How to Care for Antiques You Use

For those that have collections, most of the time the pieces are either stuck away on a shelf or in a cabinet where they are never used. And while there are some antiques you would not want to use because they are very delicate or in mint condition – there are other antiques that can be used and enjoyed everyday …. by following a few simple guidelines.


This is a very broad category and includes crystal, depression glass, pressed glass, flint glass, art glass, and other fine glass that would compare to Cambridge and Fenton.

1.  Never pickup a glass handled basket by the handle. Most handles were applied to the base and if there is any stress or a hairline crack, lifting the basket by the handle may cause it to either break or possibly detach.   When moving a handled glass basket place one hand under the bottom and use the other hand to steady the item by holding the handle gently.

2.  Never put extreme temperature liquids – hot or cold – into any glass object. This glass item might be a pitcher, glass, carafe, bowl or vase.

3.  Never put antique glass or crystal into the dishwasher. Always wash antique glass by hand in lukewarm water with a mild detergent and then dry with a soft cloth or air dry.

Silver, Brass, Aluminum

Most metal items can be enjoyed and used as long as they are kept clean. Of course, if the item is being used to hold any type of food product, it should be checked to be sure there will be no contamination to the food by the metal.

Keep metal items clean by following the guidelines for each particular type of metal.


Pottery items are the easiest and most often used antique items. You’ll find decorative pottery vases like Roseville, Hull, McCoy as well as stoneware (and crockery) lend themselves to many uses. There are also many lines of dishes and kitchenware – Watt, Homer-Laughlin, Hall, Fiesta – that are very popular and in use today.

1.  Most of the dishware items can survive a trip through the dishwasher since they have a heavier weight, but if you find a piece with any damage, ie., crack or chip, it is best not to put it through a wash cycle – and probably should not be used for food service.

2.  Old pottery or ceramic items that are used for food should be checked for lead content before using on a daily basis. There are lead swabs available that can determine if an unsafe lead content is present.


Whether your antique jewelry is costume or fine, you’ll want to take care of  it.

1.  Do this by periodically checking or having a jeweler check the prongs that hold gemstones.

2.  Learn to store your jewelry in a friendly environment. Do not lock away pearls or opals forever. Take them out and expose them to air occassionally or better yet wear them.

3.  Understand how to clean your antique jewelry. There are different ways to clean different gemstones and there are specific do’s and don’ts when cleaning jewelry. Read more here.

4.  Never wash rhinestone jewelry in water. Use a soft brush to dust the stones and if you must use liquid to remove dirt, dip a brush in alcohol and lightly brush the dirt and then allow the item to air dry.

5.  Any time you are washing jewelry in a sink, always place a towel over the drain. This way if you by chance happen to lose a stone, you’ll have caught it in the towel.


The decision to use one’s antiques is a personal one and while there are those that enjoy using their antiques on a daily basis and don’t mind the risk, you need to know there is always the chance of damage or loss which could have an affect on the item’s value.


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