So, you have done up your home with the choicest of artifacts. Next, it is important to ensure that they don’t gather dust and mar the beauty of your home. Before cleaning them, however, make sure you use the right detergent and procedure for different types of artifacts, suggests Radha Prathi S
The humblest of households have utility and show pieces made from a variety of substances. Cleaning them and maintaining them can be an onerous task because each material requires a different type of care.
If one wants to have a home that is spic and span, cleaning it up oneself could be therapeutic both to our mind and body. The satisfaction of extending personal care to the things in our homes makes them an extension of our personality and gives us a sense of belonging and pride in our homes.
While plastics, crystal and glassware can be rinsed in soapy water and dried with a soft cloth to clean them, the same technique may fail when one cleans up other articles made of different materials. Though a variety of cleaners are available off the shelf in the market, it will be enough if you use one dish wash powder or detergent of a good quality to see you through the process with a little care and a few household material.
It is mandatory to remember that all things at home, no matter whether you use them or not need cleaning at least once in a year even if they appear clean.
If you adhere to this process annually you will find that they will retain their novelty and remain in a good condition for a long time to come. Choose one material at a time and collect all the items that you have so that the cleaning becomes an easier process.
If you possess a lot of brass and copperware, wet them and rub them over vigorously with tamarind or apply the juice of lemon even the juice of stale lemon would do just the same. Leave them aside for fifteen minutes and scrub them clean with dish wash powder.
Allow the articles to drip and dry initially, then wipe it clean with a dry cloth both on the exterior and the interior and leave it preferably in the sunlight for a while.
This process will deodorise the brass and copperware and leave them glowing. Knobs, padlocks, door handles, and lamps made of brass can be cleaned in the same way after detaching them.
Wooden toys, furniture and other showpieces which are painted or varnished could be washed in soapy water to get rid of the dust and grime and wiped over with a soft cloth immediately to prevent it from soaking. Once it is completely dry, you could apply a coat of varnish to help it acquire the necessary sheen. Statues made from paper mache can also be cleaned in a similar way.
Large and small terracotta items, if unpainted, can be soaked in plain cold water for eight to ten hours to not only clean but also strengthen them. The dirt collected in the crevices can be teased out with a tooth brush. Painted terracotta pieces can be washed under running water. There is no need to dry these pieces for they have a tendency to absorb some moisture and then dry slowly at their own pace.
Iron or wrought iron can also be washed with dish wash powder without causing scratches. If the article happens to be painted make sure that the paint does not chip. If it does chip, use sand paper to flake off the remainder of the paint and paint it afresh in a colour of your choice. In case of door hinges you could wipe them with soapy water and keep them clean.
White metal, chrome plated or other metals tend to lose their polished look if exposed to water, so wipe them clean with a soft cotton cloth and get them polished from a local jeweller when they lose luster. Cups and trophies could also be treated in a similar way.
Silverware and images can be washed with soap and water initially, then allow them to drip and dry and take ‘vibhuthi’ (sacred ash) in a soft cloth, then polish it vigorously. It will look as good as new. Silver lamps and jewellery can be polished in a similar way.
Paintings and wall hangings can be wiped clean by spraying soapy water on them. All wall hangings will have a hardboard or cardboard finish at the back.
It will stand you in good stead to spray an insecticide on the rear side to protect it from insects and also to discourage lizards from resting behind pictures.
If textile is a part of your artifact (like in a wall hanging or festoons), or the clothing of dolls, wash them only if you think that they will not run colour.
Otherwise replace them with new ones for it will be no fun to have faded crumpled material. Soft toys made of synthetic fur of good quality can be soaked warm in soap water for an hour or two depending on how dirty the toy is. Then place the dolls in clean pillow covers, tie up the opening of the pillow cover and wash them in the washing machine and allow them to dry completely in the sun before combing them again.
When you follow the right procedure to clean your priced stuff, it will not only keep you busy and happy but will also indirectly educate you on evaluating the quality of the piece you own and make you take the right decision when you buy the next souvenir for either yourself or as a bequest.