May 30, 2013

How I Clean My Vintage Treasues

After returning home from a thrift store, rummage sale or an estate sale with all of my vintage treasures, they are usually cleaned immediately if I don't have the time they are stored in my garage until I can clean them up.

Because I don't want to bring in any unwanted pests, or their eggs into my home, I never have my fragile purchases wrapped in paper or let the cashier put my treasures in a bag.  I opt to stack the items and carefully carry them out to my car and place them inside a basket and wrap them with some old towels that I leave in the basket. I usually don't purchase that many items, but on that rare occasion I push the cart to my car to unload my treasures. I always return the cart either to the cart corral or back inside the store.

After I purchase ephemera these are the steps I take;

When I purchase books, I will clean the covers and the inside cover pages with rubbing alcohol. Pour rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball, squeeze out excess moisture and wipe the spine, front cover, and back cover. Using a dry cotton ball wipe off any moisture that remains on the book cover. I will assess the inside cover pages of the book to see if they are sturdy enough for a gentle wiping with a cotton ball that has been wrung out of most of its moisture. You will be amazed at how dirty the cotton balls are after the cleaning process.

I then put the books inside a gallon size Ziploc bag and place it inside the freezer for 48 hours. After I remove the books from the freezer, I gently shake the book to remove and dust and small particles that are hiding in between the pages.

I use this method to remove musty orders from the books and to kill any dust mites that may be lurking inside.

Anything glass or china is placed into hot soapy water for a soak and rinsed in hot water and bleach. Magic Erasers and Bar Keepers Friend help me to remove tough stains without scratching any of my treasures.

I will run a small load of my treasures through my dishwasher, but I will NEVER put my Pyrex in the dishwasher, it can dull the shine on the bowl.

For my pounded aluminium tray, I use SOS pads along, with an old toothbrush and Bar Keepers Friend. I just stand back and smile when I see the shine on the tray after it's cleaned.

When no other cleaning method worked, on my cast iron skillet, I used oven cleaner.  After days of using the oven cleaner to remove the black grease build up, I was able to clean and season the iron skillet. I will never buy another cast iron skillet, cleaning that one was hard work, and one skillet is all I need.

I recently bought two packages of vintage plastic spoons. Each bag contained twelve spoons, they were heavy plastic spoons that have a Santa face on the tip of the handle and Season's Greetings down the handle. I thought they were cute and that the grand children would enjoy using them while drinking hot chocolate or desserts during the holiday season.

The spoons were inside a plastic bag but had a film of grime and dirt on them. So into a sink of hot soapy water the went. I washed each spoon from the tip of the handle down to the bowl. They were placed in a hot water rinse with bleach, but I still felt like the spoons needed a trip through the dishwasher.

WAH -WAH, not such a great idea.

I forgot to push the energy saver button that turns the heating element off during the drying process.
I will now add plastic Santa spoons to the list of what shouldn't go into the dishwasher.

Do you have any tried and true cleaning methods that you use for your vintage treasures?  I would love to hear your tips and tricks on this subject.



  1. That is a shame about the spoons, they were sooo cute!!!

    That's a great tip for cleaning the books!! Thanks!!

  2. Great cleaning tips, Paulette. I've never been sure how to clean the books I purchase. And, the freezer method of removing the musty smell is something I'll definitely try. Too bad about your Santa spoons, but I've made my share of similar mistakes.

  3. Poor Santa spoons! Now they are totally unique.

  4. Oh that's terrible about the spoons. I know how you feel, I have ruined a couple of things over the years. Thanks for sharing your wonderful cleaning tips!

  5. Great cleaning tips, Paulette. I'm going to print this off so I have it for reference.

    Sorry about your Santa spoons, but I can relate to wanting to get that squeaky clean (sterilization) that the dishwasher provides. Just tell your grandkids they are "silly Santa spoons" and they will still love them.

  6. You could call them CRAZY Santa spoons! I bet the grandchildren would have a good laugh eating ice cream or cereal with them!

    I clean silver plated items with toothpaste. I've seen pro's and con's about it, but it really brings out the shine. I use a soft cloth on flat areas and a small brush on raised surfaces. Just rinse in very hot water and towel dry completely.

  7. Thanks for the tip on cleaning pounded aluminum trays. I recently purchased an Everlast wildflower tray and it was grimy. I was able to clean it up a little, but am now going to try your method and see if I can get it sparkling!