Useful Tips and Hints for cleaning and repairing antiques

The antique website has a great page of tips called Antique Alchemy which have been compiled from various reader feedback and other web sources.  Its a great little resource which I though I might reprint for you here. As they mentioned on their page – these tips are all use at your own risk!




Don’t soak alabaster in water, and never use an acid to clean it. Use a sponge dipped in soapand water, squeezing the sponge well before wiping the piece.


The inside of pots which have been darkened by alkaline foods may be brightened by boilingin them one quart of water to which two teaspoons of cream of tartar have been added. Boil 10minutes. (Cream of tartar may be purchased at most food stores in the spice section.)Lime deposits from hard water may be removed by boiling a solution of equal amounts of water and vinegar in the pot and allowing this mixture to remain in the pot overnight. Then polish the inside surface with a steel-wool soap pad, wash, rinse, and dry. To brighten and remove discoloration, polish aluminum with steel- wool soap pads, rubbing
in one direction only. Spun aluminum pieces should be rubbed in the direction of the surface lines.

BOOKSIf you value your books, don’t crowd your bookshelves. The bindings may break apart from thepressure if you jam them too tightly together and you may also scratch the covers whenremoving and replacing books. Also, always store books upright; leaning them strains the  bindings. Use bookends on partially filled shelves to keep them erect. Books too tall for the shelves can be laid flat.Mildew can often be removed from a book cover by carefully using Baby Wipes. Use lanolin to clean leather bound-books then treat the book with a leather restorer using a clean, soft cloth. Another suggestion for leather covers that have become old is to apply a coat of a mixture containing 6 parts castor oil and 4 parts alcohol. Let the book stand one day, then apply pure castor oil to the cover. To destroy mildew fungi in the pages of a book apply powdered sulfur. 


If you have old perfume bottles that are cloudy from hard water minerals,drop adenture-cleaning tablet in, fill with water and let the fizzing action clean it. The insides of bottles can sometimes be cleaned by swirling lead shot or sand around in the water-filled bottle.To deodorize jars or bottles, pour a solution of water and dry mustard into them, then let them stand for several hours.


(See Copper and Brass)

BRONZEFirst, be sure you really want to clean the bronze item you have; removing corrosion, for example, often lowers the value of an item as an antique. If cleaning is desired, first carefully remove the loose flakes of corroded metal with a penknife or fine, brass-wire brush. Remove green spots by soaking the item in water or by soaking it in a weak solution of vinegar and water. (Do not use ammonia to clean
bronze.) Rinse the piece
and let dry. The piece can be preserved with a coat of clear varnish,
although this will result in
a commercial-appearing gloss. It is not recommended on real antique pieces.Use hot buttermilk to clean un-lacquered bronze. Ultraviolet radiation (black light) can be used to discover touch- ups or repairs made on bronze.

CANDLESChill candles in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using them on
the table. They will burn
evenly and will not drip.

CARVINGS(See Statuary, Carvings)

If you love your fine china
dishes, put paper doilies or paper towels between plates and
saucers when stacking to prevent scratches. Never, never hang cups by the handles orstack them. Set them in a row, instead. You can sometimes salvage cracked china by placing it in a pan of milk and boiling it
for 45 minutes to an hour. Not only will a minor crack disappear, but the piece will sometimes actually be stronger than before.
Porcelain is easily cleaned with salt sprinkled on a soft cloth. As a rule you may clean porcelain (hairline-cracks, broken edges, and chips) with a
20% hydrogen peroxide applied with cotton strips or swabs. It is best to remove all soiling and trapped particulate matter first with enzyme detergent or a steam wand as peroxide will only “bleach” or lighten stains, not clean them. (Peroxide is
a powerful oxidizer and will burn your skin so use in controlled environment with ventilation and latex or
rubber gloves.) It is not a good idea to clean or bleach soft-bodied ceramics without professional
advice. Never use Clorox to clean soft-bodied ceramics as Clorox is a compound of soluble
salts and they will reemerge as small fluffy crystals which in time push off the glaze
or enamel decoration.

& other mechanical instruments
Electric clocks sometimes stop working due to dirt and grime that
has jammed it up. Put the
clock in a slightly warm oven for a few hours and the grime should
melt out.
A sardine can opener can be used
as a great screwdriver for tiny screws.
Often if a clock winds too easily,
a broken spring may be the problem, however first check to
make sure the spring has not become disconnected. This often happens,
as well.
If a pendulum clock does not
work, carefully try bending the pendulum wire into slightly varying
positions. If this does not work, try tipping the clock slightly in
different positions.
Be sure to remove the weights
and pendulum when moving clocks.

An easy, economical way to clean copper is to dip half a lemon in
salt and rub the object. Rinse
in hot water and polish with a soft cloth. A solution of salt and vinegar
will quickly clean un-lacquered brassware or copperware. There
are also commercial paste-type polishes on the market that cleans
and polishes at the same
time. Test these, however to make sure you get the desired outcome
before trying it on
something truly cherished. Brass polish can be made with
equal parts of salt, flour and cider vinegar. Rub on paste with
a soft cloth and let dry. Rinse thoroughly with hot water. Buff dry.
Clean lime deposits out of old
teakettles by placing vinegar in it, heating it and letting it sit
the next day. Renew very old discolored brass
or copper by scouring lightly with the finest steel wool
(#0000) and then treat.

If your piece has been lacquered
and is purely ornamental, don’t do anything with it other than

an occasional, gentle dusting. You don’t want to scratch the lacquer

If you want to remove the lacquer
coating on a piece of brass or copper, soak the article in

approximately two gallons of water in which one cup of washing soda
has been dissolved.

After  soaking the piece in this mixture for 20 minutes, the
coating should peel off.

Your cut glass will sparkle if you wash it in warm, soapy water with
a small brush and add
vinegar to the rinse water. Soap film on glass or tile? Apply
lemon oil with a soft cloth or rub the glass with a cut lemon,
then rinse and wipe dry with paper towels. Some people also use white
vinegar or alcohol.
Don’t wrap satin glass or glassware
with similar finishes in newspaper because it will mark the
finish. When purchasing satin glass, be sure to ask the dealer to
wrap your piece in tissue or
a paper towel before adding newspaper for extra cushioning. To remove sticky price tags from
glassware soak the piece in water or saturate with glass
cleaner. (The commercial product “Goo Gone” also usually
works well for removing stickers
and also works on crayon marks, gum and tar.) To remove hard water stains,
try “Lime-Away” but be sure to follow instructions.
Calcium deposits can be removed
by soaking several days in distilled water, or by soaking in a

vinegar solution, or by applying a solution of dilute hydrochloric
acid with a soft bristle brush

or by soaking in water into which bits of newspaper have been mixed.

Scratches can be removed by rubbing
with jeweler’s rouge with a chamois. (Antique glassware

with scratches on the bottom should not have these scratches removed,
however, as they are

a proof of age.)

Hot vinegar will remove paint
stains from glass.

Two glasses stuck together? Don’t
risk an accident pulling the apart. Instead put the bottom

one in warm water and pour cold water into the top one. They should
now separate easily.

Sometimes glass objects will
shatter for no apparent reason. The cause may be

“stress fractures,” which occur because of faults during
the manufacturing process. Although shattering can’t be prevented, you can reduce the likelihood by limiting
the extremes of temperature to which glass is subjected. Plunging a cold glass into
hot dishwater is one way to induce a stress fracture.

Don’t clean a cloth doll’s body with water. Instead, rub cornstarch
or talc into the fabric, wait
four hours, then gently brush it away. Old dolls and teddies will last
a long time if they are stored and cared for properly. You can
shorten their lifetimes dramatically with improper storage. Absolutely
nothing works better for
storing dolls than an old cedar chest. Sometimes you can pick up a
battered specimen for just
a few dollars at a flea market or auction. So, yesterday’s hope chest
can be your dream chest
for dolls and teddy bears. Obviously, the cedar protects from moths.
But it also helps preserve
the fabric and the paint. Or so doll and teddy fanciers declare. The
place NOT to store your
valuables is in a hot attic. In fact any extremes of temperature are
ruinous. Shifts between hot
and cold will cause cracks in porcelain doll faces. Fabrics will discolor.
So, an interior closet
beats the attic. Moisture–or lack thereof–is another important consideration.
Storing in a
baking attic will dry out your valuables, causing rapid deterioration.
So, you’ll want to find a

storage place where there is some, but not excessive, humidity. Finally,
although it should go

without saying, sunlight is ruinous. It will age a valuable doll or
bear years in just a few weeks.

holding a joint by squirting it with vinegar.
a tight screw by applying peroxide to it. Tight screws can also sometimes
be loosened
by hitting the screwdriver with a rubber mallet; or by applying a
red-hot poker to the head of
the screw, then letting the screw cool before removal; or by using
penetrating oil, first waiting
for it to work its way along the length of the screw. Tighten
a loose screw by wrapping a bit of steel wool around the screw and
screwing it back in.
When screws
work loose, or are removed permanently, fill the hole with a mixture
of sawdust
and glue. The mixture can be smoothed flat if the screw is not to
be replaced, and gives the
screw a firm grip if it is to be replaced. Take the sag out of can chair seats by soaking down the cane which will cause
it to shrink as it dries.
that stick and jerk will open smoothly if you rub a little soap in
the grooves in each side. Or, you can use an old candle to make the drawer runners slide
more smoothly.
white spots on mahogany furniture by spreading a thick coat of Vaseline
over the spots and letting it stand 48 hours before wiping off.

Hard to
remove dirt on wooden floors can sometimes be gotten rid of by carefully
rubbing with fine steel wool (#0000) moistened with turpentine.

surfaces can usually be cleaned nicely with a cloth dipped in cool, weak tea.

To remove
the “foggy” appearance frequently found on high polished furniture, rub with the

grain of the wood, using a clean, soft cloth that has been dampened
with liquid wax. Follow with polish.

To polish very old furniture use a mixture of two parts turpentine to one part
of linseed oil, or equal parts of turpentine, linseed oil and vinegar. Apply with a soft
cloth and rub. Polish with a dry cloth.

To make scratches “invisible” in mahogany and other dark wood, carefully
go over them applying iodine, or lightly rub the scratches with a piece of cut
walnut meat or Brazil nut meat.

To remove heat marks from a varnished or shellacked finish, dampen a cloth with
spirits of camphor or essence of peppermint; dab on spot. Let dry thoroughly.
Polish. If the surface is lacquered, rub with a paste of powdered pumice and linseed oil, in
direction of grain. Polish.

furniture should be cleaned by scrubbing with a stiff brush moistened
with warm salt

water. Salt keeps the wicker from turning yellow.

use force with sticky drawers, or you may ruin a good piece of furniture.
If possible, wait until dry weather makes it easy to open the drawer, then rub the surface
that is sticking with soap, paraffin or stick lubricants. If this doesn’t solve the problem,
the sticking edges may need to be sandpapered or slightly planed down.

A practical ounce of prevention that will keep painted furniture free of scratches
and color fading is a thin coat of furniture wax applied to the surface. Makes
cleaning easier too.

can sometimes be removed by applying a hot iron to a damp cloth covering
the dent.

in wood can be filled with plastic wood stained to match the piece
or with white,

all-purpose glue mixed with some sawdust from the piece.

in wood can be killed by applying a liquid insecticide into the wormholes,
but the wormholes themselves, unless they are dangerous to its strength, should
be left to enhance the value of the piece.

chair rungs can be a problem. If the chair dowels appear fairly tight
in their holes, glue alone may secure them. Before you glue, however, remove any traces
of old glue or you won’t

get a bond. Resin-base carpenter glues usually will hold the best.
Very loose rungs may require the expertise of a cabinetmaker. He will probably cut a slot
in the end of the dowel

and then partially insert a hardwood shim slightly shorter than the
slot. When the rung is tapped into the hole, the shim is driven into the slot, expanding
the end of the dowel.

Glue is then used, as well.

in veneer can be repaired by splitting the blister with a razor blade,
applying white,

all-purpose glue inside, then laying a sheet of wax paper over the
blister and weighting it down

with a very heavy object.

rings may be removed by rubbing them first with cigar ash, then with
olive oil, removing the oil with naphtha, then re-waxing.

Does your piece of furniture really need refinishing? Before jumping into the
job, try wiping the piece with a damp rag. If it still appears to need refinishing, try
cleaning it up with a soft rag

and turpentine, removing all signs of the old wax. If the piece now
appears satisfactory, stop

here and apply a new coat of wax. If this fails to produce a satisfactory
result however, try rubbing the piece evenly with a soft cloth soaked in denatured alcohol.
If this doesn’t smooth out the finish, try rubbing with a soft cloth and lacquer thinner.
If one of these methods works,

rub the entire piece down using that method, then use fine steel wool
to smooth the surface

and apply a new coat of wax. Should all of these methods fail to make
the piece presentable it will be necessary to strip off the old finish.

You can replace a piece of bulging or missing veneer if you have better than
average woodworking skills…and considerable patience. Here is an overview
of how to do it. Purchase

a piece of veneer of the same wood as the missing piece and with an
approximately similar grain

pattern. You replace mahogany with mahogany, etc. A tight grain pattern
with a tight pattern,

etc. Wood specialty stores will help. Next lay the veneer over the
damaged section so that its

edges overlap the undamaged veneer. Cut through the replacement veneer
and the old veneer with a razor sharp knife. If you do this correctly the replacement
piece will perfectly fit the

outline you have cut in the undamaged portion of the old veneer. The
next step is tricky.

You need to remove every bit of veneer and old glue from the entire
area to be patched. Do

this carefully and thoroughly, with whatever scraping instrument seems
best suited. But the

surface must be “clean” before you glue down the replacement.
There are two ways to glue

down the replacement veneer. The first is with contact cement. It
is effective, but it leaves

no room for errors. You must place the patch perfectly. Alternatively,
use wood glue. Once the

patch is in place, you need to roll it down. You can buy a special
“veneer roller.” But a rolling

pin from the kitchen
works just as well. Then, for added adhesion, weight down the patch

overnight. Stacks of books, placed carefully on a sheet of waxed paper,
work very well.

(This step probably isn’t necessary if you use contact cement.) There
is one final step,

refinishing. Chances are you’ll have to refinish the entire piece.
Or maybe, after reading this,

you’ll let a “pro” do the whole job.

used tea bags or strong tea, left to stew after breakfast, and put
onto a soft cloth, are

great for darkening sun-damaged pieces of wooden furniture. It’s especially
good with oak

and mahogany. A few applications are necessary, and then varnish or
polish as normal.

This can also work with small scrapes and blemishes. Contributed by

GOLDGold can be cleaned with soap and water. An ammonia solution helps
remove tarnish, or it
can be rubbed with jeweler’s rouge, which is a form of ferric oxide
usually used as a paste
with water for polishing gold and silver.

GRANITEWAREGraniteware is an enameled coating on an iron base. Care should be
taken not to scratch or
chip the enameled finish, as the iron base will then be exposed to
rust. Burned foods or other
foreign objects on graniteware can be loosened by putting a solution
of one teaspoonful of
baking soda and water into the utensil
and allowing the solution to boil for 15 minutes. Then
a gentle rubbing should remove the residue.

HORNObjects made of horn should simply be cleaned with warm water.

To clean small pieces of iron, try soaking them in white vinegar for
24 to 48 hours.
You’ll prevent the inside of
your salt shaker metal tops from rusting or corroding if you paint
it with ordinary nail polish. When the lacquer is dry, use a needle
or small nail to re-open the
holes from the inside out. For those items intended for
food contact or cooking, careful attention should be given so the
piece will be safe to use, and at the same time, assume as closely
as possible its original
appearance. (Years ago newly bought cast iron cooking wares were well
greased with lard,
put into the oven to heat-season, then wiped and stored in the cupboard
away from dampness
until needed again. After using they were carefully cleaned, maybe
oiled, and set back. In many
homes, nevermore did the vessel touch soap or water. For normal rusting
and/or heavy
incrustations of grease, or where stripping is needed from a piece
that has been painted, first
apply an oven cleaner; the alternative is to use a fine wire brush.
Then, wipe carefully

(paper towels recommended). Wipe with a light coating of mineral oil
or a solid cooking

shortening (some use salad oil). Bake in a low heat oven, 250 to 300
degrees F. for about 15

minutes; another group advocates oven-baking for an hour at up to
450 degrees F.; this latter

turning the iron even blacker. Finally, let cool, wipe carefully,
and the piece is ready to use.

Pieces only ornamentally intended,
or to be used outside food contact (tools, sadirons,

bookends, doorstops, etc), can be cleaned with steel wool or a fine
wire brush, followed by

a choice of: 1) wiping with mineral oil, 2) wiping with an antique-
care product containing a

good cleaning agent, or 3) spraying (not brushing) with a satin finish
clear lacquer-type


Sandblasting is appropriate only
for very large iron objects. If steel wool is used, proceed

carefully, as bearing down too hard could cause scratches.

For very seriously pitted or
badly worn iron collectibles, sometimes painting is the only answer

to making them look presentable. On iron, a spray pint is more effective
than a brush.

Loosen a rusty screw by putting
a drop of ammonia on it.

Rust is the arch enemy of ironware.
Wrought iron resists rust better than cast iron. Soak

badly rusted articles in kerosene for 24 hours. Next, briskly rub
off the loosened rust with a

steel- wool pad. A brass-bristled brush will work more efficiently
on pieces with embossed or

raised designs or lettering. A steel- bristled brush may be used on
larger, heavy items. There

are modern commercial rust removers that do the job well. After the
rust has been removed,

scrub the item with a stiff brush, using hot sudsy water with a few
drops of disinfectant.

Towel dry and then air dry. When completely dry, coat lightly with
salad oil.

To preserve cooking pots and
to lessen future rusting, coat with vegetable oil, linseed oil, or

olive oil. Heat the coated article in a 250-degree oven for two hours.
The iron will absorb most

of the oil. Apply more oil as it becomes absorbed during the heating
process. When this

seasoning is completed, allow the utensil to cool and wipe off the
excess oil with paper towels.

The basic rules for the care of ironware are keep clean, dry thoroughly,
and keep oiled.

IVORYClean ivory by rubbing the item with lemon and salt and letting it
sit in the sun.
Old ivory has a soft yellow appearance
that should not be bleached away. It can be cleaned with
a damp sponge, but never soak it. If further cleaning is desired,
try making a paste of whiting
with a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 4 parts water. Cover
the object with the paste
and wipe it off when dry. Ivory can be cleaned with a pure
liquid dish washing detergent (not dish washer) and sponge
but prolonged soaking is not advised. A light coat of almond oil will
protect pieces of ivory.
To discover repairs on ivory
pieces, use can use an ultraviolet or black light.

JEWELRYTo clean silver, gold or diamond jewelry, soak it in a glass of vodka
over night.
Fine jewelry can be easily, and
expensively, cleaned with a mixture of ammonia and water.
Mix two-thirds water with one-third ammonia. Dip the jewelry items
into the mix and move them
about vigorously. If there is stubborn dirt, a very soft toothbrush
can be used in an attempt to
dislodge it. (Be careful not to loosen prongs on rings and other settings.)
Caution: Do not use
the ammonia-water mix on pearls or stringed jewelry, such as pearls
or beads. And don’t use
water of any type on emeralds.

LEATHERLeather furniture can be cleaned by using saddle soap or mild soapsuds.
Rinse with a damp
cloth. Dry thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth. Follow with a leather
conditioning dressing.
Never use furniture polish, oil, varnish, shellac, wax, or even a
treated duster on leather.

LAMPSTo clean the old lampshades made of metallic paper or genuine parchment
apply a mixture of
1 part turpentine and 10 parts mineral oil with a soft cloth. Wipe
off gently but thoroughly.
Crystal lamp bases sparkle after
this treatment. Add a few drops of household ammonia to clear
water and apply with a soft cloth. Rinse with a water moistened cloth
and polish until dry.

To whiten tea towels, boil them with lemon rinds. To properly maintain framed needlecrafts,
you should vacuum them frequently to prevent dirt
or dust buildup. Bleach will often do the trick
with age-yellowing, however washing in hot suds and then
exposing  the item to direct sunlight sometimes helps, although
this practice is being
questioned by many experts that feel sunlight damages the fibers.
Soaking items in cold water will
usually remove bloodstains. For stubborn stains use a
salt-water solution (1/4 cup salt to 2 cups water). Do not use hot
water first; it may set the
stain. When through, wash item in warm suds then rinse. To remove candle wax, first scrape
off the excess wax then place the stained part between
blotters and press with hot iron. Sponge with carbon tetrachloride.
An ice cube can sometimes be
used to get rid of chewing gum on fabric or carpet.

Grass stains can often be removed
by rubbing with cooking fat or oil and then washing in

hot water.

Ink stains can sometimes be removed
by soaking in cold water and then applying vinegar or

lemon juice. Bleach remaining stains and rinse well.

Wash items with mildew stains
in hot suds, moisten with lemon juice and salt, and dry in the

sun. If stain is old, bleach and rinse well.

Scorch marks on old linens can
sometimes be removed by simply moistening them and

exposing hem to sunlight although it may need to be repeated several
times. Normally bleach

can reduce the sight of scorch marks, but again treatment may need
to be repeated.

Sheer curtains hang better and
resist dust if lightly starched.

Old “Candlewick” bedspreads
will not be “de-tufted” if placed in a large sack or pillowcase

laundered in the washer.

For several generations it was
common practice to hand wash lace linens and doilies with water

and bleach and to place them outside in the hot summer sun to dry.
Experts are changing their

mind on this topic. Now they are beginning to caution that hot sun
can damage the fine fibers

in lace. And they are beginning to endorse the notion that the fine
yellow patina that unbleached

lace develops is perfectly acceptable. Now, experts say, lace can
be washed with a very mild

detergent only. Excess water should be “patted” out of the
fabric. The lace then should be

allowed to dry on a towel.

MAGAZINES(See Newspapers and Magazines)

MARBLEClean marble with soap and water, or with weak ammonia solution, or
with carbonic acid.
An oily substance spilled on
marble should be cleaned up quickly. Blot the area with talcum
powder or plaster of Paris. Stains on marble can be removed
with five-percent solution of oxalic acid, or with gasoline,
or with alcohol, acetone or benzene. Use flammable cleaning agents
Broken pieces of marble may be
glued back together using a glue composed of 4 parts gypsum
(sulfate of lime) and 1 part gum arabic. Mix well and then add enough
borax to make a thick
paste. This glue will need several days to set. For waxing marble use beeswax
or paraffin. There are also some good commercial products
on the market for waxing marble. This
information was posted on our BB.
We are not experts so the information is presented here as received.                                         

On marble, any kind of acid removes the shine. Oxalic acid is used
by pro’s in conjunction

with putty to re-polish marble. Used alone it DISSOLVES the surface.
Vinegar is used to clean

non-shiny marble. Please do everyone a favor and remove the acids
advice. The best care for

stone of any kind is keep it clean and buff it up. Use a mild detergent,
then rinse well and buff.

Beeswax is fine if you like sticky yellow marble. Carnauba wax over
clean stone is best. You

can bleach yellowed statuary with liquid bleach, since it is not acid.
You may have to leave

the bleach and water mix in for several days. OK! Jan the Marble Expert                                   

information was sent to us by e-mail on 4/13/03.

We are not experts so the information is presented here as received.                                         

fine marble statuary is cleaned with ‘soap and water’ it will be ruined.
Not only do certain

soaps actually eat the surface of the stone, making it even more difficult
to clean next time,

the water will mix with the dust on the piece and create: mud. So,
you will end up with an

odd looking piece – dingy, with dark creases where the mud mix could
not be removed.

Maybe if you used a garden hose? (that was a joke 😉 I’m not a marble
expert – just an

archeologist. And I saw every statue at the Troy public library ruined
with soap and water.

It was amazing – I have *no* idea what the cleaning staff was doing.
Dirt was literally ground

into the pores of the stone – I have no idea what would have safely
removed the muck at that

point. Matte finish (Parian) marbles are the worst – leave them to
the professionals!

METAL(See Iron and Metal)

MIRRORSOld mirrors were made of thick glass. You can test the glass thickness
of a mirror by placing
a coin on the surface and judging the distance between the coin and
its reflection.
Remove paint splashes or specks
from mirrors or glass by washing in turpentine, ammonia
or hot vinegar. Never use a razor blade.

MISCELLANEOUSYou can sharpen scissors by cutting a piece of sandpaper several times
with them.
Never repaint old toys; this
lowers their market value.

Don’t store your newspapers or magazines on bookshelves, especially
oak or painted shelves.
Keep them in “archival” boxes with lids. Stored magazines & newspapers
should be placed in vinyl or Mylar bags (acid free). Store away
from sunlight or heat sources and away from areas where they can get
dampness or high
humidity. (Attics and in basements are not the best places.)

NICKELWARENickel-plated articles require little care. They should be washed
in hot sudsy water, towel dried,
and then gently polished to a shine with a soft towel or flannel cloth.
Soiled or greasy spots
may be rubbed lightly with a damp cloth and a small amount of cleanser.
A final wiping off with
alcohol, which evaporates quickly, will leave a smudgeless shine.
To remove rust spots in nickel-plate,
cover spot with oil or grease, let set several days, then
rub with cloth soaked in ammonia. This will remove the rust without
harming the nickel- plate.
Wash, dry well, and polish. Nickel silver or German silver
may be made to shine by rubbing with a soap-filled fine
steel-wool pad. Then polish with a good silver polish. Do not put
nickel-silver articles in the
dishwasher, as detergents will give the metal a greenish cast almost
impossible to remove.

PAINTINGSWipe paintings with a soft, dry cloth to remove surface dust. If the
painting is valuable,
probably nothing more than this type of surface cleaning should be
done by anyone except a professional.
If a painting appears dirty, use a soft cotton cloth and
rub the surface with turpentine,
denatured alcohol or acetone. The
following comes to us from one of our visitors: 
I am not claiming to be an expert,
nor am I a professional restoration specialist. But I have had some
experience in cleaning older paintings. As with any artist, I know
I put my heart into my paintings and would be sad to see any piece
of art ruined.
If an OIL Painting appears dirty you
“may” use turpentine, denatured alcohol or acetone. But
this may also remove the varnish! I would not use these solutions
on other mediums!!! If you are unsure as to the medium of your painting
test a small spot first or contact a professional restoration specialist!
Acetone, which is used in fingernail polish remover, can remove varnish
and acrylic.
For acrylic paintings I have had good
luck with a solution of half vinegar / half warm water and a damp
lint free cloth. Wipe gently. Followed by a final rinse with clean
water and lint free cloth, then dry with a lint free cloth.
A fresh coat of varnish is always
a good idea (the painting must very clean before the varnish or any
dirt or lint will be bound to the painting permanently). AND, again
you must know the medium (oil, acrylic, casein?) as each medium has
a varnish / finish that is best suited to it’s chemical make-up.
Sincerely ~C. Theurer

PAPERPaper collectibles require special storage and are extremely sensitive
to the effects of improper
temperature, humidity, light, acidity and even pollution. High temperatures
(above 80 degrees
Fahrenheit) will accelerate chemical reactions that attack paper;
if heat is combined with high
humidity (above 70 percent), mold will grow. If humidity is too low,
however, many paper items
will become brittle and crack. Don’t store paper collectibles in the
attic! Keep your collectibles
in a room controlled by a thermostat and with air conditioning. Wearing cotton gloves when handling
paper collectibles is not eccentric. The perspiration on
our hands can leach onto the surface of a document and, over time,
create a chemical reaction
that destroys the fibers of most papers. Cotton gloves absorbs perspiration
and protects the
paper from stains and acidity. Remove creases and surface dirt
from your paper collectibles before framing and displaying
them. Most maps, documents, books and papers can be cleaned lightly
with “Opaline”, a

non-abrasive cleaning agent handled by art supply stores. To clean
a document, put on your

cotton gloves, sprinkle the Opaline on the soiled document, rub erasures
lightly in a circular

motion, and brush away soiled particles with a soft-bristled artist’s
brush. Use a bone folder

(also available at art supply stores) to unfold creased documents.
Begin in the center of your

document and press the bone folder lightly, along the back of
the crease in an outward

direction and toward the edge of the paper. When your document is
flat and clean, you’re

ready to frame it.

Never glue or tape your paper
collectibles in an album or scrapbook. Adhesives leave permanent

stains on paper and cause your collectibles to tear and break upon

If framing paper collectibles,
use an acid-free mat. Mats prevent prints, photographs, documents

and other items from contacting the frame’s glass. The precaution
will reduce stress on the

paper and provide extra protection against deterioration.

If your find paper items infested
with silverfish, crickets, etc. seal them in plastic bags and store

them in the freezer for 72 hours. This will kill the vermin that eat
and destroy paper.

Keep all paper collectibles away
from direct light and store them in acid-free materials. Acid-free

folders and boxes–also known as archival materials–have a neutral
pH of 7 and are sold by a

number of companies.

Save a dried up ballpoint pen by holding a lighted match to the tip.

PEWTERTo clean pewter which is so easily scratched, make a paste of whiting
and lemon oil and apply
it with a soft cloth, rinse with hot water and polish with a dry,
soft cloth. (Most antique
collectors prefer a time-darkened, mellow finish on their old pieces
of pewter.)
Corroded pewter can be cleaned
by polishing it with an electric buffer, or by rubbing it with
cigar ash, or by applying a bathroom scouring powder with a kerosene
rag, or by using very
fine (#0000) steel wood and kerosene.

Straighten a warped record by placing it between two sheets of glass
and putting it in the sun
to “bake”.

PHOTOGRAPHSRemove spots from old photographs by adding a few drops of ammonia
to a cupful of warm
water, dip a soft cloth into it, wring it out as dry as possible and
gently wipe.
Torn photographs can be carefully
mended with archival-quality tape, placing the tape on the
paper side of the photograph, never to the emulsion side. Damaged
ambrotypes or tintypes should be mended by a conservator. Tintypes may be carefully cleaned
by washing with distilled water.

POTTERYIf your pottery piece is potentially valuable, it is wise to obtain
professional advice rather than
attempting to clean the item yourself. Many chemicals, particularly
salts, if used improperly, can
eventually crystallize, damaging the item, particularly if it is glazed.
Absorbent materials such as
pottery will draw in cleaning materials/chemicals with long term harmful
effects. Never use
chlorine bleach, even in a diluted solution. It is safe to say that
stable soft bodied glazed
ceramics/pottery can be quickly cleaned with a pure liquid dish washing
detergent (not dish
washer) and sponge but prolonged soaking is not advised.

PRINTSTo remove a crease, dampen the back of the print and press it against
a sheet of glass until dry.
To repair a tear in a print,
apply a small amount of paste made from starch and boiling water to
the back of the tear. Reddish brown “foxing”
marks can sometimes be removed from prints by immersing the print
in a strong solution of sodium chlorate and then quickly washing with
water, or applying a
solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 1 part alcohol with a soft-bristled
Remove pencil marks or other
blemishes with a soft art gum eraser or by carefully rubbing with
bread crumbs.

SILVERWash silver with soap and warm water, go over it with a silver cleaner
and dry it completely
with a clean, soft towel. If the item is not completely dry, small
dark spots can form.
Occasionally, because of the
porous nature of old silver, small white spots will appear on
silver after it has been re-planted. These spots are never present
just after plating, but they
sometimes appear days or even weeks later. Use ordinary silver polish
to remove them.
Silver can be cleaned with toothpaste
in an emergency, but apply with your finger, never
with a toothbrush. Always rinse items thoroughly to remove all toothpaste
or polish.
Never use lemon-scented dish
washing detergent on silver; it spots. And, never use any metal
cleaner not made specifically for silver. Never wash silver, brass and
most other fine metal collectibles in the dishwasher.
When storing silver, wrap large
items in silver cloth and store in a zip-type plastic bag. Never
store unwrapped silver in plastic bags or close plastic bags tightly
with rubber bands. Also, use

silver bags for flatware. Silver that is stored when not in use is
easy to maintain, due to the fact

that tarnish develops from exposure to sulfides (found in the air).

If you choose to display special
silver or brass pieces in a china cabinet, you will find that a

few well-placed camphor blocks and anti-tarnishing strips will lengthen
the life of the shine!

Never store silver salt &
pepper shakers for a long period of time with the salt and pepper

remaining in the shakers. Salt is very corrosive and if left in shakers
will cause pitting. Remove

the salt and wash before storing.

SOAPSTONESoapstone requires little care as it will not corrode and is non-
absorbent. It will take a high
polish and responds well to an occasional rubbing with fine steel
wool and ordinary household
cleanser. It may also be cleaned by rubbing with salt and a coarse
cloth. A light sanding
(carefully) restores the original color.

Your hand hair dryer is an excellent device for blowing the dust from
intricate woodwork,
delicate carvings or statuary and artificial flowers.

TEXTILESNever fold fragile old textiles. Instead, roll them onto a cardboard
Grease stains can sometimes be
removed with alcohol, ammonia or carbon tetrachloride.
Samplers can be cleaned with
potato flour, dry, warmed in a double boiler, applied about
1/4″ thick, then brushed off before it cools. Silk should never be cleaned
with a flammable liquid because rubbing may result in a spark
and fire due to static electricity. By using a black light, you can
discover patches in textiles and rugs.

TINWAREAll old tinware was actually tin-plated; sheets of iron were coated
with pure tin to prevent the
iron from rusting. Therefore, tinware should not be severely scoured
or scratched, as the tin
coating will then be damaged, allowing the iron underneath to rust.
Accumulated grease may
be removed by soaking the piece in one quart of water in which one-fourth
cup of washing
soda has been dissolved. If there are rust spots, which must be scoured
off, do so as gently
as possible.

TORTOISESHELLTo restore the sheen to a tortoiseshell box, rub it with a cloth dipped
in lemon juice and salt.
Rinse with cold water and dry. Sometimes rubbing yogurt on the shell
will help.

Get rid of paint odors by adding a couple of teaspoons of vanilla
extract to a quart of paint.
Old rotary beaters make great
paint mixers and have many other uses as well.

WOODENWAREThe care of old woodenware can be quite simple. First scrub the article
thoroughly with a
stiff-bristled brush and warm, sudsy water to which a few drops of
an efficient household
disinfectant have been added. Absolutely, absolutely do not soak!
Woodenware will warp out
of shape if allowed to get soaking wet. Scrub quickly, but thoroughly.
Place on wire racks,
such as cake- cooling racks, set in the bottom of the sink. Quickly
pour very hot water over the
woodenware. This sterilizes the articles and hastens their drying.
Leave the articles on the wire
racks in the open air to dry completely. When absolutely dry, rub
utensils, such as ladles,
wooden forks and spoons, briskly with a clean cloth soaked in salad
oil. The articles may first
be very lightly sanded if rough or splintery. Allow the oil to penetrate
for 10 minutes; now
completely wipe away all excess oil with a clean cloth. Wooden bowls, after cleaning
(see above), may be finished with a thin coating of melted,
harmless beeswax or of paraffin wax such as is used in home canning.
The wax is heated

until just melted in a tin can set in a pan of boiling water. Use
caution, as wax is flammable.

Carefully pour the melted wax over the article so as to coat it completely
and evenly with a

thin layer of the protective wax.

To remove the odors of onions,
garlic, etc. from your wooden shredders, bowls, or mortars,

wash them quickly in baking soda dissolved in warm water.

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