Spring Cleaning? Expert Tips on How to Clean Your Antiques and Collectibles
It’s spring cleaning time! If you haven’t spent some of your extra time at home during the last year cleaning, here are some tips, both for cleaning and possibly purging items around the house that have lost your interest.
General: With each new season, including spring, deep clean one room a week. Work in circles, top to bottom, left to right. Pull everything away from the wall. Clean surfaces, baseboards, floors and walls. Think of what gets cleaned rarely, like the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher or inside windowsills. Think how happy you will be when you’re done!
If you are considering purging your “stuff,” wait. Put those items out of sight and look in a few months and see if you miss them. We haven’t been too successful with this approach to purging. When we find them again it’s like a surprise treasure.
Collectibles you are definitely keeping might need some special TLC.
Action figures — use duct tape and wrap it around your hand. Tap it gently on the figure’s head and face to help clean it.
Dolls — blow dirt off with compressed air. For china doll heads or hard plastic dolls wash with a mild soap like Ivory.
Linens — if they are folded on a shelf, refold them from time to time to avoid getting a permanent crease.
Ornaments — put in them in a small zip-top plastic bag. Seal the bag closed with enough space to add air with a straw. Then remove the straw and seal the bag and you will have created a protective air cushion.
Pottery — clean porous pottery with wig bleach. Rub it on as you would soap and rinse.
Rag rugs — test a section to see if the color runs. If not, put the rug in a pillowcase closed with a safety pin and run it on a short cycle in a cold water wash in your washing machine.
Silver — remove light tarnish by washing it with a non-lemon scented, phosphate-free detergent. You can also use a non-abrasive, unscented, aloe-free hand-sanitizer (bet you have that laying around!) like Purell. Rub the Purell on with a cotton ball and dry with a cotton dish towel. To remove dark tarnish, use a silver polish.
Tin toys — wash with a mild soap and water. After washing, you can put cream auto wax on the tin lithographed toys. Always test first so you are not removing any color.
Wood furniture — wipe off the dust but don’t wax it and do NOT use boiled lindseed oil. Linseed oil was recommended in the 1950s, but now we know it hardens and you can’t get it off. For valuable furniture, be careful cleaning as removing an original finish may reduce its value.