More Helpful Antique Tips

Regardless of what you collect, you always want to give your collection special care and in some cases you’ll want to spot clean new additions, ie., remove sticky residue from price tags. Many of the tips below can be applied to most items that fall into each category – but there are always exceptions so when cleaning always use common sense.  And, if  there is any doubt as to results or if the item has significant monetary or sentimental value – DON’T do anything – rather take the item to a conservator or someone trained to clean and/or repair fine antiques. 

And, yes, while there are many specialty products on the market that will do the same thing – most of the tips below use common items you probably already have around your home.

Alabaster – should be dusted with a soft brush and then wiped with a dry cleaning agent. Never use water to wash or soak alabaster. Item can be polished with a paste furniture wax.

Bottle Stopper – if a stopper is stuck, try using a little Liquid Wrench. Wash both bottle and stopper to remove any residual residue.

Embroidery – embroidery should have a raised look and proper ironing will help maintain its integrity. Put the piece to be ironed face-down on a soft towel and then press. Depending on the item to be ironed, you may also find turning the item inside-out helps.

Glass – Residue left by masking tape, price labels or anything else for that matter can be removed using commercial hand cleaner (non-abrasive), goo-gone or – in a pinch – vegetable oil. Pat the chosen agent onto the residue, let it sit for a few minutes then gently rub it off with a soft cloth and wash the glass.

Gold Leaf – can be cleaned by lightly rubbing the gold leaf with a soft, lint-free cloth that has been dipped in onion juice.

Iron – for cleaning small pieces of iron, try soaking them in white vinegar for 24-48 hours. Rinse and dry very well. Skillets and other cooking utensils can then be seasoned.

Rhinestone – never wash rhinestones in or under water. This will tarnish the foil backing. To clean rhinestone jewelry use a Q-tip or small soft brush that has been dipped in glass cleaner.  Do not spray or pour the cleaner directly on to the rhinestones.   Rub dry with a soft dry cloth. Never clean any jewelry over an open drain sink.

Stone Fireplace

  • Remove smoke stains using an art gum eraser
  • Soot on the carpet in front of the fireplace can be removed with salt. Sprinkle dry salt on the sooty area, wait 30 minutes and then vacuum.

Wood –

Stains – Olive oil will remove most alcohol stains from wood


Loose veneer can be repaired by making a small slit in the wood (follow the grain) and then apply a small quantity of wood glue underneath (a toothpick or the tip of an Exacto blade works well for this). Press the veneer into place and wipe off any excess glue. If needed, place a piece of non-sticking paper (plastic wrap, wax paper) on top of the repair along with a heavy book. This will help keep the veneer flat as it dries.

For bubbled up and loose veneer, try placing a piece of cardboard on the wood and press with an iron set at medium heat. The heat should soften the glue and you will be able to feel the wood give a little. Press down and weight the spot until the glue has re-dried. (This method is not recommended for anything other than a last-ditch effort on a piece you’re willing to sacrifice) and as always when in doubt about any results – DON’T.


1 comment to More Helpful Antique Tips

  • antiques El Dorado

    Following these simple tips would be very helpful for you can be able to maintain its natural look without having a risk of decreasing its value. That is why whenever you will be cleaning your valuables make sure that you will be using the appropriate cleaning product so that you can be able to preserve them for longer periods of time.

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