as you can (preferably until dry) then shake out (if a garment) or vacuum (if upholstery or carpet). There might still be a small stain but you can now clean it easily

Most of my mum's remedies and methods came about because of wartime shortages. But even after the war, she couldn't bring herself to spend money on expensive products when ordinary household goods would do.In this day and age, when we are all trying to be greener and use natural products in our homes, she would have been in her element.

She would have loved the book you see here.

© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @favored: Haha!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      4 years ago from USA

      I didn't know #5. Learned most of these from my husband. Does that mean he's old or a mum? LOL

    • asereht1970 profile image


      4 years ago

      Sometimes following old wives tell really pays off. Thanks for all these great pieces of advice.

    • EmmaGraceEllis LM profile image

      EmmaGraceEllis LM 

      4 years ago

      Brilliant advice all round, the hands, i do daily, adding a little honey to the mix does wonders for the smoothing of facial skin and hands too. My daughter is only 10, going through becoming a lady earlier than i expected, she's experiencing skin problems on her face already, for the last week, each night, she will use this method, the changes already are wonderful. I never use 'creams', i make my own beauty products at home out of only fresh ingredients, they're 100% better! my thought to this is; if it is good for your body to eat it, it's generally good for your skin too :-)I am just starting a new lens today about all of the home beauty treatments i use Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Ouch! Thank you so much for tweeting and pinning. I LOVE making stock with vegetable trimmings - it makes me feel frugal and I know that my mum would have approved :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      I love your Mom's remedies, and several are new to me. I wish I'd known about dock leaf the time I went skinny dipping (eons ago, back in the Paleozoic), climbed out on the bank and promptly waded through a patch of stinging nettles!Like you and your mom, increasingly I find that common household items work as well or better than many commercial products. I've written about a few here on Squidoo, some in the Health and Beauty area, like no-poo hair care and my all-purpose coconut oil moisturizer, and some in food, like saving vegetable peelings, cuttings and cooking water to make veggie stock or using salt and vinegar washes to pre-clean and preserve fruits and vegetables.Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I'm tweeting them as my #GreenTip of the day and pinning so I can find them again.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @esmonaco: It seriously works :)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Faye Rutledge: You too! Thanks for dropping by :)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Merrci: I really think they do. After all, we're still here :)

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Your mum was a smart women, I like the mushroom in a brown bag, as I've never heard of that one. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      4 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for these great tips from your mom! Happy Mother's Day!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I love these suggestions! You know our parents had experience dealing with cleaning without many of the "new and improved" items. I bet theirs work better more often than not!

    • TapIn2U profile image


      4 years ago

      Great remedies from your mum. I should borrow some of these. Thank you for sharing. Sundae ;-)


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