Planet Vintage Girl features recurring 'VintageToolBoxTips,' via our Twitter and Facebook pages. Below is an archive of our tips from 2011-2012. Let us know if there's any topic you'd like us to cover, or if you'd like to provide a tip of your own!
While there often seems to be a strong interest in purchasing and collecting vintage, some people may lack confidence when it comes to reviving vintage items that are more fragile. Mid-century design and vintage items pose the additional difficulty due to the lack of information about the up-keep of more common materials. You can find tonnes of information on cleaning and caring for 19th century silver, but very little on 1970s plastic! For Planet Vintage Girl, collecting and refurbishment are part of an environmental philosophy. By saving these unique items from the landfill, it creates an opportunity for later generations to experience a bit of design history.
Stains, cleaning and polish:
For tough teapot stains: use boiling water, with a mixture of lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda.
Olive oil is great for cleaning stainless steel!
Baking soda is good for any kind of dirt in china or porcelain. Fizzing action = great cleaning.
Vinegar is best way to clean glass. Use glass micro cloths for a streak free shine.
Cream based Ajax, watered down, makes a good plastic cleaner. Mix into paste. Careful not to leave streaks or spots! Cover whole surface and wipe off at once.
Sprinkle cornstarch on suede or hides to get rid of grease stains.
To remove sticky stuff left from pricetags: A lot of people use lighter fluid - actually, very harmful! Goo-gone works best.
For vintage garden tools - fill bucket with sand and a little bit of motor oil - acts as abrasive, keeps them clean and tidy.
Making a baking soda paste to get stains out of teacups. Mix baking soda with vinegar. Use to clean bathtub, porcelain, chrome.
Use Armor-all to moisturize formica kitchen tables (you can find this at Halford's). A little goes a long way!
Dusting and Hoovering:
Cleaning delicate and fragile objects: put pantyhose over vacuum - sucks up particles without damaging!
Baby powder is good for cleaning taxidermy. Apply with paintbrush --- great for cleaning feathers!
Old lampshades can be lightly vacuumed to remove dust --- best not to use a high watt bulb - they can burn or melt!
Ostrich feathers' shape is most conducive to cleaning up dust. Bird-experts may know why?
Speaking of which, it's 2012! Have you hoovered your taxidermy?
Best way to keep dust off vintage items is to use them!
Never push antique furniture across the floor - pick it up!
Silver stays the cleanest when you're using it.
Cast iron cookware --- don't put in the dishwasher!
Don't pick up a chair by the arm - pick up by the base.
Never put gilt teacup into microwave.
Can put silver in dishwasher but EVERYTHING in the dishwasher (metal-wise) need to be silver
Best way to keep moths out of vintage clothes is to wear them!
Smelly Things, Crawly Critters, and Storage Advice:
Vintage clothing and books can be frozen in freezer for 3 weeks to get rid of any moths or creatures --- same with taxidermy.
Smelly chests, tins, canisters, (any enclosed box) - fill with peppermint tea, or coffee grounds.
Wash wooden bowls with baking soda or vinegar, then let dry in sunlight to remove odours.
Store all your tupperware lids in a large separate container. No more tupperware avalanche!
Store vintage and antique photos in acid free paper and boxes, not plastic bags.
If you are concerned about pests (and not quire sure) freeze clothing, books, fur or taxidermy for a minimum of two weeks.
Rad and Fab Random Tips:
Beeswax can be used stiffen up the end of the thread --- for threading needle!
Rub candle on drawer runners and zippers for regaining smooth operation.
Write on the back of photographs with pencil, never pen. Same for the inside of books or on the back of prints.
An electric meat knife is an excellent way to cut new foam for upholstery projects.
Love 70's kitschy prints? Picture framer's tape, available at craft & artist's supply shops, will remount the backing where the earlier tape has failed.
Re-gluing an old rhinestone? Be sure to paint the back of the stone silver so that the stone reflects light before gluing. Otherwise the stone will appear dull and grey.
For vases and bottles that have moisture inside them - twist a coil of newspaper and leave inside for a day - paper will absorb water!
From Kovel's Quick Tips:
Ketchup is a good emergency copper cleaner --- in case you have some sort of copper-related emergency.
Removing candle wax --- use ice, use newspaper or absorbent cloth --- place iron over to remove stains.
Worcestershire sauce is a good brass cleaner.
Tangled chain - sprinkle with a bit of talcum powder to make untangling easier.
"Early mirrors, those made before 1850, had thin glass…hold a pencil point against the glass…early mirrors reflect a darker image than new mirrors."
"Mayonnaise can be used to remove old masking tape, stickers or labels from glass or china."
Best to wash marble with distilled water.
Don't carry marble flat, carry it upright. Same with Mirrors and glass! Even travelling in car!