Being of the new-homeowner kind, a lot of my furnishings come from thrift stores or are hand-me-downs. Many times when I get a new piece, it needs a ton of work. Then there are times when a simple cleaning is all that's required. I'm here today to talk about ways to properly and delicately clean an antique piece without harming it.
How I cleaned an antique
I've received my share of hand-me-down furniture. Such is the case when Rachel came to live at my house. Rachel is a hand-me-down that's been handed down for at least four generations that I'm aware of. This past weekend, this beautiful antique side-by-side secretary found it's home in my living room. She has been well taken care of, so the only thing I needed to do was give her a good cleaning. The Victorian craftsmanship on this piece is beautiful, but it has collected a ton of dust over the years. I knew that giving her a good scrub down was going to be a bit of a challenge. I gathered my supplies and began my work, delicately.
Here's what I was working with:
- a gentle cleaning agent made up of warm water and dawn dish shop
- terry cloth rags
- a baby bottle nipple brush
- polishing oil
- scratch repair
Start with a dry wipe down, otherwise, you are creating mud.
Before I start cleaning, I give the piece a dry wipe down, removing as much loss dust as possible. Then I took a small nipple brush that I had on hand and got into the little nooks and crannies of the detail work. The second thing I did was go back over it with a gentle water and dawn mixture. Using a glass spray bottle, I sprayed my rag and I wiped down. I did the same thing with the brush, I just sprayed it and scrubbed the detail work.
How to Clean an Antique Mirror
To clean the mirror, I wiped it down with rubbing alcohol. It's probably the worst looking part of this secretary. Do you see all the chips and stains along the mirrored part? I'm not sure how to repair that if it is even repairable. So I just cleaned up the glass portion well. The window, I just used a glass cleaner. Something like Windex is a great product to use to clean an antique, I've even been told by someone who repairs antiques that it's safe to use on the wood too.
Once I got it cleaned up well, I repaired some scratches and marks left by a puppy on the very bottom. I used this scratch repair stain.
Shining up an antique
The last thing I did was give it a good polish with this Orange Glo polishing oil. A little bit of this goes a long way. Again, I sprayed it on the rag and not directly on the piece. Work the least oiled sections first. A lot of times that will be where you are naturally touching a piece.
That is how I clean an antique piece. She's nowhere near complete. I need to find a lock insert that is missing and plan to change out the nobs for something a bit more modern to give it an edge. The secretary desk portion had to be repaired but is now a functioning desk. It's going to be great sitting here to do a bit of work.
Let me hear all about your prized vintage or antique piece. Are you on the hunt for something fun?