This section is from the book "Manual Of Household Work And Management", by Annie Butterworth. Also available from Amazon: Manual Of Household Work And Management.
These should be brushed daily with a sanitary bass brush (1/3 each), which should be hung on a nail outside the window; once a week strong soda-water should be used. If discoloured through neglect, use a little hydrochloric acid (spirit of salt); a fume will arise, but it is quite harmless. The door of a water-closet should always be kept shut and the window open. Care should be taken that burnt matches, faded flowers, and hair are never thrown down to obstruct the pipes.
If through any unpleasant smell, frequent sore throats, boils, ill-health, or the presence of rats, the drains are suspected, they can be easily tested.
Mix one ounce of oil of peppermint with three gallons of hot water, and pour it down the outside water-closet, or the top of the soil-pipe, after closing all doors and windows. If there is a leak or defect anywhere, the smell will be apparent, in which case the matter should be attended to immediately, as delay may prove fatal.
In most large towns this is removed thrice weekly by the scavengers. In the mean time, it should be kept in some convenient receptacle.
The best for the purpose are two-handled, round, galvanized iron bins, which can easily be moved, and which have no corners in which germs may lurk. A lid is essential to prevent the entrance of damp, which quickly causes an unpleasant smell, and also to prevent the dust from blowing about. A convenient-sized, well-made one costs about 9/6 or 10/-; those with wheels are easily moved.
It should be placed several feet away from the house, and as far as possible from any windows. Animal and vegetable refuse should all be burnt; the only contents of the ash-bin should be the sifted ashes, unredeemedly broken glass or crockery, and old tins whose contents have been finished, care being taken that no liquid is thrown in.
Where the water is hard, the soap-curd is liable to accumulate and partially choke the pipe, causing the water to run away slowly. When this is the case, pour down a kettle of boiling soda-water, followed by boiling water. The handle of a toasting-fork is often useful in clearing away any obstruction. Water which has been used for scrubbing floors should not be thrown down a bath or any inside pipe, as the fluff from the flannel often causes a stoppage.
Pure water is colourless, or if seen in large quantities a deep blue: it should be free from odour, clear, and pleasant of taste.
Fill a tall glass with water, adding a few drops of Condy's Fluid : side by side with it fill another glass with distilled water, adding a similar amount of Condy's Fluid. If the first becomes very quickly of a different colour to the second, then organic matter is present.
Distilling renders water purer than any other method; but aeration is then necessary to make it agreeable, which is rarely practicable except on large steamers.
Prolonged boiling ensures the wholesomeness of the water.
Filtering is not efficacious unless the filter is kept in good condition. New filters should be well washed to get rid of dust and impurities: to accomplish this, allow ten or twelve gallons of water to run through. Filters should be cleansed by periodically brushing the filtering material and allowing it to stand in the open air.