All housekeepers should keep a bottle of liquid ammonia, as it is the most powerful and useful agent for cleaning silks, stuffs and hats, in fact cleans everything it touches. A few drops of ammonia in water will take off grease from dishes, pans, etc., and does not injure the hands as much as the use of soda and strong chemical soaps. A spoonful in a quart of warm water for cleaning paint makes it look like new, and so with everything that needs cleaning.
Spots on towels and hosiery will disappear with little trouble if a little ammonia is put into enough water to soak the articles, and they are left in it an hour or two before washing; and if a cupful is put into the water in which clothes are soaked the night before washing, the ease with which the articles can be washed, and their great whiteness and clearness when dried, will be very gratifying. Remembering the small sum paid for three quarts of ammonia of common strength, one can easily see that no bleaching preparation can be more cheaply obtained.
No articles in kitchen use are so likely to be neglected and abused as the dish-cloth and dish-toweis; and in washing these, ammonia, if properly used, is a greater comfort than anywhere else. Put a tea-spoonful into the water in which these cloths are, or should be, washed everyday; rub soap on the towels. Put them in the water; let them stand half an hour or so; then rub them out thoroughly, rinse faithfully, and dry outdoors in clear air and sun, and dish-cloths and towels need never look gray and dingy - a perpetual discomfort to all housekeepers.
A dark carpet often looks dusty soon after it has been swept, and you know it does not need sweeping again; so wet a cloth or a sponge, wring it almost dry, and wipe off the dust. A few drops of ammonia in the water will brighten the colors.
For cleaning hair-brushes it is excellent; put a tablespoonful into the water, having it only tepid, and dip up and down until clean; then dry with the brushes down and they will be like new ones.
When employed in washing anything that is not especially soiled, use the waste water afterward for the house plants that are taken down from their usual position and immersed in the tub of water. Ammonia is a fertilizer, and helps to keep healthy the plants it nourishes. In every way, in fact, ammonia is the housekeeper's friend.
Ammonia is not only useful for cleaning, but as a household medicine. Half a teaspoonful taken in half a tumbler of water is far better for faintness than alcoholic stimulants. In the Temperance Hospital in London, it is used with the best results. It was used freely by Lieutenant Greely's Arctic party for keeping up circulation. It is a relief in nervousness, headache and heart disturbances.