Caring for your antiques

Here are some helpful methods on how to take care of and clean up your antiques.

Caring for Leather Suitcases

Leather should be nourished and treated regularly to maintain its suppleness, colour and flexibility. Buy a specific leather cleaner or saddle soap. 

Waxes and creams are also available.  Choose one that that is colourless. Alternatively try a cheap light olive oil.

Regularly check the leather at its most vulnerable and heavily used areas, namely the seams, hinges and corners. These stress prone areas bear the heaviest wear and degradation.

Caring for Paper Mache

Keep in dry conditions away from sunlight. Ideally, paper mache should only be dusted and care taken to not rub off the paint. Never use water to clean your trays, especially black or red trays. This can cause the white cloudy areas that we sometime see on vintage trays. If the tray gets dirty, clean it with cotton wool dipped in soapy water and when dried, polish it with micro crystalline wax.  This will protect it and give it a lustrous finish.

After each use please wipe it with a dry cloth. If a stain appears then you can lightly clean it with a slightly damp cloth. You can use a hint of lemon in the water for the cloth. Don’t’ ever rinse or immerse it in water.

Caring for Silver Sterling and Plate

Never put silver in the dish washer.

Chlorine in tap water damages silver so always dry immediately after washing.

Rubber gloves should not be worn when washing silver and avoid newspaper, wool or velvet. Avoid storage in Oak furniture, which is acidic.  Ideally polish as rarely as possible.

It is better to simply wash it in hot soapy water, rinse in hot water and dry thoroughly before buffing with a soft cloth. Work gently in circles on a soft surface.

Always remember to thoroughly wash silver or silver plate cutlery that has been in contact with eggs, brussels sprouts, vinegar or salt as soon as possible after use or it will tarnish.

For tarnishes there are various products available including impregnated cloths, creams, foam paste and liquid polishes. Use these sparingly, again buffing in circular motions.

Store your silver in acid free tissue paper inside a cotton or tarnish proof bag.

Salt must never be left in the same box or cupboard as silver. Microscopic salt particles with lift in the air and settle on the silver causing Verdigris green encrustation.

Do not use metal polishes designed for copper or brass.

Read Our Blog Best Ways To Clean Your Antique Silver

Caring for Brass and Copper

As with silver polishing, it should only be carried out occasionally. All your copper needs to maintain a good service is to be washed in a weak solution of washing up liquid before buffing lightly with a soft cloth.

Avoid professional or amateur lacquering. A coating of microcrystalline wax polish is useful protection for the surface of brass and copper.

Our copper urns have undamaged tin lining and so are suitable for their original purpose.

Caring for Brass and Iron Escutcheons

When cleaning your escutcheons and decorative brass plaques try to avoid cleaning them whilst they are fixed on furniture. Use furniture wax on both surfaces before finally polishing with a duster.

Caring for Glass

With your glass vessel don’t let the water sit for days. Ensure you keep changing the water every 2 days.

Rubbing it down with distilled water regularly should be enough of a cleaning regimen. Without specific instructions to do so from a professional, avoid submerging quality antique glass in water, and keep the water you're using at room temperature or just slightly warm.

Avoid dishwashers, high temperatures, high pressure water and aggressive detergents. Use a plastic bowl (avoid using a sink in case you accidentally knock the glass against the taps). Cover the area with a soft cloth or towel, have a padded service in case you put down a piece roughly, tip it over or drop it.

Always use lukewarm water to avoid glass breaking if exposed to sudden changes in temperature. Just add one drop of detergent per litre of water and clean one object at a time.

Dip the object in the water. Wipe over the surface with a cotton wool ball or lint free cloth to remove dirt.

Do use a bottle brush to get down through the narrow neck of a bottle to give the bottom a good scrub or opt for a light wipe to avoid taking the gilding off a decorated decanter.

Rinse with clean water either by dipping the glass object into a bowl of lukewarm water (without detergent) or by wiping with a damp swab.

Ensure you blot dry using paper towels and allow the inside to dry by carefully supporting the object upside down and leaving it for several hours. 

Read Our Blog Caring For Antique Glass

Materials That Can Be Cleaned With Common Household Products

- supplied and research by

Some antiques can easily be cleaned using products you already have at home. You can also make your own organic cleaners that don’t contain any harsh chemicals, which may also help to prevent damage to your furniture. Here’s how you can safely clean and/or update most antiques — but do your research, because sometimes, stripping, painting, reupholstering, or making other modifications can significantly reduce the value of some pieces.

  • First, look for signs of pests like termites and furniture beetles that could chew up old wooden furniture. Gently shake the furniture and open drawers to confirm that there are no animal nests inside. Look for small holes and urine smells, and examine the entire piece from top to bottom, as well as underneath to make sure that there’s nothing hiding and that no pests will end up infesting your home.
  • Clean your furniture with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust and debris.
  • Use a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water and a mild household to remove grime from wood, glass, metal, and stone.
  • Scrub away grime in crevices and corners with a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  • If your wood or metal furniture is covered in layers of paint or flaky finishes, use sandpaper to remove it. Sanding the furniture will restore it to its natural state, and you can apply a new finish.
  • As you’re working, consider using some DIY techniques that will give antique furniture new life, like reupholstering a set of old dining chairs, stripping and staining an old wood dresser, or turning a large, old headboard into a chalkboard with chalk paint.


Once you know how to care and clean your antiques, you will have them in good shape for the next generation. Look after your antiques and your antiques will look after you.

Natasha: The Urban Vintage Affair