caring for your vintage items

As vintage items had a previous life, they quite often show signs of wear. Over the years, I've tried out lots of different cleaning procedures and will share my experience here with you:

Problem: crazing and discoloration in old pottery
The crazing occurs when quick changes in temperature are inflicted on the piece (such as pouring hot soup in a cold bowl) The outer layer reacts faster than the pottery core and thus causes the glaze to crack. The discolorations are caused by bacteria in these cracks. The crazing cannot be reversed but there are measures to reduce the unsightly brown discoloration.

One way of getting rid of these is using 'Varnish Oxi Action'  the stuff you usually use on your laundry. Advantage: it is cheap; disadvantage: you have to soak your items for quite a while and as it works best when dissolved in hot water you might even damage your item further. 

Another way is 3% Hydrogen Peroxide - widely available online. It not only works as a disinfectant but also mildly bleaching. I've successfully used this on many vintage Portmeirion cups, Cornishware and other Mid-Century items.

Pour in the item you want to clean and leave overnight. Make sure it's out of reach of children and pets. Use gloves!

Problem: Filthy Pyrex with baked on grime

Putting Pyrex in the dishwasher is a No-No! Most Pyrex items have been used in the oven and things are almost impossible to remove. Using a harsh brush might also ruin the print. Oven Cleaner works a treat here. I usually apply it with a pastry brush to get into all the nooks and crannies. It only needs a few minutes and the dirt can then magically be wiped off. Again, keep away from kids and pets, that stuff is vile! Wear gloves!

Milder dirt can be removed by soaking the item overnight in Baking Soda.

Sometimes Pyrex has some sharp edges and corners, so-called fleabites, little miniature chips. If you're dealing with a white item, you can very carefully try to smooth the sharp edges with some fine sandpaper. Not on print obviously.


Limescale in old enamel pots

There is the obvious method: vinegar. I use this quite frequently to clean our kettle, however with vinegar there is one problem; it often leaves the enamel rough to the feel and consequently susceptible to gather even more limescale in future. A better solution is citric acid. This can be bought in most £-Stores as flakes in a little cardboard box. Mix with hot water and let sit for a while. Scrub, rinse, repeat. It also is mildly bleaching.

Have you tried any of the above methods? We'd love to hear from you. Maybe you have other proven methods of cleaning, get in touch and we will share them here.