Rim Up or Rim Down? A History of Dust in the Kitchen

It was always my belief that farmers developed strange theories of cause and effect because they spent too much time alone. A combination of incomplete information and a lack of critical review led to some odd conclusions. In the early days of farming, a reinforcing factor in all this was that horses seemed willing to accept almost any theory if it was accompanied by oats. It was a closed circle.
– Leonard G. Lee, Lee Valley Tools –

Rounding up dust bunnies is a dirty job – but our dirt woes today are small compared to the cleaning issues during the  Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties!

rim down

My Grandmother, as did many other women during the Dirty Thirties, turned her drinking glasses ‘rim down’ in the cupboard. That ensured that the glasses were clean inside when it came time to use them. Water was scarce, so a clean glass meant this precious liquid wasn’t used to rinse out a glass before drinking out of it. A quick dusting of the outside of the glass was all it took to keep these vessels clean.

My mom turned the glasses rim down in her cupboard too, as do I. At least I did, until I did a critical review of this practice. I started thinking about how I could fit more of my every day drinking glasses on one shelf in the cupboard if I alternated them, rim up and rim down. Two generations of rim down history fought for supremacy in my mind before I decided to live on the edge and turn every other glass rim up. This works fine for the every day glasses that get used often enough not to get very dusty. But the good wine glasses don’t get used that often, so it is rim down for them – a compromise for a dusty house in a windy place.

rim up and rim down

Which brings me back to Leonard Lee’s observation – incomplete information and a critical review. I know my example about drinking glasses is a trivial one, but the process isn’t. I bet each and every one of us can think of at least one thing we do or one way we think because that is how we’ve always done it.

So, the next time your horse, or dog, or cat or goat is in complete agreement with you and your family thinks you are nuts, it might be a good time to think about my water glasses. Maybe you need to turn your thoughts ‘rim up’ and see if you get a better result…

10 thoughts on “Rim Up or Rim Down? A History of Dust in the Kitchen

  1. Hi Margie,
    I also do the rim down on the glasses, so did my Mother. Your idea to get more glasses in a small space is a great idea, and of course works.

    It is funny how we seem to follow what we grew up with as far as the little things in life goes.

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  2. I can envision the toilet paper roll argument breaking out here! But when it comes to glasses, we are a rim down family. Because many of our glasses are not actually glass, but clear plastic and thus you can stack many on top of each other. Of course, I guess you could stack just as many rim up. Hmmm… guess its just the way we’ve always done it! 🙂


  3. I’m a rim down kind a girl and my toilet paper always has to be under not over. Actually that was has lead to me in changing it under in other people’s bathrooms in the past. I know it’s strange, but it actually makes me a little nuts…lol. No wonder my husband find me strange at times.

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  4. Your post is an excellent reminder that each of us might benefit from an examination of how we do the “same old chore.” Just maybe there’s a better way to do it. And perhaps more important than finding a better way is the mental exercise which comes from the examination. Bill

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  5. I hadn’t thought much about this. I like your way, it’s creative. Thanks for a fun and nostalgic post. There’s more than a few things I do because that’s just the way I’ve done them forever. 🙂

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  6. Leave it to you to get me thinking about something I never gave a thought to, but is really fascinating! Rims always down in my cupboards. Wouldn’t want a bug to think it found the Taj Mahal.

    I while ago I made a concerted effort to break some of my habits–slept of the “wrong” side of the bed, sat at the “wrong” place at the dining room table, etc. This may have contributed to my husband saying he could no longer live with me…I guess I was a habit he found easier to break than sleeping on “my” side of the bed! 😉

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  7. Rim up here, as our glasses are straight, so it doesn’t really matter which way up they are, but I prefer to take ’em out of the cupboard to use straight away so like them the right way up. Also I don’t like the smell of kitchen paper!

    That said, all our cutlery has kitchen paper beneath it and it’s something I copied from the previous owner as it had not occurred to me to do it before.

    For years, I kept papers in clear plastic pockets because my dad had done so, then I realised that it annoyed me and I stopped!

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  8. Always been rim down with me. Never really thought of doing otherwise. The loo roll isn’t an issue because I’ve got a vertical pole type holder…now do I pull from the left or right…

    Enjoying your blog by the way.


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