As the owner of Planet Vintage Girl™, I thought I'd share some of the contents of my restoration tool kit for those who want to learn how to restore vintage furniture. Vintage and retro furniture and accessories have unique qualities that makes restoring them different from older antiques. The use of man made materials -such as vinyl, chrome, plastics, fiberglass and formica - create cleaning and restoration challenges.
Below I've listed some of the products that I have found useful for cleaning and restoring vintage furniture and accessories over the last 20 years. So why am I sharing these tricks of the trade? For environmental reasons: rather than toss something out that is old and dirty, try giving it a clean and save it from the landfill! A little elbow grease and knowhow can transform many items, giving them new life. Use the least invasive products first. Classic cleaning agents, such as vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are all excellent methods to remove initial grime and dirt. I always use Ecover's Multi Surface cleaner before using a product that contains harsher chemicals. This is not only more beneficial to the environment, but also protects my skin from strong cleaning agents. Plus when I run out, I can buy Ecover refills or recycle their PET 2 containers in my household recycling -a real plus! If these methods do not work, then test other chemical products first to ensure they do not damage the finish.
Plastic and vinyl products are very easy to scuff, chip, discolor, crack or scratch, so they get ugly before they wear out. Once plastic products are damaged, it can be difficult to repair or to return plastic to its original state. Severe damage is irreparable. Keep this in mind before buying damaged plastic. I have found automotive and household products helpful for restoring items that have experienced light damage. Armorall and Brasso, for example, are useful to remove light scuffs and nourish dried out plastic finishes. Car wax can bring out shine in old plastics, as well.
Great on Wood
Great on Plastic
Remember, as always, test, test, test before applying!