The ornamental brass work about the house as gas and electric fixtures and some of the silver-plated ware is coated with a thin transparent varnish called "lacquer." This prevents the polished metal from tarnishing while it is intact. If the lacquer becomes scratched or damaged in any way the only method of helping matters is to remove the coating, polish the metal anew and apply a fresh coating of lacquer. The old lacquer is easily removed by alcohol. Shops having the proper polishing wheels for obtaining a good polish can accomplish this better than the housekeeper.
Wall paper which has been marred by staining or otherwise can be repaired by patching a carefully matched piece over the offending damage, or if the paper be simply rubbed off in small spots, as happens in moving furniture and trunks, a small brush dipped in water will remove the coating of a small bit of the paper and the white spot of plaster can be touched up so as to be unnoticeable.
Rugs should not be whipped unless laid flat on the ground. They never should be hung over a line. All rugs improve in glossiness and beauty under proper treatment. Cheap or expensive, they should be swept in the direction they were woven, which may be ascertained by putting your hand over them and feeling which way the nap runs. It ruins Oriental rugs to sweep them in the wrong direction, and small rugs should be brushed with a whisk broom in preference to sweeping them.
Marble and tiling should be washed with a soft cloth, soap and water. Avoid acids on either; to marble they are destructive. Porcelain tubs can best be cleaned with kerosene and clear water. If the marble bowl is stained, whiting will clean it better than a sand soap, which scratches it.
Matting should be swept, then wiped with a damp cloth, never wet.
When washing windows, first remove the dust, both outside and in, with a dry, soft cloth. Clean the corners and grooves with a skewer, covered with a cloth. Wash with clean water and ammonia, using plenty of soft, clean cloths, and polish dry. Do not wash windows when the sun is shining on them.
Painted wood-work requires care. Paint is softened by wet alkalies, such as ammonia, potash, or borax. Clear, warm water, or whiting and cold water, should be used. The enamel finish is most easily cleaned with clear, warm water. Whiting will remove the ordinary spots on the wood-work; if stained, alkali will perhaps have to be used and the place re-painted.
Plaster of Paris should be kept on hand as it is convenient for filling up cracks and mending various articles. As it hardens very quickly, some deftness is required in using it. A very little vinegar added to the water will keep the plaster from hardening quickly.
Eternal vigilance in little things is the price paid for small repairs. One must feel it is worth while to mend a broken lock, or oil a squeaky door, or polish the furniture, if one would keep the house looking well.