Tips On How Innocent Cleaning Techniques Can Damage Items Like Antiques, Silver, and Fine Art

Ask any fine art restoration expert about personal or commercial cleaning mishaps, and one thing will become clear. Valuables can innocently be damaged while cleaning, even when hiring commercial cleaning experts who should know better but often do not. Here are a few tips our experts at Manzi Appraisers & Restorer give our clients about cleaning before costly mistakes can lead to damage.

Personal Property Appraiser Tips on Wood, Silver, & Fine Art Cleaning

  • Wood Furniture: Oil, Water, & Detergent Cleaning Issues

Wood is extremely susceptible to damage due to oil, water, detergents, and dry wiping. Wood can also be affected by humidity, chemicals, household rodents, heat sources, and direct sunlight. Any housework blunder can cause serious damage and leave vintage and antique furniture worthless. Having a great understanding of maintenance techniques will avoid these costly mistakes.

  • Silver Tarnishing: Sulfur Compounds, Cleaning techniques, Harsh Household Cleaning Products

You likely only pull your silver out on special occasions, so you won’t notice damage in a timely manner. Things like incorrect cleaning techniques and harsh household cleaning products that contain ingredients like sulfur compounds can cause corrosion, tarnish, and greenish-dark spots to occur. You also might notice deterioration from improper storage or plastic wrap packing.

  • Fine Art: How to Clean and When to see a Fine Art Restorer

It is normal when cleaning to want to remove dust and dirt build-up, but how you do it could be what causes severe damage to a masterpiece. It is important to avoid cleaners, liquids, or solvents when working with any type of fine art because different techniques and materials may have been used in their creation and often require specific maintenance and care when cleaning them.

Tips for Cleaning to Avoid The Need for Antique, Décor, and Fine Art Restoration

It is important to note that mishandling is often the most cited reason for damage to household items, so taking precautions should be considered a primary concern when cleaning expensive things such as home furnishings, décor, fine art, sculptures, glass, or alloys. As a matter of precaution, one should handle all household items only when it is necessary and check their stability before picking them up or cleaning them.

  • Wash your hands before cleaning begins to remove body oil, perfume, food, or liquids.
  • Remove jewelry, swaying belts, or dangling objects to prevent cracking, breaking, tearing, or scratching.
  • Always wear the right type of gloves: white cotton will avoid transferring dirt and oil from your hands and latex gloves will prevent the dropping of glass or ceramic décor.
  • Before picking up any household item, inspect it for vulnerabilities and structural weaknesses.
  • Do not pick up objects such as vases, bottles, and glass décor from the top, lid, or rim because these areas are fragile.
  • Do not try to carry multiple items on trays or in your hands to avoid chipping, cracking, or breaking. You may use padding between items to provide the proper support during transport.
  • Ask someone to help you lift or relocate bulky furniture when cleaning under them. Pick all furniture up from the bottom edges. Do not drag furniture as it will damage legs and wood floors.
  • Always research the cleaning materials you use to ensure they are proper cleaning supplies. You might want to create a checklist for homeowners to approve before cleaning contracts begin.
  • If mishaps occur when cleaning, it is important to call our office immediately so that proper antique, décor, and fine art restoration can minimize the damage soon after it occurs.

For cleaning or restoration by Manzi Appraisers & Restorer, call our office at 617-948-2577 or visit us on Facebook at to learn more about cleaning processes.