Precious family pieces don’t often come with instructions

Don't let good silver go bad. Photo courtesy of Helga's Lobster Stew on Flickr.

Moth holes, worn threads, glass-ring marks, tarnish and scratches — all play a major role in devaluing precious family heirlooms. Receiving an heirloom is not like buying a new blender or TV from the department store. Heirlooms don’t come with instructions and trying to care for them without the proper knowledge can do more harm than good.

At The Maids, we understand. We help our clients create comfortable, clean and healthy homes, and carefully preserving family history is part of the bigger picture. A quick how-to:

Daddy’s bronze baby shoes. Carefully wash neglected bronze with one-tablespoon salt and one gallon water.  Rinse well and follow with a light coat of Worcestershire sauce.

Mom’s “good” silver. Wash with mild dish detergent and rinse. Dry immediately and apply a thin coat of silver polish.  Wash again, wrap in acid-free paper, and store.

Grandma Nancy’s wedding china. Like diamonds will scratch diamonds, china will scratch china, so it’s best to wash one piece at a time.  Wash with dish detergent, dry on a rack, and store with cloth or foam separators to prevent future scratches.

Great Uncle Oscar’s writing desk. Clean with mild furniture cleaner and a soft cloth.  Apply a thin coat of paste wax to help preserve the original finish and buff to a shine.

Great Grandma Grace’s patchwork quilt. Before storing, attach a nylon stocking to a vacuum upholstery brush attachment with a rubber band and lightly vacuum any debris from the quilt. Fold the quilt in layers of unbleached muslin and store in a cedar chest.  Remove quilt every 3 to 6 months to air and check for infestation.

Cousin Martha’s crystal vase. Place a towel on sink bottom to prevent chipping and hand-wash with a mild dish detergent, vinegar, and water mixture.

These tips for cleaning family heirlooms will not only give you beautiful pieces of family history, but peace of mind that they are well cared for.

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