Time to spring clean your china cabinet and collectibles


It’s the time of year to make sure everything is sparkling clean. Here are some tips on how to go through, clean, and preserve your collectible items.

First, decide which items you want to continue to keep. You can ask yourself if you enjoy looking at them or if you had opportunities to use your treasures during the past four seasons. If your pieces are family heirlooms, or museum-quality works of art, just looking at them and enjoying your collection is important and you’ll want to preserve them.

If you collect sets of dinnerware and don’t use them, it may be time to decide if you want to keep storing those pieces. If the plates are not being displayed, but rather are stacked in cupboards or cases, you may want to consider managing your collection and either selling some pieces or gifting them to someone who may enjoy or use them more.

In the antiques trade, we say, “use and enjoy your dishes!” If they’re not museum-quality antiques, but lovely, collectible patterns, set the table with them! Go ahead, put them in the dishwasher—just don’t put gold- or platinum-rimmed china in the microwave.

If you want Grandma’s china to stay in your family, educate your children about its importance. Use it on holidays and special occasions, talk about it, and create memories. Otherwise, it holds no meaning for the next generation.

General rules for caring for your treasures:

  • Use warm water, NOT hot. Use only mild soap on the pieces you want to last.

  • For glassware and crystal: A few drops of vinegar in the dishwater will give them extra sparkle.

  • For pottery and ceramics: Avoid rapid, extreme temperature changes; they may contribute to cracking or crazing.

  • Be mindful of the faucet when washing or rinsing your pieces.

  • You can always wrap a soft dishcloth around the faucet for safety when handling precious pieces.

  • Air dry your treasures on towels on the counter for less handling.

My high school art teacher used this mantra: Less is more.

Enjoy your pieces and keep the things you love. If you have some pieces you don’t use or that no one sees, pass them onto another collector. This will allow you to make space in your cupboards and cabinets for viewing and access. It also decreases the chance of items getting chipped.

Happy cleaning! Enjoy your collection!