The bad part of a road trip is the arrival home. This latest trip included hunting and pecking through Tennessee with my friend, Jim, who also sells antiques. Arriving home, I always have that sinking feeling that I have to unload the car immediately. Sometimes I’ve been known to leave the car locked and deal with it later. In fact, one time, I got home from an auction at 11 pm on a Friday then flew out early the next morning to visit my parents. The car stayed loaded for almost a week until I could return home and deal with it! Eventually I have to deal with the dreaded cleaning and detailing. I have streamlined my process and come up with my best cleaning ideas.
General Cleaning Ideas for Antiques and Vintage Finds
I arrived home this past Saturday night, unloaded everything, and on Sunday Funday dealt with all the detailing. Cleaning antiques and vintage goods can be a challenge, but makes a huge difference in appearance and saleability.
- Everything gets cleaned with appropriate cleaners. I am fond of this brand for general cleaning and its non-toxic, pleasant smell.
- Sometimes I have to unfortunately use more chemical based stuff to repair furniture.
- Good ole sweat equity and home based remedies are often the best solutions.
Brass Cleaning Ideas
For example, I acquired these gorgeous brass urns and they weren’t in terrible shape but rather they just needed a good cleaning and buffing. With brass, I’ve had the best luck with half a lemon and coarse salt. Much better smelling and safer than the chemical products normally used for cleaning antiques and old brass.
- I use half a lemon, squirt some juice on the brass and use any kind of coarse salt I have around the house. In this case, it’s sea salt but kosher salt or any other kind of coarse salt is fine.
- I pack the salt onto the lemon half and gently rub the entire surface that needs cleaning. You can see the brass shine up instantly as you go.
- For a final cleaning/shining on really tough stains, I have doused items with boiling vinegar. It cannot remove deep pitting or damage, but it does shine it up and remove spotting.
Vintage Glassware Cleaning Ideas
I also had a lot of glassware to clean to add to Form & Function’s barwares in the store. Vintage barware has become hot with the rise and popularity of cocktails again.
- Generally don’t like to run them through the dishwasher as it can remove some of the detail on these vintage bar glasses.
- Handwashing is preferable, but they often have cloudiness or stains at the bottom.
- When hot water and soap don’t do the trick, I will add baking soda and vinegar to the glasses, like science class 101, or use this trick. These glasses fortunately were not that dirty. Good old-fashioned dish soap and water did the trick.
There is something deeply satisfying about all the detailing tasks once they are done. Especially using the home remedies which use very little financial investment…I feel very “Martha” and know that goods are arriving to the store in tip top shape.