A Physician’s Guide to Sanitation – Part 5

Refrigerator emptying into pan on floor

For Part 1, click here.

For Part 2, click here.

For Part 3, click here.

For Part 4, click here.


Porcelain-lined sinks are very attractive and clean, but they readily chip or “craze”; and most housekeepers prefer a plain black iron sink which costs far less and can be kept reasonably clean.


A refrigerator should be of ample size and lined with enameled tiles or glass so as to be absolutely non-absorbent. There should be no wood in contact with the ice, nor should milk, butter, or other food be placed in the same compartment with the ice. There is no saving in wrapping ice in newspapers or woolen blankets to prevent rapid melting. Articles likely to taint other foods should be placed in the refrigerator; and the latter should be scalded frequently and the shelves taken out and aired. The waste-pipe for melted ice in particular needs frequent cleansing. Water placed in bottles in the ice is much more palatable than iced water. A better plan is to provide a square box lined with galvanized iron with a coil of supply-pipe in the bottom on which several days’ supply of ice can be kept – sufficient to cool the drinking-supply without contact with the ice. Such a box can be made for sixty dollars, and it will soon pay for itself by saving in labor and ice. a refrigerator should never connect direct with a drain or sewer, but should empty into a pan or over a sink in the cellar, with the end of the waste-pipe turned up to form a trap. In planning kitchens most builders forget to provide a suitable place for the refrigerator, where it can be filled from out-doors and at the same time be easily reached without going outside or down-stairs. It should never be placed where it is very warm; nor in a dark corner.

No article of food taken from a sick-room – such as jelly, custard, fruit, etc. – should ever be stored with other foods, nor eaten by other persons then the invalid for whom it was prepared; and all remnants should be destroyed. A wooden box placed outside the window will, in cold weather, serve as a substitute for a refrigerator. It can be protected in front by a curtain or by sliding glass doors.


Every bathroom should connect with the open air by a window, and not be lighted by a ventilating shaft or skylight. Set wash-basins are not desirable in sleeping rooms. The waste-pipes collect soap and grease, and should be cleansed every month or so with potash (lye) dissolved in boiling water. Odors about plumbing fixtures cannot be cured by ordinary disinfectants which are usually only deodorizers; and soap and hot water will serve equally as well in most cases. If there are defects in the drains, patches on soil pipes, or foul traps, it is better to call in a good plumber and have him test the whole drainage system to find out what is wrong. It is also well to remember that a “cheap” plumber is usually a bungler. Good work is always most economical.

To be continued….

  • From The Standard Family Physician: A Practical International Encyclopedia of Medicine and Hygiene Especially Prepared for the Household. Copyright 1907 by Funk & Wagnalls.

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