Now that Spring is officially upon us and we will all most likely start doing a bit of “Spring Cleaning” in the coming weeks, this does trickle down to cleaning many of our prized Antiques and Collectibles and in order to keep these treasures looking their best, below are some tips and tricks to help do the cleaning and help to preserve these treasures.
Exercise Caution First:
If you have any doubts about cleaning your item then it is best NOT to. You do not want to damage an antique that is over 100 years old with improper cleaning so, when in doubt – just don’t clean it and contact an expert.
Many people mistaken dirt and Patina. Patina is a natural process that occurs with the item over many, many, many years and is something collectors and enthusiasts look for on items so if you are not sure if your item has natural patina or dirt, Do Not attempt to clean it and contact an expert. Usually “dirt” can be removed with a bit of water and super light brushing where as Patina cannot and requires more aggressive methods. Removing the Patina from an antique will immediately lower its value! Exercise caution.
Cleaning Porcelains & Ceramics:
Start with warm water and a soft cloth. Porcelain is rather hard and durable and Bone China even more so. If you have some tough dirt or spots, add a bit of dish soap and make sure it is mild. If the item you are trying to clean needs a bit more aggressive “cleaning”, try adding a very soft toothbrush to the process (run the tooth brush through the warm soapy water) and this really should do the trick. Be sure to always clean/brush “gently”. Also, adding some salt to the damp cloth will act as a very mild aid that can also lend some help with the cleaning…just don’t be too aggressive.
Ceramics on the other hand are not as durable as bone china and porcelain but the same methods can get your items sparkling! Starting with warm water, adding a soft cloth, adding mild soap if necessary and finally adding a tooth brush if necessary. Be careful when cleaning items that have cold paint as these can and will flake so be very careful to exercise caution. Finally, if your item has very stubborn sticker residue then adding a bit of lemon juice to the process should indeed do the trick.
Linens and Textiles:
Are you ready to clean the spots/stains out of Thanksgiving’s vintage tablecloth or do you have a Antique tapestry that is super dusty? Soaking your linens in some Biz or using a special “vintage linen safe” product and then treating the tough spots and stains with some lemon juice diluted with water and hanging the linen in the sun will also help to lighten them. CAUTION: Do not use lemon juice on porous materials! Visit the Vintage Tablecloth Lovers Club for a whole bunch of GREAT tips that will help you greatly. If you have a very dusty tapestry or textile you can of course try shaking it out outside to see how much dust you can get to come off and using a barely moisten soft cloth to work out dirt spots and also try a VERY SOFT paint brush to brush away dirt areas. If you have an extremely delicate or ancient linen/textile you will want to use your best judgment and always, always, always – contact an expert if you have doubts or hesitations.
Keeping Your Antique Books & Ephemera Safe and Clean:
Acid-free paper is a great item for keeping your antique books, ephemera, music sheets, photographs etc. safe and preserved. The acid-free paper will protect against sun light damage and fading, bugs, and humidity. Keeping these items stored upright, in a cool environment and even in as acid free paper lined box (especially for those smaller items like photos and letters) will help minimize damage and preserve your treasures.
Cleaning Vintage Teddy Bears & Dolls:
Here is a great tip for cleaning up those vintage dolls and teddy bears. First, DO NOT use water or liquid! Instead, try rubbing some talc powder or some cornstarch into the doll’s fabrics and let is sit for a few hours then brush it away. This will re-fresh those favorite little treasures! To preserve these items for many more years to come, keeping them wrapped in acid-free paper and stored in a cedar box/cedar chest will keep bugs and temperature changes from causing damage. Keeping all collectibles out of direct sunlight and in a cool environment will help preserve them.
If you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share with us we would love to hear from you…we are all antique and collectible enthusiast so the more we can learn to keep our items clean and preserved the better!