Caring For Antiques

We hope you enjoyed the video, which showed interesting techniques and gave insight into the restorer's thinking.

We would not propose you clean valuable oil paintings yourself. An area which needs considerable experience, although just seeing them renewed is a pleasure.

The same can apply to a wide range of items, whether in everyday use, or put away until they could be afforded time.

When carrying out removals in Surrey, we have clients who find less precious antiques they would like to renew, after years in a loft or shed. A few ideas below.

Home Cleaning Ideas

  • Furniture and dirt are hard to separate. Whilst not for important pieces, most can be cleaned with soap solution plus a little acetic acid and fine wire wool. No need to be too gentle, once the surface is clean and dry, a little wax restores the sheen.
  • Highly polished antique furniture can also become grimy. Patent restorers are available, although brasso or silver polish applied with fine wire wool can work. This often brings back a deep sheen by itself, furniture wax helps more and protects. If there are scratches or abrasions, mix scratch cover with the wax.
  • Cleaning silver can be slow, especially if the piece has turned black. Line a plastic bowl with aluminium foil, add hot water, soda crystals until no more dissolve and a spoon of salt. Immerse the silver so this touches the foil and leave submerged for a few minutes, until you see the clean surface. Rinse and buff to a shine, particularly useful for fiddly cutlery.
  • Antique leather book bindings, or other leather items deteriorate if unnourished, British Museum leather dressing can bring them to life. Gently heat together 250 gm of anhydrous lanolin, 20 gm of beeswax and 35 ml of cedar oil. Whilst warm, stir into 400ml of hexane, keep stirring until cool. The dressing can slightly darken softer leather but protects well and buffs to a pleasant glow.
  • Glazed pottery and porcelain may fall out of use through unsightly stains. If they are on the surface, soak for a few hours in a strong solution of biological soap powder. If the stains are in the glaze, or hairline cracks, bleach can make them vanish. If need be, soak kitchen roll in the bleach and lay on the crack.

Always Take Care 

The suggestions on this page are safe for most antique or later items but best to take a careful approach, testing on areas which are not too visible when possible.

Equally important to bear in mind that many antique pieces are better left, to preserve the patina, often part of the value. What some people see as built up dirt, others think of as part of original condition and part of the history of the piece.

Other items may be too precious for a home solution, to you, or in a commercial sense, if in doubt seek expert advice and valuation. Many auction rooms offer this service free of charge, you may be able to email a few images and other details to them.

Our growing online world also offers opportunities for you to research items yourself. If you can't find anything through searching text, try Google image searches on related terms. Again though, if in doubt, seek out advice.

For those items you are happy to work on, simply wish to see restored to their former glory, we hope you found the ideas useful and enjoy trying them.

As professional removers, we care about possessions, as people have throughout the history of removals in Surrey. Always good to see old friends turn up, whether a lost Rembrandt, or a childhood toy.

If you need any help with your move in the Surrey area, or advice on packing and caring for antiques, by all means contact us at any time and speak to our specialist staff.