Dear Lee,

Days are longer and, in much of the country, hints of warmer weather tease and then cruelly retreat to frigid temperatures. To hurry spring and summer, many of us turn to spring cleaning.

But for collectors—or families with a collector in their midst—there are special rules. Who wants to donate an old, stained vase only to find it was worth thousands of dollars? We’ve read the stories about these thrift store “discoveries.”

That’s not the only damage that can happen during spring cleaning. Using the wrong cleaning solution or having soapy hands and dropping delicate porcelain is equally dreadful.

You can clean and preserve collectibles by following some simple rules. Here are suggestions:

  • Don’t throw away anything that isn’t yours. Your spouse or children may treasure those items.
  • Be organized when decluttering. Put in groups of “Keep,” “Ask About,” “Donate” and “Throw Away.” Also have a “Sell” pile.
  • Save what you still use and love.
  • If you find larger decorative items or old ceramics, think of how they would look in your garden. A beautiful garden should provide the unexpected nestled in between thoughtfully planted flowers and plants.
  • Do you have an old drawer full of loose pictures, or a bin of photo albums going back decades? Digitize them if you want, but don’t throw them away! Store them in a waterproof, mouse-proof container.
  • Use TLC and common sense when cleaning items.
  • Use warm water when cleaning pottery, ceramics and crystal. Dramatic temperature changes cause cracks or crazing.
  • A few drops of vinegar in soapy water will give glassware and crystal a sparkle.
  • Line the washing area—whether a sink or countertop—with a dish towel or rubber mats.
  • Compressed air does more than just blow crumbs off a keyboard. It can sweep away dirt from dolls, china and delicate collectibles.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a clean, uncluttered house to welcome a new season of sun and warmth.


Terry Kovel

vacuum clenaer collection

Terry’s collection of vintage vacuum cleaners. Some didn’t clean that well. They just blew around the dirt.  Note Lee’s old psychedelic toilet seat from the 1960s.


Leave a Reply

Featured Articles