Wash them with a sponge or soft leather pad and water, and dry by rubbing with a silk handkerchief. When the picture is very dirty, take it out of its frame, procure a clean towel, and making it quite wet, lay it on the face of the picture, sprinkling it from time to time with clear soft water; let it remain wet for two or three days; take the cloth off and renew it with a fresh one; after wiping the picture with a clean wet sponge, repeat the process till all the dirt is soaked out; then wash it well with a soft sponge, and let it get dry; rub it with some clear nut or linseed-oil. Spirits of wine and turpentine may be used to dissolve the hard old varnish, but they will attack the paint as well as the varnish if the further action of the spirits is not stopped at the proper time by using water freely.
There are conditions where the above simple process will not accomplish what is required; where a thick coating of varnish has been applied to the picture, and it has been hung in a smoky room, and dust and dirt have been allowed to gather and remain; then it is that no high lights will be visible, the sky will be dirty, no distance visible, and perhaps the figures in the foreground very indistinct. Under these conditions the varnish must be either removed or the smoke and dust must be brought out of the varnish. If it is thought desirable to try the latter, the following recipe will be found valuable for the purpose: 2 oz. wood naphtha, 1 oz. spirits of salts, 1/4 pint of linseed-oil.
Mix the above well together, and before using shake the bottle. It can be used as follows: Get some soft linen rag, and make up a soft pad, which place on the mouth of the bottle and shake up some of the mixture into the pad; then commence rubbing the picture with a circular motion, and when nearly dry again give the pad another dressing of mixture, and continue this mode of procedure for some time, when the picture will gradually come out in all its detail.
Paintings sometimes get convex and concave patches on their surface, owing to pressure on one side or the other, and these inequalities cause a great deal of trouble to bring out. The most successful way is to well wet both sides of the picture on the spot, and keep it under pressure till dry. With small pictures the quickest way would be to take them off the stretcher and lay them in a press, with a light pressure, between soft sheets of paper.
In cleaning mounted engravings, first cut a stale loaf of bread in half with a perfectly clean knife; pare the crust away from the edges. Now place the engravings on a perfectly flat table, and rubbing the surface with the fresh-cut bread, in circular sweeps, lightly but firmly performed, will remove all superficial markings. Now soak the prints for a short time in a dilute solution of hydrochloric acid, say 1 part acid to 100 of water, and then remove them into a vessel containing a sufficient quantity of clear chloride of lime water to cover them.
Leave them there until bleached to the desired point. Now remove, rinse well by allowing to stand an hour in a pan in which a constant stream of water is allowed to flow, and finally dry off by spreading on clean cloths. Perhaps the sheets may require ironing between two sheets of clean paper.
If the engraving is not mounted, put it on a smooth board, and cover it thinly with common salt finely powdered. Squeeze lemon-juice upon the salt, so as to dissolve a considerable portion of it; elevate one end of the board so that it may form an angle of about 45 or 50 degrees. Pour on the engraving boiling water from a teakettle until the salt and lemon-juice be all washed off. The engraving will then be perfectly clean and free from stains. It must be dried on the board or some smooth surface gradually. If dried by the fire or the sun it will be tinged with a yellow color.
When cane-bottomed chairs get loose, or lose their elasticity, they may be renovated and their elasticity restored by turning up the chair-bottoms, and with hot water and a sponge wash the cane-work well, so that it may oe well soaked. Should it be dirty you must add soap. Let it dry in the air, and you will find it as tight and firm as when new, provided the cane is not broken.
For cleaning carpets, heavy draperies, or hangings, first free the fabric from dust by having it well shaken or beaten; then stretch it, either on the floor or other convenient place; then mix half a pint of bullock's gall with two gallons of soft water; scrub it well with soap and the gall-mixture; let it remain till quite dry, and it will be perfectly cleansed and look like new, as the colors will be restored to their original brightness. The brush used must not be too hard, but rather long in the hair, or it will rub up the nap and damage the article.
To destroy moths or other insects that infest carpets, pour a strong solution of alum-water on the floor to the distance of half a yard around the edges before laying the carpets. Then once or twice during the season sprinkle dry salt over the carpet before sweeping. Insects do not like salt, and sufficient adheres to the carpet to prevent them alighting upon it.
Another plan is to take a wet sheet or other cloth, lay it upon the carpet, and then rub a hot flatiron over it, so as to convert the water into steam, which permeates the carpet beneath, and destroys the life of the grub.
There are many recipes given for destroying the small insects that infest stuffed upholstery work, but none seems so effective as fumigation; but as this is a process that generally results in damage to the woodwork of the articles fumigated, or in destroying the colors of the fabrics, it is not to be thought of by persons who are not experts.
A free use of a camphorated solution is, perhaps, the safest remedy in these cases, though sometimes Persian powder may be used with advantage; but care should be taken in its use, particularly when there are children, or unpleasant consequences may ensue.
To polish hardwood floors in dining-rooms or halls, put some spermaceti into a saucepan on the fire, and mix it with enough turpentine to make it quite fluid; then with a piece of flannel put it very thinly on the floor. It must then be rubbed with a dry flannel and brushed in the same way that oak stairs are polished. This part of the process - rubbing and brushing - takes a long time to do thoroughly.
Dissolve half a pound of potash in three pints of water, in a saucepan on the fire. When the water boils throw in one pound of beeswax cut up in small pieces; stir it well until the wax is quite melted. When the polish is cold, if it be too thick add more water; then with a brush paint the boards evenly with it; and when it has dried rub them with:i flannel tied at the end of a broom.
A paste that will be found excellent for laying cloth or leather on desks, writing-tables, or other similar work, may be made as follows: -
To a pint of the best wheaten flour add resin, very finely powdered, about two large spoonfuls; of alum, one spoonful, in powder; mix them all well together, put them into a pan, and add by degrees soft or rain water, carefully stirring it till it is of the consistence of thinnish cream; put it into a saucepan over a clear fire, keeping it constantly stirred that it may not get lumpy. When it is of a stiff consistence, so that the spoon will stand upright in it, it is done enough. Be careful to stir it well from the bottom, for it will burn if not well attended to. Empty it out into a pan and cover it over till cold, to prevent a skin forming on the top, which would make it lumpy.
This paste is very superior for the purpose, and adhesive. To use it for cloth or baize, spread the paste evenly and smoothly on the top of the table, and lay the cloth on it, pressing and smoothing it with a flat piece of wood. Let it remain till dry; then trim the edges close to the cross-banding. If you cut it close at first, it will, in drying, shrink and look bad where it meets the banding all round. If used for leather, the leather must be first previously damped, and then the paste spread over it; then lay it on the table, and rub it smooth and level with a linen cloth, and cut the edges close to the banding with a sharp knife. Some lay their table-cover with glue instead of paste, and for cloth perhaps it is the best method; but for leather it is not proper, as glue is apt to run through. In using it for cloth, great care must be taken that the glue be not too thin, and that the cloth be well rubbed down with a thick piece of wood made hot at the fire, for the glue soon chills. By this method the edges may be cut off close to the border at once.